Is it possible to be single, unattached, and happy? Absolutely! The only challenge is overcoming some of the residual negative stereotyping that remains in our society.
Back in the 1950s, a person was considered odd if they were not married by the time they were 30. Back in the 1850s, a person was considered an outcast if they were not married by 30. Things have changed a lot since then.
The biggest change has been that women have gained more equality. This has given women better career opportunities. So they no longer need to get married to get a home of their own. And men are no longer needed to provide the income to accomplish this.
Today both women and men can freely choose whether to be married or not without economic pressures to do so. Many religions, however, still dictate the lifestyles of their members. And parents who are devoted to these religions often put pressure on their children to follow this doctrine.
Once you move past the indoctrination you’ve received over the years on what’s a “normal” and “proper” lifestyle, you’ll be able to gain a true sense of contentment. It may feel strange at first as you struggle with the conflicting messages in your head. Part of your brain is telling you that you’re weird for wanting to be alone. And your true self is telling you that you’re doing what is best for you.
Although I have had many close friends and romantic relationships over the years, I consider myself somewhat of a loner. I truly enjoy myself whether I’m in a relationship or not. It hasn’t always been that way though.
I’ve spent many difficult periods feeling lonely and depressed when I was in between relationships. It was like I was incapable of being happy until I was in another relationship. The starting point for a major shift in how I experience being alone happened after I read a classic book by David D. Burns, M.D. entitled, “Intimate Connections.” In it, Dr. Burns talks about the value of learning how to enjoy being alone. This concept really resonated with me. So I embraced Dr. Burns’ ideas wholeheartedly and eventually gained a true sense of contentment when I was alone for extended periods. Once I did, it was very liberating.
I know people who insist that it’s impossible to be truly happy unless you’re in a romantic relationship or married. One person I know goes into a period of depression and insecurity whenever he’s not in a relationship. He works in the field of psychology, which partly explains his strong assertions.
There are probably psychological models that say it’s a “disorder” to be okay with living alone. Some religious doctrines say it’s a sin. You might hear some extreme conservatives say it’s abnormal. If you look deep enough into history you’ll find that all of this is based on some person’s opinion, arrogance, or ignorance. This includes religious scriptures which were written, rewritten, and eventually interpreted by men and women on a “mission” to shape the behavior of their “subjects.”
Being unattached doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t date or have romantic relationships. It just means that you have chosen to remain unattached or “uncommitted” as some insecure people like to refer to it as.
There are many advantages to being unattached. My article entitled, “Advantages of the Singles Lifestyle,” presents many of them. The biggest I’ve found is the absence of conflicting opinions, attitudes, and moods. Each of these can cause strife. These differences are minimized by your level of compatibility. This is why I strongly encourage compatibility in my articles and books as the most important factor for the fulfillment, productivity, and happiness for couples.
So if you don’t have to contend, compromise, or adapt to these differences you’re free! Your life is more peaceful and focused on what brings you joy. You don’t have to split your time with another person.
This is the point where many people will recall a scene in some movie or TV show — although they don’t consciously remember where it came from — where the leading character dramatically states, “I could not enjoy this unless you were here to share it with me.” Sharing a triumphant moment with someone can be wonderful. But only you know the full extent of what it took for you to achieve that milestone and no amount of explaining can change that. In some cases, a well-meaning person may act like they know what you went through, but they really don’t. That’s why it’s so important to learn how to fully appreciate your own accomplishments without relying on others.
Some people will say it’s selfish to want to remain unattached and live alone. Is it? Or is it the person in a romantic relationship who insists on a commitment to “them,” who also insists on all things being their way that is the clearer example of selfishness?
I find it interesting that male canaries are more prone to sing when they are caged alone. They do this to attract a mate and their singing is beautiful and exuberant. Once they are put in a cage with a female, their singing soon stops.
I think there are similar instincts in humans. When we are alone and unattached we still have a strong urge to stay fit and attractive. When we get married this drive goes away and we often get lazy and fat. I see this as a key advantage to staying unattached.
It may sound like I am promoting the solo lifestyle. I am not. I am promoting having “true choice” by knowing you can have a fulfilling and happy life whether you choose to remain unattached or share your life with another person.