Choose your “hard!”
We’ve all heard that before – Being obese is hard. Getting fit is hard. Choose your hard. Being in debt is hard. Being financially disciplined is hard. Choose your hard. Divorce is hard. Working on your marriage is hard. Choose your hard.
I choose the single life, and it is hard.
After years of marriage, marriage counseling and separation, I found myself back in the dating world at 50. I knew I needed to work on myself and heal before jumping into the world of online dating. And that is exactly what I did. I worked on myself, faced my truths and got myself into a space where I felt I was ready to attempt romance again.
Nobody ever talks about the fact that once you are done healing it’s nearly impossible to date as you see red flags in everybody. You see so many things that you are not willing to compromise because you actually trust your intuition.
Imagine that, after years of being told I was wrong and that my opinion did not matter, I was actually trusting my own intuition. I had healed.
When dating later in life, you can see things that are issues with people that you won’t be able to get over later on in the relationship so you don’t allow your feelings to get in the way of logic. You just end it before it gets too serious. Additionally, you realize how many people are not actually working on themselves and are just seeking a fix for their loneliness. They are not actually capable of a normal relationship. It becomes exhausting.
As men we are taught to be brave, so after an awful marriage and lots of healing I made the decision to get out there again.
At 50 years old I was online dating for the first time. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to swipe right or left, so I pressed the little heart at the bottom of the screen instead. I would eventually match, get a first date, then a second, which would eventually lead to intimacy and that gave me validation.
I’d quickly stop ignoring the red flags and then end things. Rinse and repeat, swipe left, swipe right. Then you meet that special one, the one that you couldn’t wait to see again, the one with two different laughs with your favorite being the one that makes her nose crinkle because it was the genuine laugh, the one where intimacy became secondary but so much fun.
But you ignore the red flags, because you are happy and think that you have healed, and the universe has rewarded you for your hard work. Then comes the “It’s not you; it’s me” speech delivered while sitting in your car in the parking lot after a late breakfast. You stare at the steering wheel and take in every word of the speech, while all the red flags that you choose to ignore are slapping you in the face.
More healing is required, and the best way to do that is to strap on the motorcycle helmet and go for a ride. After all, you never see a motorcycle parked outside of a psychiatrist office. But it’s Winter and there is over a meter of snow on the ground.
Strapping on the snow shoes and going for a walk in nature is a distant second in the healing process, but it’s all I have.
And once I could no longer feel my toes it finally hit, the times I was the happiest, truly happy, I was single.
I choose to stay single.
One of the main difficulties of being single is the societal pressure to be in a relationship. From a young age, we are taught that being in a relationship is a normal and desired part of life. This pressure can come from family, friends, and even strangers, who may ask questions such as “Why are you still single?” or “Don’t you want to find someone to settle down with?”
This constant pressure can make it difficult for some people to enjoy their single status and can even make them feel like there is something wrong with them for not being in a relationship. And these comments can become harsh: “What’s wrong with you, why don’t you have a girlfriend?” or “Do you think you’re something special” or “Don’t be so picky, who do you think you are Brad Pitt?”
None of this helps you feel welcome in social settings and can often lead to periods of isolation.
Another difficulty comes from the holidays and the frequent “plus one” events. I could take Miss Swipe Right, but I really don’t know her well, and more importantly I have to worry that it is perceived to elevate her to girlfriend status. Don’t want that. Or she could be like that woman your co-worker invited to the company Christmas party – very attractive but couldn’t hold her alcohol and ending up falling face first into the prize table.
I think I will go alone and face the possible gauntlet of “why are you single” questions, or have one of my distant cousins try and set me up with their friend where the only thing we have in common is being single. Or I could just stay home, which over the holidays can feel extra lonely. The loneliness can be overwhelming at times, but I would rather be alone than with someone who is not right for me.
However, being single also has its benefits. One of the biggest benefits of being single is the freedom it provides. When you’re single, you have the freedom to make your own choices and live your life on your own terms. You don’t have to worry about compromising or pleasing someone else, and you can pursue your passions and interests without feeling guilty. You never have to answer “Where are you going?” or “Who are you going with?” or “When are you coming back?” and that feels like freedom.
And I have to say that the best financial advice I have ever received has been “Stay single and your pockets will jingle.”
Additionally, being single can be a great opportunity to focus on self-improvement and self-discovery. When you’re not in a relationship, you have more time and energy to devote to yourself, and you can use that time to work on personal growth and development. This can include things like learning new skills, traveling, or even just taking time to relax and take care of yourself.
I used to think that was something that women did at overpriced day spas. Part of my healing journey involved self-care and made me realize that it was something everyone needs, be it sleeping in an extra hour, taking time to read, paying your bills on time, journaling, meditating, walking in nature or buying a grappling dummy and punching it in the face. Yes! Self-care a critical part of the healing journey.
At the end of the day, healing is bittersweet.
You are ready, but the world is not, and you have to learn to adapt and be patient and trust in the process.
Greg Powell’s blog can be found here: www.gregsadventure.com