DEAR SUSAN: This isn't a "tsunami of singleness" we're seeing; it's a wave of coupledom. The push to recognize domestic partnerships isn't a push to recognize singles; it's a push to recognize that being married isn't the only way to be coupled. Unmarried couples who form a lasting long-term commitment to each other should be recognized not as singles but as partners — and as couples. Your interpretation of this boggles the mind. If I'm dating multiple people, I'm single, because I haven't committed myself. If I'm dating someone exclusively — even if we haven't moved in together, even if we haven't discussed a long-term commitment — I'm part of a couple and no longer single. — From the "Single File" blog
DEAR BLOGGER: But you're still a unique individual. And it's that individuality, I believe, that makes us all single, whatever our marital status. (And I admit that may take a bit of getting used to!) And it is that individuality, the single core within each of us, that (I'm thrilled to say) is increasingly being retained as couples form. More and more, partners are holding on to their personhood when becoming part of a couple. Rather than surrender it in the name of a more perfect(?) union, partners are wisely hanging on to their selfhood in different ways — keeping old friendships, having their own bank accounts, keeping their maiden names, etc. More and more often, I am thrilled to see that inner core being expressed. That wisdom undoubtedly does more to strengthen unions than anything else imaginable. Guess it was a tsunami of individuality, aka singleness, I noted.
DEAR SUSAN: Just how long is it healthy to be alone? Is it two hours a day, two weeks, a lifetime? I'm sure everyone would love to be with someone, and if people aren't — if they're alone — it's usually not by choice. You tell us we're supposed to be finding ourselves when we're alone. Well, how long does that take? And when someone finally does show up, does that mean you've spent enough time on your own? There are no accidents in the universe, you say, so then everything is meant to be? Who cares that "we're bombarded with the message that a happy, successful life is always lived two by two"? Sure, aloneness is fine from time to time, but if someone doesn't want to be alone all the time, single, then what? — From the "Single File" blog
DEAR BLOGGER: Oho! After umpteen exchanges and an overload of angst between us, I finally understand your phobia about aloneness. In your mind, being unpartnered (aka single) is being alone. And you imagine that being with someone — coupled — will erase that loneliness for all time? Well, friend, it's just not so. Even married folk get the blues from time to time, and they're supposedly bonded to each other for life. Do you imagine that having a lady on your arm would erase your aloneness? Not a chance. Loneliness may be part of the human condition, genetically infused. And the more you run from it the more it weighs. But it's meant to be only a small part of our life, an occasional reminder from time to time of the peace that can come from communing with ourselves.
My advice — should you care to listen to it — is to get deeply involved in something that really interests you. It's your choice, and it's your salvation. Stop blogging self-pity, and start living your life.
Have a question for Susan? You can reach her directly at [email protected]