Sunday, June 18, 2017

How Can I Develop a Life that Feels Worthy as a Single Person?

My friend is recently single.  She has a school-age child.  She asked me this:

“How can I develop a life that feels worthy, that doesn’t need to be validated by being shared with a romantic partner, that is a “stand-alone experience,” so if I am romantically abandoned, I can get up and be resilient?”

She said she wanted to feel anchored internally to her own life.  She did not want to need an external anchor.  I answered her question by email.  It went something like this:


My first thought to her is regarding roles we play.  She no longer experiences the role of girlfriend, wife, committed partner, or lover.  She is now playing the role of “single person” which she said she was enjoying.

Single person is a good role, especially now that so many of her other roles are being embodied. These roles include graduate with advanced degrees, interesting jobs, and mother.  I imagine there are many other roles – so that is my first question to her was this, "What other roles are you playing now?  What new roles do you have room for now that you are no longer a committed partner?"

Committed partner is one of many roles – but it is a special and important one.  I’ll get back to this shortly.


Indeed, we can “hear our being dance from ear to ear” if we pay attention.  So there is also a part of us to be celebrated that is part of creation, part of the oneness of all existence.

In the absence of a committed romantic relationship, we discover and more fully experience many roles.  We get to know ourselves better.  We have a chance to reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of previous committed romantic relationships.  We can ask ourselves what we wanted those relationships to become, what we consciously ignored, what surprised us as things evolved.  We can ask ourselves what we want and need now in order to be on a firmer footing. 

We might discover that we don’t need to be validated by sharing our lives with a romantic partner, but we simply prefer to share our lives with a romantic partner.  We are validated by our own freely made choices of how to live in the world, how to relate in our jobs, how to treat our family, friends, and others we encounter through work and play.  We are validated by how we share our knowledge and give of ourselves and how we hold ourselves back so we can be present the next day.


And then we might find ourselves in the company of another single person who is also interested in enhancing his life or her life by fully engaging in a life together.

If we are romantically abandoned, we grieve.  It’s sad, but we are not defeated.  The role of lover of that person might be over, but the role of lover of life is not.