Ever notice that people who are spied eating alone in public are vaguely frowned upon? They’re thought to be lonely people who, for whatever reason, can’t seem to find a partner or make friends. A hermit. A loser. Pathetic.
Dining solo is not for the faint of heart.
Many people will opt to stay home if they have no one to dine with but even that can’t help us to feel better about ourselves. How many times have you seen a TV or movie portrayal of a person happily enjoying a solitary meal at home? That’s right. Never. Instead it’s seen as the epitome of loneliness and is usually witnessed by an adversary peering through the window, realizing, at last, that someone they thought was bold, fearless, self-assured and confident is actually a desolate, empty and desperate recluse deserving of pity.
In the writing of this article I researched the synonyms for “lonely person” and guess what I came up with? “Single person”. I kid you not.
I don’t know about you but I’ve had enough. Who says we can’t eat alone?
We Ain’t Gonna Take It Anymore
I’d like to clear something up right here and now. I DO have friends, some single and some married or partnered (that I’m also friends with). I could eat dinner with any one of them, anytime I wanted to.
And, yes, I’m single but only because I choose to be. After the death of my husband, nearly 15 years ago, I decided to live my life by focusing on what’s important to me. I’ve helped to organize a number of fundraising campaigns, traveled, pursued some hobbies I’ve always been interested in and have spent as much time as I’ve wanted with my friends, children, grandchildren, parents and siblings. I’ve worked where I wanted and moved on when it no longer suited me. I can eat whatever I want, with whoever I want, wherever I want. Even all by myself.
I thoroughly enjoyed spending 25+ years being married to a wonderful man and raising children. Now I’m thoroughly enjoying living my life for me.
It’s Not You
In 1960, 69% of the total US households were headed by married couples while households headed by single people only accounted for 13% of the population. By 2019 the number of married couples had dropped to 48% while the number of single person households had risen to 31%.
What does this mean? Why, in this world, where it’s easier than ever to meet people and find a mate, should the number of single people be rising? Is love dead? Is commitment a thing of the past? You may be pleased to know that studies show that love and marriage are still popular ideas among single people.
So what is it then? Is it simply because we can’t find that love we hold in such high esteem? Are single people destined to live a solitary life only to die alone and be eaten by their cats?
The fact is that both men and women alike, whether never married, divorced or widowed, are finding that there’s just no good reason to rush into things.
These days a woman can “safely” live alone and secure a job that allows her to support herself. Neither men nor women need marriage to lend them the respectability to advance in their careers, engage in social activities or even raise a family. We’re finding that we can live our lives while waiting to meet someone we truly connect with instead of feeling that we’re somehow not complete until we’re partnered.
So What’s The Problem?
Why does society still look at us with a raised eyebrow? Why do others assume we’re lonely? That we can’t possibly be happy without a partner? Maybe it’s simply because it’s happened so quickly that societal attitudes haven’t had a chance to catch up.
Or maybe it’s because we let them. Maybe some small part of us allows ourselves to be embarrassed by the simple fact that we want (and need) to eat.
Single people tend to be more socially connected and spend more time with friends and family members than their married peers, who tend to have a more contained existence that involves their own household. Singles often care more about their own personal growth and pursuing meaningful work, tending to follow their dreams while many married couples are more focused expanding on their material growth. This leads more singles to report being happier, more fulfilled and less lonely than some married people.
And, more importantly, singles have the freedom to pursue these things. We also have the freedom to pull into a restaurant simply because we’re hungry. Isn’t that what they’re there for?
Lastly, we have the freedom to take down time, to decide that we’d like some quiet time to ourselves, to eat what we want and not have to entertain anyone. I, for one, treasure my quiet evenings with a good meal, a book and the utter silence that allows me to rest my mind, body and spirit. That doesn’t make me lonely, desperate or sad. To the contrary, it makes me quite happy.
No Pity Zone
Hold your head up. Be proud that you’re living your life on your terms without settling, without compromise, without bending to the opinions of those who don’t know you well enough to know that you’re perfect just the way you are.
Because there’s no shame in being single.
All my best,