Sex by Numbers: Can I Stay Single but Commit to One Man?

ColumnIs it possible to fall in love while still retaining your freedom?

This week I received a philosophically-compelling letter from a friend back in the States. This year, like me, she has elected to be single after a long term relationship and has been savoring the sweetness of her alone time. This isn’t to say that her experience has been a flipping frolic in the rhododendrons, but rather that she has been pleased to witness her own strength, gratified by her solitude, and keen on exploring her self-sovereignty.

She has indulged in a few one-night stands, finding fresh encounters with new men both purgative and healing, but she has recently found herself in the awkward position of falling in love when it’s the last thing she was looking for. The guy is a formidable mind, severely handsome and a leader in his community, and their intimacy is the product of respect and mutuality. My friend, who has for the past few months been so emboldened by her single status, is quite rightly freaking out. She is not interested in giving up a good thing like her freedom.

In her letter to me, she posed this question: Can a girl fall in love without losing her liberty? Well, damned if I know, but it sure as hell doesn’t hurt to examine the matter and try to figure it out. Here it goes: EcoSalon’s weekly Sex by Numbers, penned as an open letter to my dear friend and in truth, as much a letter to myself as it is to her:

You are privileged. For 99.9 percent of human history, women have rarely had the choice to be alone. Marriage and family were inflexible obligations beginning in one’s teenage years, and you are absolutely and utterly privileged to have space and self-determination to develop as a person in your own right. At the same time, there are scores of contemporary women who, unlike you, never made the decision to be single and who deeply yearn for companionship and relief from loneliness. You are so lucky to be at such a juncture, to have the power and privilege to chart a trajectory of your own choosing. Be flooded with gratitude for it.

You are whole. It is a many splendored thing to be a full and psychologically integrated creature with a sound mind, a convention-defying career of your own making, and an emotionally rich life teeming with people from around the world who love and adore you. You are the rare sort of woman who is unafraid to kneel down and kiss the ground in worship for life, despite all of its inanity and cruelty. You inspire others to be bigger than themselves and recognize their belonging to a sum far vaster than their own small experience. You are complete and ever becoming.

You are uncompromising. You have said it yourself, repeatedly, that it is in your best interest to stay single right now. I am reminding you of your own voice and convictions. It’s so nice to make love with a beautiful man and allow the neurochemical spell of sexuality to lull you into its sweet embrace. In fact, there’s nothing easier in the world than falling into a relationship. A partnership is nourishing, it offers the comfort of safety. It’s also the very thing that distances you from confronting you and from staring headlong at the bullshit and personal history from which it’s far more pleasant to run from than reckon. Don’t give up your reckoning. Don’t obfuscate the demons of your own heart with yet another boyfriend. Please wait, don’t bend, and choose the hard road. You know it will be worth it in the end.

You can have it all. I am by no means suggesting you abandon this very joyful and pleasurable development in your life, but simply encourage self-governance and vigilance. Yes! Revel in the effervescence and ecstasy. Give yourself over to love and longing. Be heedlessly sexual and luxuriate in all manner of life affirming things. At the same time, steel yourself. Guard that dark-black onyx stone in your heart of hearts. Don’t show it. It’s not for sharing. I don’t believe that openness and affection are incompatible with hardness. I believe that a woman is validly wild and free only when her emotions are kept in check and uncomplicated. Complication is the enemy of pleasure.

You can cultivate non-attachment. This isn’t hippie science, this is the modern woman’s way. Be in love, but be methodical. Don’t project a future onto him/it/you. Curry your freedom with the same measure of passion you do your orgasm. Being in relationship with a man doesn’t have to mean being in a relationship with him, dig?

You can have so much sex. Awesome! Keep it up. Sex by Numbers unequivocally endorses this. Do it with abandon and send me frequent (and immodest) updates.

Thank you for inspiring me to be a better person and, what’s more, thank you for being my friend.

With heaps of love and admiration,

Abigail xoxo

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.