Photo: Simbarashe Cha for The New York Times.

This is not a pity post. Just the opposite, actually. In a world that not only celebrates couplehood but drills into our heads that we’re incomplete without a relationship to the point of financially incentivizing it, I’ve come to really enjoy life as a free agent. 

And this is not to negate the importance of friendships and connections to others. I may be a loner, but I enjoy an active social life, and my circle of friends is a tight group whose love, company, and counsel I value beyond measure. I’m a staunch advocate of nurturing our non-romantic relationships even more, especially as we age. We cannot live without them. This piece is about enjoying life without romantic partnership and ignoring the pressures to achieve it. 

I didn’t always feel the way I do about couplehood. There were times, especially during the pandemic, when I wallowed in my solitude, whining that I seemed to be the last single person in New York. But if I’m going to be rigorously honest, the relationship department never worked out for me. Any man I really wanted to be with was unavailable to me for… well… pick a reason. And if you’re still single by the time you get to my age (53), I think people assume there’s probably something wrong with you. Despite my best intentions and efforts, I never landed “the guy.” 

It used to bother me, but not anymore, to be honest. And it’s not like I’m trying to talk myself into feeling better because some preferred situation never panned out. No. I really like being by myself and doing things alone. In fact, as I write these words, I’m sitting at a table at Blossom by myself, typing words between bites of a glorious vegan grilled cheese on focaccia with a cup of tomato bisque. As I savor my dinner and take moments to compose my next thoughts, I’m looking out the windows onto the hellscape of Manhattan’s Upper West Side, watching people walk, dine, chat, and laugh on a gorgeous spring evening. It’s fabulous.

The other night, after I finished composing my newsletter at around 9:00 p.m., I felt like going out to a movie. I fired up the Fandango app and found a 10:15 p.m. showing of a horror movie that looked fun. So I bought a ticket and went. Because I can. (And the movie was a lot of fun.) The whole “do what I want at a moment’s notice” thing is a really nice feature of being single, and I take full advantage of it.

Occasionally, there are times when I can get lost in the romance of sharing experiences with a partner. But that probably happens about as often as fantasies of singlehood happen to married or partnered people. (And if you are partnered and those thoughts happen a lot, it might be a sign you’re in the wrong relationship.) I reached a point in my middle-age where I accepted that Mr. Wonderful would have happened by now. And it’s not to say I don’t have fun in the ways of intimacy, because I certainly do. I think of my singlehood status as “open, but not searching.” Instead of wishin’, hopin’, and prayin’, I just said “Fuck it. This is the ride. Do whatever you want and make it fun.” And I do.

So if you’re single and feeling shitty about yourself because everyone else seems to be paired up and flaunting a partnered life on Instagram, remember that you’re allowed to have as much fun as you want, go wherever you want, wear what you want, eat what you want, masturbate whenever you want (about whomever you want), listen to the music you want, watch whatever movies and shows you want, and be as fabulous as you want… Because you can. You don’t have to check in with anybody. You are free to live your life on your own terms. That’s not a compromise. It’s a gift. Enjoy it.

A little favor…

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  1. David Gebel

    Agree 100% George. Single is nice, and friends essential

      • Ruben Chacon

        Funny! I went out with some friends Friday night and they said, “maybe you’ll find your Prince Charming tonight.” I was like, uhm no it’s okay that I’m single. I’m happy to go out and just connect with human beings and have no expectations. With that said, I had more conversations with complete strangers and had a really good time. Thanks for your perspective it gives me consolation that I’m not alone in this quest of singleness.

  2. Loved your latest writing. We wear the same shoes and walk the same path. Single-by-choice has many rewards & benefits. There is an inner peace when you embrace those rewards & benefits.

  3. Good perspectives. Though my marriage is approaching 30 years, many of your points resonate – the need for friendship, the pursuit of individuality and solo adventure – I feel are just as applicable to the married male, particularly as they make one more interesting for one’s partner. Life lessons…

  4. Love this and I am 58 living a rich single life in a college town. Like your writings and your instagram talks!

  5. Stephen Kitt

    I’m a Confirmed Bachelor, with a lot of very good longtime friends. Often when at a gathering of these friends the She/her/hers are chatting over there and I’ll be chatting with the He/Him/His often one of them will inevitably say you’re so fucking lucky. My friend is not an unlucky family man just a bit envious of my alone time, and I know he’s right I am lucky.

  6. Cheers, George. I’d far rather be alone than with the wrong man. And one meets such interesting people when traveling peacefully solo vs bickering with a travel partner!

  7. Thank you for this perspective. As an (also) 53-year old single gay man with a successful career, vibrant friendships, and close family relationships, I never feel like I’m missing out. Quite the opposite. It’s refreshing to hear the same from a writer whose musings I respect. Appreciate it.

  8. George Abad.

    Great piece. As a widower of 4 years, I am starting to finally enjoy the single “open but not searching” life. Having had the married life for 30 years, it’s big change, but as you say, a gift to do what I want when I want. Just wanted to drop a line and say thank you for your IG updates and your editorials. I enjoy your presence in my new life.
    (Bay High ‘83)

  9. This spoke to me. This is me. But I’m definitely not feeling shitty about it. Independence is a blessing. Investing in all of one’s relationships is key and in your 50s, the ones who matter most are even more cherished. Thank you for sharing. You’re not alone.