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What’s So Wrong With Not Wanting to Be Alone?
January 31, 2011 by Tart and Soul

I have a friend, we’ll call him Buster, who’s in a marriage most people might refer to as “shitty.”  He’s got the bitter wife, the resentful kid, the budding alcohol problem, whole nine yards.   Buster caters to his woman’s every wacky whim and exhausts himself trying to put himself in her dainty shoes to empathize and bridge the divide.  For Buster, saving his marriage has become a second job.

Those of us who are his friends have mostly been in the “dude, cut your losses” camp.  When a good pal finds more comfort in Jose Cuervo than his wife, not a lot of folks pitch their tent at Camp Hang in There.

The recurring sentiment amongst Buster’s pals when we sit around talking about him is that he’s staying in the marriage because he doesn’t want to be alone.  Apparently nothing is more offensive to the average American than someone else’s fear of being alone.  I know lots of unhappy couples whose inner circle whispers about how their pansy asses stay together just to avoid ending up solo.  As if remaining single is a courageous act on par with traversing the surface of the moon.

However, I think I’m abandoning Camp Cut Your Losses.

Ever been alone for longer than, say, two years?  I have and I can tell you.  It blows.  No one wants to be alone.  What person prefers sleeping in a cold bed to snuggling up against a warm body?  Isn’t talking to your best friend better than talking to yourself?  Doesn’t life feel more consequential when someone else is watching you live it?  Knowing your mere existence plops another human being onto cloud nine?  That’s pretty rad.  And who wants to be on his death bed with some nurse he’s never met holding his hand as he transitions to the sweet hereafter?  I can’t think of a better incentive to work your tail off in relationships than to avoid being alone.

What are ugly are those relationships where folks have stopped trying.  Dead romances where people who used to love each other go through the motions of loving like state employees nearing retirement.  Should those people bail or just start noticing each other again?

Certainly, some circumstances call for hightailing it out of a relationship.  Like if your partner comes to you one day saying, “Wowza!  Two free tickets to the next Tea Party rally!”  Walk away.  This can’t be salvaged.  Otherwise, maybe put in the time.

Buster has a family and a woman who has known him for ages.  These are the building blocks for the one thing everyone wants most in life: forever.  Buster wants to grow old with someone and have his kids at his bedside when he kicks it.  He wants a satisfying relationship and contented family, and so will do what he must to make it happen.  He may also love his wife even if the rest of us think she’s Cruella DeVille.

There may come a time when Buster’s marriage should officially be pronounced dead and both parties should save themselves from being buried with it.  Until then, ain’t no shame in working toward forever.

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The Whitten Family
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged afraid of commitment, afraid of love, afraid to be alone, afraid to end up alone, broken heart, codependent, codependent relationships, finding love, marry me, men withdraw, single women, singles, why am I single | 15 Comments

15 Responses
on January 31, 2011 at 3:20 pmJennifer
As someone who’s been alone for uh, most of a decade now, I certainly see your point. However, it depends on the situation. There are some folks who have become so unpleasant to be with that well, being alone would be an improvement over snuggling with them every night. And if there’s an option to find somebody that is better for you than that person… well, it might be better to go out and find that person rather than to settle for who makes your life hell.

on January 31, 2011 at 5:27 pmTart and Soul
Hi Jennifer,

It’s such a hard call sometimes, isn’t it? You see marriages where both people are so unhappy and you never know whether the relationship truly is dead or whether they could salvage it if they put in the time.

Lately, I’ve been realizing how important it is to make every effort and exhaust every opportunity to make the love in our lives last. You’re right though, sometimes it’s obvious the cord needs to be cut. There just may be another fish in the sea!

Thanks for stopping by.

on January 31, 2011 at 10:03 pmAidan Donnelley Rowley @ Ivy League Insecurities
A great post. A compelling perspective. I think the debate is whether it is “better” to be alone or to be attached and deeply unhappy. I think there is no yardstick for how this shakes out. Each situation is different. Thank you for thinking about this and for writing about it. What is worse – loneliness or misery caused by others? I don’t pretend to know, but thanks for making me think.

on February 1, 2011 at 3:00 pmLady Dee
I agree with your perpective concerning loneliness. Nevertheless, perhaps couples in trouble should give family therapy a serious try.

on February 1, 2011 at 6:23 pmJoanne
As a co-dependent, I really want to agree with you, but in my heart of hearts I think Buster should stop being a buster and GTFO. There are few things more debilitating than being in something for the sake of being in it. I’ve been there. Several times…and while singledom is scary ground for many people (especially those who’ve been in a relationship for many many years), I can attest that the flipside is actually worse.

Last year I ended something that was, for all accounts and purposes, better than nothing. I didn’t want to, but I had to, because I needed to be out of it more than I needed him.

Maybe your friend will eventually see the light at the end of his tunnel, whether therapy, or calling it quits…either way, I wish him some luck.

ps – WP deleted my blog. apparently i’m not allowed to like my workouts enough to blog about them! :-(

on February 1, 2011 at 8:55 pmTart and Soul
Hello Aidan, Lady Dee and Joanne,

Thanks so much for your comments. The question is probably too big to answer in a single blog post, but I agree with you all about the need to move on. I guess I’m starting to worry that many of my friends who are unhappy in their romantic lives, regardless of their status, may not be making every possible effort to make their relationships work.

As I come to see the necessity of hard work in my own romantic life and in every aspect of my existence in fact, I’m beginning to believe people like Buster have the right idea.
Then again, I also worry about him finally getting out of the relationship and regretting the lost time.

Thanks for your comments!

on February 2, 2011 at 3:37 pmGuy
…So it’s better to stay together in a dead-end relationship, than to risk being alone for a very long 01:14:32

I ended a long term relationship because after being together for 10 years, we had become more like room-mates than a couple. She’s a wonderful person, but we had virtually nothing in common, and for me the bottom line all boiled down to this question:

I my life better having her in it, and is her life better having me in hers?

…I spent 3 months thinking about this and asked all my friends what they thought. The men all said “Anything is better than nothing”, the women mostly said “Never ever settle, you will regret it for the rest of your life”.

In the end I pulled the plug, and while I have been pretty lonely at times, I have never regretted my choice.

Staying with someone because you are basically a big chicken, is just such a sad sad situation.

…I also think the strategy of “I’ll just stay with them until someone better comes along” is another huge character flaw. Live your life as if it actually means something. Selling out because you are afraid of being lonely is just so pathetic.

on February 2, 2011 at 4:55 pmTart and Soul
Hi Guy!

So glad to have a man chime in on this! Sorry to hear you pulled the plug, but you sound like you’re in a fabulous place! It does sound strange to suggest someone stay in a relationship that’s dying, especially from a romantic like me. But looking in my friend’s face – he really wants it to work, he’s still emotionally involved even if it looks horrid from the outside. So I’m understanding why he doesn’t want to walk away.

Relationships are hard, ain’t they?

Thanks so much for stopping by!

on February 2, 2011 at 5:43 pmlinda ford
You are the queen of thought provoking articles!!

I think it would be good for Buster to take a long look at WHY he feels so lonely on his own. People who feel lonely need to do some work on reconnecting themselves to themself.

When you can live on your own and love your own company, then and only then, do you have something to give another person. When you love yourself, love your own company, and love your life, you’ll attract a much better partner. Like attracts Like.

When you settle for second best just because you don’t want to be alone, you lose yourself. Now that’s what I call lonely!

Linda Ford

on February 2, 2011 at 8:07 pmTart and Soul
Hi Linda,

Here here! (Or is it hear hear?) Self-love is the hardest love to cultivate. But it’s essential to not only happiness in our individual lives but happiness in our relationships. Sometimes I wonder if people enter into relationships just so they don’t have to be faced with the possibility of loving themselves?

Now you’ve got me thinking!

on February 5, 2011 at 5:10 pmindyink
I agree with Linda, definitely thought-provoking stuff. Since I’m 34 and still single, there are times when marriage looks so good I can’t wait for my chance at it. Other times, I see people who are miserable and their lives are stuck in an endless rut because they chose to get married. Nicely said.


on June 18, 2011 at 5:21 amRyan
I don’t know. I’ve heard so many of these “Cookie cutter” responses, its starts to sound like an echo chamber (“you gotta love yourself first.”). Fact is, there is never one answer. People tell me I am dynamic, intricate, interesting, yada yada yada, yet, I cannot stand to simply be alone. Why? It sucks. Plain and simple. Alone is alone. I can love myself, and be the best narcissist on the planet, yet, alone is still alone. What is a sunset, alone? I guess love trumps all for me. Many people fear not having any money, me, what I fear most, is not having someone in the world that loves me in that Special way, not just a mother, father, or other family member. The one that has CHOSEN me, over everyone else. That bond is worth all the gold in Fort Knox, and if you had it at the beginning, never forget what you loved about that person, because they haven’t changed, only your perspective of them has.

on June 18, 2011 at 12:35 pmlinda ford
Hi Ryan, I know “you gotta love yourself first” sounds cookie cutter,but it’s the truth. The one time in my life when I was able to attract THE right person into my life was when I took some time off from relationships and learned to love me. And I truely didn’t feel alone. The other thing I had faith in was that I would eventually meet someone, I really believed that. What I hear from your comments is that you are alone, you hate being alone, you’re totally aware on a daily basis that you are alone, you think being alone sucks, that being alone is bad. Can you see what your overall dominant vibration is? Ironically, this is what you are attracting. You get what you think about. So what’s the solution? Truely, make peace with where you are, don’t push against it, appreciate you, and yes, love you. And just watch how the universe will arrange for you to meet someone. And when that happens, you won’t be perceived as graspy, lonely, needy and unhappy. The other person will find you so attractive. I wish you all the best.
Linda Ford

on June 19, 2011 at 2:23 pmTart and Soul
Hi Ryan,

I agree with Linda! There’s nothing more aggravating than people telling you to “love yourself” when you’re dealing with the absolute horror and hell of being alone when you don’t want to be. Believe me, I know. Even if it sounds impossible, and often is, to put a smile on your face and try to enjoy solitude, we don’t really have a choice do we? I mean, we can either feel angry, bitter and sad because we’re single, or we can try to find ways to enjoy our lives. I think the more realistic advice is to take care of yourself, do things that make you happy so you can focus less on your solitude. Don’t give up hope that you will find someone and try to live richly until you do.

Good luck!


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