This won’t come as much of a surprise to my married and partnered friends – but there are some very liberating aspects to being single.
The one that generally springs to mind is that I – in theory – could have sex with anyone*.
Obviously in practice this is neither as true nor as desirable as you’d think. Both George Clooney and David Beckham are sadly unavailable, for example. But also sex is not the thing that most single women miss most in the absence of a relationship. For example, I am more frequently vexed that there is no one to help with the garden and deal with the admin tasks relating to the car then I am about the absence of a willing and naked man in my bed – although if George Clooney turned up unexpectedly I probably wouldn’t get him to phone the RTA** to sort out my green slip.
All that being said though, I am, for example, in the enviable position of being able to buy whatever I want (so long as I have the money for it). Now I realize that for many people this is also true when in a relationship, but shopping for things other than food – and sometimes even for food – was often a bone of contention in my marriage, and over time I resorted to a variety of forms of subterfuge to disguise any shopping trips. I don’t think we were very unusual in this regard, and to be fair on my ex husband, I probably had more shoes than I needed. Or than anyone needed really. But who hasn’t swapped the fancy designer bag of clothes lovingly wrapped in tissue paper for a plain old carrier before they got home or said ‘what – this old thing? I’ve had it for ages!’. Or is that just me…
I can also just get a dog if I want one (a decision I regret regularly, even though I love the daft dog. Where’s a husband when you need one?!). I can move house whenever I want – and believe me, I have. I can have as many cushions as I like on my bed and no one complains. I have all of the wardrobe space to myself, and dinner no longer has to consist of meat, potatoes and two veg. If I want the light on to read, there is no one there to complain about it.
All awesome, I think you’ll agree.
But I’m learning that in fact, something which filled me with fear and dread in the early years of singledom is turning out to be one of the best rather than the worst things about being alone.
For the first few years after my ex husband and I separated, I didn’t go on any holidays, other than to visit family and friends in the UK. How could I go on holiday alone?? This is something that should be done with a family, or at the very least, a partner. Besides, I’d been on holiday alone once and it had been a disaster – years ago I’d taken myself off to Spain to ‘think’ after finding out about one of my husband’s affairs and I am here to tell you that ‘thinking’ is pretty much the worst thing you could do for yourself in this situation. I spent most of that week either crying alone or crying to my friends (at enormous expense) on my mobile phone. Crying in Spain alone is not preferable to crying at home with some friends who might distract you every now and again from your navel gazing. Crying alone in Spain means you have nothing else to do other than torture yourself about what ifs and might have beens and oh my gods…
Understandably I was not keen to repeat this experience. So I didn’t go away. I thought I would wait until I had a partner again.At the time it seemed like a good plan – after all, how hard could it be to meet someone? Soon I would be all loved up again like a normal person, and I’d have my holiday partner for life.
Five years on, I knew I was going to significantly reevaluate my plan. I still didn’t have a partner. And I still wasn’t going on holidays apart from with family or the kids. I could see that the children were not going to be wanting to go on holiday with me for much longer, so what was my plan? What if this is it – I’m on my own forever? Is my plan never to go on holiday? No weekends away? Am I never going to go to all those places I want to see – Sardinia, Corsica, Mykonos, Bora Bora, Vietnam and all the rest – because I don’t have a special someone to go with?
And I realised that if this was the plan, it sucked big time. And I also realised that the only person who would actually be preventing me from doing all these things was me.
So here I am, on one of many weekends away alone I’ve been on in the last year, and it’s fine. More than fine. It’s great. I can do what I want. Make my own plans and change them at will. Get up early or late. Eat three square meals a day or eat nothing.Spend ages staring at the same painting at a gallery or scoot through barely looking because I’ve already determined that I’m not keen on anything in it. The possibilities are endless and I feel not just liberated but finally as if I am fully in charge of my life.
And I haven’t cried once.
*although for some people that was the case actually when ‘happily’ married – and that, my friends, is why I am no longer married…
** the fact that it was only when I proof read this piece that I realised I had put NRMA here instead of RTA should give you some indication of how badly I need this help…