Lyndsay writes about a question many singles Solos will consider – whether she can be truly happy leading a single-life or if finding a partner would make her feel more content.
Warning: spoiler alert for the Wonder Woman movie in the first paragraph!
A few weeks ago, I watched the new Wonder Woman film, having lost the man she loved at the end of the first film (sorry for the spoiler if you have not watched Wonder Woman one). The opening of the film showed her as a woman with a strong career, a home of her own, she had travelled the world and she was quite happy to go out for dinner by herself. All while selflessly saving the world over and over.
After watching the film, I found myself wishing she would get her happy ending with the man she loved. Then I thought to myself, a woman shouldn’t feel her life is incomplete based on whether she has a partner. This is 2021 after all not the 1950’s.
Therefore, is it wrong for me to still long for a partner?
The crux of the situation is, I feel I am supposed to be with another person. Not in a sense that I feel incomplete while on my own, just more of wanting for a yin to my yang. I have spoken in previous articles about how it was not my choice to be single and living alone in my 30’s – never planning to live alone as I am both an extrovert and a people pleaser. This means I’m happiest when with people and genuinely feel joy when doing things for others.
Loving someone means grief is ahead
Songs, literature, and movies all tell us that risking our hearts for love is why we are alive. Most of us, I think, fear never feeling that way about anyone. To be able to pull down the walls and truly love someone unguarded with your whole heart is terrifying. It’s a deep dive into the unknown. This, coupled with a fear of ending up alone is why I believe a lot of us settle for close enough.
When we open ourselves up to the possibility of great love, we open ourselves up to the possibility of great pain. Whether it’s by a relationship breakdown or death, loving someone means we will almost certainly have grief in our future.
Why then do we do it?
Because whether it’s romantic love, parental love, or the love of a good friend, loving someone and having love returned is one of the most wonderful, satisfying feelings humans can experience. Scientists have proven that ‘love drugs’ like oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin, which we feel when in love with someone, are akin to almost being high. It therefore explains why breakups have both physical and mental side effects. Effectively we go through a ‘love drug detox’.
I know what it’s like to be so broken hearted that you feel smashed on the rocks, unable to catch your breath, with wave after wave of grief hitting you. It’s not something you just get over. The time needed to heal is important. After experiencing emotional turmoil, most of us are no longer the same person we were before. Heartbreak changes us in unimaginable ways, and the psychological fallout from a breakup can last years. It makes us want to shut down, put walls up and not put ourselves back out there.
Aged nineteen, I fell utterly in love. After experiencing that kind of strong emotion for another person, it’s impossible for me to go out with someone for whom I only have lukewarm feelings. Most likely, for this reason, I have not been in many romantic relationships because I am inordinately picky by my own admission. If I liken myself to a light switch, most of the time, I am in the off position. If I am honest with myself, in only two of my romantic relationships, I managed to flip that switch the other way successfully: the one when I was nineteen and the last relationship I was in.
Friends and family tell me I have the capacity to love more deeply than a lot of people. By that, I think they mean I invest more time, effort and emotion into my relationships than the average person, often ending up hurt when not reciprocated in kind. This was most likely a contributing factor in my last breakup, as he felt he couldn’t love me in the same way I loved him.
Now, I sit in a rather privileged position. I don’t long for children, never have, and pretty sure I never will. Those of us who long for a partner and children have other factors to try and weigh into the ‘non settling’ argument, such as a ticking biological clock if you are a woman. So, if you do want children, the idea of holding out for this ‘ideal partner’ becomes even more difficult.
I know the type of relationship I am looking for is out there, because I have experienced it. However, it’s a struggle to describe this relationship with others. What I will say is that it’s not based on a mental tick list. It’s a feeling in your gut, an ability to be both excited by and comfortable with someone. It’s really about finding someone whose brand of crazy matches your own. A take away from my previous relationship was that while it didn’t last, it provided me with some of the happiest memories of my life. For this reason, I would rather remain single than be in a mediocre relationship.
So, am I happy with how my single life is playing out?
In a word, yes. But it’s not quite cut and dry. Yes, I am happier alone rather than in the wrong relationship. I would much prefer to be a satisfied party of one than an unsatisfied party of two. Am I desperate to be with another person to feel less alone? Not at all. I don’t feel incomplete because I’m single. However, I do feel the lack of not having someone to channel love into (living by myself has taught me to spend more of that love on me) because I still love doing things for others. It’s an intrinsic part of who I am.
Do I think I can live happily long-term as a single?
I do. I am enough. I am more than enough. I don’t feel the need to be in a romantic relationship to feel fulfilment. Nevertheless, I also know my life would be more content if I was with the right partner just because of the type of person I am.
Thankfully, it’s no longer a social expectation that a woman has to get married to find happiness. However, I don’t feel ashamed for holding onto the hope that I end up in a happy long-term relationship.