For some people, living their best life means choosing to stay single – and that doesn’t make them “commitment phobes”.
We live in a society which is designed for couples. From the beginning of adulthood, there’s an unspoken expectation that we will start the search for a relationship; that the very pinnacle of success is settling down with a partner and existing as a pair.
But what if – and here’s a crazy thought – some people just suit the single life better? That instead of thriving in a romantic relationship, as society seems to imagine we all do, there are those of us who live our best lives when we’re single?
According to Bella DePaulo, author of Singled Out, many people who brand themselves as “commitment phobes” because they struggle to thrive in a romantic relationship are actually just “single at heart”.
“The people who wonder if they – or their partner – are commitment phobic describe all sorts of preferences that all seem to suggest the same thing: they don’t really want to be with a romantic partner,” DePaulo writes for Psychology Today.
“They are the people I call ‘single at heart’,” she continues. “For them, single life is their best life. Living single is not just better than being in a bad relationship; it is not a default status or a Plan B. Living single is how they live their best, most fulfilling, most authentic and most meaningful life.”
Of course, DePaulo admits, there are those people who do struggle with commitment phobia – they have a deep desire to be in a romantic relationship, but can’t seem to do what it takes to make it stick. But, as she explains, it’s about time we understand that not everyone who is single does so because they can’t find a partner: that for some people, singledom is a liberating and healthy choice.
Referring to the phenomenon of “matrimania” – aka our obsession with marriage and coupling – DePaulo also explores how hard it can be for some people to even realise they don’t want to be in a romantic relationship, because they internalise all the subliminal messages that say relationships are the only way to live.
Recognising that it’s OK to be single could actually benefit for us all, even if we enjoy being in a relationship: there are lots of lessons to be learnt from spending time single when you’ve spent a considerable amount of time in a relationship.
Indeed, as Queer Eye’s Jonathan Van Ness previously told Stylist, the most important relationship we can work on is the one we have with ourselves.
“It’s so important to focus on building a relationship with ourselves. I think we focus too much on our relationships with others – romantic relationships, friendship relationships,” he said.
“Really focus on that relationship with yourself honey because that one’s just really so important.”
It’s about time the single-life stopped being perceived as such a scary and undesirable thing, and talked about as an empowering choice anyone can make at any point in their life.