The pros and cons of being single and kid-free

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Sarah Wiliams has a tip for the contestants on this year's The Bachelor. Photo / Supplied
Sarah Wiliams has a tip for the contestants on this year's The Bachelor. Photo / Supplied

The girls on The Bachelor need to learn some basic maths. With all the talk of "finding their other halves" they seem to have overlooked the fact that one and one makes two. Do you really need to give away half of yourself to find your happily ever after?

I didn't make a conscious decision to be on my own, but I am now very conscious of who I go out with. From abusive to just plain boring, I've seen what happens when you choose the wrong person.

The sense of comfort and security having a partner brings can be exactly what makes it so difficult to extract yourself from such an arrangement. Just like the gamble you take when entering into a relationship, it can feel much the same when getting out of one; hoping something better is on the other side.

Married with Children - the Ultimate Goal?

Many of my friends are married with children and I have to say, they don't do a great sales pitch for it. They have what the Bachelor girls all aspire to, a husband, a house in the suburbs and children - surely they are deliriously happy having achieved this pinnacle of success?

I am told of the manic rush from early morning, getting kids to school and themselves to work, through to ferrying children to and from after school activities, preparing meals, helping with homework, bedtime rituals and then doing it all again the next day. School holidays are greeted with a groan and instead of welcoming the extra time with family it's a countdown to when they can store their offspring at school again.

I presume there are moments of joy and fulfilment amongst what sounds like a gruelling existence, but other than some happy Facebook photos I don't hear about these so much. Ironically it's these same people that are actively encouraging me to follow in their footsteps.

Single and Loving it?

Of course us single, child free people can be pretty good at whinging too. It's not all swilling cocktails and endless "me time". The sense of belonging that your own family must give you, and the knowledge that you truly matter more than anybody else to another human being must be freaking amazing -mustn't it? From my singleton's point of view that is the thing I don't have.

What I do have is the freedom to please myself. I have time, space and peace, unhindered by the needs and demands of others. School holidays simply mean less traffic on the road. I don't need to endure someone else's ugly furniture or piles of washing and I can crash around in the kitchen in the middle of the night with reckless abandon.

I don't have to produce a nutritionally balanced meal each evening and then coax small ungrateful humans to eat it. I have happily assembled and eaten an entire pavlova within 24 hours and enjoy unreasonably long showers, glass of wine in hand before staying up all night working on my next book.

There are some events and social occasions however, that really do require the social buffering a partner provides. When friends are too busy with aforementioned family life it can be a little challenging facing a room full of unfamiliar faces. A recent industry party saw me last exactly seven minutes before leaving my glass of champagne Cinderella style in the car park and driving home, a little bit tearful at my own awkwardness.

It can be these types of experiences and perhaps a bit too much time to please ourselves that lead to compromise when it comes to allowing another into your life. There is a big difference between actively choosing someone and simply going along with an arrangement as it provides company and security and is "better than being alone".

As to whether I am sad or glad about my singleton status; there are certainly times when I am lonely and would love to be someone's "most important person". I'm also very glad not to be repeating past mistakes of entering into unfulfilling relationships, or worse still, staying in one.

In this age of online dating and disposable relationships, finding someone to go out with has never been easier. Finding the right person to share your life - and perhaps your pavlova - with is just as hard as it ever was, and not a decision to be taken lightly.

- nzherald.co.nz

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