Having been coupled for years (and having been single for equally as many), I can safely say with conviction that single people are the new superheroes.
When we are in a relationship, it’s easy to comment to a single friend: “Oh, you know, life is hard for me too. I get lonely also. We have our ups and downs,”—and to really believe it’s true that the single life can’t be any harder than the coupled life. But the difference is: one has a partner.
A partner means someone else is there to carry one log of our load—or many. Even if it is only a teeny-weenie stick of kindling, it is still something, and it does make a difference.
Coupled means that another soul is there, holding space and ground for us.
I think, as human beings—as animals on this interesting planet—we are instinctively drawn to be with each other. There is a greater sense of safety and security (be it an imaginary or real one) when we are together.
A psychological shield of some sort forms around us in intimate relationships. Questions we’ve previously pondered and fears we usually engage with abate slightly. And when they do come up, there is someone to share them with. There is sweet comfort in knowing at least one other person understands our brand of crazy.
This is why I say single people are the new superheroes. They must learn to carry their whole load in life and be their own security blanket too.
Yes, there are lucky singles who have caring families and supportive friends, but this is quite different then having a partner, and we all know it.
Things have changed for me. I used to be able to handle being alone much better. In my early 20s I left relationships continually. I found it easier to leave than to stay.
Maybe I have become more tired and less fearless as my body and psyche age, which makes the me who is single today admire all the work it takes to stay this way.
And staying is what I am doing—not only out of desire, but also out of my determination to not settle for something less then what’s right.
In the meantime, I am learning how to be a superhero again. How to take care of myself completely on my own. How to water, feed, work and love myself entirely. This is no small feat.
Sometimes, it’s the daily tasks that build up, and at the end of the week, I just can’t wash one more dish on my own, or make one more meal, or change my bedding for that matter, because heck, I am the only one using it anyway.
But the real reason single people are the new superheroes, is that we don’t have that security shield anymore. We don’t have that “other.” We have lost the pack our instinct thinks we need, and because of it, we have had to sew our own damn cape of bravery.
This is painful. It is also empowering.
I didn’t think it would hurt this much to become a superhero, but I am trying to keep in mind that anything big usually requires a longer, more extraneous birthing—and superheroes are giants.
So I try not to reflect on being “partner-less” as a time when I am unwanted, unloved or unmatchable, but rather, as one when I am learning how to be a superhuman—and learning a new skill takes a bit of time.
There are days when I come home and cry. When my house feels empty, I have no idea what I am doing, and I sit down on the floor and collapse for a moment.
The thing with being single, though, is there is no one to come home and pick us back up. So we learn that we can do it ourselves. We flex our massive superhero muscles, and we scoop ourselves off that floor.
We get up. We open our bills, and we pay them. We put dinner on. We eat it. We clean up. We make tea and a hot water bottle. We run our own steamy baths. We get into bed, and we hug a pillow and maybe wrap another behind us.
Being single means we decide that safety is now inside of ourselves. That despite our ancestral, instinctual pulls, it is okay and possible to be here solo—and that this, in fact, makes us special, for it is this very thing that is turning us into a superhero.
Author: Sarah Norrad
Image: Flickr/Julian Fong
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina