I’m happy being single. My mother doesn’t believe me. And neither do my married friends. There are continually trying to talk to me about dating, or give me the eyebrows whenever I mention that I spent some time with someone male.
I’m not in my 20s, or even my 30s. In my 40s now, I’m single. Female. With children. I make my own money. I have my own home, my own investments.
Perhaps I am all of the things that are a death sentence to meeting someone now at this “time of life.”
I honestly don’t care. I don’t spend any time of my life thinking about what I guess I am missing out on.
Maybe I’m just bitter because my relationship hopes didn’t pan out. That I’m divorced. Of course I have to be happy being single, because I’m not in a relationship, right?
I guess I could just have a really good attitude about all this single-ness. Or I could actually be better off as a single woman.
Regardless, I feel happy now being single.
I’m ready to be in charge of my life, and my happiness
When I was in relationships in my 20s and 30s, I was all about compromise. I felt like being in a relationship was something required for success in this life. So I was always doing everything I could to make my partner happy. I was going for the gold ring, after all. I’d get married, have kids, and then I’d be happy.
But that didn’t happen.
I got married. And I had kids. What I found out instead is that while I was trying so hard to be everything to everyone else, there wasn’t anyone who was trying to do the same for me.
I made a lot of mistakes.
And now, that I’ve gone through the fire of the divorce, and the dismantling of my previous life that I spent so much time and effort building, I want to do the one thing I should have been doing in my 20s and 30s.
I want to focus on living a life that I will be proud of.
Lived on my terms.
And not for the happiness of others.
Focusing on my children is a huge part of this
I’m not saying that I want to give up on being a mother. Actually, I think that focusing on my relationship with my children is a huge part of what I want to do, and I won’t feel guilty for it.
Since my divorce, I’ve taken huge steps to cut back on work and other commitments that pulled me away from my home. This has been met with a lot of disapproval from my parents (who are worried about me), and my former colleagues who can’t understand why I won’t (or can’t afford to) come on massive vacations anymore.
Being with my children makes me happy. Spending time with them does occasionally make me crazy, but I also get so much joy from them. I took five days this last week to go camping with them and it was such an amazing thing to be able to do. When I was working, I could never get time off during the summer during the week. Everything had to be crammed into weekends, and they were always too short.
Having made some serious changes in work and also in my other activities and relationships, I now have more time to just be with them. And that makes me happy.
Focusing on personal growth is another component of being happy and single after divorce
In my 20s and 30s, I didn’t spend any time working on myself. Sure, I worked out, and I wore sunscreen. I tried to eat healthy.
But I didn’t give much thought to happiness in my work, satisfaction in my relationships (even the ones with my long time friends and family), or how confident I felt on a daily basis. I got a degree that I thought I wanted (which was actually one that my parents wanted) and entered a profession that I did not find fulfilling.
In a way, I find myself grateful that I had this mid-life crisis. Because it forced me to come to terms with the fact that I wasted a lot of my 20s and 30s on things that I didn’t care about, and weren’t important to me. It is sobering to think about those years just being gone when you are 40 something, because you have to start facing the fact that you won’t live forever. All around us, as we move through our 40s and into our 50s, people’s lives are ending, whether it be from old age, accident, or illness.
I feel like I’ve been woken up. And I have a chance now to work on having the life that I thought I was working towards in my 20s, but this time with the benefit of hindsight, maturity, and experience. Can you imagine if I had not had this awakening until my 60s or even later (or never)?
I’m excited to work on personal growth. Learning every day is something I get excited about. Trying new things instead of doing the same thing over and over. Certainly this means risking–losing money, trying things and failing, facing the disapproval of your friends and family who are well and truly stabilized in the shape and form of their lives that they’ll continue in until it is over.
Letting my independence roam as a single woman
I was independent in my 20s. I did a lot of things I am sure made my mother’s hair turn white. Traveling to third world countries. Moving across the country. Living across an ocean. Driving at night. Riding motorcycles. Skydiving.
But when I was younger, I was plagued with so much insecurity. I cared so much about what people thought. Thank goodness Facebook was a baby when I was in my 20s, and Instagram barely existed. I can see how obsessed I might have become with keeping up with the Joneses.
Now that I am older (and not concerned as much about what other people think), I can truly be independent, and do what I want, when I want, how I want. Yes, I have to consider my children. But aside from that, I have the power to do what I want for my career, and for fun. I didn’t have the power to do those things before, nor did I have the confidence to make decisions that were truly in my own best interest.
I can now enjoy seeing who I want, when I want. I’m not obsessed with hanging out with “cool” people, or people that can do something for me or my career. I am now free (and confident enough) to invest my time in people who are really good for me to be around.
And I don’t feel guilt about making decisions NOT to see someone, or do something with someone. This is a really key change in my life, as I used to feel pressure to say YES to everything.
Fewer burdens in my life
Practically, I think I am happier being single because I have one less person to take care of. Before, I had the burden of cooking, cleaning, keeping house, working (and more). Now I don’t. When the kids are with their dad, I don’t have to clean house, cook for anyone, wash someone else’s stinky gym shorts, cook someone else dinner.
I didn’t realize how much I was doing (and he wasn’t), until I stopped doing it all.
No, being single isn’t perfect every day, and there are some things I miss
Yes, I am happy being single. But there are some cons to being single in my 40s. It can be hard to find people who want to hang out with me, because most couples tend to gravitate toward other couples. I miss out on a lot of invites to dinners and events because of this.
Some women don’t want single women hanging out with their men. And frankly, I’m not that interested in hanging out with married dudes either, because I have found that some of them are unhappy in their marriages. I don’t want to be the repository for marriage complaints, or encourage any sort of inappropriate intimacy simply because I want to be friends.
There are times when it would be nice to have someone to go and have dinner with (without having to DATE or go out of my way to set things up well in advance). After all, when you are with someone, there is an expectation that you’ll do things together. When you are alone, you have to make a lot more effort to meet up with people to do things.
Practically, it would be nice if there was a man around to do things I don’t know how to do (or want to do) like unplugging the toilet or sinks, cleaning moss off the roof, or checking outside when there’s a loud scary noise at night. But I’m learning how to do these things myself, and finding that it is not actually that hard after all.
Then there is the issue of finances. Single with a handful of kids versus married with a few kids….one income versus two incomes. While I can handle the change in my financial situation, I can definitely appreciate how my financial situation would have been different had I remained married with two substantial incomes. I now have my own mortgage payment, car payment, insurance, utilities, bills, and other financial responsibilities, and only myself to rely upon.
Oh yeah, and the physical stuff. I don’t need to be in a relationship for the physical stuff, but I don’t really have a desire to go out and find random people for it. This was a big deal in my 20s and 30s, but now that I have three kids (and maybe because I am just old and tired) I don’t really miss it as much as I would have in my 20s and 30s.
I am happy being single.
I know being single isn’t for everyone. But the truth is, I don’t see myself getting back into a relationship any time soon. I don’t want to introduce another male figure into my kids’ lives. I don’t want to go back to doing all the laundry and the toilets and the dishes and the cooking.
I really just want to focus on making the most of the life I have left, forming some really solid relationships with wonderful people who can add a lot to my life, and to have as many life changing positive experiences as possible. I’ve never found that I could do that while in a relationship.
And maybe that’s my fault, and not the fault of my partners. Maybe I’m just a person who can’t exist wholly independent and separate in a relationship. Maybe I’ll always mold myself into whatever I think my partner wants me to be in a relationship, even if he doesn’t want me to do that. And if that’s the case, I need to be single to be the best version of myself. Or I need to be single until I can find a way to be in a relationship and not lose myself completely, as I always have in the past.
What about you? Are you happy being single, or trying to find a way to be happy being single? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
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Emily Anderson is a mother of three children, ages 8, 6, and 3. Located in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, Emily is a full-time mom and part-time blogger, jumping in front of the screen when the kids are occupied. She can be reached through the Contact Us page.