At 69, I have been single all my life, despite hoping for Prince Charming as a little girl. Reading the Cinderella fairytale, I fantasised rapturously about living happily ever after with my prince; a loving father, an empathic confidante and sexy in bed.
Through adolescence, this fantasy faded as Women’s Liberation dictated a different destiny. Instead of being a mother and homemaker, I chose a challenging career, wanting a good man too.
After six months living with one male youth at 23, the relationship ended and I was on my own, without online dating services and usually too busy to socialise. Over the ensuing years, I indulged sexually with some male friends, the friendships never developing into more committed affairs.
By 30, I questioned even needing a man as I was my own good provider, looked after myself and entertained friends for company; time alone greatly appreciated. Still wanting sex, there were occasional dalliances, mostly unsatisfying, with toys offering an alternative but tantalising treat.
Despite liking my lifestyle, I felt stigmatised and shamed as a sad, spinster stereotype, struggling hard not to surrender my strong sense of self.
It didn’t ways work, as coupledom was so enshrined in the social milieu that melancholy was sometimes overwhelming.
Reaching 40, I realised how traditional, social conditioning had inadvertently impacted my emotional well-being, unconsciously playing havoc with my intellectual awareness with consequent conflict about being alone.
Wondering whether I was unwittingly self-deceptive enjoying single bliss, I fortunately understood it as symbolising a second-class, even subservient status by some. With this understanding, the psychological and pervasive pressure to partner passed, genuinely creating a calm contentment.
Continuing to work, owning my own home and with several good friends of both genders to share time with, I stopped lamenting being single as it was other people’s problem, not my own.
Revelling in attending movies and concerts alone, reading pensively, visiting art galleries and museums as well as watching sport, I was also a happy café customer, sipping my latte while perusing newspapers or magazines. Often, I chatted to people in these venues, making new acquaintances for other occasions; sometimes meeting a ‘simpatico’, available man for consensual sex, laughter and convivial conversation.
Staying alone, my faith in the single life strengthened, recognising many people married for the sake of it and social acceptance, possibly also to thwart the fear of being alone. With more than a third of marriages dissolving, being single should be blessed not bemoaned; it can enhance being alive!