According to an old German tradition a single man has to sweep public steps on his 30th birthday, until a virgin kisses him, and releases him from his duty. This tradition also exists for 30-year-old single women, who do not have to sweep stairs, but clean door handles! They can also be released by a male virgin. Nowadays, in the absence of virgins, people born under the sign of Virgo, are also acceptable!
All of us have spent some time single i.e. not in a relationship, either by choice, or circumstance. Of course, there are those who choose to lead a solitary life. And so the following is of relevance to everyone:
LIVING ALONE DOES NOT NECESSARILY MEAN BEING LONELY AND UNHAPPY
I have particularly in mind those single women who never intended to live alone. Maybe they did not have any other choice after a separation, a divorce, or the death of a partner. Maybe they have suffered such a horrendous relationship that they swore to themselves to never share life with a partner again. Or maybe they are simply spinsters.
It often takes months or years to come to terms with the loss of a partner. And the advantages of being single are not always obvious. After separation or death, initially one can be consumed by anger, grief and disappointment. But after some time the positive sides of solitude emerge.
THE MYTH OF GREAT HAPPINESS IN A RELATIONSHIP
Many girls grow up with the idea that as an adult they need to be in a happy relationship. They are unaware that society often idealizes partnerships, thereby placing undue emphasis on them. It’s a fact that many women live together with someone else, but still feel extremely lonely. Unfortunately a lot of marriages develop into partnerships of convenience over the years. The mortgage on the house has to be paid, the children have to be brought up, and appearances have to be maintained.
I dare to say that there would be significantly less ‘dead’ partnerships, if every young person – both men and women – had to live a single life for a couple of years completing their education. They would thus learn at an early stage to be happy on their own. This would result, I am convinced, in fewer separations, because young people would already have learned to stand on their own two feet, to take responsibility for their lives.
The majority of people I know have never learned to live alone, to be on their own, without feeling unfairly treated by fate. They much prefer to live at home, share a flat with others, live in a (student) hall of residence, or move in with a partner who eventually makes them unhappy.
LIVING ALONE DOES NOT MEAN A CONSTANT STATE OF DISASTER
Society today does not make it easy for people who live alone. Most people assume that togetherness is normal, and that being single is a regrettable or, at the very least, a precarious condition. They think living alone means a permanent state of disaster. That these people are unable to live in a real partnership. The implication being that there is something wrong with them.
Even if you like to be single, others will continually try to persuade you that it is not normal. And you may well end up feeling that you are treated as a second class citizen.
What can be done? If you are personally effected, consider the following ideas:
- Surround yourself only with people who are important to you, who you can trust, and who you appreciate
- Speak openly about the advantages and disadvantages of being alone
- Make it clear that you are annoyed by questions about your being single
- Be truthful about why love has not worked for you, or why you do not want to have a partner
- Express directly that prejudices concerning your single life are hurtful to you
But do watch out that you don’t start justifying yourself! If people are not able, or do not want to understand you, and your single life, even the best explanations won’t help.
And if you find yourself in one of these single-blues-days, consider this: being single means freedom, independence and self-determination. Many non-singles envy you for this, although they would never admit it!
If you want to share your experiences on this topic with me and others, just write a comment at the bottom. Thank you very much!