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Though I've been part of a couple for most of my adult life, I've spent enough time as a single lady to know what it's like. So I'm well aware of the drawbacks of the solo life, but I also know that it can be a time of exploration, adventure, sexual freedom and a good dose of well-deserved selfishness.
See also: 10 great cities for older singles.
In fact, I'd even go as far as saying that the joys of living alone are very much underappreciated. Yes, there are times when you feel lonely and even isolated. And singles must compromise to make their lives safer and enjoyable, but so do married people — and sometimes I think the married group actually has the tougher task.
In his book Going Solo, New York University sociologist Eric Klineberg found that people adapt very well to an uncoupled life.
So if you are single, whether by chance or by choice, change your perspective a little. There are creative ways to go it alone: shared housing; social activity groups; social media; reciprocal support from friendship circles.
The travel industry has begun easing restrictions on solo travelers, and mixed or single-sex tours for the unattached are soaring in popularity — Bahamas cruises, Provence wineries, Nepal trekking. In other words, with a circle of supportive friends and family, you can accomplish much the same that spouses and live-in relationships offer, and maybe more.
And if you still seek a relationship, who's to say it's not right around the corner? Not only might you meet someone on that group baseball outing, but dating websites have exploded, many free. Whether you seek a partner or just companionship, the options are as near as your keyboard. (And here are a few tips to make a great first date.)
But as long as you are living alone, here are a few of what I think are the bonuses:
1. Raiding the refrigerator at 1 a.m., knowing that mango sorbet is there for you and you alone.
2. Decorating as you please — no more "his" favorite orange recliner or "her" Twilight books front and center on the shelf.
3. Going to bed when you please and reading with the light as bright as you really need.
4. Dancing in the living room (naked? Why not?) and crooning in the shower without anyone laughing.
5. Spending all the time — alone! — in the bathroom as you need, spreading out your stuff, hogging the outlets and making any rude noises you need to.
6. Buying the food (clothes, movies, cars) you want, with your money, without worrying about someone else's tastes.
7. Having as many dogs, cats, ferrets or miniature ponies as you damn well please.
8. No more late-night calls from your partner's clients, relatives, children, grandchildren, tenants or exes ...
9. ... And on that note, getting to sleep in the middle — or even diagonally — on the bed if you want, all by yourself, and no one tossing and turning next to you.
10. Not having to compromise on your dream of what city, neighborhood or type of housing you want to live in.
I could go on and on with this list, and those who have co-habited at length will certainly contribute. We forget that sharing space with a person requires a lot of compromise, and over time this can lead to annoyance if not resentment.
Still, most of us probably would rather be with someone we love, whatever the cost. But while alone, you may have freedoms, even the smallest ones, you maybe never even considered. If you fear a future without a partner, occasionally revisit the blessings of being alone — make your own list if you like.
Living alone again is not necessarily about loss; it can be about an opportunity to explore options and, more important, take control over your environment. You can set a new course without another person's interference. You can make your own rules. You can be the judge of what lifestyle you want. Living alone has its privileges. And very real joys.
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