How Many Ways to Be Single? (A Guest Post)

Lately, my dear friend, Debra, has been thinking a lot about the many single women she knows, the ways they are single (e.g., never married, divorced, single moms) and what it all means.   Here, let her tell you…

In her own words:

Last week two very similar things happened virtually simultaneously. While talking on the phone to a woman who was recently singled-by-divorce, I was reading Eleanore’s Facebook post. Yes, that’s right, the Eleanore, queen of I’ve-got-this-single-thing-on-a-leash. Her post referenced spending time and chumming it up with two distinct groups of her friends: happily married women and [by inference] very-comfortable-in-my-skin single women. 

Based on the painful conversation I was having, I was struck by the notion that there are many states of singlehood. As a never-been-married, single parent of an adult daughter, I embrace my life as my life. Yes, over the years I have pondered the reality of why my road forked onto the path of perpetual singleness. Yes, over the years I have, and occasionally still do, long for that ever-evolving storybook marriage. 

However, the truth is most marriages that I have witnessed, well, let’s just say they have left me far less interested in a marriage than a very healthy relationship. Yes, I do on occasion happen upon one of those magical marriages that give true substance and validation to: “happily ever after”. Given an option, yes, I would take such a marriage. At any rate, I said all of that to say that I fall into the category of Eleanore’s very-comfortable-in-my-skin single friends. 

Interestingly, the general twist with being a long-term single woman is often less than flattering. That is most unfortunate, as it negates substantive reality. Run the numbers, i.e., how many happy, healthy marriages does one personally encounter in life? (And for those marriages, I simply desire to grab popcorn and something to drink while gazing with stars in my eyes and heart at a man being a man/gentleman and a woman being a woman/lady unto each other. Humph, that just lights up my heart. It is akin to living art, a masterpiece. It is spiritually enriching. It boasts of beauty without even trying. I become in love with love. 

Just thinking about it reminds me of an inquiry from friend a number of years ago. We were at a concert sitting next to a couple who were so loving and comfortable with their love for each other that they enfolded us into their evening with an incredible lovingkindness that left my friend asking: “Debbie, is it possible to be in love with a couple?”  If so, then we were ready to commit that relationship. In reality, it simply spoke to the loving relationship that we would gladly have welcomed into our own lives.  

Okay, that’s enough about me, as mine is the common vanilla single lifestyle: life is what is and mine is to play the hand I have by valuing the trump cards I possess. Ironically, this is the general posture of single women who wake up every day walking it out in flats or stilettos. What I have come to realize is that this group of single women, unknowingly, model being single to a group of women who are literally locked in a prison of time and space that was intended to be a loving marriage. Looking through the bars of their lives, they see women (married and single) going about their business making things happen, being happy, being fulfilled and fulfilling others. 

This is where my phone call with the singled-by-divorce woman and Eleanore’s prepping for fun with friends weekend come into play. The woman on the other end of the phone gave me an immediate realization that healthy singlehood is a process. Transitioning from being in a “prisonous” marriage into an emotionally healthy single person takes time, support, growth, and yes, some spiritual maturity. After all, it is not possible for one to be the same woman pre-marriage as post-marriage. It will take time to get to “know” oneself unto oneself, and others per this newly evolving self. 

My conversations with the recently singled-by-divorce woman are always awkward for me. Her frame of reference to relationships is unmoored to anything beyond her seeming random imaginings of singlehood. I listen with the challenging awareness being singled-by-divorce is just one step. There are so, so many more along the road to getting to know oneself anew so that one can learn to love oneself.  Being Single 101.

So…do you think the way you became single impacts the way you experience single-dom?

NOTE: The Spinsterlicious Life: 20 Life Lessons for Living Happily Single and Childfree— has been published and is available here and  hereand on Amazon.

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This entry was posted in being single, Debra Collins, single mothers, spinster, spinsterlicious, unmarried. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to How Many Ways to Be Single? (A Guest Post)

  1. D Collins says:

    Thank you all for your open, insightful, encouraging and affirming comments. Having shared the blog site link with a variety of friends and family (single/married/men/women), they offered an even broader perspective to the subject matter. It was my intent that they would share their opinions by way of comments on the blog, as they represent an array of relationship statuses. Instead they all chose to direct their comments to me personally by way of email. So, I continue to encourage each of them to share their opinions as comments on the blog site, as they will add breadth and depth to the conversation. It is my strong belief that this is an important and timely conversation. And…, okay…, I will stop myself here, as I feel yet another flood of ideas surfacing and begging to become eContent in this blog. 🙂

    Again, thank you Eleanore for giving me an “open mic”.



  2. ReggieE says:

    You know I never thought about the “how” you become a single woman making a hugh difference but . . . I guess it can. (I'm writing before reading other entries). But this I know, I knew more about being single than I knew about being married. And when I became single again it was as though the loose ends went back together again. I think sisters, espec. over 40 need to see being single as a joy and not a curse. I love it myself! But then, I have never looked at it as I was missing something. I have several couples that I hang out with that are “happily married” . . . I know them THAT well and we have great fun together us three. Then I know single sisters that love to go, hang out, travel and do things together. Honestly, we are enjoying this journey. Every now and then the conversation will come up and by the end of it, we've agreed . . . this here we're in . . . ain't bad!

  3. Janine says:

    A fantastic piece from Debra, really enjoyed it. I think there are two keys to being happily single for me, both of which I'm only just getting a grip on – the first is knowing yourself (and therefore knowing whether you could realistically even BE in a marriage), and counting your blessings; looking at the positives of being single.

    On TV's 'Agony Aunts' last night my very favourite comedienne, Judith Lucy, who's perpetually single, like me, described meeting this spiritually enlightened older woman in India who asked if she was married or had children. “No” to both. She was shocked when the woman exclaimed, “HOW FANTASTIC! You are so free to do anything you want, go anywhere you want…” Judith was expecting the usual comisserations, and it really took her aback to hear that. It also changed her way of thinking about her situation.

    I think it's a day-to-day battle for women in particular not to swallow the kinds of fairytales Hollywood and advertising and other forces around us dish up and serve, but the truth, as Debra says, is usually a lot more complicated. I, too, got forensic about examining the relationships around me among friends and family, and realised I could not possibly tolerate their blokes, their situations. And especially at this age, I could not make those compromises. So I now refrain from online dating and all the crap that was getting me down and robbing me of the will to live, I read this blog, I connect with other singles, and hey presto, I'm a lot happier within myself. Yay for me, and yay for all the singles who are “comfortable in their own skin”.

  4. April says:

    I have to disagree with Michael Ann a bit. I was the one who wanted the divorce, and yet I still grieved. And, of course, as the divorce-er (for lack of a better term), there's this sense that you can't be sad about it because you “chose” it. Well, that choice felt more like an inevitable conclusion.
    But back to the post. I love the way you put this, and concur.

  5. Julia says:

    Hmmmm…yes, in the same way that non-smokers (of which I am one) can be separated by never-smoked and ex-smoker (of which I am also one.)

    My sister gave me a kitchen towel with the motto “A woman in search of a husband has obviously never had one.” It's true; I don't long for or idealize a relationship in the way I might had I never been married. I know that I'm not missing a bad marriage, and I've never seen a guarantee of a good one.

  6. Michael Ann says:

    I think it only makes sense that how you become single influences how you view it. Divorce is a huge transition and you really do have to reinvent yourself. If you wanted the divorce, you would approach it differently than if you didn't. There are SO many different avenues to singlehood. Also…I think it's great when a woman can embrace her singlehood but not everyone is wired that way.

  7. eleanore says:

    @mml: It's gotta be extra tough when you find yourself single because you're a widow. I hope we continue to provide you some comfort and, hopefully, a few laughs

  8. mml says:

    I became single by being widowed. That's definitely made the transition difficult for me…it's a process adjusting to this thing that is my life now, just like the author of this post mentioned in terms of her divorced friend.

    By the way, I really appreciate this blog! It's really comforting to read about women who embrace the single life and find so much happiness in it. It gives me hope that I might get there some day!

  9. mml says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

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