09 Nov, 18
When you’re without a partner
Lonely single or free and happy independent?
By Emmeline Peaches
A solitary individual sits down at a coffee shop, occupying one of the two seats positioned around a circular art nouveau table. Watching the world go by, they pick up their latte, nurse it between their hands, and take a contented, fulfilled sip.
They are not waiting for someone to meet them.
They are not just ‘grabbing a pick me up’.
They are enjoying a coffee independently and enjoying every moment of it.
According to a 2017 census taken in the US 110.6 million people identified as ‘single,’ making up 45.2% of the population. Of this 35.4 million lived completely alone in 2016, making up 28.1% as compared to 17.1% in 1970.
In another survey this ‘single and not living with someone’ statistic was even higher – coming in at a notable 64%.
These are some very interesting statistics but just what is ‘single’ anyway?
The dictionary definition of single is to be ‘unmarried or not involved in a stable sexual relationship’ which is accurate but not necessarily a preferable definition for many.
While accurate, this definition of a person as ‘single’ comes with a rather strong implication that we should judge our individual status in life based purely on whether or not we are paired with someone else and this can come with a lot of troubling implications.
The Problem With ‘Single’
Up until very recently, being ‘single’ was tantamount with being in some way incomplete, waiting for a partner, or (at worst) utterly unwanted.
The stereotype of the mother who wants their daughter to produce some ‘grandkids’ and the bumbling persona of the ’40 year old virgin’ are just two examples of how singleness has been shunned and parodied in the Western cultural consciousness, giving the implication that it is not okay to be single.
Even to this day many hotels will be set to a ‘2 person’ default, assuming that those checking in will be partnered with someone else, and restaurants and coffee shops rarely set up tables for one and may even ask if you’re expecting someone if you sit alone.
Yes, the presupposition that being single is not only odd but also an incomplete state runs deep and it can still negatively impact many solo individuals.
But how are you supposed to feel if you’re single?
What if, for example, you live alone and find yourself completely fine with it?
Enter the ‘Independent.’
Defining the ‘Independent’
In terms of the dictionary to be ‘independent’ is to be ‘free from outside control; not subject to another’s authority’ or to ‘not depend on another for livelihood or subsistence.’
Both of these definitions, again, paint part of the picture of being an independent individual but don’t offer the whole picture.
It is, after all, perfectly possible to be both in a happy relationship and to be and feel like an independent person. However, happy and healthy relationships are defined by a sense of interdependence as well and independence. They are, in essence, an independently decided compromise of personal choice or preference when needed in order to willingly accommodate a person (or people) that one cares about.
Independent individuals are equally interdependent to family and friends, but their day-to-day living is not as defined by the micromanagement of another person’s rights nor the mutually beneficial health, wellbeing, and happiness of another.
This allows for such a person to focus more on the often neglected aspects of modern life: such as introspection, self care, and time spent pursuing one’s own activities and career choices. Again, these choices aren’t completely free of consideration for others (nor should they ever be) but the additional space given to them can lead to a person who feels happy, complete, and content within their own company while also practicing some very positive self cultivating habits.
Independent individuals are also never truly alone either. Everyone in life has friends and family that cares about them and to be independent is to be able to choose when to engage with such individuals should loneliness ever become a factor.
In short, a ‘single’ person is defined by a lack of someone else, an ‘independent’ person is defined by their completeness in the absence of others.
The Benefits of Being Independent
So if you find yourself being lumped in the ‘single’ status then never feel like you’re relegated to that role and, instead, consider yourself as an independent individual and embrace it.
After all, not only are there more independent individuals than ever nowadays but there are also some notable benefits.
For example, in one study researchers found that those who divorced or separated from their husbands and became technically ‘single’ actually showed a decrease in BMI, waist size, and blood pressure, alongside an improvement in eating patterns and activity. The conclusion being that these 80,000 women were, overall, better off and given more space to pursue physical wellbeing when free from their troubled relationships.
Independent individuals are also considered to be more sociable, develop more personal growth, and have fewer legal liabilities and credit card bills.
That pretty much thwarts the clichéd image of the recently dumped single lady sobbing in a pile of bags with maxed out cards scattered around her, doesn’t it now?
So There You have It!
Perhaps given everything we now know about the benefits of independent living without the desire nor expectation of being in a relationship it’s time to kick out the old ‘single’ status altogether.
After all, who even decides when a person is ‘single’ vs. when they’re solo and happy? At what age does a person graduate from just a happy individual to suddenly ‘single’ and in need of coupling up with someone in life?
The very idea of giving it a defined number really does highlight the absurdity of the ‘single’ status.
So, if you find yourself alone and under the scrutiny of those around you just kindly laugh off any critical comments, all the while aware that you are a content, balanced, and complete individual all by yourself. And, at the end of the day, that’s what matters.
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