ColumnSix reasons it’s hot to be single right now.
American women are marrying later in life than ever before – the Pew Research Center just released a report indicating the average marrying age is now 28. Coupling-up and exchanging wedding bands used to be considered the gateway into adulthood. Now, individuals trend toward greater concern for their own self-growth, postponing marriage until their personal lives are in order – college, career, world travel, financial security, emotional preparedness. The maturity and economic stability that come with age actually makes divorce less likely for those who wed in their late 20s or 30s. Delaying long-term partnership actually increases its chances for lifelong success.
It is a uniquely privileged point in human history to be without the imperative to trade nuptials and reproduce as soon as you leave home. Our culture of singledom is, in fact, an anthropological luxury. Then why is it that so many of my girlfriends – attractive, twenty and thirtysomething urbanites with rewarding jobs in creative fields – are so focused on circumventing their singleness and honing in on a man who’s the one? In my view, no pursuit could be more pointless. What other opportunity in all of your days will you have the choice to be alone? Maximize this chance while you can. Being single is a temporary state you should relish, rather than run away from. Now is the time to luxuriate in the pleasure of yourself unto yourself, with the how and why all laid out neatly in our weekly Sex by Numbers:
1. Unbearable Lightness of Being: Inevitably, most humans shack up and make babies; indeed, the bulk of women reading this article will spend the greater percentage of their existence in the role of mother and domestic partner. Probably you’ll cohabitate, maybe you’ll marry, and likely over the course of your lifetime you’ll end up doing this several times. The fact of the matter is that your lifespan provides precious few periods to be recklessly happy and accountable to no one but yourself. Women across time and culture could only fantasize about such unprecedented freedom and lightness of being.
2. No One Is Going to Save You: All the struggle, striving, and fretting to find a man is misdirected. This attitude can make you worrisome, stingy, single-minded, and unattractive. Your interior state, no matter how much a person seeks to hide it, manifests in your exterior – whether that be a complaining disposition, lines on your face that register self-pity, or an unhealthy body that reflects emotional and psychological imbalance. Try as one might, there is no masking disproportionate attention on meeting the man you think might save you from your single state. Hear this: If you’re really in need of saving, the only one who can accomplish this is you.
3. No Overeager Beavers: Don’t shy away from sharing affection and enjoying new experiences with men – just don’t peg hopes or expectations on him. It’s not fair to the guy and, even worse, leads to the aforementioned single-mindedness. He and you have only known one another a short while – whether that be a week or a year – and you have no obligations toward and no contract with one another. Be excited about novel experiences, fresh input, and animal attraction – but chill, girl. It’s much sexier to exercise remove than overeager projection of desire.
4. There’s Nobody Eating Finger Paint: You don’t have to clean up after your careless and untidy domestic partner, nor do you have to reason with your four-year-old daughter about the dangers of ingesting her finger paint. Right now, you have only to attend to your personal needs, and you should do so lavishly. Never again will you get to live for yourself, and only yourself. I’m not going to patronize you by enumerating the endless (and endlessly cool) healthy habits and hobbies you could be cultivating, but you’d better be damn sure to throw yourself headlong into the one shot you’ve got at kicking ass and taking names. (In my world, this might include learning how to pickle sweet summer vegetables, taking an Afro-Haitian dance class, learning conversational German, and downloading lots of Noam Chomsky podcasts to listen to on my morning walk to work.)
5. Be the Girl Who’s Game: There is no better opportunity to cultivate a circle of intimates than the present. The profound sense of connection borne of romantic relationship is infinitely rewarding, but so is being the life of the party and belonging to an ever-expanding network of friends. So long as another person is worth the time and energy, never turn down a social invitation: Who knows what meeting for tapas and sangria with a loose circle of acquaintances will lead to? Every cocktail party, every lunch date, and every let’s-go-jogging-together-at-the-park could very well result in unforeseen adventure.
6. Savor Selectivity: The city, and all the boys in it, are your playground – but don’t you remember that the best part of recess was choosing the swing-set over the see-saw? If this metaphor isn’t clear, let me spell it out: Sure, it’s fun to try out all of the implements and apparatuses on the playground, but it’s much more fun to avoid the the tennis courts if you don’t like balls flying at your face. Get it? If a guy asks you out, it’s okay to say No, thank you. The aforementioned be-game-for-anything doctrine doesn’t apply to meh men. It’s much more fun to stick with the hot shit rather than tolerate something mediocre just because you feel lonely. Go on a late-night bike ride, grab a drink with a colleague, or buck caution and stay out late dancing with friends. Whatever you do, don’t let him touch you unless you’re grooving him without equivocation. Being selective is sexy, but more so it spares you unnecessary emotional clutter. This summer, minimalism is tres chic.
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Sex By Numbers is an ongoing look into the emotional and sexual lives of the modern day woman. Follow Abigail Wick weekly here for insight and inspiration as she explores the “sex” of women and the terrain they must travel.
Image: Anthony Albright