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‘The Unexpected Joy of Being Single’: Catherine Gray’s Nuggets of Wisdom

About the book, ‘The Unexpected Joy of Being Single’.

The image is spliced in two. On the left, there is a girl happily hugging herself. On the right, there is a head bust with heart gems in the eye sockets.
Roman Samborskyi/ShutterStock, TShaKopy/ShutterStock

There is a discrepancy in the level of prestige attributed to singledom and coupledom, Catherine Gray observes in her book, ‘The Unexpected oy of Being Single.’ The exaltation of coupledom is in a surprising amount of places, not just the formulaic ‘Happily Ever After’ of fairy tales or the love songs on the Charts (big up Stephen Sanchez).

It is also in the fact that every piece of fiction seems to require at least one romantic subplot. It is in the fact that we get misty-eyed and whip out the party poppers for some pensioners’ 50th wedding anniversary but would never entertain to celebrate the milestone if they were counting their years single. Moreover, why is that a wedding receives more fanfare than the achievement of a doctorate? And why do some laws benefit married people only?

The pushed superiority of romantic relationships leaves people fixating on getting into them and completely disregarding the perks of being single.

Catherine Gray described herself as a feverish love addict. The love addiction she paralleled to her tumultuous alcohol dependency, which she also wrote a best seller about:

Pouring a glass of wine and clicking on a dating app are the exact same process. They’re a restlessness, an emotional void, that we attempt to fill by grabbing a substance/person outside of ourselves.

Catherine Gray, The Unexpected Joy of Being Single

However, after conducting some research and undergoing a series of revelations, she concludes that being single can be just as fulfilling as being in a relationship. Why? Well, read and find out.

The One vs. The Ones: You have more friends when you’re single

Gray quotes an Oxford University Study which states that, on average, getting into a new relationship means pushing out two close friends. A Psychology Today article by Dr. Bella DePaulo also lists five research investigations that showed single people tend to have more friends than non-single people.

From personal experience, I have also found this to be true. My boyfriend is lovely, a true sweetheart. But that did not stop me from feeling miserable in our relationship. After months of being together, I realized I had gotten complacent in maintaining current and forming new friendships. For a proud extrovert, do you know how disturbing that was?

I wonder if these models were paid or if they just got pizza. Credit: Fizkes /ShutterStock

You’re more self-sufficient

Gray points out that society infantilizes single people – even though singles’ default operating mode is alone. While most couples split everyday chores, single people do those chores alone.

You planned that dinner. You found time in your day to buy the ingredients for that dinner. You cooked that dinner. And you cleaned up after that dinner. Big up you.

I recently had a conversation with a friend about the self-sufficiency required for living single. While she found it burdensome, I looked back and remembered it as empowering more than anything.

I suppose it depends on the day. But if you’re single and feeling glum about it, I would definitely use this point to stroke the ego.

Self-discovery is easier when you’re single

Gray briefly scrapes this point in the section describing the ‘Cool Girl’ monologue in Gone Girl. The monologue resonated with many women who found themselves altering parts of their identities to pander to male fantasies. It brought that unhealthy pattern into public consciousness.

Despite the message be yourself being out there, many people still find it hard to date without being greatly influenced by the object of their affection. Some of us may take on their identity or what we think is their desired identity for us instead of shaping our own.

But even in less extreme cases, sustaining a healthy relationship takes time. During that time, alternatively, you may have discovered that you were a baker at heart. Or a secret pianist. Or a Kungfu champion. Not to say you can’t be a part-time seamster or carpenter or explorer when you’re in a relationship, but you’d necessarily have to elevate that time-management game.

Stagnating because you’re in a relationship is all too common. If you’re single, you’re free from having to navigate around that. Credit: Mimagephotography/ Shutterstock

The grass is always greener on the other side

There are perks to being single that you could acknowledge during those 2 am sudden bouts of desperate love-sickness.

Personally, I wish I had kept the perks of being single at the forefront of my mind. Years ago, it would have saved me a lot of sweat. So, stay blessed. And I hope this article saved you some angst.

If you liked this article, here are some more you might enjoy:

Living Single: Learn How To Navigate A New Chapter

The Rise Of Platonic Partnerships: How A New Generation Are Choosing Friendship Over Romance

Written By

Cardiff Uni student who'd exchange a kidney for a lifetime supply of cappuccinos.

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