Single By Choice


There seems to be a little controversy brewing at LLLC between the people who think choosing to remain single is tragic and people who believe that every individual should have the right to choose to be single. Great! I’d like to weigh in with a few thoughts and reflections on the issue of ‘choosing to be alone or single.’

At one time, single people were discriminated against if they were alone, not in a ‘couple’ or always doing things with others. This discrimination would occur as a consequence of certain beliefs that there was something wrong with a single or solitary person. In many instances, a single person sitting alone at a dinner table or alone at the movies brought a feeling of sorrow and/or concern from others in couples and/or groups.

“I feel bad for that person having to sit alone having dinner.” “Look at that person all alone.” The assumption was made that there was something wrong with the individual doing something solo like eating dinner alone, watching a movie alone, sitting somewhere alone, and of course living alone. The assumption being the single person was inevitably experiencing a form of painful loneliness.

This is not to say that there are not plenty of situations where people are alone, feel bad and would prefer to be in the company of others. But can you imagine a situation where a person prefers to be alone or single and there is nothing wrong with him or her? Where being alone or single is the preferred experience by choice.

What this means is that the individual has chosen to be alone or single because whether or not to be with others or in a love relationship is a basic freedom of choice. Why does this have to be a problem? Somehow an implicit judgment has evolved that being with others in whatever arrangement or circumstance is better or healthier than being alone or single. Being alone is more easily associated with things like emotional problems, weirdness, sickness, sexual perversion, undesirability, and interpersonal conflict.

The most unfortunate thing about this is the fact that ‘your relationship with yourself’ is being given a very low value. “I think I’ll take myself out to dinner.” “I found myself enjoying the experience of just sitting alone and relaxing.” A reference to the relationship with yourself is in the language we use. Ordinarily we tend to either ignore it, remain unconscious of it,  devalue it, or less frequently develop it.

How can you develop the relationship you have with yourself? First and foremost you simply become aware of the relationship and get past the ‘weirdness’ of it. Developing this relationship you have with you involves thinking about what you would like to do for yourself. Or you could think of upgrading your lifestyle in someway.You might choose to make these changes in or out of a love relationship. It’s your choice.

Realize that a ‘relationship with yourself’ implies that there is a part of you that is able to supervise or guide the rest of you. Take notice of yourself. What are you doing that you would like to change or improve?

By the way, improvements in your relationship with yourself is the real ‘cure’ for loneliness. Basically, you can’t cure loneliness by simply finding people to be with. Loneliness will be recurrent if that’s the only way you deal with it. For example you could be in a love relationship and still feel lonely.

The problem with loneliness is in the relationship you have with you. When the relationship with yourself improves you will naturally enjoy being with yourself more. Expect significantly less loneliness. You can also expect to be more comfortable being by yourself (by choice) when your relationship with yourself improves.

Comments? Welcome. Dr. Tom Jordan

Posted in

Dr. Jordan

Dr. Thomas Jordan is a clinical psychologist, certified interpersonal psychoanalyst, author, professor, and love life researcher.

Leave a Comment