The messages in the media and even from our own best friends say we can’t live a full, happy life if we’re single – don’t believe it!
I had an interesting experience that I want to share with you because it’s so relevant to being “singular” and the challenges some of us face when confronted with old ideas about what it means to be single.
A friend of mine, who has a big extended family with lots of sisters, brothers, nephews, and nieces, invited me to his family’s house for a birthday dinner. Coming from a small nuclear family — just mom, dad and my sister — it promised to be dramatically different environment from my own family get-togethers and I jumped to accept the invitation.
When I asked my friend to describe what it would be like, I was baffled when he said he hadn’t been to a family event since his divorce some seven years earlier. I was even more surprised when we arrived and I saw his clan in all of its rainbow coalition beauty — loving, laughing, warm and wonderful. Why would he boycott this event and deprive himself of such a wonderful experience?
“I just didn’t feel comfortable being around them after my divorce,” he said.
“Why, did they hassle you about being single, ask you if you were dating?”
“No, it wasn’t that,” he replied. “I just didn’t feel like I fit in anymore since everyone else was married.”
“But didn’t you tell me your dad is divorced and remarried — your brother too?”
“So what did you do instead?”
“Usually stayed home alone and read a book.”
I was well aware that I was treading on a minefield so I didn’t push further and changed the subject.
Nevertheless, I was struck, once again, with the realization of how some single people get stuck believing they are “less than” their coupled counterparts — they’re embarrassed about being single. They choose to believe that being single is equivalent to being lonely, sad, incomplete and a failure, and once they’ve adopted that idea, their lives become exactly that.
I watched my friend the rest of the evening, eating the wonderful home-cooked feast, laughing with his siblings, I saw the affection between him and his family and the light in his eyes. I also saw how grateful his family was to have him there.
How sad that he chose to deprive himself of this experience for so many years because he was sad about being single! But I can certainly understand how he got into that position. The messages from movies, TV, books and even our own friends often demand that we can’t live a full life if we’re single – even though it’s simply NOT true.
The good news is that my friend was willing to enjoy the day with his family because he’s started to realize his relationship status does not define him. Whether or not he has a spouse doesn’t determine who he is, where he can go, and what he can do. He is no longer living in bondage to negative stereotypes of what it means to be single; he’s singular now and ready to live his life to the fullest.