Despite the old stereotypes about being single, we’re not any more selfish than our married friends, but we can be stingy — with ourselves.
I was talking about being single the other day to a friend who insisted that singles, in general, are selfish because they don’t ever learn how to share and compromise with a partner. She said, “It’s all about them, about indulging themselves with whatever they want, whenever they want. Single people never have to sacrifice.”
Needless to say, my friend isn’t single and our conversation turned into a heated discussion because, from what I’ve seen — not only in myself but in my many singular friends — the opposite is true. If anything, single people often put self-care at the bottom of our priority list and even though we’re not any more selfish than our coupled friends, we are in fact, often stingy — with ourselves.
We’re experts at practicing self-deprivation because we know that when it’s time to sit down and pay the bills, the money comes out of one checking account — ours. And the checking account is funded by one income source — ours. The result is a quiet, underlying fear of “what if” — what if I get laid off, what if I get sick, what if something happens and I won’t be able to pay my bills?
So we make a decision to skimp on luxuries, big and mostly small. We deny ourselves little treats and live a Spartan-like existence that we label “being sensible.” We deny ourselves little treats, like a $10 bouquet of sunflowers that would look so cheery on the kitchen table because, “I’m the only one who will see them” and eat a re-heated dinner from a Tupperware bowl because it’s too much trouble to plate it.
This anorexic view of not allowing ourselves little luxuries differs for everyone, but it starts with that internal voice that says “no” to the sunflowers, “no” to painting the bedroom our favorite shade of periwinkle blue, “no” to the $12 subscription to Conde Nast Traveler, even “no” to the $1.99 fee to watch our favorite TV show “on demand” because it’s free if we watch it with all the commercials.
We deny ourselves all kinds of treats that would bring us a sense of self-care, self-love and comfort because we’ve settled into a mindset that says, “Since it’s just me, what does it matter? Better to save that $10 or $20 for the inevitable rainy day. I mean, who really cares if I spruce up the living room sofa with a few new throw pillows? Who cares if I drink my coffee in the morning from a mug that isn’t chipped? And what if the $5 I frittered away today is needed for something important three years from now?”
It’s silly if we stop and think about it — but we don’t. Being stingy with ourselves is just what too many of us do.
It’s not just about money either. That sense of singular frugality often spreads beyond cash. It leaks over into not permitting ourselves the luxury of time — time with friends, time with hobbies we haven’t touched in years and even time to do nothing at all but rest and relax because “we really should be working.” (There’s a reason why our SingularCity event e-mail blasts have the decorative header: Less Work/More Play!)
Even if the universe delivers something out of the blue at no cost to us, we’re likely to refuse it because self-denial has become a habit. We can’t see it as a gift that is ours for the taking. We refuse it and send it on its way because we’ve locked into an unforgiving attitude that limits what we will allow in our lives. We think treats, just for us and us alone, are an extravagance.
But truly, allowing an occasional big luxury and lots of small ones isn’t selfish; it’s generous and opens the flow of abundance in our lives. When we accept and are open to enjoying these little luxuries, we won’t fall off some imagined cliff; we’ll be opening our lives to a sense of self-care and plenitude that makes living single a joy, not a sacrifice.
Copyright © Kim Calvert / 2015 Singular Communications, LLC.
Kim Calvert is the editor of Singular magazine and the founder of the SingularCity social networking community. An outspoken champion of people who are living their lives as a “me” instead of a “we,” Kim oversees the creative direction and editorial content of the magazine and online social networking community. She secures contributors and is responsible for maintaining the fun, upbeat, inspirational and often-humorous tone of Singular, a lifestyle guide for successful single living.