Monday, September 25, 2006

Can We Be Happy Being Single?

The self-help books proclaim it is better to be happy being "single" before you are truly ready for a relationship. In my musings on this, I've come to the conclusion that there are 4 states we can be in:

1) Happy in a committed relationship (secure)
2) Unhappy in a committed relationship (trapped)
3) Unhappy single (lonely)
4) Happy single (secure)

Of course "happy" is a relative term, and most of us are somewhere between happy and unhappy regardless of what our relationship status is. Maybe one day we feel very happy in our committed relationship, then we have an argument and we quickly move to feeling unhappy. When I was married, I fluctuated between states 1 and 2 quite a bit. Now that I'm single I fluctuate between states 3 and 4 all the time. One day I might feel totally lucky that I am single with all its freedoms and the next I am feeling incredibly lonely and depressed.

The state I ultimately want to be in, though, is state 1 (happy in a committed relationship). Before I was married when I wasn't in a relationship, I was in state 4 (happily single) because I never doubted that eventually I'd fall in love and get married. And I was naive enough to think that when I got married, I'd never fall into state 2, and I certainly never thought I'd get divorced. I was very secure in my innocent, romantic, singleness.

I no longer feel that security and I wonder if it will ever be possible for me to enjoy a totally "happy single" state. I hate to give up the romantic hope of state 1, but age and experience have made me cynical.

I will most likely be single for the rest of my life and I'm trying to figure out a way to be happy and secure with that. It seems like the only way to be totally happy with it is to give up that hope of love. As long as I'm hoping, then the disappointment and loneliness of not having it keeps me in State 3. You hear all the time that when you stop looking, it will happen. But, if our motive to stop looking is to find something, then we are still looking...or at least still find love.

I will probably continue to fluctuate between states 3 and 4 (hopefully, most of the time in state 4). I try to remember that even if I were to find that sought-after love, I'd be fluctuating between states 1 and 2. And in the long run, our real happiness comes from our relationship with ourself. My new goal: State 5: Happy with myself!

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