Appreciating the grass you have – whether it be the ‘single’ or the ‘in a relationship’ kind…

My parents instilled in me over my formative years the important mantra of ‘appreciate what you have’. As a kid – and even more so as a grown up – it is all to easy to look at what your friends have, be it toys, houses, siblings or swimming pools, and wish you had it. In the process, you forget about all the great stuff you have that they might be wishing they had – like curly hair 😉 I was reminded of this recently, when I started a bit of a Facebook furore by giving an example of why it is great to be single. Married people came up with lots of other good reasons why being single is not such a bad thing. So, for ease of reference and to remind you all – whether you are smug marrieds or swinging singles – why you should appreciate what you have, while you have it.

My Top 5 Reasons Why It’s Great to Be in a Relationship (disclaimer, this is based on very limited personal experience, but real polling of actual relationshippy people)

1. Someone to share the load, financial and otherwise: there is no debating the fact that 1+1 = 2 and that 2 is a bigger number. As such, everything shared between 2 becomes that much easier. Sure, you might have a bigger house and more cleaning to do – but split the chores between two of you and it is still an easier load. Economies of scale definitely applies when (to quote the Spice Girls) two become one. Obviously the fact you might have a bigger house can also be attributed to your ‘two’ness. As many a singleton will tell you, getting a house on a single income is no easy feat – unless your one income is equivalent to most people’s two. Even comparatively small things – like going on holiday – are skewed in favour of the couples. Try going for a week in Fiji on your own. You don’t get a discount for being on your own – you just get to pay the same price as a couple with half the company and more pitying looks. My least favourite words? Twin share.

2. They love you just the way you are: cheesy song lyrics they may be, but the truth behind them is a very real one. Being in a solid, committed relationship usually means you have found someone who loves you – warts and all. They have agreed that your fabulous features outweigh your less attractive ones – your crazy family, your insane snoring, your rants about politics. Indeed, generally they even appreciate these things about you – which most friends might choose to let get on their nerves. And there is the validation that comes with being in a relationship. Someone has deemed you worthy of being ‘theirs’. Rather than the constant pummelling that the single world gives you (why didn’t he call me? Was it because I made that terrible joke about prawns? Or maybe it was me being too opinionated? God, maybe I need to tell less jokes and be less opinionated…) – you have a constant reassurance that someone is there at the end of the day who WANTS to be there. Value that.

3. You have someone to unload on: as much as we try and accentuate the positive, life has its challenges – and there are many days when those challenges need to be relayed to someone who actually cares. Friends can be great for this – and generally are about relationship troubles – but it is great to have someone who is totally up to the play with the boss at work you can’t stand/the background history of your fraught relationship with your sibling/why you get so upset with John Key – that you can just immediately launch into your tirade as you walk in the door, and get it off your chest. Sure, you have to be careful about how often you do this – but having someone there who will generally listen is a pretty awesome thing.

4. Someone to look back and forward with: people in long term relationships have very much shared lives – shared memories and shared plans. They often have a shorthand to reference previous events and future plans. Full sentences don’t even need to be spoken – a visual or short audio clue will bring the other up to speed immediately. And you have someone to help you make the big life decisions. To travel or not to travel? To take the new job or stick with the old? To move house or stay with you are? As a singleton we can make these calls – but decision making on your own can be a very stressful thing. Decision making as a couple also isn’t easy – especially when you have competing or at odds priorities. But at the end of the day you make your decision and you stick to it – and have someone around every day to remind you why you did what you did 😉

5. Soup and snuggles: Financial considerations aside, the time I most detest being single is when I am sick. When I come home from work feeling sick as a dog and realise I still need to forage my own food, make my own bed, book my own doctor’s appointment and try and make myself feel better. Sure, I have a lovely family and friends who would (and do) come to my beck and call when needed – but you never really want to ask. Having a partner means they are contractually obliged (in sickness and in health) to be there for you. To make you chicken soup (or not, if you have a soup phobia like me), to get you a blanket, tuck you up on the couch and cue up the latest episode of Revenge for your sick viewing pleasure. Meanwhile they will take care of the chores and tell work you won’t be in the next day. It’s like having a mum when you are a kid really – great snuggles and great comfort. Minus the dodgy chicken soup 😉

My Top 5 Reasons Why It’s Great to be Single (definitely based on personal experience…)

1. Sole control of the remote: this may seem like a small thing – but for a TV-file like me it totally isn’t. Gone are the days when I have to negotiate with flatmates about which shows we will watch and when. With sole possession of a TV and remote I can choose to watch whatever I want whenever I want – or not to watch at all. Do I suddenly feel more in a book reading mood? Switch off the box and do that. Do I fancy a trifecta of rom coms on a Saturday night? No one around to tell me that is a TERRIBLE idea and question why someone would put Baby in a corner in the first place. Domestic bliss.

2. My life is what I want it to be – not anyone else: As much as having someone to help you make decisions would be a great thing, making decisions on your own means you can do whatever the heck you want. If someone came up to me tomorrow and offered me a flashypants job making Hollywood more sustainable – sure I would hesitate for a while thinking about my family – but I would probably take it. However, if there was a Mr Jess who had a great job in Auckland and no desire to live in LA – then maybe I would end up sacrificing an amazing life experience. I do not question for a second that the fantastic life I have right now – balancing challenging work with creative writing and family time, built on a solid basis of overseas experiences and a robust friend group – would be significantly different if that guy I had a crush on when I was 25 actually returned the feelings. The life we may have had would, I am sure, have still been a great one – but a very different one indeed.

3. More time for me/my family: despite my extroverted nature and bubbly personality, I need to bank quite a bit of ‘Jess time’ in order to properly function. That is time when it is just me, my thoughts and generally the TV/a movie/a book – and nothing else. No pressure to be somewhere or do something or listen to someone. In the same way that living on your own is so much nicer than flatting, the same can be said of being single. I can programme in Jess Time and ensure it won’t be eroded by my other half having a terrible day at work and needing to vent. Equally – I can spend more time with my family – immediate and extended. By virtue of being one of the only cousins in my family who is still single I am probably the one who spends the most time with aunts, uncles, and other cousins. I am generally up to the play with what is going on and able to help out when needed. Add a whole other family into the mix and that becomes significantly more challenging.

4. I can starfish and have starfish: Quite a few people have commented on my interior décor at my house and how nice and girly it is. Some have even said they wished they could do the same – but their other halves would never let them have that much pink. Although many women do rule the roost in terms of furniture and décor choices – they still have to keep someone else happy. But me? I can hang my Ryan Gosling t-towel on my wall/populate my bed with 10 starfish pillows/have the house smelling like bubblegum for as long as I like without anyone getting upset. Not to mention – my double bed is all mine – I can starfish all night and snore until the cows come home. And who complains about that? Oh that’s right, no one 😉

5. My cash is my cash: as much as there are financial drawbacks to being single, there are also massive benefits. I don’t have to allow for someone else’s demands on our joint funds – don’t need to factor in their golf membership, their regular X Box upgrades or their propensity to buy new suits from Ben Sherman on the regular. I can take the money I work hard for and spend – or save – it how I want. Does anyone complain when I go on a shopping spree to Max and buy three tops that all look the same? No. Do I have to discuss with anyone whether going to Europe for three weeks is a sensible idea in the current economic environment? No. And do I have to go aisle by aisle through the supermarket with someone debating whether the cheaper option or the better tasting option is the way forward? Hell no. Freedom, you are my friend.

This is far from an exhaustive list on either side of the fence, but hopefully it gives you pause when you are next looking over at someone and wishing you had their life. Instead, look at your own and value that. Because, unless you intend to come back reincarnated as a house cat, it will be the only one you have 🙂

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