This essay was written in response to an editor's open call to answer the question "Why Are You Single?"
I am single because it’s easier. It’s as simple and as complicated as that.
If I had a dollar for every time someone said to me “Humans aren’t meant to be alone so you need to find a boyfriend/husband,” I might be able to buy a ticket to Australia. I’ve wanted to go there for decades.
Two marriages and two wandering husbands have convinced me I am a poor judge of character and probably not a good candidate for until death do us part. When husband #2 strayed I knew there must be something very wrong with the way I do relationships.
I bear a large part of the blame, if there is a need for blame. I am bored easily. Personality quirks in a man seem cute in the beginning but by the end they set my teeth on edge. Mannerisms wear out their welcome with me and soon make me want to scream.
And then there are the expectations. Silly me, I thought each time I got married it was because we enjoyed each other’s company and couldn't get enough of it. Next thing I know, I’m being told he is not responsible for my happiness and I need to make a life of my own, aside from the marriage.
I’m certainly not an easy partner. Having a good memory myself, I have little patience for “I can’t remember," especially when the question is something like “who was that on the phone?” or “when is our anniversary?”
I have spent too many decades pretending to be engrossed in football games and learning the names of all the local sports heroes in order to be “conversant.”
Being single is not even close to being new to me. My last divorce was in 1985. Since then I have had two semi-serious longish-term relationships. Their failure to blossom probably has something to do with the way I choose men who are emotionally unavailable.
I learned some things about myself during the twelve years I have been retired. I’ve grown to view relationships as being more trouble than they are worth.
I’ve learned that I prefer solitude to boring company.
I’ve grown to prefer going to movies and plays alone – no need for talking and answering questions. I still feel self-conscious alone in a restaurant, but I don’t really have money to spend in them anyway. If I want to eat out, I can always find somebody willing to tag along – especially if I say I’m treating.
I’ve learned that I like freedom from external expectations, be they sexual, emotional or social. I like the spontaneity being single allows. For instance, I could stop writing right here in the post and decide I want to ditch cooking and go get Chinese. I like not having to compromise between buying brand names and buying generics. I like not having to answer this question: “Is that new?”
I like not having to worry about bodily functions that interfere with co-habitational comfort.
Would a warm body (other than my dog’s) next to me in bed once in a while be okay? Absolutely. But at age 67, I still have the nerve to be picky about who I let share my bed. Guys my age are not as attractive to me as someone younger. Someone younger who would be attracted to me I view as suspicious. Not too conducive to hooking up, is it?
I’ve never been happier. I have friends of all ages and neighbors who try to look after me. I say “try” because I AM an independent old bird who likes to look after myself. But when I pull stunts like falling on my face in the driveway, I know there will be someone nearby I can count on to get me to the ER.
What’s not to like?