I am finding that there are pleasant perks to living single for the first time in my life, as well as some difficult challenges. It struck me recently how often the pleasures and the challenges are two sides of the same coin. Here are some examples.
No one to answer to but myself.
Pros: I still get a little shock of pleasure occasionally when I’m browsing in a bookstore, for example, thinking “I wonder if I need to be getting home,” and realize that no one cares when I get home; I get to browse for as long as I want to. There’s no one to ask why I took so long (or bought so many books!), or to suggest I should have been spending my time doing something else. If I want to pick up a second – or third – latte during the day, I may. If I see dust on the furniture and don’t feel like polishing, no one will see it or care. For that matter, if I want to get up and slide back into the clothes I wore the day before, no one will notice, as long as they aren’t too disgusting.
Cons: This could get out of hand pretty easily. The only way to prevent that is to flex my self-discipline muscle, an underused, weak little thing that is slowly getting stronger out of necessity. Having pets helps, too; I can’t really stay at the bookstore forever unless I want to deal with puppy puddles and kitty criticism when I get home.
As much solitude as I want.
Pros: I love time alone. There have been few times in my life, if any, where I have gotten enough, and I am reveling in the opportunity to spend time alone, in my own house, now.
Cons: I don’t always want to be alone. There are some things I haven’t done at all since becoming single, such as going to a movie by myself at the theater. I don’t think I would mind, but it seems like a slightly depressing prospect somehow. My family and friends are a busy lot, and there are times when I get tired of listening to the narrative inside my own head and would really love to spend a few hours with another human being, exchanging ideas, and it isn’t always possible. Living with someone does give a person company.
I am in charge of everything.
Pros: Pretty obvious, isn’t it? If I feel like eating meals at some odd hour, I do. And I’m eating what I chose to stock the refrigerator and panty with, on dishes I chose and bought; sometimes at the dining room table, sometimes curled up in front of the TV watching whatever I want to be watching.
Cons: I’m in sole charge of everything here; not just the groceries and the remote. If there’s a rotting squirrel in the yard and I don’t pick it up, no one else is going to (this is not a hypothetical example). No one else comes around and changes the light bulbs or the sheets, sweeps out the garage, drags the trash and recycling bins to the curb, or removes the dead mouse from its resting place in the laundry room. These things are true whether I am sick or have a headache or am exhausted as much as when I feel capable and well. It’s an adjustment to be responsible for absolutely everything in one’s life.
If it’s in my house, it’s because I want it here.
Pros: I love knowing that every single item in my house is something I deliberately choose to have here. Moving into a new house helped this process tremendously. I tried to purge ruthlessly as I packed, taking two entire Highlanders-full of bags and boxes to the charity shop. Even so, I always have a ‘giveaway bag’ in active status, adding anything of decent quality that I do not want or need. Life is too short & precious to clutter it with junk. And at my age, 55, why on earth am I keeping things in boxes for ‘later’? If I don’t have my things out to see and enjoy now, when do I expect to get them out and do that? I have never yet seen a single resident of a nursing home going through boxes of memorabilia they saved all their lives and are finally getting around to looking through.
Cons: There is something a little, well, maybe sterile? about knowing exactly what every item in my house is and where it came from. Having my things mixed with someone else’s added a little touch of discovery, of potential surprise. It can be a bit dull to realize you will never open a box or drawer, not to mention the refrigerator, and find something you didn’t put there yourself.
I can have everything in the house exactly as I want it.
Pros: It’s very pleasurable to see a painting one one would love to have hanging in one’s living room and to know that there’s no one who might hate it and nix having it in the house. The furniture in every room of my new house is exactly where I want it to be; and if I change my mind, I can move it without consulting anyone. If I want a third dog, or a salt water aquarium, or a breeding pair of macaws, I can just go out and get them.
Cons: There aren’t any cons to this. It’s awesome. Well, actually this is closely related to no one to answer to but myself and could get out of hand, too. So far I have successfully prevented excess by remembering the cons related to I am in charge of everything. If I don’t feel like cleaning out the aquarium or the aviary, no one else is going to.
I’m sure there are many more examples of the pros and cons of living single; I would love to hear any of yours, fellow singletons.