Recently, I completed an exercise where you have to imagine 10 years from now and what you have accomplished in terms of lifestyle, career, financial, relationship goals. This is how I started the exercise, “It is the year 2024, 10th of April. I am location independent and own an online business that enables me to live 3-6 months in any country of the world…” I came to the end of the exercise and realised that there was nothing in the statements about having children or being in a relationship at all.
There are such strong societal expectations about life and what path it should involve- find that special someone, stay in a committed relationship, have children but how often do you question these expectations. Are you less of a woman or man if you don’t have children, if you stay single for the rest of your life? Won’t you be lonely when you’re old and who is going to look after you if you don’t have children? As a social worker in a hospital, I have seen many older patients who have adult children and grandchildren but are still very lonely and socially isolated, feeling like a burden to society. The patients often make comments about their children being too busy to visit or to assist with their care at home. There is definitely no guarantee especially in the western world, that having children means you will be looked after by family when you’re older.
There seems to be a societal belief about the single life being lonely, always on the search for a relationship and that you unfulfilled, not a complete or a whole person. I still think the older single person is portrayed in society in a negative light as though there is something missing/deficit in their personality ie “left on the shelf’ or “that crazy cat lady’. What I don’t think is mentioned enough is that being in a couple can be more lonely than being single and on your own. For a long time I had thought the song “Brick” by Bens Folds Five was about the irony of having found someone and being more lonely than being single.
Now that I am single, I actually like myself more. In a relationship it is very easy to lose yourself, forget your core values and dampen your personality. Looking back at my life so far I think I’ve been living in a bubble of protection and dependency. I’ve gone from living with my parents as a child, living in a college, living with friends and then living as a couple. Until now there hasn’t been a period where I’ve had to be self reliant and on my own. Being single is scary but oh so exciting. It will get me completely out of my comfort zone and I’m looking forward to how much I’m going to learn. If it happens that I remain single for the next ten or more years, I’m going to be proud not ashamed of this status.
So the statement “You complete me” when it comes to relationships, I definitely don’t agree with. I think it is a dangerous belief that keeps you searching for happiness outside of yourself, in someone else. There is no princess or prince charming coming to the rescue. What do you think?