Wednesday Would You Rather: Single VS Coupled?

If you've been following along with this year's BLOGuary, you'll have noticed that I'm not daily blogging on my own this January. I've been teaming up with David Elliott of the Single Dad's Guide to Life this month, and it has been so much fun so far! David's a single dad and I'm a single mom, so I've been enjoying reading the way his posts from the single dad side counter my single mom perspective so neatly. We haven't focused exclusively on parenting though - we've also written about lots of different things this month, so I hope you've been reading along with his posts, too.

Today we're tackling single life VS coupled life - and I'm going to apply this to my role as a parent, but as I also know I won't always have my children in my daily life, it will likely apply somewhat more to my just being a woman. Because in the end, I want a partner who fits perfectly alongside my children ... but is still with me many years after they have moved on.

This is my second stint as a single mother, and honestly, there are parts of me that like it this way. I like that when I need to make an appointment for myself or for either of my kids, I'm not trying to juggle that against someone else's work schedule or personal needs - because there is no one else to juggle with. So when appointments or plans need to be made, I just make them. No second-guessing.

For most single parents, there is still some sense of juggling, though - a single mother co-parenting with her former spouse would need to check with the other parent before scheduling surgeries or other important events, but since my kids's dad is in and out of their lives randomly, sometimes not seeing them for weeks at a time, I just do what needs to be done on my own.

As for myself:
  • I like that this means not worrying about what my partner likes or doesn't like for dinner, what he likes or doesn't like to do for fun, and where he does or doesn't like to hang out.
  • I don't have trust issues over my partner lying to me or sneaking around.
  • I don't have as much financial stress because I know how much money comes in for me, where it's going out to, and that I'm the only one messing with it.
  • I don't find myself carrying forgotten empty glasses to the sink every morning or constantly cleaning up video game paraphernalia.
  • I don't worry about calls that don't come or texts that go unanswered for hours at a time.

There are countless other things I don't have to worry about because I'm single, both as a parent and as a woman, and like I said before, there are things about single life that make me grateful for my lone romantic status. In fact, when I wasn't single ... there was a part of me that actually missed being single.

But the grass isn't always greener on the other side, is it? And what's that old saying? "If the grass is greener, that's because they're fertilizing with different shit." It makes sense though, doesn't it?

I can enjoy being single because I've been badly matched, and being single is always better than being in a relationship that leaves you feeling alone. And for me personally, "alone" has always meant "safe," where being "coupled" has always meant "pain" and "abuse" and "distrust." But with that being said ... I still miss the good parts of being coupled, too.

I miss having someone there to talk to when my kids are having trouble or I have something personal going on and I'm not sure what to do or how to deal. I miss having someone to lean on when I'm overwhelmed or exhausted, someone to bounce ideas off of, someone to share breakfast and laughs and dreams with.
  • I miss the way it feels to have a man's fingers intertwined with my own.
  • I miss the solidity of a man's chest under my cheek as I drift off to sleep.
  • I miss the contentedness of having a good partner, when I had one.
  • I miss watching movies together, talking about the various ups and downs of the day.
  • I miss having someone to pray with, to congratulate, and to be congratulated by.

I miss so many things about being well-matched - things that were so easy to forget when I was not well-matched. Like I said, each side has its advantages.

So if it's true that each side has advantages, and if I could choose to have all the freedoms of single life OR all the romance of being perfectly coupled ... well, which would I choose?

Honestly, that's an almost ridiculously easy answer for me. I mean, I am a romance writer after all - so maybe it's only to be expected that while I have (mostly) learned to practice gratitude and contentment during whichever romantic phase I find myself in as the years pass, choosing to be well-matched with just the right partner would feel more than a little like a no-brainer.

Lucky for me, learning what I don't want from previous relationships coupled with learning what I do want from examples in movies, music, and fiction means I've developed a much higher standard these days - both for what I might offer to my partner as well as what I would expect for myself. 

Which means I'll be choosing far more conscientiously in the future.

Which means it's a good thing I've learned to enjoy the single life, because this phase could last a while.

The thing is, whether I'm enjoying the single life, enjoying a relationship, or wishing I was in a relationship to enjoy, I still want to make sure that I'm learning and growing as a friend, lover, partner, spouse, etc. And one of the ways I've been doing that has been just opening my heart to the idea of a healthy relationship in my future. Which is why my journey across the internet often leads me to sites like Regain.Us, where I found this article about the benefits of being open to relationship counseling. It counters the cost of couples therapy with the cost of losing a valued relationship, and I love the way it leads readers to explore the idea of reaching out for help to learn new ways to be a great partner. And who doesn't want that, am I right?

If you were faced with this choice today, what would you choose, and why? What factors would come into play, what pros would you demand, and what cons would you be willing to put up with? What are your most and least favorite parts of single life VS coupled life? And whichever phase you happen to be in right now (single or coupled), what's the one thing you miss most about the other side of things? What thing makes you most thankful for your current romantic status?

Don't forget, this BLOGuary is a writing partnership! David Elliott from the Single Dad's Guide to Life has been partnering with me this month to balance my single mom perspective with the single dad side of everything from quotes that inspire us to lessons we've learned, to travel, poetry, and our goals for the future. Make sure you check out David's blog to see his thoughts on single life vs coupled life as well - this post is truly a gem, and as I read it, I felt very much like I was reading a much more honest and thorough version of the thoughts I hold so close to my heart they escape expression. He's usually already a great blogger, but in this, David has quite outdone himself.

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NOTE: This post is a partnership with Regain.Us, in conjunction with my love of their site and content combined with their love of giving couples a better, more personalized way of learning how to communicate more effectively with their partners in order to nurture thriving relationships. All thoughts, opinions, and ideas expressed in this post are my own - and as you know, I would never recommend any site, service or product I didn't authentically love.