Embracing Singlehood

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There’s a lot of media attention focused on the perspectives and issues surrounding singledom. Discussion about the single life seems to be everywhere: Blogs (yes, including this one), podcasts, news articles, social media, movies, TV shows, and published essays. Google “being single” and you’ll see what I mean.

In a recent essay in the NY Times Modern Love column, Helen Rubinstein writes about her struggles to embrace singlehood. The essay sparked a lot of reader interest with over 305 comments published on the Times’ website.

Let’s chat about this while eating a modest lunch of seared tuna with shaved vegetable salad to counter the effects of Halloween candy excess.

Rubinstein recounts her struggle to be comfortable as a single woman in a couples’ world – where work settings and social functions remind her that she is navigating the world solo. She describes feeling odd, strange, shameful, and queer.

The use of the word queer struck me as off since the writer is straight. The term also offended a number of LGBT readers. That may be why the Times changed the essay’s headline from Is There Something Queer About Being Single? to Is There Something Odd About Being Single?

 Word choice aside, Rubinstein decides to drive across the country alone in celebration of freedom and singlehood. As she expects, she experiences fear and a feeling of “strangeness” along the way. During a hot-spring shower in a Nevada desert bathhouse, she longs for a partner in the beautiful setting. But then she has an epiphany. Although at that moment, Rubinstein craves companionship, she realizes that being part of a couple doesn’t always counter loneliness. “Loneliness dissipates,” she writes, “when you find comfort and pleasure in your own company.”

That’s something singles hear a lot – be comfortable and happy with yourself before seeking a partner. I tried to make that a goal after my divorce but it has taken a few years to fully experience that feeling of inner strength. It’s also taken awhile to feel less of an “extra” in many social situations. Still there are times when I intensely feel my solo status – around holidays, on date nights if I’m not with a date, out with a couple. I don’t feel odd but I do feel an aloneness that I’d rather not feel.

I do, however, remember feeling strange at the beginning of my separation. After two-thirds of my life spent as part of a couple, I felt untethered. Eventually I felt tethered to myself and grew that inner strength I mentioned.

Now I believe I may be a qualified “super single,” a phrase I first heard in an episode of Better Things. In case you haven’t seen the show, Sam, the main character, is a divorced single mom of a certain age. She becomes so good at being single that she doesn’t know how to accept the possibility of a promising relationship.

As writer Allison P. Davis writes in The Cut:

“This episode marks the first time she fully comes undone over a romantic prospect. “This guy, is the thing,” she says to a friend, anguished and lovesick (literally). Her speech is really just a few lines, but, good god, does it cut to the bone. “I don’t know how to do this. I got no place to put it, I don’t want it,” she says. She only sees one way forward: to break up with the perfect guy, naturally.

“Oh honey,” her friend says in commiseration. “We’re super singles: We’re just too good at being alone.”

How many of the 111 million singles in the US (45 percent of all residents age 18 and above) are super singles? Hard to know. We’re a mix of high functioning “supers” and newbies.

The newbies may feel strange or they may be thrilled by their newfound freedom and independence. Some of the 111 million may never want to couple up – whether they’ve been in a previous committed relationship or not. Others may yearn for a relationship daily. Whether being single is temporary or lifelong, chosen or circumstantial, I hope we can try to not feel odd. Instead, I like the sentiment in Natasha Bedingfield’s song Single:

Don’t need to be on somebody’s arm to look good
I like who I am
I’m not saying I don’t wanna fall in love ’cause I would
I’m not gonna get hooked up just ’cause you say I should
Can’t romance on demand
I’m gonna wait so I’m sorry if you misunderstood

That’s right

This is my current single status
My declaration of independence
There’s no way I’m tradin’ places
Right now a star’s in the ascendant

 Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

 

 

 

My Holiday Letter

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Ahh…. the holidays: an often-dreaded time for singletons. One of the offending hallmarks (no pun intended) of the season is, of course, the holiday letter. When a single person receives a family holiday letter, it can serve as a reminder of her or his not-intact family. A recent Washington Post Solo-ish article titled I love your family but I dread your joyous holiday letters captures the emotions a divorced or widowed person might feel upon reading this well meaning but accidentally hurtful correspondence.

Turnabout is fair play. So, enjoy my singles version of a holiday letter while slurping Nadia’s Cod, Coconut Milk, and Cilantro Soup (recipe below).

Play some appropriately themed music while you’re cooking.

Note that, unlike other “family” letters, you don’t have to read about the exploits of multiple related people.

December 2016

Dear Friends,

I hope this holiday season finds you well and that you and your loved ones are sheltering in place – and by the fire – after the storm of the election. We need all the love we can get during this time of national emotional upheaval.

It’s been a wild ride for me this past year as well. Oh, no, I don’t mean that literally I’ve found a wild ride…though I have been searching for one.

Let me share with you some of the highlights from 2016:

  1. Four hundred first dates! Yes, in fact, I may have reached that milestone after four years of divorce. But who’s counting?
  2. A banner year for bad breath! Why is it that so many men fail in the oral hygiene department? This year I learned to stock 10 varieties of mints and gum in my purse and car – just in case I encounter a case of Mr. Frisky with Halitosis.
  3. Athletic accomplishments: No swim team for me…but I did overcome my fear of deep water. Now I can hang out at the community pool after my laps and try to meet men.
  4. Dance competitions: Even better than a middle school dance competition, I completed a basic introductory hip-hop class without requiring orthopedic surgery or acupuncture. Then there was the tango class I took with a short, heavily accented instructor. I couldn’t hear him over the loud music so I invented my personal version of the tango, which looks more like a bull stamping its foot before charging.
  5. Academic achievements: There are no grades or tests for adult education classes at community college so I can’t humble brag about being on the Dean’s List. On the positive side, my Spanish and writing classes revealed the added benefit of making new friends and possibly meeting men. A win-win amigos.
  6. Travel highlights: Spain and Ireland. For the single woman, Spain wins. See: Tinder in España.
  7. Something new, something borrowed, something blue. No wedding for me, fellow partygoers. As a single woman, new refers to new dating photos and a revised profile. I borrowed my daughter’s jeans to wear on a date and the blue for this non-bride refers to Miles’ classic Kind of Blue album, great music for contemplating your single life.
  8. Local field trips: I expanded my repertoire of solo outings, enjoying “just me” excursions to happy hours, museums, and concerts.
  9. Breaking down barriers: I ignored any perceived age and race barriers and went out with men of various ethnicities from age 50 to 69.
  10. Benefits of non-Mindfulness: I learned to relax into the cycle of the dating life and look to the future: Dry spells are followed by false bounty but eventually you date a guy – though he might have bad breath (see #2).
  11. Plans for 2017: I bought 3 red dresses in 2016 so I’m starting my Valentine’s Day dating search now!

 

2016 Bonus: Nadia’s Cod, Coconut Milk, and Cilantro Soup

Ingredients:

2 pounds cod

Olive oil

1 cup thinly sliced leeks (white parts only).

1 large red pepper, chopped

2 fresh tomatoes skinned and chopped (optional)

2 cans light coconut milk

1-cup vegetable broth

1-pound package frozen yellow corn

½ cup minced cilantro

¼ cup fresh lime juice

Cilantro and fresh sliced avocado for garnish

Heat olive oil in large pasta or soup pot. Add leeks and and sauté until translucent. Add chopped red pepper and continue sautéing a couple more minutes. Add tomato if using. Cut cod into 2” pieces (not too small because they will break up anyway) and add to mixture. Sautee a couple of minutes and then add coconut milk and vegetable broth. Cook 5 minutes and then add corn. Cook on medium (low bubbling of mixture) for another 8 minutes.  Check cod to make sure it’s cooked through (opaque not translucent). Add salt to taste. Stir in cilantro and lime juice. Heat for another minute.

Serve over jasmine rice. Garnish soup with sliced avocado and minced cilantro.

Note: If you don’t have leeks, you can substitute Vidalia onions (1/2 to 1 large chopped onion depending on your preference).  Quantity of leeks or onions, peppers, and tomatoes  can be varied depending on your preference and any food allergies.

Frozen defrosted cod works well in this recipe. You can even use partially defrosted cod. Just make sure you thoroughly cook it in the broth/coconut milk mixture.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating…and happy cooking!

XXXOOO

Nadia

Strength in Solitude

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A few years ago – soon after my divorce, my daughter and I took a beach vacation. As we walked along the soft white sugar sand of the Gulf Coast, I saw a woman of about 80 strolling purposefully with her dog.

“I wonder if that will be me some day – walking alone, not with a partner,” I wondered aloud, thinking how sad that would be.

My daughter, responding to my words and mood, said, “What’s wrong with that? She looks happy. It would be o.k.”

At that moment, I couldn’t believe such a scenario would be okay. But I could now.

Let’s chew on that while devouring some of Jamie Oliver’s potato cakes with smoked salmon.

The beach memory was triggered by a temporary change in my current living situation. A couple of years ago, my son, like so many adult children, returned to his parental home (or half of it given the divorce) to pursue a second college degree as an entre to a new career.

There’s more to his story just as there’s more to the story of what happens when adult children live with their parents, but that’s not on today’s blog menu. I will say that, for the most part, the arrangement works well.

But the situation prevents me from truly living alone, something I wanted and needed to do after my divorce. Other than a random week or two here or there, one or both of my children have lived with me except when they were in college. And during that period, I was married so the house was not empty. Going back in years, I went from living with my parents, to living with college roommates, to living with the man who would become my husband.

So, I skipped that whole part of life called “being single and living alone.” And I was both eager to experience it and a little nervous as well. How would I navigate living alone and would I be lonely? Fast forward to a couple of days ago when my son left for a week’s vacation to visit a friend.

Finally, I could invite some friends over for dinner while having the house truly to myself. And I could see what it would be like to live alone while in a pretty good place – healed from my divorce, stronger, and more centered than ever before.

This temporary break in shared housing got me thinking about solitude, being alone, loneliness, and all variations of that theme.

I’ve always been someone who enjoyed a certain amount of time spent alone – whether reading, writing, taking a walk, or going for a drive with music blasting. But it’s not something I want to do 24/7. At a certain point in my day, I start to feel lonely and need to be around people.

For more on the balance between solitude and company, see the wonderful Brain Pickings blog post on experiencing at least one prolonged period of solitude in life.

After I divorced, I needed to learn not only how to be without a partner but also how to be independent – to rely on myself for everything from adding oil to the car to tightening a loose toilet seat (thanks You Tube). A solo road trip no longer seemed liked a scary impossibility. Solitude helped build strength. Strength begot resilience.

All of this doesn’t mean I want to be alone.

There is nothing more important to me than finding one of the ones, a partner to love and share life with.  The crucial thing is to live well and to be happy while searching for that special person and to never stop searching – even if you’re the oldest person on Match, Bumble, and Plenty of Fish.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

Resources:

https://www.brainpickings.org/2015/06/22/desert-solitaire-edward-abbey/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200307/what-is-solitude

https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/199801/the-call-solitude

http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/10/27/suggestions-for-savoring-solitude/

 

Blog Birthday: 14 Lessons Learned about Dating, Sex, and Life in Your 60s

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In honor of the 1-year birthday of this blog (February 14), I’m going to indulge in a brief interlude of narcissism. Today’s theme: what I learned in the last year about dating, sex, and life in your 60s – and blogging.

My goal, as always, is to impart useful knowledge, make you laugh, or just be that wing woman sitting at the whine bar with you while we wonder why the hell we can’t find the one.

I’m going to write this blog post in real dating time. In other words, I’m writing this post while texting two guys simultaneously – a guy from Tinder and a Bumble match.

Given my track record lately, one will turn out to be a Russian spy who has traveled forward in time from the cold war era and the other one will actually be a married trans woman. But hope springs eternal…so I text on.

Join me in an anti-Valentine’s Day treat of creamy Gorgonzola and portobello mushroom risotto created by a wonderfully named chef called Nadia G (of Bitchin’ Kitchen fame). Just substitute vegetable broth for the chicken stock and you will eat like Nadia A.

And now I present my top 14 lessons learned in the last year about dating, sex, life in your 60s, and blogging:

*Maximizing opportunities keeps hope alive. I’m on multiple dating sites and apps. Later this month, I will try speed dating a second time (via a new speed dating meet-up) and attend a Match happy hour with live in the flesh as opposed to virtual men.

*Keep trying something new. This is related to the maximizing opportunities point above. The single life is not only about dating but also about finding ways to make new friends and to enrich your life through education, culture, or sport. I signed up for a Spanish class, multiple new meet-up groups, and went to museums, art galleries, poetry readings, and story telling events.

*Keep trying something old in a new way. Because I have CRS (Can’t Remember Shit), I have no idea what I meant when I jotted this down in my first draft of this post…. but it sounds good so I’m keeping it. Please tell me what you think I meant.

*It’s good to get out of your comfort zone. Take this in any way you want. Going to a bar happy hour by myself was a leap for this shy blogger.

*Say yes to as much as you can. Even if you’re tired. Even if you’re cranky. Go, do, enjoy.

*If a man starts to make you feel bad about yourself in any way, run to the nearest exit. Consider the source and do not believe anything he says about you.

*Similarly, if a man doesn’t make you feel good about yourself, look elsewhere.

*Get used to the roller coaster of dating. One day you’ll be messaging or talking to 3 guys – all seemingly good possibilities and by the end of the next day, one has disappeared, one is revealed as a scammer, and the other one is starting to creep you out.

*Smile to yourself when you’re out with a couple (married or otherwise) that drives each other crazy or engages in petty fighting. At this moment, say, TGIS (Thank God I’m Single.)

*If a man’s total focus is on sex – either before or after you meet – drop him even if you want sex.

*Put on your big girl panties and tell your man what you need and what you want.

*Keep a journal or write a blog to help you figure out your life. Writing an anonymous blog helped motivate me to try new things – for the good of the blog. 

*Be as physically active as you can to relieve stress and to feel better about yourself.

*Be a woman who roars. Revel in your strength and independence. It feels good to add oil and transmission fluid to your car, tighten that loose toilet seat, manage a home renovation project, and book an overseas trip.

What have you learned in the last year? Let me know. If you liked this post or any past ones, sign up to get regular email delivery of this blog. To maximize your pleasure, sign up for my Twitter feed and like my Facebook page. You’ll get frequent daily updates of news and features about dating, relationships, sex, the single life, and life in your 60s.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

Imagining a Singles Revolution in 2016

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It’s the end of the year and although I could list my 10 most popular blog posts of 2015 or the year’s 10 worst dates, I would rather examine the state of “single power” and the ways society can help singles improve their love lives in the coming year.

“Single power,” to coin a term, is an individual’s acceptance and enjoyment of the single life as well as society’s fair treatment and respect of singles. Certainly more singles live alone, dine alone, and travel alone than ever before. With the rise of “single power,” we have seen such cultural shifts as restaurants not hiding single diners in the back of a restaurant and a movement toward the creation of smaller dwellings or “micro housing” for this population.

But even if singles are happy with their lives, many of them also want a significant other for intimacy, love, sex, and to have a built-in Scrabble partner. This desire is fueled by a couple-focused world. If you’re single, couples seem to be everywhere. They’re holding hands in the park, shopping together, and spotting each other in the gym. The holidays amplify the significance of a couple-based society and December is one of the most popular months to get engaged.

What am I getting at? Singles need help. Online dating is time consuming and not always productive; meeting someone in the wild is also a crapshoot.

It’s time for a revolution of sorts. Institutions, businesses, non-profits and government agencies need to band together to support singles and help us find our matches.

As we look ahead to 2016, dream with me as I imagine a world vastly changed in order to help singles find partners. Are you paying attention movers and shakers?

Read this wish list while eating Southern New Year’s Day Soup.

Ten Ideas to Help Singles Connect with Each Other:

  • Singles cars on trains. Unlike quiet cars, these cars will be lively and your reserved seat will be next to someone who is at least a 60 % match.
  • Singles shopping day at the grocery store. Every Friday afternoon will be designated Singles Friday. Any single entering the store will be given a wristband that signals their availability and willingness to talk among the veggies. Sexy, lively music will be broadcast instead of the usual Muzak.
  • Single waiting room in the ER. If you’re in the hospital, why not multi-task and see if chatting up a hot guy or gal can alleviate your pain.
  • Singles Saturdays at Coffee Bars. On Singles Saturdays at coffee shops, you have to approach a person of the opposite sex and ask them to order for you. They don’t have to pay for your drink but they do have to get the details of your order and place it. The rest of the conversation is up to you. Any one caught ordering a latte for himself or herself will be asked to leave.
  • Singles concerts. Only single seats will be sold and the required ticket purchase app will alternate seating (man, woman, man, etc.). The band will organize audience activities – such as kiss the person next to you. Think of it as spin the bottle on a massive scale.
  • Singles rows at movie theaters. Certain rows will be designated as singles rows and only individual tickets will be sold. At the end of the movie, an emcee will ask everyone to make one comment about the movie to the man or woman on his or her right.

Blog movie audience

  • Singles charity day. Nonprofits will sponsor singles charitable activity days. The charities will organize events that only singles can participate in. It will be clear to attendees that all participants are interested in connecting with other singles.
  • Singles government job fair. A government-sponsored singles job fair will feature government agency representatives discussing current job openings. There will be coffee meet and greets as well as a “meet other singles” lunch.
  • Singles day at the bookstore. Local independent bookstores will organize singles days. There will be book talks by authors of relationship and dating-related books. All store visitors who are single and interested in connecting with other singles will be given a wristband (similar to grocery store example noted above) that says “Ask me about my favorite book.” Shy singles will have the option of choosing a wristband inscribed with, “I’m shy. Text me at _________.” A phone number can be added.
  • Singles in Space Day. Government-sponsored space visitor centers will have Singles in Space Days. Activities will vary by location. Single visitors can bond at simulated shuttle launches.  After feeling those g forces, talking to another single will be a piece of cake.

Can you add to my wish list? Join the revolution!

Until next week, happy dating or not dating!

XXXOOO

Nadia