As I get older I ponder a lot on the pros and cons of life without a partner, without children. Did I want to end up here? There was no plan to be this way! For many of us the search for a significant other simply never gets off the ground. I look around and see couples everywhere, all shapes and sizes, all types and nationalities and sometimes I think – where did I go wrong? If I’m being honest, I never really tried that hard. I think I was too independent to want to share and maybe a subtle signal went out to the world that I wasn’t partner material. Whatever it was, my dates were few and far between and in 60 years only two held any promise of a long-term relationship.
Around 30 years old my biology threw its hat in the ring and I almost committed to a relationship, which I think would have been a mistake and pursued for the wrong reasons. Fortunately, my brain took over and cut it short! I regret the missed opportunity to have children, but there you go, we are not all destined to be parents. What a waste of great genes though!
Do I get lonely? Everybody does from time to time, but truly there are few occasions where I’ve missed having a person there with me. In times of crisis, deep emotion or illness, or travelling away from home, these are the times I can feel sad and in need of company. Or maybe that’s just melancholia… Loneliness comes more when other connections are also lost – I am lucky to have family that, although I see them infrequently, are in contact and can be counted on in a pinch to come to my rescue. I have few friends, not people I see regularly, but I feel I could reach out if needed. Social media has helped in strengthening some of these relationships. Fingers crossed those connections will see me through my twilight years. I’d like to think I would seek some counselling if I started thinking too much about the downside to being alone, but to date I just don’t feel that is needed.
I must say it must be nice to go home from work or an outing and talk about it with someone. Having someone listen to you and support your activities or plans is a real plus of not living alone. As for raising a family – that looks like such a huge task, but to have the joy of seeing children learn and grow would be so wonderful, and I do feel I’ve missed out. Sharing the excitement of travel and enjoying joint memories is definitely something the single traveller misses out on. I’ve had some great holidays, but telling someone about them, if I can corner anyone, is so different from reminiscing with someone.
I see that social interaction is high on the list of things to promote long life. But for me, I like to go home after work, shut the door and just do my own thing, be it a night with a book, a bit of craft work, just sitting with my thoughts, catching up on recorded TV or taking up a little self-education – I’m learning Italian right now! I do go out occasionally with friends or family but it’s taking more and more effort to join in social activities in the evenings or even on weekends.
At 60, I do believe I was not destined to be living with someone else. Single suits me. I hope other singles are as content with their lot as I am, but for those that find themselves lonely too much or deeply introspective about their situation I hope they feel able to reach out and talk about it to health professionals. Many people I know cannot contemplate living alone and have never done it!
I’ve considered letting out my spare room but you know what? I really hate the idea of sharing my stuff! I’m not sure if I’ve always been that way and subconsciously kept relationships at arms’ length but certainly since my 30s I’ve been very territorial about my home, my stuff and my lifestyle. I’m looking forward to full retirement and suspect I’ll become a bit of a hermit, but hopefully not a hoarder.
On the whole I enjoy my solitary life. I have a job and colleagues to talk with, pets to care for who give unconditional love and who provide a reason to be active, to get out and about and to engage with others plus they make me laugh. With no people in my home to share my space I come and go as I please, I have no schedule for meals or shopping, I watch what I like on TV, I eat what I like, my house may be tidy or untidy and there is nobody but me to care.