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Author Jane Ganahl on How to Be Happy Single

Single Women: Are You Happy With Your Status?

Browsing through a local San Francisco glossy this week, I came across an open letter to single women written by Jane Ganahl, author of Naked on the Page: the Misadventures of My Unmarried Midlife. Jane, 58, said that while her memoir celebrates the adventures, and men, she's experienced as a single adult woman, she always gets the same question at her book tour events: "Where can I go to meet men?"

Jane always offers some advice (usually telling single women they can meet like-minded men volunteering for something they care about), but this is what she really wants to say:

STOP IT. Stop it right now — the sad-eyed, self-doubting, nail-chewing longing. Eau de desperation is a stinky fragrance, and men can smell it a mile away. And you're not even 40 yet! Get out there while you still can, sleep around, and enjoy that young body before nature's forces drag it south.

Jane wants the self-doubting unattached to remember that "being single is now a lifestyle" that women have perfected and learned to enjoy. Women should remember, she says, that the single life offers its own deep pleasures that a woman cannot enjoy while in a relationship. And so long as you actively maintain work ties, friendships, and get involved in your community, you can reap the rewards. Is Jane telling you something you already know?

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Bettye-Wayne Bettye-Wayne 5 years
Right on Jen. When I'm single, I do miss parts of being in a relationship, but when I'm in a relationship I miss parts of being single. I think it's like that for most people. Right now though... single and loving it.As for this article, I don't think it's meant as advice so much as it's meant for entertainment.
Bettye-Wayne Bettye-Wayne 5 years
Right on Jen. When I'm single, I do miss parts of being in a relationship, but when I'm in a relationship I miss parts of being single. I think it's like that for most people. Right now though... single and loving it. As for this article, I don't think it's meant as advice so much as it's meant for entertainment.
totygoliguez totygoliguez 5 years
I do like being single, but sometimes I miss someone I can rely on and have fun with. I'm not looking for a serious relationship, but I do think I'm ready to date and maybe go from there.
Girl-Jen Girl-Jen 5 years
What moam network said! I'm recently divorced, and have been separated for about a year and a half. This is the longest I've ever been single in my adult life, and I am LOVING it. I can do whatever I want! Girls night at the bar? Meet up with a male friend for some one-on-one conversation over coffee? Saturday night at home with the cats? Yes please!I do miss the affection, though. I could go have one-night stands (hahahaa, such freedom!), but I'd still miss out on things like those really tight hugs, holding hands, and kisses on the forehead. Those tend to get overlooked during no strings attached sex.
Girl-Jen Girl-Jen 5 years
What moam network said! I'm recently divorced, and have been separated for about a year and a half. This is the longest I've ever been single in my adult life, and I am LOVING it. I can do whatever I want! Girls night at the bar? Meet up with a male friend for some one-on-one conversation over coffee? Saturday night at home with the cats? Yes please! I do miss the affection, though. I could go have one-night stands (hahahaa, such freedom!), but I'd still miss out on things like those really tight hugs, holding hands, and kisses on the forehead. Those tend to get overlooked during no strings attached sex.
moam-network moam-network 5 years
i love being single becuase i can focus on my career, but kind of miss those really tight hugs!!!www.moamblog.wordpress.com
moam-network moam-network 5 years
i love being single becuase i can focus on my career, but kind of miss those really tight hugs!!! www.moamblog.wordpress.com
Tabloid Tabloid 5 years
I'm single for my whole life but I'm now looking for a commitment even though I'm not quite sure if it's a good timing..
postmodernsleaze postmodernsleaze 5 years
Single girls who are always depressing and negative about their singledom are <i>really</i> annoying to be around. So, as a single gal, I voted "Yes!". You CAN be single and happy!
postmodernsleaze postmodernsleaze 5 years
Single girls who are always depressing and negative about their singledom are really annoying to be around. So, as a single gal, I voted "Yes!". You CAN be single and happy!
mdwhite3685 mdwhite3685 5 years
Yes yes yes! I've been single for a year and a half after a very-serious two-year relationship, and I still feel like I'm decompressing from the intensity of it. I know I'll get to that point eventually where I want to be in a relationship again, but for now I'm just soaking up all the benefits of having endless "me" time.
Annie-Tomlin Annie-Tomlin 5 years
Outsung, it isn't unreasonable to want to date casually during your twenties. Go for what you want! I'm sure other people are still interested in dating, not just in FBs or bf/gf. Sounds like you have lots of opportunities to spend time with friends, too. Thanks, Rory. You seem to have a strong sense of self and a good idea of how to find fulfillment whether you're single or coupled. Which I think is ideal.
Annie-Tomlin Annie-Tomlin 5 years
Outsung, it isn't unreasonable to want to date casually during your twenties. Go for what you want! I'm sure other people are still interested in dating, not just in FBs or bf/gf. Sounds like you have lots of opportunities to spend time with friends, too. Thanks, Rory. You seem to have a strong sense of self and a good idea of how to find fulfillment whether you're single or coupled. Which I think is ideal.
Rory1225 Rory1225 5 years
I agree with Annie. I feel as if this article is berating me for my choice to be in a loving, fulfilling relationship with a man. When I was single, I was happy, because I am happy with myself and who I am. That hasn't changed. I am now just happy with someone else.
outsung outsung 5 years
I do describe myself as painfully single mostly because I don't get asked out a lot (let's face it that whole genre of dating has kind of died) I would love to just date casually for the remainder of my 20's but I feel like that's an unreasonable request nowadays since you're either in a relationship or you're fuck buddies without that in between area of casual dating
ladylove004 ladylove004 5 years
This kind of stuff is what scares me. I am 23 and have been in a relationship for 5 years! Even though I am happy, sometimes I can't help but wonder if this is okay or if I should be out enjoying time on my own and meeting new guys while I am still young. Ehh I don't know, in the end, that is something that is up to me.
zeze zeze 5 years
He's my 2 cents, I am happy being single in comparison to what the average relationship is like, even the average "good" relationship. But in comparison to having a GREAT borderline perfect relationship - I think I would enjoy that more, but seeing as that is as rare as can be I think I prefer being single rather than accepting something I don't necessarily enjoy (despite that type of relationship being universally accepted and coveted).
zeze zeze 5 years
He's my 2 cents, I am happy being single in comparison to what the average relationship is like, even the average "good" relationship. But in comparison to having a GREAT borderline perfect relationship - I think I would enjoy that more, but seeing as that is as rare as can be I think I prefer being single rather than accepting something I don't necessarily enjoy (despite that type of relationship being universally accepted and coveted).
Annie-Tomlin Annie-Tomlin 5 years
I'm all for being happy with singledom, and I'm always pleased to see stories that encourage women to enjoy life with or without a partner. I wish there were more messages along those lines, because too many women think they need a man to be complete. But when I read this piece the other day, I thought, "Man, she paints men with a negative and wide brush." (This is saying a lot coming from me, since I am the last person to let lame-ass dude types off the hook for their lameness.) This sentence was particularly bitter:<blockquote>If housework is unequal between men and women, emotional caretaking is even less on par.</blockquote>That's unfair. Yes, some relationships are one-sided, and women DO statistically perform more of the housework, but I don't think it's accurate or healthy to assume that relationships <I>have</i> to be that way. You get what you settle for. While there are indeed lazy dudes who don't help clean or aren't attentive to their partners, there are also men (and women) who truly understand the meaning of partnership. It's unfair to say that women do the bulk of work within a relationship. Sure, in some relationships. In a good one, however, that's not the case. And that is why I would much rather be single than be in a relationship with one of these selfish dude types — but to say that all men and all relationships wind up this way is unfair and inaccurate. And... bitter. I am usually single, and when I am, I spend time with friends, family, pets, and self. I enjoy life and don't feel the need to go on dates or find a partner. But I also want to build a solid partnership in life — not out of fear of loneliness, but out of the desire for closeness and emotional growth. Single life can be fulfilling, rich, and enough in itself. It can, for some people, also be a way to avoid one's intimacy issues. (It is much more challenging to negotiate equality within a relationship than it is to avoid them altogether.) I also took issue with her nonchalant way of describing single motherhood:<blockquote>Throw in the fact that if you’re dying to have a baby, you can still do it and join the growing legions of single moms out there who are making a nice life for themselves without the presence of a traditional dad.</blockquote>Even for women with solid financial resources, being a single parent is a pretty challenging job that isn't as carefree as she makes it sound. I'm all for women becoming mothers on their own if that's what is right for them, but let's not pretend that it's as easy as she implies — or that "the presence of a traditional dad" is worthless for a child. Plus, why do I think that her "growing legions" consist of well-off, privileged single moms rather than single moms who are struggling to make ends meet on a $6/hr job? All I'm saying is, yes, women can become single mothers, but let's not pretend that it's easy. Being a mom <I>with</i> a partner is a lot of work, too!The unspoken subtext of this whole essay is that if you *do* want to find a good partner in life, you're somehow "less than" women who don't. Which is just as restrictive as the stifling message that single women are somehow missing out on the whole nuclear family thing. I prefer to take a more nuanced view. Enjoy life on your own. Be happy and whole as an individual, and then you won't <i>need</i> a partner to make you feel happy or whole. And when you are at that point of loving life while single, you'll be able to decide whether someone else adds to your life in a positive, healthy way. I like the theme of this essay, but I wish it had focused more on the positives of singlehood, and less on the perceived awfulness of being in a relationship.
Annie-Tomlin Annie-Tomlin 5 years
I'm all for being happy with singledom, and I'm always pleased to see stories that encourage women to enjoy life with or without a partner. I wish there were more messages along those lines, because too many women think they need a man to be complete. But when I read this piece the other day, I thought, "Man, she paints men with a negative and wide brush." (This is saying a lot coming from me, since I am the last person to let lame-ass dude types off the hook for their lameness.) This sentence was particularly bitter:
If housework is unequal between men and women, emotional caretaking is even less on par.
That's unfair. Yes, some relationships are one-sided, and women DO statistically perform more of the housework, but I don't think it's accurate or healthy to assume that relationships have to be that way. You get what you settle for. While there are indeed lazy dudes who don't help clean or aren't attentive to their partners, there are also men (and women) who truly understand the meaning of partnership. It's unfair to say that women do the bulk of work within a relationship. Sure, in some relationships. In a good one, however, that's not the case. And that is why I would much rather be single than be in a relationship with one of these selfish dude types — but to say that all men and all relationships wind up this way is unfair and inaccurate. And... bitter. I am usually single, and when I am, I spend time with friends, family, pets, and self. I enjoy life and don't feel the need to go on dates or find a partner. But I also want to build a solid partnership in life — not out of fear of loneliness, but out of the desire for closeness and emotional growth. Single life can be fulfilling, rich, and enough in itself. It can, for some people, also be a way to avoid one's intimacy issues. (It is much more challenging to negotiate equality within a relationship than it is to avoid them altogether.) I also took issue with her nonchalant way of describing single motherhood:
Throw in the fact that if you’re dying to have a baby, you can still do it and join the growing legions of single moms out there who are making a nice life for themselves without the presence of a traditional dad.
Even for women with solid financial resources, being a single parent is a pretty challenging job that isn't as carefree as she makes it sound. I'm all for women becoming mothers on their own if that's what is right for them, but let's not pretend that it's as easy as she implies — or that "the presence of a traditional dad" is worthless for a child. Plus, why do I think that her "growing legions" consist of well-off, privileged single moms rather than single moms who are struggling to make ends meet on a $6/hr job? All I'm saying is, yes, women can become single mothers, but let's not pretend that it's easy. Being a mom with a partner is a lot of work, too! The unspoken subtext of this whole essay is that if you *do* want to find a good partner in life, you're somehow "less than" women who don't. Which is just as restrictive as the stifling message that single women are somehow missing out on the whole nuclear family thing. I prefer to take a more nuanced view. Enjoy life on your own. Be happy and whole as an individual, and then you won't need a partner to make you feel happy or whole. And when you are at that point of loving life while single, you'll be able to decide whether someone else adds to your life in a positive, healthy way. I like the theme of this essay, but I wish it had focused more on the positives of singlehood, and less on the perceived awfulness of being in a relationship.
Gdeeaz Gdeeaz 5 years
There really should be an option for people in relationships. They want to see the results of these polls so they have to vote. Which leaves us with skewed results.
Katie-Sweeney Katie-Sweeney 5 years
I read and loved this article. It's such a good message. I've been single since 2005 (that's 6 years!) and even though I'm incredibly happy, sometimes I struggle with the societal norms. That's why I found her message to be refreshing!
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