On being Single V being Part of a Couple


I realised the other day that it has been five years since I separated from a significant intimate relationship and that I have been ‘single’ for that length of time. It also dawned upon me that this was the longest period in my adult life that I had not had a boyfriend of one kind or another, be it husband, partner or simply a man in my life.

Over these last five years I have dated a number of times, had a few sexual dalliances but nothing of significance that has prompted me to want that person in my life on a long-term basis.

Five years ago, to find myself single at 63 years old, living in a new city (Melbourne) was the last thing I ever imagined and I certainly suffered for what seemed like too long a time. My hand which I had stretched out to grasp that elusive mystery called happiness, now fallen limply to my side.

That relationship left me shattered and bereft. Initially I thought my ex-partner was wonderful, the love of my life and we would grow old together. Sadly and shockingly he became detrimental to my mental and emotional well-being.

Yet, as I reflect on these five years of living alone in my apartment in a Melbourne city suburb, it has been a time of such potent growth for me as a person and as a woman. I am not afraid of being alone, as I used to be; I like my own company, despite being essentially a ‘delicious extrovert’ as one of my friends so generously described me recently. She was feeling sorry for me in this Melbourne lockdown at not being able to ‘gad’ about as I usually do; I continue to enjoy meaningful work which I am grateful for, and I have a community of friends and family who love me and I love them. I have also discovered the joy of writing in a serious way, and thus the creation of this blog, poetry and other projects I am working on.

But to be single is not always easy in a society where the dominant discourse of relationships is primarily based around a romantic view of coupledom. Couples are celebrated for being together for fifty years, no matter how miserable they are.

Against this backdrop, it can be hard to stay feeling empowered as a single woman and to be on the outside of this so called ‘norm’ of coupledom. Any one else relate?

I believe we should celebrate the courage of single women who have left relationships because those relationships were damaging to their sense of who they were at best, and at worst were blatantly unhealthy relationships.

Let’s honour single women for their resilience to stay single and not ‘settle’, because it seems easier to be part of the dominant discourse of being seen as a couple and to identify as being part of that couple.

May we banish that myth altogether that she is a sad, single woman who can’t score a man and that all she needs is a good f ….. ! Less of a conversation these days perhaps, but believe you me, it is still around in some of those locker rooms.

On that matter, I now deem deep connection with others, whether friend, family or lover, to be much more long-lasting and more satisfying than any pleasure one may enjoy from sex. I have enjoyed a lot of delightful sex in my life, but let’s face it, unless it is good sex with another, it’s not worth having if I may dare say so. All that messy stuff running down one’s legs when the pleasure may be minimal at best or simply non-existent 😩.

Of course if good sex and deep connection are both available in abundance all at the same time, I will be the first to put my hand up.

And as for single men who I do not wish to leave out of this conversation ? Let them also speak about what it’s like to be an older, single man in a society where long-term coupledom is privileged. I am interested to hear. Please do tell 🥰

Woman in Greece relaxing, enjoying the sun on her body 😊
rosmlewis

Clinician, Lecturer, Group Facilitator, Educator and Supervisor in Education, Social Services and Mental Health.

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2 Comments

  • David
    January 7, 2021 at 10:50 pm

    Hi Ros, what a reflection of your last five years, I say well done for breaking away and gaining freedom. So many woman stay in unhappy relationships because they are unsure of the unknown, they are worried about the financial aspect or the loneliness that they settle for what they have, when they really need your courage to break away and live life. You are an inspiration to others you really do support so many in this world with there recovery and it is because you have the connection of lived experience. I love your writing style and look forward to reading more of your work. Thank you for sharing. David

    • rosmlewis
      Rosalind Lewis
      January 8, 2021 at 7:21 am

      Thanks for your words David. Yes, what you say is absolutely true. Sadly, many women stay in unhappy and even abusive relationships, out of fear of being alone or financial insecurity, shame at what others will think etc. Thanks for your encouraging words. It does take courage to be true to oneself, but in the end I believe honouring ones own integrity is worth it …

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About me

Rosalind Lewis

Rosalind Lewis

Professionally I have 33 years experience as a Clinician, Lecturer, Group Facilitator, Educator and Supervisor in Education, Social Services and Mental Health. I currently live in Melbourne, Australia and work in Mental Health. I have a particular interest in supporting and empowering women and men to be all they can be, by assisting the discovery of tools that help them find strength to transform difficulties into opportunities, enriching their lives both personally and professionally. I am a New Zealand Registered Psychotherapist with PBANZ, member of the New Zealand Association of Psychotherapists and have a Masters of Health Science (Psychotherapy) First Class Honours. My research thesis was about the long term consequences of intimate partner violence for women. I am influenced and informed by both my professional experiences and my own personal journey, which has involved many challenges and celebrations along the way.