Confession #8

I am intentionally single.

For those of you who have been reading my confessions, this revelation may come as no surprise. But I want to talk about it today in the context of the movie Up in the Air (for which there will be no spoilers).

The movie is about many things, but one major theme is that this guy, played by George Clooney, travels almost constantly. He spends his life in airports and hotels. He owns very little, and although he maintains a tiny apartment, it’s empty.

The basic idea that Clooney talks about is that if you’re not moving, you’re not living. Which, strictly speaking, is true. If the cells that comprise your body stop gyrating to the music of time, you’re dead.

To attain a life where you’re constantly moving, Clooney eschews baggage. Little things, big things, property…and people. Family, friends, lovers. The only people Clooney really wants in his life are those that will stay by his side no longer than the length of a domestic flight.

Let’s focus on lovers. Until recently, I had been in relationships for essentially 5 years straight (2 relationships with a small gap between the two). I was happy–I’m generally a pretty happy person–but I only felt glimpses of satisfaction. What were these relationships adding to my life that I couldn’t have otherwise?

You can’t truly answer that question until you’re actually not in a relationship anymore. Soon after my latest breakup, I decided to be intentionally single for a while. My immediate instinct was to get into another relationship. I love the chase, and I have no idea how to call off the chase once it begins.

But I fought off that instinct, and in doing so, I declared to myself that I would remain single–at the very least–April 2010. Why April 2010? No good reason. It’s pretty much an arbitrary date.

I may go beyond that date. Because the thing is, I like being single. And not at all in the traditional sense–I’m not going to bars every other night (I think I may have been to one bar since I’ve been single); I’m not doing crazy stuff that a girlfriend wouldn’t have “allowed” me to do; I’m not going on spending sprees with the money I otherwise would have spent buying things for my girlfriend.

Simply put, I have more:

  1. Time
  2. Freedom
  3. Love

Time. I have a ton of passion for my writing, my entrepreneurial projects, and my friends. I have yet to learn how to balance those things with a romantic relationship, so for now, I’m loving the extra time for those passions.

Freedom. I love to flirt. It invigorates me. And sure, like most people, I’ve participated in some mild flirtation while I dated other people. But I like suggestive flirtation. I like the flirtation around possibilities. As I said, I like the chase.

Love. I feel like I have more love to go share now that I’m not in a relationship. When you’re in a relationship, so much love and energy are focused on one person. Imagine yourself at a party with your significant other. Even if they’re really social and independent, they’re still the number one person to you at that party. You can feel it across the room. Now imagine that person’s gone. You can spread your love throughout the room (stop it, you dirty minds). I’m not saying that one is better than the other, but I like the difference for now.

What have I missed about being in a relationship?

  1. An activity partner
  2. Affectionate intimacy

Activity Partner. To some extent, friends are great activity partners. But we all know there’s something special about going out to dinner (or making dinner) with a significant other, or going to a romantic movie with a girlfriend. I miss that.

Affectionate Intimacy. I’m not talking about sex stuff. I’m talking about cuddling, snuggling, holding hands in a movie theater, running my fingers through a woman’s hair while she falls asleep, getting a back scratch (okay, confession #9: I love back scratches), passionate kissing, even just a good hug now and then…the list goes on. I think I underestimate the value of physical contact. I miss that too.

Despite those two, I’m happy being single right now. It’s made me rethink what I value long-term. Watching Clooney tonight…in the movie, he’s not perfectly happy. But he has no baggage. He has an abundance of time, freedom, and love. Those seem like pretty good things to me.

Some of you may find this philosophy sad. And that’s okay–you’re entitled to your sadness. I’m just starting to learn about what it’s like to be single, to intentionally not be in or pursue a romantic relationship for a specific time period. It may be one of the healthiest choices I ever make.

If you’re up for the journey, I’ll keep you updated on how this goes over the next few months. I’ve played around with a few ideas for a longer book about being intentionally single (should I call it ‘Sup in the Air?). Or do things I could only do if I were single, like travel around the U.S. (or the world) and go on 20 first dates. What else can you do if you’re single? I suspect it would be one of those books where I end up unsuspectingly fall in love halfway through the process–that’s the big ironic twist. But maybe not. I’m open to love…I just don’t think I’m ready for it.

I’m posting this tonight because it’s fresh on my mind. If you like this confessions series, you can read my previous confession about the way I live when I live with a woman. I will continue with more Festivus grievances tomorrow.