Book and resource recommendations for midlife permasingles
March 9, 2018 3:00 PM   Subscribe

I'm a male nearing 50 who's only ever had one long-term relationship, and isn't wired for short-term ones. For multiple reasons including but not limited to long-term unemployment and mental health disability, I would estimate my odds at another as very slim (I also have social anxiety so have never been able to be the "pursuer"). I'm looking for recommendations for either online resources to have a good life nevertheless, representations of permanently single men and women in fiction or on film whether uplifting or downbeat, or good how-to guides on living alone.

The film character I relate most to is Ernest Borgnine's Marty "whatever women want, I ain't got" and while I enjoy romantic comedies I'd like very much to know more about lives more like my own, either "telling it like it is" accounts or more uplifting and positive visions of singlehood. I've read lots of things by Bella DiPaulo but am not really "single at heart" so am still floundering somewhat and at a loss to know what to do with myself, filling my time going to the movie theatres alone or going to cafes accompanied just by my smartphone. It has helped me feel less alone reading things like Emily White's "Lonely: A Memoir" and Olivia Laing's "The Lonely City". As it happens I am a city dweller in the UK. I'm a member of a reasonably active social anxiety online community but am always on the lookout for others where I might fit in - I thought for a while the Web of Loneliness might be a good match but it's barely active. And I would like to read a more practical and down to earth guide to living alone than the entertaining but somewhat priveleged "Living Alone and Liking It" by Barbara Feldon. Given these parameters, can anyone recommend other things I might like? Thanks!!
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (6 answers total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
Positive Solitude has an interesting perspective on singlehood -- it's by a psychologist who looks at relationships, solitude and loneliness in terms of feedback loops. Parts of the book are a bit abstract, but it also has some more practical guidance about the benefits of solitude and the kinds of solo activities that are less likely to lead to boredom and loneliness than the default activities that many people will typically fall back on while alone, such as watching television.
posted by as_night_falls at 7:14 PM on March 9, 2018 [5 favorites]

I've been single for just over seven years. What I've done is made a fantastic future plan for myself based on the assumption that it's gonna be just me. I commented to a friend the other night that I wasn't sure I wanted a partner because they'd just fuck up my plan.

I've been going out a bunch and meeting people. Mostly women - not my preferred gender for dating - but plenty of social interaction that keeps me in the habit of talking to people and distracts me from any sadness I might have related to being single. I also tend to ask married friends or those in serious relationships about "how it works." Like you I don't have much experience with relationships and it's enlightening to get real life stories.

Also I'm turning 48 this year.
posted by bendy at 10:48 PM on March 9, 2018 [2 favorites]

It’s from the 1930s and definitely aimed at women, but Marjorie Hillis’s Live Alone and Like It is funny and surprisingly useful and relevant.
posted by mskyle at 6:02 AM on March 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

Hey! I can relate, I think. I've ended a relationship at 40, and while I hope to find someone eventually, that may or may not happen. Take a look at Women on Divorce. It just put a bunch of stuff into perspective for me.
posted by 8603 at 6:26 AM on March 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

I have a friend who held a marriage ceremony for just herself a few years ago and calls herself her life partner. I love the idea of embracing it and making it formal through ceremony.

Another friend who still dates a lot says she is non-monogamous but committed to remaining her own primary partner for life. She likes romance but does not want a life partnership.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 1:25 PM on March 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

Henry’s Kitchen offers satirical, hilarious “cooking for one” videos that are coming from a good place while at the same time “telling it like it is.” Seymour Krim’s “For my brothers and sisters in the failure industry is melancholic look at life not turning out how you panned. Walter Mosley books often have characters like that too.
posted by Buddy_Boy at 2:26 PM on March 10, 2018

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