single-hood wasted on the single?
July 10, 2014 7:01 PM   Subscribe

What do you or did you enjoy about being single? What do partnered mefites miss?

After ending a 14 year marriage, then a 2 year relationship, then going on a frustratingly spark-less OKCupid date, I've disabled my OKC account and am trying to relax & enjoy my freedom.

As someone old enough to see youth wasted on the young all the damned time (on my lawn), I wonder if people could point out some things I might be missing about not being partnered up.

I have joint custody of a teenager, so I'm can't disappear to Ulaanbaatar for a month, but I do have about 1/2 time to myself.
posted by morganw to Human Relations (82 answers total) 110 users marked this as a favorite
posted by sestaaak at 7:04 PM on July 10, 2014 [61 favorites]

I miss the endless amount of puttering around I could do. Watch 15 minutes of a movie, play 1/2 hour of video games, read 45 minutes of internet junk, wander the house, repeat.

Good times. (pours one out for a copy of Civ5 that I will just never get to play)
posted by joelhunt at 7:12 PM on July 10, 2014 [22 favorites]

Good for you for giving internet dating the boot.


This really shouldn't change in a relationship, but there is a subtle difference. I'm engaged and pretty much do this now, but sometimes when my FI comes home and I'm watching yet another episode of Chopped in my pajamas at a weird hour of the day while internetting on my iPad and eating a whole box of Popsicles, sometimes I feel this need to say something. Yes, I know I went to work and paid bills and went running and did errands and cleaned the house already, but sitting there with a dumb expression and 15 Popsicle sticks while doing fuck all seems like it needs something to caption it.
posted by floweredfish at 7:14 PM on July 10, 2014 [108 favorites]

Christ, yes, sleeping without the snoring or twitching feet or unexpected midnight elbow in my face.

Eating cereal and ice cream for dinner without being lectured about how I really need some vegetables.

No enormous, shapeless socks draped in various places around the apartment.
posted by baby beluga at 7:16 PM on July 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Not feeling like I have to be perfect or "on" or available is very nice.

Also, privacy when using the bathroom or being ill is extremely important to me and my bf is oblivious to those things...
posted by Hermione Granger at 7:17 PM on July 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Sleeping properly in the whole bed as hot or cold as you like it.
posted by sweetkid at 7:18 PM on July 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Just making your own decisions all the time. Doing what you want, when you want, and not doing what you don't want to do. Not sharing:) (From someone long-time single, now possibly coupled and not adjusting that well to the "we" aspects of decision-making:)) Oh, and being on your own schedule, definitely. Whether that involves eating, running around, sleeping and/or BB marathons....not having to adjust your own needs, desires, routines etc for someone else. Oh god, better buy my five cats now!
posted by bquarters at 7:23 PM on July 10, 2014 [17 favorites]

Long-ass walks or bike rides at any time and with no intention of returning until you feel like it. Feel free to interrupt said walk/bike ride to stop in a restaurant for an extended lunch.
posted by Turkey Glue at 7:26 PM on July 10, 2014 [12 favorites]

posted by murrey at 7:33 PM on July 10, 2014 [13 favorites]

I'm still "detoxing" from a string of toxic relationships, and the process has been hard for me. But I have to say that thus far the best part is that I'm finally fulfilling a promise I made to take care of myself instead of trying to fill the void with other people. I see my new found singleness as a journey in itself. The prospect of being fulfilled on my own, developing a healthy sense of self, and having the freedom to define who I am apart from other people's expectations is enough to keep me on the path.
posted by Cybria at 7:33 PM on July 10, 2014 [12 favorites]

The dishes go in the dish washer the correct way, the right way, the way god intended, the way that is objectively the way dishes SHOULD go. As opposed to how your partner, heathen that he\she is, somehow thinks they should go.
posted by meese at 7:36 PM on July 10, 2014 [73 favorites]

Kingdom of one and no need for compromise:

don't like the movie? Leave!

boring party? hide in the closet and see if eavesdropping improves things.

draping drying bits all over -- now anywhere you please, or never again.
posted by Jesse the K at 7:37 PM on July 10, 2014 [15 favorites]

Playing "Uptown Girl" six times in a row while dancing around like a fool.

Peeing with the bathroom door open is pretty nice, too.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:46 PM on July 10, 2014 [8 favorites]

Being able to embark on really ambitious projects - things that might require some R&D, false starts, practice, trial by error, picking up some new skills and knowledge along the way, etc, until... you've done something awesome.
posted by anonymisc at 7:48 PM on July 10, 2014 [3 favorites]

Decorating my space the way I like it. Today I debated new shelf liners with my husband - he preferred a different pattern. Usually different tastes are not a huge concern - to each his own - but in a shared house, you will always have to compromise.
posted by The Toad at 7:51 PM on July 10, 2014 [3 favorites]

Leaving the potty door open.
Skipping showers on Sundays (weekends?).
Doing whatever -- WHATEVER -- I want.
Saving money on groceries, Christmas, etc.
Having only one mess -- my mess -- to clean up.
Getting a dog.
Letting the dog sleep in the bed, and the cat if the dog allows it.
Stopping at every yarn store, quilt store, TJ Maxx and Marshalls on every trip I take.
Popcorn and wine for dinner.
Having dude friends with no jealousy or drama.
Oh hey, having lady friends with no, "waaah, what about meeeeee."
Hogging all the computer games all to myself.
Getting a little pudgy.
Watching lame ass Netflix in serial fashion without ridicule.
Not shaving until I feel like it.
Working late.
Smoking in the car.
READING without interruption.
No farting at the dinner table (except for the dog).
I'm not going to lie -- the occasional nose pick. ($5 for a sock puppet account just for this didn't seem worth it.)
Learning to paint.
Learning new musical instruments with no complaints about the dying rhino sounds.
Ridiculous workout DVDs in the living room with no judgment.
posted by mibo at 7:53 PM on July 10, 2014 [31 favorites]

Oh, and flirting and outrageously ogling men in uniform.
posted by mibo at 7:54 PM on July 10, 2014 [4 favorites]

alone time.
posted by rr at 7:56 PM on July 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

All of the above, plus wearing basically rags around the house and not caring what I look like unless I'm going out.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:57 PM on July 10, 2014 [3 favorites]

Oh, and flirting and outrageously ogling men in uniform.

My office is around the corner from the ROTC office, and on nice spring days my favorite hobby is sitting on a bench near a rosebush and whistling at sailors with plausible deniability.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:59 PM on July 10, 2014 [20 favorites]

Also, if I want to see a movie, go to a play, go to a concert, attend a poetry reading, whatever - I just GO. No need to worry about whether anyone else wants to go, or whether they'd rather see another movie, or if they have something else going on that night.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:04 PM on July 10, 2014 [8 favorites]

I deeply miss having complete autonomy over the thermostat.
posted by anderjen at 8:05 PM on July 10, 2014 [26 favorites]

I love not having to explain myself when I need time alone. I travelled for work a while back and came back completely talked out. Nothing had gone wrong, but a week of meetings had utterly exhausted my introvert's capacity to engage in meaningful conversation. As I mumbled my destination to the cab driver I remember being so, so thankful that nobody was waiting for me at home. Even a hug at the door would have felt like Too Much. Having to explain that yes, the trip went well, but no, I really don't want to talk about it now, and no, I'm not upset, and no, it's nothing you said, and no, kisses would not make it better, and OH FOR FUCKS SAKE GO AWAY FOREVER AND LET ME SLEEP...would have been excruciating. Being single, I was able to dump my suitcase inside the doorway, brush my teeth and get into bed without saying a word. I woke up after an undisturbed 10 hours of sleep and thanked my lucky stars.
posted by embrangled at 8:36 PM on July 10, 2014 [33 favorites]

Listening to music I like, as loud as I want, any old time I please.
posted by town of cats at 8:45 PM on July 10, 2014 [7 favorites]


And by reading I mean reading trash novels all night long without having someone lovingly remind me that it's time for bed. I'll GO TO BED WHEN I DAMN WELL PLEASE. (And I'll fall asleep in my car at lunch.)
posted by 26.2 at 8:48 PM on July 10, 2014 [4 favorites]

Best answer: None of that "we" crap.
Not having to deal with your SO's friends you don't like, or the SO's relatives. Likewise, you don't have somebody around being driven crazy by YOUR relatives or friends.
No sharing the holidays, no fighting about sharing the holidays, less gifts to buy.
Going to bed whenever you want, reading in bed whenever you want, NO SNORING.
No "plus one" things where you feel totally awkward because you only know one person.
Spending your money how you like.
Not having to Make A Proper Dinner.
Not having to deal with someone when you come home totally fried from work, as someone else pointed out.
You can keep your house the way you like without objections.
You can have whatever pets you want without someone else's allergies.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:59 PM on July 10, 2014 [8 favorites]

Best answer: One less bell to answer / one less egg to fry / etc

You are right, you can't just up and leave that teenager with no warning. But what's wrong with you and said teen taking off somewheres, sit down together and figure out some great thing that you can do together, memories of which will last your whole life, and your child's whole life, also. It needn't be carpet markets in Istanbul or whatever; you could take the train that runs up the coast, I've heard it's gorgeous, I don't know if it ends up in Seattle or wherever but that hardly matters, you could have fun together. You could take out library cards together, you could find a movie series that catches both of your interest, or find a movie series that catches your childs interest, and another that captures your interest, and then together attend both of them, and become better friends.

I hesitate handing out advice on successfully negotiating the single world, as I'm not here through choice, really -- I was going to marry just that one time, and with her have a house and a Buick and a picket fence etc and etc and then things unfolded and here I am, forty years later, scratching myself, reading metafilter on a Thursday night. I ought to be out carousing with some wonderful woman who has stars in her eyes just from being in my presence, but mostly I've found those pretty dang hard to come by, and when they have come by things have always gone south, for whatever reason -- they weren't wrong, they weren't bad, I wasn't wrong or bad (not in the last 34 years anyways), it's just that sometimes things don't work out. No, that's incorrect -- things do work out. But they've worked out such that I'm here reading metafilter on a Thursday night.

I do now what I've done when I'm partnered though -- I read, just tons. Scratch myself, as noted above. I have built -- and learned how to replicate wherever I go -- I have built a sold network of people to hang with and/or talk to, go to movies or dinner or whatever else. I'm going to tell you the truth on that though -- it's better to go with your sweetie sometimes, being with friends is a replacement and better than being alone -- and fourteen thousand times better than being in a relationship that isn't working -- so it's better than being alone, and it sure has it's moments. But I don't hold my friends hands when we walk into a restaurant, I never gently rub on their shoulder as we walk toward the table. I never pat them on the ass, never bend down and tell them softtly that I want to bite their thighs later that night.

Amazingly, astonishingly -- if that's a word, and even if it isn't -- I have finally found myself mostly ok with being on my own. I wasn't okay alone, for just the longest damn time. Years. Decades, truth be told. But I don't even know if that's a good thing -- I'm not under the gun, it's not like I must head on out and look for someone to sing happy birthday to, and have them sing happy birthday to me. This is where all the self-help books tell you you've got to get to -- that once you no longer need someone, why, they'll just drop right into your lap.

Hardy har.

Maybe I was supposed to have gotten here before my old dumb heart got all beat up on and gunshy. Plus, I once remodeled the house of a guy who wrote these massively successful self-help books, in fact lived in that house when they traveled sometimes, and I can tell you straight up that people who write self-help books are as nuts as anyone else, or moreso. Man.

I live in a condo on a river and there is an interstate that runs over that river, less than half mile from here, so with windows open it's never quiet. Yeah, middle of the night it's quieter, but there is never profound silence. I told you that to tell you this -- if your home is in a place where there is silence, learn to enjoy it. Silence is golden. I love to be somewhere where I hear nothing; I have a friend who lives in Alpine, in Big Bend country (where the Rio Grande has this big honkin' bend in it), and we drove south to the border one afternoon, to Terlinua, then followed the border road from Terlingua to Presidio, started late afternoon ended after dusk, pulled off a few times, turned off the ignition, got out of the pickup, just enjoyed that quiet. It's profoundly quiet there, and very beautiful.

I just remember that bit -- there's quiet in lots of places I've been. I love it. Is that a worthwhile thing, is that something you couldn't do with a partner? You could do it with a partner, for sure -- I was with Amy that night, had life been different we'd maybe be partnered tonight -- so it can absolutely be done with someone, but it's worth doing it on your own, too. Sit quiet with your thoughts, just with yourself. I've a friend who's into some Bhuddist thing or other, he meditates mindfully, just sits in silence, eyes open, observing nothing and everything. That's sortof what I'm talking about maybe. It might sound ridiculous -- "Don't just do something -- Sit there!" but it's something I enjoy, a way of life for my friend.

I wouldn't do online dating for any reason. No way. Jesus christ. I read those questionnaires -- are you kidding me? I wouldn't tell that jive to a priest, in confession, I'm not going to fly my underpants up a pole, the ones that have holes in them and stretched out elastic, no way I'm gonna fly them out there for the whole damn world to see. No kidding, I was like a scalded dog; I'm sure my eyes looked like a calico cats eyes look when it's hidden under the bed, dead in the middle. I'll trust to luck. Fate. Whatever. My last Serious Girlfriend came right to my condo door, looking at and then taking the futon I'd posted on craiglist free section. She liked the futon, she liked me. As far as I know, she still has the futon...

Last. Remember the new math -- divide your age in half, then add seven years, any woman over that age is in your dating pool. Give or take. Personally, I at 59 wouldn't want to date someone who is 38, and looking outside just now I didn't see hordes of them outside my door screeching like those girls did when the Beatles landed in NYC in 1965. But the new math says that 38 is in the ballpark, just a reminder for you.
posted by dancestoblue at 9:07 PM on July 10, 2014 [9 favorites]

No compromises, no arguments, no surprises, no agitation or judgement or justification except your own. Autonomy. Calm.

It's been a few years now, but I am grateful every day for freedom from perturbation.

I feel like a plant that was growing all sickly and crooked from shade, and got strong and straight again in the light.

(This is obviously also a post-detox POV.)

No football.
posted by cotton dress sock at 9:27 PM on July 10, 2014 [18 favorites]

Sleeping in when I want, doing whatever I want in the morning, and coming home whenever I want.

Friends want to stay out late? Sure! Random beach day? Sure!

I've been eternally single, and my only worry is that when I get into a relationship I will really miss my freedom....
posted by christiehawk at 9:42 PM on July 10, 2014 [3 favorites]

Well, no one screams at me for eating two potato chips at home, or calls me fat and grotesque even though I weigh 100 pounds, but you weren't asking about toxic and abusive relationships.

Here is what I now enjoy that I could not when I was living with another human:
- Complete control over my time
- Not having to say how my day was the second I walk in the door
- eating whatever I damn well please like starbursts and tomato sauce for dinner (not together!)
- Going to the movies alone
- Staying up very late and lagging and dragging all morning without anyone knowing what a slowpoke slob I am
- just being my indecisive self. Walking outside with keys in hand and realizing I forgot something and going back inside and going out and getting in the car and being like lol another thing was forgotten! without anybody knowing or judging or acting like I'm an idiot for being so scatterbrained
- clean house! I am a neat freak and when I live alone I indulge that side of me hardcore. It's harder to do when I live with someone else and I don't know why.
- staying up until 1 am in a dark room commenting on metafilter on my phone and bothering exactly no one
- Entire bed is mine
posted by sockermom at 9:46 PM on July 10, 2014 [9 favorites]

- No stress with having to figure out finances with someone else's desires.
- No worries about whether or not the partner thinks you're doing enough/ shouldn't be lazy/ etc.
- No one else making messes and not cleaning them up.
- Always hot water.
- Nobody wanting sex when you're just plain tired, not interested, and want to fall into bed and SLEEP.
- No differences in opinion over what to eat or not eat.
- No bedtime/wakeup conflicts.
- Time to figure yourself out without trying to adapt yourself to what someone else wants you to be.

That's most of the things I miss about being single... though I'm content enough in this relationship I got dragged into by Mr. Determined, only because he's good enough a guy to make it worth the tradeoffs.

Have to admit, though, I'm sort of looking forward to a future household with two adults and no kids, cuz I've never done that.
posted by stormyteal at 10:23 PM on July 10, 2014 [3 favorites]

Spending all your disposable income on bikes, books and music.
Riding your bike 250 miles a week.
Reading three books a week.
Making ridiculous home decorating decisions, yes a bike work stand in the kitchen seems perfectly reasonable.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 10:25 PM on July 10, 2014 [11 favorites]

Travelling on a whim. Great deal on a flight to Seattle tomorrow? Go for it!
posted by small_ruminant at 11:09 PM on July 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

See also: camping on a whim. Sleeping in your car on a whim because you don't feel like reserving a campsite. Driving ridiculous distances on a whim.

TL;DR: on a whim
posted by small_ruminant at 11:10 PM on July 10, 2014 [7 favorites]

1. Doing the weird/crass things. Maybe I don't want you to see me picking my nose, okay?

2. Glorious silence. Sometimes, it's amazing just to bask in your own awesome self. Get lost in a book or perhaps hours of online meandering. I love being able to do that without coming up for air.

3. Awesome itinerary for one. Today, I didn't leave the house at all. I'm cool with that, and I don't have to worry whether anyone else is.

4. Being able to do you...literally and figuratively.
posted by chloe.gelsomino at 11:23 PM on July 10, 2014 [3 favorites]

Listening to the same song over and over and over again and singing loudly.

Planning my own meals and eating at whatever the fuck mealtimes I want without waiting for someone else and having to constrain choices to what they'll share with me.

I've also been working out and damn, spending time on making myself healthier for my own sake and not other people's pressure is fucking great. My calves have never been sexier and they are mine all mine and I feel really sexy and attractive but not in the male gaze tainted why that I think I get when I'm involved with men.
posted by NoraReed at 12:32 AM on July 11, 2014 [13 favorites]

Good point, sockermom. Ok, so, as far as activities went, the things I immediately did - and continued for almost 2 years post - were all about fun and self-expression and self-actualization.

Read: a lot of clubbing, I don't care if it's cliched. Sweaty, unselfconscious, probably slightly weird dancing for as long as your feet can take it, with a bunch of friends with the same goal of leaving drenched, is the most fun in the world, imo. I'm sure there are SOs who are fine with their partner coming home at 4am, often, but probably not a lot.

I also got really into working out, which obviously one can do partnered or not, but it was a great thing to do as a newly single person -- making strides towards achieving fitness goals is hugely rewarding, and sometimes it means spending time at the gym instead of making a pot roast.

On that -- even though I used to get a lot of intrinsic pleasure out of cooking, doing it explicitly to please (which I did, with my ex) sucked the fun out of it. So I've been glad to just cook simple meals for myself, no more three course dinners on a weeknight.

Took a whack of classes and workshops in all kinds of silly things. I met a ton of people and had a ball. Everyone should take an improv class at least once; ditto creative writing. Aerial silks and dragon boat racing would have been next, had I not injured myself from having really gotten into working out.

Then, I went back to school -- very glad to do this on my own.

on post-view - huge 2nd to NoraReed
posted by cotton dress sock at 12:37 AM on July 11, 2014 [3 favorites]

Eating whatever I want for dinner/ not having to eat whatevere SO wants for dinner is something I really miss. Here is a snippet as an illustration:

Me: Hey, I was thinking about making a stir-fry for dinner, I bought some tofu...
Him:*gag retch barf*
Him: Well, actually, I bought a whole octopus, I was thinking we could have that...
Me: *gag retch barf*
posted by lollymccatburglar at 1:47 AM on July 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Not having to answer to anyone.

Listening to my friend relay a fight she'd had with her husband that morning over something trivial, and thinking Oh thank god I don't have to deal with that.

Sitting up in bed at 2:00 a.m. with the cat on my lap and Metafilter on the laptop.

Not having to discuss major decisions or get "approval".

Do I want to go home? Maybe I'll treat myself to dinner and come home later! Maybe I'll stop at the bookstore on the way and pick up something, even though my bookcases are already overflowing! Nobody cares but me!

Noone making "suggestions" about what I should wear or being critical (my relationship history isn't great, I'm afraid).

I share my apartment with a roommate, with whom I have a wonderfully cordial relationship, and that's about as much closeness as I need in my home life. I love my friends and value them very, very much. They give me so much of what I need. It's enough, truly.

No sullen silences, no passive aggression, no anger. No resentment.

Protection from the possibility of some person other than myself holding the power to turn my life inside out should they choose.

posted by jokeefe at 1:58 AM on July 11, 2014 [10 favorites]

Getting to be full on obsessive about things, to the point of them consuming your life. You can be absolutely focused on something (right now I'm going with a sport and a hobby) and I devote about four hours a day to them, on average. Combined with a full-time job and adult responsibilities...yeah, it would be harder to do with a spouse. And the rest of my life is centered on those two things; all my energy and spare thinking goes to them; they are, for now, the core of my life.

And it is awesome.
posted by punchtothehead at 3:29 AM on July 11, 2014 [3 favorites]

Most of what I would say has already been said, but I just wanted to add that all the stuff about complete freedom, not having to consult anyone else about what to do, doing things on a whim — all that applies times a hundred when you're traveling alone.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:48 AM on July 11, 2014 [8 favorites]

The thing I miss most is not having to take someone else's plans and preferences into account. When I'm single there's none of this "oh, but he has plans that weekend," or "if I do blah and blah we won't really see each other all weekend because he's got blah and blah," or "I'd like to watch this movie about vampires but he's genuinely terrified of vampires so I have to do it while he's not around," or "I want to eat at that restaurant he hates three times a week."

Also I miss un-self-conscious farting.
posted by mskyle at 3:56 AM on July 11, 2014 [4 favorites]

A couple of weeks back I was at a party and wound up going off with a group of guys for target practice (?!) and wound up drinking with another neighbour and her kids. Random. Good. Free.

I personally prefer going to the movies alone - no one talking loudly in the middle and pissing everyone one off etc.. and you can just take it in.. chew it over.

Not waking with a boner pressing into my thigh on the days I feel 200% un up for it. I know it's just nature.. but I still don't miss it to be honest. (It's also kind of uncomfortable!)

A partner always has some horrendous relative or dick of a friend or weird relationship with their mother. NONE. OF. THAT. SHIT.. in a couple there is nooo escape from it.

Not feeling unappreciated.

Those weird arguments when you don't even know what they are about.

Seeing the own mad bits of myself that get activated by relationships.

That baby talk shit that I always get sucked into whilst my inner adult barfs.

Sometimes I feel empowered being single - often find the folk who 'have to have someone' to be quite tragic cases - though society see's me as the fuck up.

Time to try stuff.. so maybe less resentment later about not having had the chance to.

Don't have to stress about my own ambivalence about intimacy.

Being daft with my pet.

Siestas. Hmm mm

Lying on my couch and talking to my friends in total privacy.
posted by tanktop at 4:13 AM on July 11, 2014 [7 favorites]

I looooooove my husband, but things I also adore when he leaves me alone in the house for a while:

- Eating "single" food, stuff that he either doesn't really like or it's not really appropriate to make for me to make for another human's consumption but if it's just for me, nom nom nom. Example: rice with soy sauce, fried egg and ketchup. Eating soup right out of the pot like an animal.

- Watching comfort tv, for hours, even though I've seen it a million times already. Examples: Friends, Sex & the City, Kindergarten Cop

- Reading in bed until the small hours and falling asleep until the book falls on your face and then you read some more.

- Complete control over what to play over our Sonos system.

- Doing stuff The Way You Like It but you have compromised because your partner doesn't really like how you do it because You're Doing It Wrong. Examples: Dishwasher loading, toothpaste tube folding, laundry folding, etc. This eventually backfires for me because then he comes home and realises what I got away with but it's still worth it because I feel like it's a small victory for me. I know he feels the same because this is how dish towels end up in the Wrong Place.

- Going to the bathroom with the door open and then the cat walks in and you pet her while you're still on the throne.
posted by like_neon at 5:25 AM on July 11, 2014 [10 favorites]

Taking up the whole bed/twisting the covers into a mess because that's how I sleep sometimes. Getting up to pee a thousand times in the night and not once worrying that I might wake someone. Being a super heavy sleeper myself, and not having to be concerned that someone else might need me in the middle of the night and be unable to wake me. (incidentally, I hear that having children will change this. Part of me hopes it's true. Part of me really loves my superpower of being able to sleep through anything.)

No need/desire to get fake outfit approval from the other person before leaving. I mean, I do appreciate having someone around to tell me that something has a stain or fits funny, but I don't want to be asking "how do I look?" before I get out the door. (Though oddly, I do really like hearing someone say "you look great!" just...unprompted...or maybe more on my own terms....or maybe more enthusiasm than I'm used to getting from men.)

Fewer boundary negotiations, less discussion of my big scary past. If I'm just casually dating, and not bringing anybody home, then I don't have to explain why I don't like people touching my neck. You touch my neck, I move your hand. You do it again, I leave. If you're over all the time then it will probably come up when you inadvertently or purposefully touch my neck and I flip out.

No comparison of my crazy messed up family to his perfect (or differently messed up) family.

Not having to explain that sex hurts sometimes. Seriously, if I'm in a relationship with a penis owner and they get all upset that I'm not in the mood, it's bad enough that so many men (#NotAllMen) feel owed an explanation of why they're being "denied." It's worse that sometimes when I do give that explanation, it's not good enough.

Choosing my own damn chocolates. Ugh Whitman Sampler just is not my thing, quantity does not make up for lack of quality, and so sue me if I look a gift horse in the mouth every now and then on the crappy chocolate thing.

Less of the emotional work. Less of the social "cruise directing." Being able to leave a party/event when I'm done, being able to stay at a party/event as long as I like without worrying that the other person is ready to go.

Space/ability to be the period cliche in private. Seriously, I was in Central Park last week, crying over a candy bar, reading Pride and Prejudice, while someone practiced the guitar on a bench nearby. That pretty much summed up that week for me, and every month relieved to not have to explain/defend/represent that hormonal reality to a partner. But if I find the guy who will bring me the right chocolates and not make fun of me for taking up 80% of the bed we'd have the baseline bare minimum right there.
posted by bilabial at 5:54 AM on July 11, 2014 [3 favorites]

I never thought I'd feel this way, but the best thing about being single? SO many things.

Maybe it's because I'm young, but the feeling of opportunity. Not being tied like the tail of a kite to your partner's life decisions. Being able to chart my own path in life without need for approval or risk of subterfuge.

Cooking for myself, delicious food, without any criticism or lack of appreciation.

Dressing how I want without ridicule.

Solitude. The endless chances to feel unmolested in my thoughts.

My last relationship was not a healthy one but there was a time I would have preferred being with him to being alone. Never again.
posted by sevenofspades at 5:55 AM on July 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

Oh gods, yes. The toothpaste thing. Do not squeeze the tube from the middle unless you want my head to privately explode every time I brush.

Let's just have separate toothpastes, mmmkay? Because actually, his probably tastes foul unless it's the Sensodyne that I have learned to love.
posted by bilabial at 5:57 AM on July 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: -hanging out with single girlfriends and bitching about boys
-making out with hot guys in bars
-going to Vegas or wherever on vacation and at least having the possibility of making out with someone you'll never see again
-keeping your own friends (mutual friends are hard to juggle, and you lose them if you break up)
-being able to do whatever you want spontaneously
-traveling alone
-he doesn't like your pets? Your friends? Your habits? Your dad? How you spend your money? Screw him.
-being closer emotionally/geographically to your family of origin (rather than his or neither)
-judgement-free girly decorating. OH GOD THE PRETTY GIRLY DECORATING, HOW I MISS IT.
posted by quincunx at 6:16 AM on July 11, 2014 [3 favorites]

Singlehood is best when young. I spent a long time living alone and now live with my partner. We give each other lots of space and it is mostly OK. The things I used to do when alone but don't do now that I live with someone were probably mostly not good for me.

On balance I am glad I lived alone when younger and am glad I live with someone else now. (So off-topic, I guess.)
posted by epo at 6:33 AM on July 11, 2014 [3 favorites]

Making spontaneous decisions that don't revolve around anyone else's needs, interests, or time sensitivities than your own!!

Go to a craft fair! Go to a local/regional pro wrestling event! A poetry slam! A fetish meet-up! A Quaker meeting!

You can go find fun things to do and just go do them without having to consider whether it jives with all of the responsibilities and concerns that come with being a good partner.

It helps to have single friends though.
posted by Poppa Bear at 6:38 AM on July 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

Did anyone already say, "ordering exactly what you want on the pizza", without feeling guilty for ordering something you know everyone else dislikes?
posted by chocotaco at 7:01 AM on July 11, 2014 [3 favorites]

I'm glad to be single when I'm overhearing one side of endless phone calls at work -- everyone I work with seems to have partners who cannot find their own ass, and telephone for help constantly.
posted by JanetLand at 7:07 AM on July 11, 2014 [20 favorites]

well, i wish i had more confidence then to do more of sex things i'm interested in before i was "attached", so to speak. it's not like it's totally off the table now, and i love my SO who is just as open to explore with me, but you know, things like being the third in a threesome would've been fun.
posted by monologish at 7:09 AM on July 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

So glad to be single when I think about the last guy I had the hots for. I don't know what the hell happened but the last time I saw him he smelled like a rotten ape. Holy shit. And he was a total douchebag too. Dealbreaker.
posted by strelitzia at 8:40 AM on July 11, 2014

Letting the dog sleep on the bed. Or in the bed under the covers, if it is a chilly night.
posted by Elly Vortex at 8:52 AM on July 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: What a great question, and answers. Here's an also-wonderful essay on privacy from the current issue of the New Yorker, inspired by Virginia Woolf's favorite theme.
I second all pitches for intellectual privacy, pets, bed, silence (kill the tv!), and whatever would trigger criticisms from an Other.
posted by mmiddle at 9:06 AM on July 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: everyone mentions all the freedom. the freedom is good because, in that freedom, you find out new things about yourself. there's that saying about character--it's what you do when no one's watching--and being single is your chance to discover that character. the books that move me, the ideas that occupy me, the songs i love. in a relationship it's hard to tell what's you, and what's you trying to perform the version of you that your partner finds attractive. when you're single, you know you're not performing and so the stuff you're getting up to with all this newfound freedom is really you. that is incredible.
posted by iahtl at 9:30 AM on July 11, 2014 [26 favorites]

Being painfully, newly single after 25 years....this is great.

Thank you!!
posted by pearlybob at 9:40 AM on July 11, 2014 [4 favorites]

Happily coupled, but what I miss from being single:

Popcorn and wine for dinner.
YES! though I do still sometimes have this for dinner, but for whatever reason I feel kind of guilty about it. When I was single, I felt more comforted. Odd.

Related I guess, not worrying about whether someone else is fed.

Getting to be in sole control of the 'household' finances. So I can be frugal one month and feel good about it, and indulge the next and enjoy it.

Similar, not being organizer of things (finances, chores, meals, activities, whatever).


The whole bed.

And very weirdly, the flexibility to sometimes stay late at work without feeling like I'm missing something or letting someone down.

I guess a lot of this comes back to not having to think about what anyone else wants or needs. There's something really peaceful and restful about just doing things and not having to talk about it with anyone.
posted by pennypiper at 9:52 AM on July 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Quiet. Solitude. Coming home from work and not saying a single word for the rest of the night. Not turning lights on when it gets dark out because I like the fading blue light of evening.

Sole bedtime rituals. Reading in bed 'til I feel like it.

Eating a bizarre mix of scrounged food for a meal like pickles, cheese slices and popcorn. Not worrying that I'm cooking with cilantro or another food someone else dislikes or is allergic to. Eating the same thing four nights in a row because I like it and it's easy.

Watching a movie and eating popcorn on the couch in the dark.
posted by carrioncomfort at 9:57 AM on July 11, 2014 [5 favorites]

When I was single and all my close longtime friends were married I prized my independence. One day were were going to the park five blocks away and it took an hour to wrangle all the kids and pets. I remember thinking that I could walk out the door, take a taxi to the airport, and fly anywhere in the world right then if I wanted to.
(Although I never did. Stupid fiscal responsibility.)
posted by kirkaracha at 10:03 AM on July 11, 2014 [3 favorites]

* +1 eating gross things I'd never expect anyone else to also eat
* Binge-watching crappy TV
* Falling asleep on the couch while binge-watching watching crappy TV and staying there all night with the cats
* Not having to explain every little thing I do. For instance, I took a shower yesterday earlier than I usually do. My husband came in the bathroom and asked why. For fuck's sake, because I feel like it? I'm not getting ready to storm City Hall, I'm just taking a damn shower. Apparently, my change in routine was cause for alarm or some weird thing. I love my husband to the ends of the earth and am super happily married but getting questioned about the timing of my shower? Christ.
posted by _Mona_ at 10:43 AM on July 11, 2014 [9 favorites]

To be honest, I miss the internet dating...even the 'spark-less' dates.
At first I hated them, but once I stopped treating them as dates (i.e. huge pressure to find the spark connection or it's all a waste) I actually grew to like the one-on-one chats with total strangers. Even when there's no romantic or sexual outcome, talking to new people can be pretty fascinating.
Plus I eventually met my wife on a LavaLife date after a long, long string of spark-less attempts.
posted by rocket88 at 10:54 AM on July 11, 2014 [7 favorites]

I am newly single so I have a fresh perspective on this. Some things I enjoy most:

No one sees whether I shaved my legs or not, no one sees that I'm wearing comfortable underwear and not sexytimes undies.

No having to be careful so I don't wake someone up. No one accidentally waking me up.

Any garbage/laundry/dirty dishes are mine (of course, the flip side is that no one is going to help me take care of them).
posted by desjardins at 11:10 AM on July 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

I can have a dog. My ex- wouldn't live with a dog.
Nobody else's (except the dog's) farting, belching, spitting.
I go in to the kitchen and the cabinet doors are closed.
The toilet seat is down.
I can live where I want.

No one criticizing every detail.
No one making me feel small.
No one sabotaging me.
I only have to support myself.

Did I mention the dog?
posted by theora55 at 11:22 AM on July 11, 2014 [4 favorites]

I'm conflicted about your questions because it implies that one state is good for some things and the other state is good for others.

I will tell you that my life pulled together for me, as a single person, when I decided to live entirely for myself. I decided that it was perfectly okay to eat cereal for dinner. Or that I like sleeping like a starfish in the middle of the bed. I could watch whatever bullshit on TV I wanted to, or talk on the phone for an hour to my best friend.

I got into spa nights, where I'd buy beauty magazines and fool around with my hair and make up. Or I'd build something or decorate or paint something in my condo.

I went to charity dinners with my friends, or fondue in the middle of the week.

Basically I started living the life I wanted to live. And it's been glorious!

And you can do that whether your single OR married.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:44 AM on July 11, 2014 [5 favorites]

When I'm single I'm pretty much FORCED to proactively maintain connections with friends, and meet new people, and go out and do activities, simply to stave off loneliness and boredom. As a result I think in some ways I lead a more interesting life when I'm single.

As an introvert, I find that when I'm in a relationship my quota for companionship is more than filled by my significant other. So unfortunately, that can make me complacent in keeping up the friends I have weaker ties to. I'm ashamed to admit it, but I even talk to my mom on the phone less often when I'm in a relationship.
posted by Asparagus at 11:46 AM on July 11, 2014 [4 favorites]

A lot of people have mentioned the freedom to eat whatever they wanted for dinner, but you can also choose WHEN you want to eat - you don't have to take into account someone else's plans or hunger.
posted by desjardins at 11:52 AM on July 11, 2014 [3 favorites]

To echo what has already been said, enjoy having freedom to do what you want, when you want, for how long you want. I haven't had time to myself to read a damn book in four damn years.
posted by Josephine Macaulay at 12:32 PM on July 11, 2014

Upthread everybody has nailed the doing whatever you want, whenever you want, however you want aspects but there are a few other things I wanted to point out.

Single sex is a very different thing from long-term coupled sex and it's different in so many ways. Masturbating? You can do it out in the open, whenever you want, in any bizarre way you could think of without thinking about your partner's needs. Going out for the evening? You get the mystery of the sexual charge - will you have sex, the buildup to it, what will it be like? You'll get a different technique from someone with different experiences - granted this is not always a good thing, but it can be. There's an upside to this.

You get the freedom from certain types of guilt as well because your actions only affect yourself. Damaged the car? You answer to nobody and inconvenienced nobody but yourself. Wasted some money on a poorly thought-out purchase? Only affects you, it doesn't mean that somebody else's resource pool is drained.

Also, no compromises on major purchases and joint household infrastructure. Furniture can be customized to exactly your height, screens set up to precisely your viewing angle. Computers can be as easy or as hard to use as you can tolerate. All houses, computers, cars, appliances, etc meet only your requirements and you don't have to make compromises to accommodate any partner's very legitimate needs (eg accommodating their job, height, or skills) which might possibly make your experience sub-optimal.

I am happily married and miss those aspects of singledom the most. While you can negotiate many of the freedom aspects into a relationship, the above cannot be sent away because you both have needs and you both have a joint and finite resource pool which must satisfy all.
posted by crazycanuck at 12:55 PM on July 11, 2014

Yes to what everyone else said about doing what you want, when you want. Plus being able to keep the food you want in the house, without it getting eaten before you get to it.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 2:16 PM on July 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

I can do a load of laundry and dump it out on the bed and if I don't feel like yet it I don't have to put it away just to make room for someone else to sleep there.

And not only do I have the freedom to make whatever I want for dinner, but if I make a regular size recipe there's plenty of leftovers and I don't have to do it all again the next day if I'm not so inclined.
posted by drlith at 5:41 PM on July 11, 2014

There is one less person close enough to make you feel (seemingly) irredeemably sad or disappointed.

The intermittent frisson of an upcoming date with someone you don't know very well or at all but that you like very much.

No one to nag about productivity other than myself.

The ability to be thoroughly alone with your sadness or discomfort or boredom.

This makes me seem a bit like I am in a bad relationship! I am very happy, actually, it's just that there are a lot of things I liked about being single (singing in the house, eating whatever I want, having/demanding solitude) that I still have while in a relationship. I think this is because I was an only child and then single into my thirties, so I have a bit of a Mack truck of personality and opinions and the person I'm with is happy to roll with that.

I mean, and then there are the things specific to my partner that were absent from my single life, like WHY CAN'T YOU PUT THE PRODUCE STICKER IN THE TRASH? How can you put them in the SINK or on the TABLE or ON THE FLOOR(?!?) and not the TRASH CAN, THEY ARE TRASH
posted by tyrantkitty at 7:44 PM on July 11, 2014 [3 favorites]

Solitude, habit keeping, reading, thermostat control, decoration control, cleaning control, quiet, choice of films, choice of schedule, choice of food, dating, space for reflection, solo travel, ritual.
posted by ead at 9:40 PM on July 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

When I go to a movie with someone, it is us vs. everyone else. When I go to a movie alone, it is me plus everyone else. Being single is like this, just more so.
posted by macinchik at 10:45 PM on July 11, 2014 [12 favorites]

I get to do most of the things I want in my relationship: I can cook what I want, sleep when I want, travel alone, spend my money my own way, etc. In fact, right now he's in the other room so I can have the whole room to myself and shut the door and read metafilter. He supports me pursuing solo goals. It's really fantastic.

I do miss some of the excitement of the unknown. I don't want to be with anyone else and I don't want to have a different life. But it's fun to be able to just imagine having a totally different life that you could build on a whim... move to Argentina and become a tango dancer or to Japan and never speak English again, etc.
posted by 3491again at 10:56 PM on July 11, 2014 [5 favorites]

There is one less person close enough to make you feel (seemingly) irredeemably sad or disappointed.

Oh yeah! There's nobody telling you how you're disappointing them or smothering them or don't keep the house clean enough or don't call them pet names enough (yeah, that happened) or isn't just generally unhappy and disappointed in you and saying you make them miserable just by being yourself.

posted by jenfullmoon at 11:33 PM on July 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Someone else has said 'the toilet seat is down,' and I'll add that this means, when I'm single, I NEVER worry about sliding/falling into the toilet bowl when I try to sit in the dark. Indeed, I don't ever have to check for the seat. It is always safe to just go pee without an extra step.

That back wrenching drop into the cold splash, combined with the confusion followed by anger and the total certainty of who failed to put the seat back down. And then needing a shower because I just sat In The Toilet, but I still have to pee. And I'm probably going to cry if I'm not already.

And dude, he's either out of the house or comes stumbling in half asleep because it sounds like an alligator is trying to drag me down into the sewer.

I really think people who only pee standing up should experience this at least once in life. For perspective.
posted by bilabial at 6:08 AM on July 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


Conversely, no one complains about my beard clippings in the sink.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:10 AM on July 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

I literally do whatever I want whenever I want to do it, constrained only by the laws of society and nature. Literally any thing that pops into my head I can do immediately if I so choose. Pocky for dinner? Done. Pocky for dinner in the bath? Did that yesterday. Sharing popsicles with the dog while singing along with 1776 on the iPad while paddling in a kiddie pool in the backyard? Last weekend. Get on a plane to go visit a friend upstate for the weekend within an hour or two of being asked? Done. The only difference in doing it internationally would be dropping off the dog at the puppy school for longer time.

Everything in my house is in the last place I left it. Nothing I do by habit is looked upon with sneery judgment by anyone. All the pillows and all the blankets are mine. I can stay up until 3am playing video games and no one tries to use this against me later in the week when I have a migraine and need to lay down quietly in the dark.

If the dishes or the house are dirty, I don't resent anyone for having neglected them. I was the neglecter. I clean it up. If I want to listen to two separate football games at the same time in two different languages while playing video games simultaneously there is no one bothered by this technically bizarre behavior.
posted by elizardbits at 11:37 AM on July 12, 2014 [11 favorites]

Travelling alone.
posted by cwarmy at 8:53 AM on July 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

I can leave my bikes all over the living room because fuck itttttt.

Or I can go spend hours on them exploring gnarly forest service roads, only turning back eventually because I'm starving.

The doors and windows stay locked when my apartment is empty. Talk about goats that are gotten, jesus damn.

I can leave my printer on the floor until I get a table for it, whenever I feel like doing that, I guess.

Things stay where I put them.

My workout mat (a bath towel) is permanently deployed in the middle of the living room, biding its time until I plop down and shred.

I can have one bell pepper in the fridge and nothing else until payday and the only person it could possibly bother is me, and I'm disinclined to care.

I think my bed was made last week.

I can talk to myself without fear of interruption.

And cetera.
posted by Chutzler at 9:39 AM on July 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

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