Sunday 16 October 2022


I saw a post on Twitter (screenshot below, but I blurred out the OPs’ handles and display names because what I have to say is not about them) which provoked much comment. And I had some thoughts.

I’m single. I’ve aged. Parties haven’t died out: they’re just different kinds of celebrations and gatherings now, some raucous, some have dancing, some are quiet. Health issues? Hell, yes.

And friends have taken turns sitting beside my hospital bed, paying my bills once when I was broke and could have died. Friends have helped me bury me entire immediate family, stretched out their hands when I was weak and needed a pull or a push, fed me when I couldn’t feed myself. Friends have held me through loss, through heartbreak, through penury.

I’m not single because it is some inviolable credo of mine. I’m not against marriage and stable long-term relationships and romantic love and all that — close friends have those things, and it’s lovely that they do, and I see that it works for them and a true partnership is a beautiful thing — it just never worked out that way for me. I have never lived with a partner long-term and planned a life and home loans together, never raised children or even took responsibility for a pet. These are not doors I have closed, but neither am I sitting there waiting forlornly for someone to walk through them.

And I’m also not denying that being alone and single can be hard for some, and that there are many people who would not have the kind of friends I do, or inhabit the privilege I have.

You can be miserable and lonely in a family, or you can be held and nurtured by them. You can be happy and content alone, find companionship in an animal, find peace and purpose in the wilderness, or it can drive you to despair.

All I want to say is that none of these is the only truth. Most of us live on the spectrum between them; some of us may spend long periods at different points in the course of our lives, sometimes the exact same equations change when you and the others in them change. We search, sometimes we don’t succeed, but sometimes we find our tribes, our meanings, our comfort levels, our selves.