I’m perfectly happy without a partner – but do I need one? | Relationships
The dilemma Do I need a man in my life? I am 52 years old and I have been a single mother for 14 years. Very occasionally I have seen men for purely physical reasons. I never felt like I wanted their company beyond that. The father of my child had addictions – gambling and drugs – which I didn’t discover until after the birth. It was a painful period. I recovered and got stronger as a result. I discovered that I like solitude even if I take care not to isolate myself. I know a lot of people and have a few that I would call close friends. I am now focused on my career, which is going well after many years of mostly parenting, which I loved.
I can’t afford to get past a certain point in a relationship and I struggle to see the value of allowing someone into my life. Discussing the value of being in a relationship, a friend said, “Well, it might give you a different perspective on life.” I guess sometimes I wonder if I’m missing something. I barely remember what it’s like to be close and have supportit was so long ago.
My previous relationships were with people who were physically or emotionally unavailable. It’s a painful thing to remember. I have a lot more love for me these days, I love my teenager and my pets. Is there really a need for a partnership relationship?
Philippa’s response If you ask yourself this question, you can probably do well without someone, but you could also thrive in a partnership. If you never ask this question, it’s because you probably know the answer anyway.
There’s a lot of research out there on the health, wellness, and cost benefits of being in a long-term relationship, and you could spend a few hours googling it all. You could go to therapy with a practitioner who specializes in attachment theory, to learn how you do or don’t form relationships. When we become more aware of these relational processes, then we can decide if we want to change our behavior – but I think what you’re really asking me here is: are you missing out?
Writer Naomi Alderman said the whole point of having a partner is having a witness for your life. While there are plenty of people who can live happily and successfully without a romantic partner, it’s a different experience to do so together. She added, “I like having someone around me watching me if I speak abruptly to a waiter.” She’s right. It’s important to have someone close who can challenge us but with good will. Teenagers are good at it. They can make us think about how we choose to live because they tend to question things, but the other thing with teenagers is that they’re probably going to leave the house.
I can imagine making yourself vulnerable with someone again might feel like putting your hand in a fire, so that might be an idea to undo your fears. Ask yourself, “What am I most afraid of in a relationship? What do I imagine they could do or prevent me from doing? »
If you go into a relationship again, it will be different now that you’ve learned to love yourself – you won’t settle for someone who makes you unhappy. You would know if they had any addictions and how they made you feel when you were with them. You can take your time. You can take things as far as you are comfortable with and no further. You don’t have to end a relationship you love just because you don’t want to share your whole life and live with them.
Sophie Heawood, single mother for years and author of The hangover games, told me that she recently realized that a romantic partner’s interest is as much about your experience outside the home as it is about your experience with him. She says her experience in the world has improved since she knows there is someone at home who loves her no matter what. She says, “It’s like wearing waterproof clothing after feeling like it rained a little too easily for many years.
For me, one of the reasons for having a partner is to have a mutual and equal relationship with someone you love, who accepts you exactly as you are and loves you, flaws and all. It is difficult in these circumstances not to grow as a person, not to have more courage, generosity and love to give, not only to your partner but to everyone. If you ask other people why, there might be as many answers as there are people.
You seem satisfied with your work, you know a lot of people and have good friends, so you have witnesses to your life. You also have people to have fun with, who give you different perspectives, who you can call on, and who make you feel good. I think if you find a romantic partner, it will be the icing on a cake well done. And if you think you prefer your cake without frosting, that’s fine too.
Listen to Stephen Sondheim’s song Being Alive from the musical Company.
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