Each of us has wondered whether the grass is greener on the other side from time to time, but married people and parents of young kiddos especially seem to struggle. So it’s important to ask: is youth and singleness all it’s cracked up to be, or will the challenge of fighting for your marriage and parenting young children be the investment that really pays off?
Single life has its ups and downs—moments of joy, raw happiness, intense loneliness, sadness and everything in between. But it’s ultimately up to us as individuals to find contentment with our circumstances or strive for bigger and better things. Below are 15 stories from other single people about what real singleness looks like without attachment, and whether it’s happier over all.
1. I’d Like Someone to Share Things With
One benefit of marriage that the married ones often forget about is companionship. Sure, the other elements of marriage are good and necessary, but there’s something deeply special about coming home from a really hard day at work and having somebody you can talk to about it. Or coming home after getting a promotion and having someone special to share it with—without having to search your contacts for whom you’ll text first. Is that camaraderie worth trading for the freedom to do what you want, when you want, without coordinating with anyone else? Well, maybe.
One user shared, “30M if it’s relevant. It’d be nice to find someone to share stuff with, and all that … but being solo and only having myself in my own way when it comes to doing things is great. I haven’t dated anyone in about five years. The prospect of trying to find someone I can tolerate, that also wants what I want (being childfree is a b-) feels impossible. I also don’t know if I even have the capacity to care anymore. I’m socially inept [as heck], so I’ve only really tried the online route. Until I finally decide to give a s-, I have my two cats that can bug me all they like.”
Another user added, “I’m the exact same age, haven’t dated since I was like 26 and love my cat, he’s my dude! Also, I don’t want kids, not because I hate them or anything; I just don’t think it’s for me. I don’t get the whole peopling thing either. Just realized I have liked travelling for the past couple of years, so I started being an OTR trucker. It’s pretty cool for guys like us if you ask me. I drove through the Grand Canyon the utter day, and it was f- beautiful, my guy.”
2 I’m Just a Very Touch-Oriented Person
Pets, throw blankets and soft pillows are the hugs of the home-alone world. Now don’t misunderstand us; there’s something really super special about cuddling with your pets. (Imagine all that understanding and love without any of the backtalk or arguments!) But being touch-starved is a real thing. Whether everyone is willing to trade in their singleness for someone to come home to, and to hug just depends on the person though.
One Redditor posted, “Nope. It’s not the relationship factor. I’m just a very touch-oriented person. Not being able to touch someone just hurts. I want to touch someone, but I want them actually to like me.”
One user replied, “Oh my god, it’s the touch, for sure. It’s so unbelievably easy to go literal months without being touched by a human being. I’m so touch-starved, but there’s no outlet for it in society anywhere except relationships.”
3. We Expected a Fairytale
One reason so many people are shy of commitment to another individual for the rest of their lives is that they’ve grown up on the fairytales with the magical endings, and then they’ve been sucker-punched by the reality of struggling marriages, and the hard work that relationships require. It’s enough to make anyone shy of marriage. It’s true: marriages take a lot of effort and forgiveness. There’s a lot of joy to be found in loving and sacrificing for another person, but it’s not going to be a walk in the park, and you have to know that before you choose it.
“Yeah, we all pictured a Disney movie and then had to deal with reality. Very tired of this narrative with a House, a Spouse, and a couple of kids = endless happiness,” commented one user.
One user replied, “I think, in general, we struggle with the myth of ‘if I get to this state, I’ll have happiness .’ You get there, and you want something else. Happiness is a process/journey, not a destination. You can have the nicest house, the best spouse, great kids, go on great vacations, fancy cars, etc., and be f- miserable.”
4. I’m Extremely Lonely
Regardless of whether you’re hoping to get married, all of us were designed to live in some sort of community, with some sort of friendship around us. And sometimes, that’s really hard to find outside of family.
One user shared, “No, I’m extremely lonely.”
One user stated, “Thank you for saying what most of us think. I have my parents as a support system, but if I didn’t have them, I would literally be on the street, mostly by choice but also to better survive financially. I’ve been in a relationship most of my adult life, and even though I was the codependent one, I always had things put together and looking back, I don’t even know how I did it. I am finally setting boundaries and knowing my worth, and I’ve never felt so lonely. Then I try to put myself out there, and guys love my personality but don’t find me physically attractive, and I’m just throwing my hands up like apparently I can’t f- play this game anymore.”
5 Not a Fan of the “Single and Happy” Mantra Anymore
Ultimately, the reality is that happiness isn’t tied to marriage or singleness. Your happiness is tied to you. Your mental health, your ability to choose what brings you joy, and your ability to find joy or contentment even when things don’t work out well for you are the real factors that will determine your satisfaction with life, regardless of whether you marry or not.
One Redditor posted, “I’m not really a fan anymore of the whole ‘single and happy’ mantra, like being single is just a state of being, happiness isn’t tied to happy with it. Like you can be in a relationship and be miserable, too, you know what I mean?
“For someone who’s never been in a relationship? Am I single and happy? No. Am I single and miserable? No. I’m just single. It’s just the state I’m in.”
However, one user responded, “That’s why it’s called single AND happy. The conjunction ‘and’ allows one to describe two states of being.”
6. I’m Not Good at Spotting Red Flags in People
Marriage is a serious step, and your spouse isn’t someone you want to be mistaken about later on. If you’re not able to find somebody who loves, respects and enjoys you, then yeah, the goal of marriage should probably take a back seat for a while.
“Most of the relationships I’ve had, I’ve either been cheated on, abused, or both. I’ve had partners who take endlessly and never give. My last relationship was really terrible, and he mistreated me horribly. I have accepted that I’m just not good at spotting red flags in people, and I guess I’m not a great judge of character, so for my own safety and sanity, I need to be alone. Being alone is better than being with someone who actively chooses to mistreat you and doesn’t view you as a partner but rather a domestic servant.
“I wish my life would have turned out differently because I’d like to know what it feels like to be loved. But it’s not in the cards for me. Other than that, I try to be as happy as I can. I have a lot of hobbies and don’t often get bored or lonely. I’m certainly happier not being abused,” shared one Redditor.
7. Don’t Want to Change Who I Am Anymore
An online user said, “I could have written this. I worked on my codependent tendencies, but I don’t want to change who I am anymore. I like that I’m easygoing and kind. But I realized that most people are not, and I end up being taken advantage of endlessly, so I decided it’s better to be alone.
“In answer to the question, I AM happy. It’s not because I’m single or despite it. I have been happy in relationships and out of them. Happiness is more about being at peace with yourself, aligning with your values, and having a purpose. I have all those things with or without a partner. Looking for one felt like an exercise in futility, so I stopped and just started living my life. And I love it.”
8. Sometimes Happy, Many Times Lonely
Whether you’re touch oriented, want somebody to talk to, or just wish there were somebody to come home to, another person present in the house—marriage can be hugely satisfying. Loneliness is nearing epidemic proportions in the US these days, and it’s an ache that never fully goes away without a strong community of family or friends around you. To be fair, there are lonely marriages as well, and many people with happy marriages and strong family and friend relationships feel lonely from time to time. But the feelings are likely to be less pervasive with a spouse or even roommates in your life.
One user commented, “Sometimes happy, many times lonely.”
9. Would Rather Want Something I’ll Never Have Than Have Something I Never Wanted
“My grandma used to say ‘I would rather go through life wanting something that I could never have rather than having something I never wanted.’
“We have the most significant single population that we have ever had. At least, we live in a time when we have a choice. Many of the women in my family were almost guilted into marriage,” one user added.
10. I’m Solely Responsible for Everything
One user shared, “No, the way I see it, even if you ignore the mental health aspects of isolation, it’s made my life MUCH harder. I’m solely responsible for paying for and doing everything on my own. I have no feedback from others on any of the decisions I made. Pretty much no one knows where I am or what I’m doing. My life feels sort of meaningless and without connection as a result. I’d say it’s about as damaging to my overall quality of life as being broke and unemployed, and it’s made me much lazier and more pessimistic as a person as a result.”
11. Trying to Be Happy on My Own
One user said, “I’m trying to be happy alone. However, there are a few things I know for sure:
“Humans are wired for connection (romantic and platonic). Successful mating is the single biggest biological driver we have. Our society generally reinforces the idea that we need a partner to be whole and happy.
“I have accepted that I will never be the happiest version of myself without the right long-term romantic relationship. However, I’m still pretty happy being single. I’m glad I can say so, as this has prevented me from marrying the wrong person several times.
“I’d much rather be single and a little lonely than coupled up with someone that I’m not madly in love with.”
12. Become a Cat Dad
Another user posted, “I’ve become a cat dad. The relationships I’ve tried can’t handle my work schedule for one reason or another. I’d love for a companion, but video games keep me happy enough.”
As much as we value human connection, it’s important to have good boundaries with unhealthy people, and to fill those needs for connection in ways that nurture you. For example, with cats.
13. I Have Good and Bad Days
One Redditor added, “I would say I have good and bad days. I’m a 30-year-old, single woman who hasn’t dated anyone in over 9 years. I have wanted to, but it never seems to work out. The times I have shown interest in someone, it wasn’t mutual and vice versa. I would love to get married and have kids one day, but in the dating culture of today, it seems harder and harder to believe it can happen.”
14. Not Comfortable Settling Down
“I’m more comfortable in my off-and-on relationships rather than settling down yk, but my social anxiety keeps me from seeking out new relationships, so idk. It certainly is less stressful, as some people might say, because you don’t have to worry about keeping tabs on another person, or trying to focus on their happiness as well as your own. But sometimes loneliness seems overwhelming, but there are other things you can do to overcome it rather than thinking that happiness can only come from relationships,” stated one user.
15. I Am Responsible for My Own Happiness
One user shared his brightness and posted, “Yes. I am responsible for my happiness whether it be with or without a partner.”
It’s true: ultimately, even the glow of a new romantic relationship will wear off, and you’ll get into fights with the spouse you love more than anyone else in the world. So whether you’re married or single, perfectly content or wishing things were different, remember that joy get to choose how you react to your own situation, and you can make the best of it wherever your path lies.
What do you think of the statements listed above? Share your thoughts down in the comments!
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