I’d rather be married. Why does admitting it feel so shameful?
It seems like whenever a newly-divorced celebrity gives an interview, she follows the same script.
She’s enjoying life on her own, she’s focusing on her work, she and her ex are better off as friends, there are no bad feelings, and she’s perfectly happy to be single.
So last year when Angelina Jolie told the Sunday Telegraph that she hates being single, it was a breath of fresh air. “It’s not something I wanted,” said Jolie – even though she’s the one who filed for divorce. “There’s nothing nice about it. It’s just hard.”
Like Jolie, I’m a single mother. Also like her, I initiated the split from my husband. And now we have something else in common: we prefer to be part of a couple. (Sadly, that’s where the similarities end.)
It’s been hard for me to own up to that, even to myself. After all, I’m always saying I don’t regret getting divorced, that it was the right decision for my family, and that being a single mum isn’t so bad. In fact, in some ways, it’s easier. If I say I hate being alone, it feels like I’m breaking some sort of unspoken code: women are supposed to be strong and independent; we aren’t supposed to need men.
Single? You’ll definitely relate to this video…
And I don’t. I’m okay on my own. But a lot of the time, it’s lonely. When I took my daughter trick-or-treating on Halloween and saw couples and families dressed up and looking sweet together, I felt sad – like I’d failed at the thing that was most important to me. I had to remind myself that I’d spent plenty of Halloweens with my husband, and they weren’t always so idyllic.
I remember a Halloween when my husband and I were first dating: I stayed up late sewing a costume for him to wear to a party; he was an angel to my devil. I thought it was cute because he was the one more likely to be seen as devilish – the goateed artist and longtime bachelor, dating a cute blonde college student 17 years his junior. But he hated wearing the costume, and my feelings were hurt – along with my fingers, which I’d accidentally stabbed multiple times while making his wings.
Married and miserable, single and successful?
What I’ve come to realize lately is that although, in the end, I didn’t want to be married to my husband anymore, I still wanted to be married. I liked being married. I liked sharing a bed with someone every night, snuggling up close while we fell asleep and reaching for each other in the morning. I liked knowing I’d always have someone to kiss at midnight on New Year’s Eve, and having two families to spend holidays with. I liked having backup – liked being part of a team. I liked being someone’s partner; being a unit. I don’t want to do life alone.
But social scientist and author Bella DePaulo, author of Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After, is an outspoken advocate for staying single. As a 60-something woman who’s been single her whole life, and having conducted multiple studies of single people versus married people, she claims singles have it better than couples in lots of ways.
The Mamamia Out Loud team discuss why more women are opting to be on their own instead of in a relationship..
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“Lifelong single people…do more to maintain their ties to friends, siblings, parents, neighbours, and coworkers than married people do,” DePaulo writes in Psychology Today. “They do more than their share of volunteering and helping people, such as ageing parents, who need a lot of help. They experience more autonomy and self-determination, and more personal growth and development.”