Could I Be My Own Soul Mate?

Maybe Emma Watson and Lizzo are on to something.

Comments: 209

  1. Good for Emma and Lizzo if they can create a secure and happy home and achieve intimacy all by themselves. I think that for most of us the journey still takes two.

  2. @Eitan - Altho', we arrive, and we leave - alone?

  3. There have always been people who thrived in solitude. For me in my twenties and thirties and forties it gave me the freedom to develop artistically and to discover how I wanted to live. "I vant to be alone," Garbo was famous for saying, as does Eve in Marianne Moore's poem "Adam and Eve," where Eve says the same and Adam suggests the solution of being "alone together." Still I find the concept of voluntary singleness as a partnership or even romance with oneself a bit creepy. There is such a thing as being too self-involved.

  4. @adinaco Sorry, the name of the poem is "Marriage."

  5. A beautiful, insightful, and compelling piece, many thanks.

  6. Hopefully, for most of us, life is long enough to experience several forms of intimacy and, whether they are successful or not, at least they are part of our total lives. Beng on one's own is such a privilege; one completely impossible to achieve for almost everyone and still be part of daily life 200 years ago. but now, we can go it alone. what fun it is to do that!

  7. All of us can strive for self-actualization as a goal, which to me is simply defined as becoming the best version of myself. The continual growth that this requires comes, I find, first from nurturing the inner self (e.g. art and culture, spirituality/religion, books, nature, physical activity, pets, close personal relationships) and radiating the knowledge, peace, equanimity, joy, laughter, generosity and love that this engenders, to our family, friends, colleagues, community, and world. I should note that none of this requires being partnered.

  8. @Olivia Yes! Thanks for your comment. Finding and pursuing one's calling or purpose in life takes a lot of effort, and if one is to maintain that activity level, it's best balanced with some quiet time to re-charge the batteries.

  9. It's the Ultimate Solution for a produce-and-buy culture: Every citizen is his/her/their own universe, with tailored pronouns, gender labels, and private, self-sufficient universe to match. As a person who lives singly, and finds solitariness a kind of bulwark against many intrusions of modernity, I readily see certain advantages (as have the contemplative, reflective, or saintly throughout history). Still, I make a point of valuing and giving time to my own social networks, and especially in giving priority time to "the life of the polis" and my own informed participation. And I do hold out hope for the preservation of natural and nurturing, inviting and satisfying, connections with communal life.

  10. I am happily partnered with another species: the dog.

  11. @Brooklyn There is no human being who is going to spend half their life waiting for you and the other half following you around.

  12. @Brooklyn Great, another misanthrope who cares more about animals.

  13. @Brooklyn Well firstly, that's creepy. And secondly, your dog will happily partner with anyone who feeds it.

  14. Short answer: no. A relationship, especially a deep romantic relationship, is about giving oneself to another. If one is alone, as I am too, then one is alone. The religious life allows for a deep and felt relationship with God, or in Christianity with Jesus. I doubt that this is what Emma Watson and Lizzo are describing however.

  15. @David I agree with your assessment of the two referenced in the article. But do you think that such a life, one that without a romantic partner and fulfilling, is possible?

  16. What they are describing, in a sense, is simply the following: being one's own best friend. This should be an imperative for all. We have to advocate for ourselves, and show ourselves compassion, because if we don't, who will? Perhaps this is close to the essence of of being one's own best friend, or rather "self-coupled". And perhaps we are all on a journey on learning how to live with others, and even more importantly, how to live with ourselves.

  17. Agree with this. I’ve found that a lot of people I’ve known over the years, many of whom are accomplished and successful (by the usual measures), have revealed in intimate moments that they are very hard on themselves. Some have a secret fear of being “found out” that they’re really a fraud. I’ve often wonder why this is so, as I came to realize I was “suffering” from the same malady. Learning how to give yourself a break, to show real kindness to yourself, is not so easy. But it’s something I now try to do every day

  18. ...and being one's own best friend, as you describe, makes for a happier marriage partnership, too.

  19. @Raphael I thought the same thing, the description was one's own best friend.

  20. This brings to mind Margaret Cho's act of several years ago- I'm the One I Want Margaret, you're a visionary!

  21. The idea of considering being single as a partnership with one's self is a weird way to label it, but I have to agree that at least for myself, not being a couple is a much better way to live. Less stress, more freedom and the ability to do what I want is worth much more than being in a relationship.

  22. @Jtm And no dirty dishes in the sink or underwear and socks on the floor, unless they're your own!!!

  23. This is complicated by the extreme narcissim of many who are already locked in a marriage, but may be searching for that perfect brother-or-sister-in-law (and aunt/uncle to their own children), and want you to marry their "the one" so you can connect their desired relative to the family, or parents doing the same in pursuit of their desired son/daughter-in-law. In my own family I had a sister-in-law who considered it her G-d-given right to meddle in my marriage aspirations, to try to orchestrate my marrying the person she wanted to be in her extended family. I don't know how common this sort of insanity is, but people can be so depraved once a certain scenario enters their mind and excites them, even though they'e not the ones to be potentially married. It's a depraved, narcisstic selfishness that's probably more common than when morality used to be taken more seriously.

  24. @anon oops, pls excuse my orthographical missteps. Narcissistic, narcissism etc!

  25. @anon, I read what you wrote and I still have no idea what you said.

  26. After my divorce from a partnership & marriage of 24 years - everyone kept telling me, "Don't worry, you'll meet someone.." so I kept plodding along dating and having bad experiences after bad experiences - year and after year - thinking he must be out there somewhere. Now, seven years out from divorce I have decided to stop dating last year. I haven't missed it. I don't see the point of feeling less than adequate most of the time to men who are mostly looking for something like a sportswear model to parade around with, not a life partner. Though the loneliness is sometimes overwhelming - it passes. There is peace and strength in being alone. My true soul-mate was my beautiful darling cat, Sasha, who passed away suddenly a few years ago.

  27. @SJK, it sounds like you might have been dating through Tinder? If the men you dated made you feel inadequate, then you clearly chose the wrong men. Dating is a two person interaction, requiring choices on both sides. I suggest you broaden your sights. Consider men who have deeper qualities. That is, if you decide to date again. If your cat allows you to.

  28. @SJK Sorry about the loss of your cat. It hurts to lose our friends.

  29. @SJK I hope you adopt another cat soon and share your love with it / them. I also lost mine 2 years ago and in retrospect wish I had immediately adopted another instead of waiting. Doesn't diminish the memory of the first just opens your heart to another.

  30. It just means that she is going on her journey of self-fulfillment and discovery alone. I would disagree with that statement, particularly when it come to those who are 30 and younger. Their lives are filled with relationships of all kinds - friends and family located close and through technology those that live in far flung locals. In the case of Ms. Watson and Lizzo, that just doesn't include marriage or long-term romantic partner but it hardly means alone.

  31. As someone who is newly self-partnered, I find self-partnership and the possibility of a life without marriage to be both liberating and comforting. There's so much pressure and societal standards to have much of your life figured out before 30. The perfect career, where you want to root down, and that One Person with whom you'll create a future. Much of this is actually impossible nowadays. There's so much that others, and myself included, need to work on, that not being self-partnered could lead to de-railing oneself from the growth and introspection that people need. There are many reasons why I find current times to be much more complex and complicated than "the good old days," and with that, more time needs to be dedicated to our maturity and development before other people ought to be involved.

  32. I'm 61 so I started with the model that women look for a man so she can have babies. Then I went through the 70's where women wanted to work outside the home if they wanted to. Then came the movie 9-5. Then came a woman being the Democratic candidate for the president of the United States. Now, women can have the relationships that they so desire. Perhaps they will change their minds later on? But, for now, maybe they just like Being themselves.

  33. There is no doubt about it! Many Nuns, monks, priests etc are able to achieve high levels of happiness and contentment and they have foregone their secular commitment to 1 person. The goal, I think, is to continually expand our circle so our self continues to include concerns for others. That's how we grow.

  34. @Anu I don't think they are married to themselves. They are married to God (and in the case of Hindu mystics, are devoted to the Universal Self)

  35. An obvious idea, or so I thought. I think either path is valid - not to say that one will always succeed with the choice that has been made and the failure has anything to do with the validity of either choices as a whole.

  36. Such a strange way to say it: "self-coupling." Rather, I wonder if these celebrities are expressing the difficulty of "self-actualizing," in an environment of unlimited choice. Becoming an integrated person is more difficult than ever, because it necessarily involves shutting the door on a universe of possibilities - you just can't be both a doctor and a world-class musician, a freewheeling globe trotter and a traditional parent, a true partner to both this person and that person. And yes, I realize there are ways to pick nits with all of that, but that's missing the forest through the trees. The best romantic advice I ever got was "don't focus on finding the right person; focus on becoming the right person." It might be that becoming the right person has never been harder, and accomplishing it (especially for celebrities in the public eye) takes on the meaningfulness of the erstwhile search for a partner. However, as someone who managed to get -mostly- self-actualized (i.e., grown up), and found a compatible soul, who later became my soul mate after years of marriage and two children, I have to laugh or roll my eyes at the notion that coupling with yourself offers the same richness of life. Connecting with another person with unknowable depths, and connecting across time with your parents and ancestors, by way of children, is something that the self-coupled life can never offer.

  37. I loved being single, waited until graduate school to date, never caved into the assumption that I had to have a date or boyfriend or partner to be whole or interesting and didn't marry until my early thirties. I see no reason to fetishize either the married or single state; both are natural states of being. My concern about this "movement" is that it's yet another attempt to create yet another box. Evidently, being single, a perfectly fine state of being, is not enough. It now must have categories, parties, announcements, and pronouncements. Along with the singles shopping "Event" which extorted billions on gifts for the self, this just seems over the top. Yes. I get it. Many would say marriage is too, but many of us choose very modest affairs, request no gifts (but are grateful for those offered) and simply see marriage as a ceremony that makes more formal, commitments made in private. I've said this before every time identity politics of any kind comes up...we need to live in a post label, post box world. I don't think of any of my friends through any of these lenses: gender, sexual identity, marital status, parental status, age, or diversity of any kind. They're friends first and last. As a diversity coordinator for much of my teaching career, I've assumed we're in an arc of the pendulum swing...that one day soon we'll get past the signifiers and simply celebrate each other for who we are. Will we? I hope so because divide and conquer is fraying us at the seams.

  38. @AhBrightWings You make a good point which is why choosing to be single at a time society expects you t be married needs to have a term or label? Can they just not be interested at this time? Maybe they became sick of the coupling question and came up with an answer which would shut down the questions.

  39. As a life-long single person, I applaud this gutsy realization. I did it my way, as Sinatra crooned. It always sounded OK coming from a guy. I cannot imagine having shared my life. I would have had to have been another person. I have fallen deeply in love many times, but that is not life-long companionship, as we all eventually know. Society is changing. I’m glad for the women coming up. But I can attest that still nowadays, if you’re at all attractive, couples will not hang out easily with you. Wives protect their status against loose cannons. It’s what I’ve never respected: marriage as status, partnering from fear. Thanks for the article, and for these creative smart women. Made my day. Live long enough and you see everything.

  40. The driver of "self partnering" is the real question that each person has to ask themselves. Is being alone making you happy? If so, great. But self-partnering could also be a sign that you won't let your guard down and be vulnerable, which is necessary if you're going to develop an authentic relationship with someone.

  41. Why can't we be on a journey of self- fulfillment, while having someone to share our accomplishments/moments in life with? Why does one thing exclude the other? These kinds of things come from an erroneous concept of what love should really be. We were forced to believe that we had to sacrifice each other's identity in a relationship and that's why there are so many divorces and unhappy couples out there. Once we understand that we don't outshine our partners with our own individuality, then we'll succeed at relationships and these new and unnatural concepts such as "self-coupled" won't even be a thing. Humans were not created to live alone and "mate with themselves". Part of growth is knowing how to be in a relationship while maintaining your essence and allowing your partner to do so as well. Maybe this doesn't necessarily mean having ONE partner in life, but this "self-coupling" should not be eternal, it's okay for short periods of time.

  42. Long term marriage is often not the easiest path to take, and stick to, and I (married 30 years) admit that I go through periods when aI think it would be better to live alone. But I’ll tell you one thing I have learned about being coupled: as you age you start to really appreciate having someone beside your to help you cope. I am an extremely capable person who has always led an autonomous life — even while married. As I’ve gotten older, though, I find that I feel increasingly overwhelmed by things. So that is where my spouse can take over and let me take a little break from being capable. When I was incapacitated (totally) for four months, my husband took care of me. If you are blessed with friends or family who will step in when needed, lucky you. If I had no partner at that time, I would have had to hire a caregiver. So my message to those who eschew partnership or marriage, and choose to be “self partnered” forever, is this: make sure that you build a close community around you. People who will be there when you need them. I have seen older people die from lack of oversight and care, and it is a horrible thing.

  43. @Passion for Peaches Another "you'll be sorry!" warning for single people. Save it. Believe me, if you are "self-partnered," you've developed the skills for independent happiness long before you age. Remember, too, that people also die from toxic, abusive partnerships.

  44. @Passion for Peaches Intelligent and thoughtful post.

  45. I'm in piece after divorce and can only add (again) J-P Sartre's "If you're lonely while alone, you're in a bad company." But this doesn't preclude me from looking for the One. I know, if she exists she can enrich my life immensely.

  46. Coupling (or not) is so much more complex and diverse than I assumed as a young adult. My social anxiety disorder kept me single into my early 40s, when I met a divorced colleague who shared professional interests and was agreeable enough to spend time with. It seemed appropriate to marry so we did. I love her very deeply, and I think she loves me. However we were never emotionally intimate, and now no longer physically either. She’s 80 and frail, and may be developing cerebrovascular issues. I’m 69 and still able to take care of the house, so I’m her caregiver. I love this job! Who could have imagined what a joy it is to make sure your loved one has clean dishes? If it’s more blessed to give than to receive, it may also be more blessed to love than to be loved. My wife was a scientist, and focused on her molecular biology. She never shared my voracious hunger for broad learning. “Why are you interested in that?” she would ask me. We sure weren’t ever soul-mates, and I’ve never had anyone with whom I could share all the neat ideas I read about. So: was/am I coupled? self-coupled? A blend? I don’t know what “self-actualized” is, but I might be close.

  47. @JerseyDave Heather Collins here-- Dear Jersey Dave, I found your post uplifting. I think in the end, we all want to be useful, and if possible, to enjoy our usefulness. It sounds to me that you have achieved both. I hope your wife feels lucky to have your love, as well.

  48. As an English major married to an accountant, I can personally attest to the idea of marriage creating a well-rounded whole from two separate individuals. You would think our different outlooks would constantly clash, but instead we've found ways to build on each other's strengths. He makes sure we're not ignoring the rational logic; I make sure we're not forgetting the emotional nostalgia. Together, we've led a richer life than we could have apart. I believe that people can be strong, healthy, and fulfilled on their own... but gosh, is it nice when you've truly found that "better half."

  49. And nice to have money!

  50. Reading this article, I'm reminded of a quote by Russell Baker, who used to write a wonderful column for this paper: "The young cult of sociology, needing a language, invented one. There are many dead languages, but the sociologists' is the only language that was dead at birth."

  51. @PghMike4 Really? Help me here: What does that even mean? What part of sociology's contribution to understanding human behavior is upsetting to you?

  52. @PghMike4 Or as W.H. Auden put it, never "commit a social science"

  53. This article and the comments so far made me sad. Everybody needs some alone time daily, but to call me my best companion all the time? Not really. I'm in my 60s, divorced and keep myself busy. It's not the same as having a partner to share things with and to count on. Do I go to all the social functions I want to? No, because it's still very much a couple's society and I don't always feel comfortable. Call me old-fashioned. Sexual freedom and not having to compromise has taken its toll on society. Good luck self partners...

  54. @KS totally agree. Plus, it's not good for our mental or physical health to always be alone.

  55. You are not old fashioned, you are just expressing the upshot of the fact that every single multi-celled animal on planet earth is here because of some form of pairing. A few outliers have always rejected physical partnerships and some, like Paul of Tarsus, and I guess Lizzo and Emma Watson, have been influential. In Paul's case, very influential. That is all well and good but, for the vast majority, we need relatively stable partnerships to be happy. 1.2 billion years of evolution have led to this. So maybe you are being old fashioned if by "old fashioned" we mean the Stenian Period. Something is wrong with a society that does not, in some way, help provide average people access to social goods like stable relationships; something is wrong with a society that requires them.

  56. @KS I am also in my 60s, divorced, and keep myself busy. I also date on a fairly regular basis. If a partner is what you want, put yourself out there. There seem to be lots of singles in our age group.

  57. I simply do not understand people who would prefer to be in a toxic, abusive relationship than spend time in their own company. Being alone does not mean being lonely. And being in a relationship does not mean being happy or complete. Bravo to anyone who realizes that they are their own best company.

  58. @LauraF I am supremely happy being alone but I would never have grown as much without my various relationships good and bad, and I don't just mean romantic relationships. I used to have the right kind of ego (like Trump's) that would say "I'm my own best company" and I've done a huge amount of crazy stuff on my own that I really value. Yet dealing with other people in a serious manner is an art in and of itself.

  59. @LauraF right on! I am baffled by that as well, or at least I was, until someone explained that some people define themselves by their relationship. Others, I think happier people, do not.

  60. @LauraF I agree. When someone said, "A bad girlfriend is better than no girlfriend." I thought "Really? That's crazy." Of course, no boyfriend is better than an abusive bad boyfriend to me. I learned one philosophy. The only person who can make me happy is myself because happiness is within my own mind. Once we decide to be happy, we can be happy in any circumstances. The opposite is also true. Although people around us make things better or worse, we make our mindset by ourselves.

  61. Can a person be their own soul mate instead of having a partner in life, finding their soul mate in another person? I don't think I had much choice in the matter of going alone through life. I remember during my first twenty years of life my parents troubled marriage, learning that not all marriages work out, and that combined with something about me, something which never fit in with school and what parents and teachers and society want, destroyed my confidence in ever having a partner in life, and all that combined with clumsy attempts to approach girls in school... I don't even know how to articulate the nightmare of the entire thing. I watched the film Cool Hand Luke last night again (that has to be in my top ten films of all time) and that pretty much said the whole story. I'm just not a person who fits right, and the idea of burdening some woman not to mention kids with such a dubious prospect as myself, well that's just plain irresponsibility. I've just gone through life a marked animal. But it has its compensations. I learned about a lot of other historical misfits and figured maybe I was one of them, and decided I'd do a bit of thinking and writing. And so here I am. Many years later, at age fifty-five. I don't think society makes marriage easy; you're favored for marriage probably the more easily you fit in in first place. The less the fit, whether the fault be poverty, ugliness of face or character, or odd ability, the more solitude becomes your fate.

  62. Took my adolescent daughter to see Lizzo in front of a very large crowd recently, many of the women in which were bordering on the ecstatic with Lizzo's proclamations of "big girls" being kind to themselves and each other. It was a thing of beauty.

  63. Because of some traumatic experiences in my past, beginning with being raped as a 15-year-old virgin, becoming pregnant and forced to give birth to my rapists' child, I've not been successful in relationships with men. I did marry at 30, and to a man who was also damaged goods. He was a good person at his core, but he was also an alcoholic who died of liver failure at age 41. I had some relationships after he died, but decided more than 10 years ago that I was sick of trying to have a good and normal and healthy relationship with a man (other than friends, of course), so I made a conscious decision to learn how to better love myself, and learn that I only have myself to depend on to fulfill my needs. At now 62, it wouldn't have been my first choice, but I feel it's a lot healthier than searching for a partner who may never appear in my life. But still, although I have a good life, at times it makes me sad.

  64. @Jennifer - your thoughtful, stark reflections about a life that has some undeserved misfortune are awesome. You describe your late spouse as a good person; you seem to have accepted responsibilities and events with exceptional humanity. Thank you for sharing!

  65. @Jennifer Thank you for your honest and vulnerable response. I am a sexual abuse survivor and as a gay man, have had 2 very painful and disapointing relationships. I've had years of therapy, many years sober and have wonderful friends and family. I love my relationship with myself and still hold out that I may experience at least one loving, trusting and fulfilling romantic/sexual relationship with another man. I would like to know how it feels. At 58 it may never come, which makes me sad sometimes, too, Jennifer.

  66. @Eric Thank you, Eric, for sharing your experience, and I too hope both of us someday have the surprise of our lives when someone great walks into it. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you, my friend.

  67. Everyone should be their own soul mate, full stop. But I hesitate to cheer this piece. In many ways, it seems we've lost the art of giving of ourselves, and we're renegotiating our most intimate relationships as consumers. Am I getting everything I want, just the way I want it? Along the way, we lose sight of what we gain by sacrificing for those we love. Grace. Connection. Meaning. As we elevate the self above all, l hope we don't forget the power of selflessness.

  68. Well said!

  69. @Rob Kotecki I find I give more of myself as a single person, than I ever did when I was partnered; none of my partners wanted any part of volunteer work or charity...they wanted all my efforts centered on themselves, while giving little in return.

  70. @Rob Koteck I think women are just tired of doing most all the giving and sacrificing.

  71. There are no soulmates because there are no souls. That's just another fantasy along with heaven, deities, et al. There are three kinds of people in this world. Those who want to lead. Those who want to follow. And those who want to be left alone. I've never had long term relationships - intimate - because I really can't stand people on the whole. Even with friends of mine I can only be around them so much before they grate on my nerves. Living alone, out in the country, hanging out with animals, is the only time I feel at peace and happy. This is how people like me have always been and always will be. It's nothing new, and nothing to make a thing about either. If you're alone and miserable that's another story. But for a lot of us that's when we're happiest.

  72. "Living alone, out in the country, hanging out with animals, [with reliable high speed connection to the human internet], is the only time I feel at peace and happy."

  73. @Sparky You are surely entitled to your view, but I am entitled to the view that you are wrong. Surely there are souls and soulmates. I’ve had the honor to experience it in my life; both the personal relationship with or creator God, and a deep and abiding love and oneness with another person. I’ll pray for you.

  74. I'm a couple years short of 50, I divorced 7 years and adopted 2 dogs. I also got sober and am active in recovery. I live alone and can say with confidence that I am happier and more fulfilled with my life than I have ever been. I have zero interest in dating or even anything physical. I feel just as 'been there, done that' with sex as I do with alcohol. My relationships with siblings and parents have also never been better. I wish I figured this out 30 years ago, but I'm grateful I figured it out now. When I meet other women going through divorce and fear being alone, I assure them that being alone can be wonderful. It's even been better with a dog or 2.

  75. For some people the single life is not a method to achieve self-actualization or some other Psychology 101 nonsense but merely a lifestyle choice. Some people simply don't want everything that comes with marriage: living with another person, sleeping in the same bed as another person, sharing possessions, arguing over money, dividing chores, having to spend time with one's spouse's family and friends, worrying about adultery. Life is much freer and simpler for the single person. Of course, it makes no sense to say that one is his or her own soulmate. It's better to say that a satisfied single person finds enough joy in spending time with family and friends that there is no desire for a soulmate.

  76. @Phil Good point, I agree with you. I went through the same analysis years ago and made a decision to remain single. Whatever pleasures marriage and love may give you, they are far outweighted by the fighting and all of the other things that come with a marriage; being single won.

  77. This article made me a little bit sad. On a larger society scale, if enough people’s preferences shift toward individual self-actualization rather than making the sacrifices and compromises that go along with partnering, then what about the people who actually do want to partner? They won’t be able to do that, because statistically they may not find anyone to reciprocate. As the Beatles sang... All the lonely people, where do they all come from.

  78. If we equate not having a life partner with loneliness than we are lost. We all know those who are desperately lonely in unfulfilling relationships.

  79. I suspect that most of us are own soul mates. After all, if we're not our own soul mates, how can we be someone else's?

  80. Another story we perpetuate is that being married is the height of the social pyramid. I changed that for myself and said that being in a satisfied relationship with myself is at the top! How many people do we know who cannot be by themselves? I was married for two years and divorced after three. Never looked back and no regrets.

  81. I remember a quote (maybe it was from the late disco diva Sylvester?) "how can you love someone when you can't love yourself?" which has always resonated with me for some reason. Self Soul Mate may not be for everyone but it may also be the foundation for choosing to enter a loving and fulfilling relationship. I'm going to celebrate 30 years of togetherness with a wonderful man but I honestly don't think it would have been as successful if I hadn't taken the time to learn to love myself for who I am - bumps, bruises and all - which opened me up to love my husbands similar history prior to coming together as well as what we've learned and experienced through our lives together.

  82. No. They're not on to something. Pretending that "self-partnered" is a real thing is the same as pretending that there's such a thing as "paid volunteers". It may sound like someone declaring they're "self-partnered" has discovered some sort of cutting-edge or Zen position, but they haven't. The statement makes no more sense than declaring that "in order to lead, you must walk behind". Some can convince themselves that it is some sort of deep and profound truth, but it's pure drivel, and that's because like "self-partnered" it's an oxymoron. Many can be perfectly happy being single and find a connection with (for instance) a cat, or a dog, or a friend more than sufficient, especially as each of those things is a type of partnering. However, the inability to simply state that is a problem. Since "self-partnered" isn't a real thing, those who take on this label of contradictory terms are either offering a very unhealthy justification for perfectly normal feelings of isolation which everyone experiences, or they truly believe it, meaning they're totally self-centered, self-absorbed, and consumed by self-love. That's called narcissism.

  83. @Robert B I am sorry to say that I find your point of view to be rather judgemental. I see no reason why a person could not be perfectly content, fulfilled and alone. I read some studies in the past where men gain from marriage-they live longer. Not true for women. What I found most interesting about the article was that women are still feeling social pressure to be married by 30. Pretty archaic idea.

  84. @Robert B Absolutely. As you very adroitly point out, there is a big difference between self-respect and self-love. Unfortunately, today's society and popular culture seems to encourage it and make traditional relationships more difficult to maintain than ever, in so many ways, but they're worth the effort in the end.

  85. @Robert B Enjoyed your very thorough dissection of the term and the idea that we need another descriptor for a relationship which so obviously implies "more than one". Thank you. Maybe the best response for the single status, if one must be had, would be to say I am "happily in oneness".

  86. Yes!! I love being my own ambassador of single-ness! It will probably take another 20 to 50 years before people start realizing that marriage isn’t a sign of success. Unless that’s how you define success, but not everyone does.

  87. The assumption supporting the thesis in this paper is that rational decision is the master of emotional drive. It’s an assumption that is hard to accept, and the author should have provided some argument for its support. Can someone who has fallen for another, or yearns for a mate, rationally choose to shut it off? I think it’s the other way around: one does not have a drive for a mate, therefore they can provide a rationalization to not desire one.

  88. @PS "Can someone who has fallen for another, or yearns for a mate, rationally choose to shut it off?" Yes, because I gave up the man I could have spent my life with because I realized that his childhood friend was a better fit for him. He had a very outgoing personality and loved being around people while I am a voracious reader and consequently more introverted. I didn't want him to change from the wonderful,ebullient person that he was and I knew I couldn't change. I think of him always with love and still know, today, that I made the right decision. The End.

  89. The idea of the soul mate is a recipe for failure. Just like there is a "good enough" mother there is a "good enough" relationship. To strive for the idea of your perfect soulmate is to live your life either alone or unsatisfied with any relationship you might have.

  90. @Marti Mart Absolutely spot on. Even Plato, in The Symposium, points out that for the many of us who do not find the ideal soul mate, someone who is compatible and will do is fine.

  91. I feel for these women, famous for the quality of their art, for whom we are so busy making social and familial plans. Can a woman not simply be herself? Must the public be busy finding her a mate and imagining children upon her, envisioning a "best self" for her, instead of leaving her be, to be an actual, good-enough, creative artist, loving and being whom she will from moment to moment? Let's let it be enough to make art, and not also a necessity to marry and reproduce; what a notion.

  92. @Alice You have my permission to marry a guy who makes less than you do, or has a less impressive career. Go forth. Let him stay home and take care of the children in their early years. It's OK. Break the norm. Unless you don't want kids, which is fine, too.

  93. @Alice Thank you! So often articles about women who are artists center on their love lives (or lack of), their families (or lack of), and their looks. It's rather maddening. Granted, that is the subject of this article, but I can't help but think that Emma Watson is reacting to the hole she keeps getting put into. Even when you're married the questions don't end, of course. It becomes about when you'll have kids. And if you have one kid, it's about when you'll have another. It can be painful and excruciating, especially when all you really want to talk about is what you're making. Art is enough!

  94. Everything in the modern world is under review--our connection to each other, to our forms of government, our relationship to the planet, to ourselves, to what's true and what isn't, to what matters and how to spend time and energy, to how much to trust technology, or not at all. This is just another manifestation and a welcome one. (That doesn't mean it will be, and probably won't be, a permanent state for any specific person!)

  95. After a painful divorce from what I believed to be a rather ideal marriage, I felt compelled to fill the chasm created by his abrupt departure. Now, exactly five years later, I’m finding reserves of self-reliance and, indeed, fulfillment that I was unaware I possessed. Being single / self-partnered isn’t a resignation to second-best, it’s an acknowledgement that I am more than enough.

  96. It seems like people are getting hung up on terms here. "Self-partnered" is a great phrase for answering people who hear "single" and think it means you're somehow unhappy. Likewise "I am my own soulmate." If you're talking with people who think personal completion comes only when someone finds their soulmate, that may be the only way to make clear to them that you've found your own route to completion. I was married for nearly two decades...and have been divorced for nearly as long. I've learned to be my own date for movies, dinner out, travel... you get the idea. Just like a relationship with another person, being your own best partner isn't all roses. There's no one to bring you chicken soup when you're sick, and it's _always_ your turn to do chores. On the bright side, the dishwasher is never loaded wrong and no one hassles you about laundry not being put away. So, here's to all the paths to personal fulfillment - solo, paired, and grouped!

  97. @HikesWithDog From a like-minded Washingtonian: I absolutely agree! And there are hidden benefits, too. Trendy restaurant that doesn't take reservations? There's almost always a single seat at the bar. Tickets to that show virtually sold out? There's usually a single seat unsold somewhere (I got to see Robin Williams live that way!). Regarding the chicken soup and chores: lots of places deliver these days, and when one isn't spending extra money feeding two or more people instead of one, there's sometimes spare cash for a maid service visit. I'm a smart, accomplished, high-earning woman in a power career who loves outdoor adventures. I can write code at my desk, swing a hatchet in the woods, enjoy a formal evening at the opera, pitch a tent in a howling wind storm, and successfully direct teams of engineers or outdoor survivalists. The vast majority of straight men I've met are terrified of me; too complex, too threatening, too bossy, too smart, too fast-paced in my lifestyle. I gave up the fairy tale of "the one" (or indeed, the any), years ago, and decided to channel any "partner" needs into a vibrator and a pet. I get better sex from the toy, and better conversation from the cat. I never have to be home for dinner unless I want to be, and the only neuroses I have to contend with are my own. It's not self-indulgence. It's disappointment and disgust. But with a surprisingly bright silver lining.

  98. I am happy that Ms. Watson and Lizzo are bringing self-coupling to the forefront. I am a born and raised American of Indian decent. I have been excommunicated from my family because I am a single women in her late 30's, with no children. I am seen as an embarrassment. I hope that more celebrities come out and say it's ok to not be married or have children. I hope this becomes more accepted in mainstream America. I would hate for future generations to feel forced into marriage just so their families will continue to accept and acknowledge them.

  99. @person, I am so sorry for your negative experience. Being single is liberating! I hope your family turns around and celebrates you for who you are. I am a naturalized American also of Indian descent. My wise mother told me from her own experience that “I much rather be single than marry the wrong man”. When I moved to the US, I thought how empowered women are only to realize that for many finding The One was the only purpose in life. Shows like the Bachelorette compounds the issue. I often find well meaning friends and office colleagues trying to set me up. It is simply beyond their comprehension that a human being can make the choice to remain single. Celebrate you!

  100. It's no accident the examples he uses are women. Women who have transcended limited binary gender roles are generations ahead of nearly all men. Even the most progressive of men still ask how to "be a man" and opine on "healthy masculinity." I'm blissfully single because I was lucky enough to live in an age where as a female I could develop my full human potential, without the need to "gender" my behaviors and character traits. I've never met a man who has come close to transcending his cultural binary conditioning in the same way. As a female friend once wisely stated "I'm single because I'm looking for addition, not subtraction." Agreed. Although single women are often erroneously gaslighted as looking for "perfection," the truth is that we are simply not a "feminine" half looking for a "masculine" half to make us both whole. I'm a whole human. Partnering with anything less is subtraction because his "masculine" half by definition needs to make me a "feminine" half. And who wants to be half of all they can be once they've been whole?

  101. @Amy Luna interesting insights, thank you. By lumping all women and all men in such broad categories of gender, even in praise for one or the other, I feel we do everyone a disservice. It grates less against observation and logic when I remembers exceptions are the rule

  102. While this sounds cheesy, it points to something very important: The expectation that another person will "make you happy" is one of the greatest sources of unhappiness in human beings. A romantic partner is actually just someone who can keep you company while you find your own way to happiness. Real lasting contentment comes from making meaning of your life, which we each need to do on our own. Yes, part of that meaning may be the connection you build with a partner. But it's still a choice to find happiness in that relationship, including in the hard parts as well as the easy good ones. If it weren't a choice, no relationships would ever fail.

  103. All of this fashionable left wing theory ignores some very serious science. Successful breeding, meaning producing offspring and raising them to be productive citizens, requires a man and a woman, and they both must participate in the raising and education of their offspring. The statistics are very clear. Children in single parent families are far more likely to fail. Period. I just see this latest fashionable trend, "self-partnered", to be a continuation of the failed beliefs that going it alone is just fine. Like being significantly overweight is just fine. But the good thing is that this does result in reduced birth rates. The last thing we need is more people on this earth. The bad news is that this trend is not global.

  104. @Mark Do you mean they are "more likely to fail, period," like Obama?

  105. What utter claptrap. A philosophy which caters to the narcissistic and pathologically self-absorbed.

  106. There is a word for this but its not "partner" or "mate". It starts with an "m".

  107. It’s called Solipsism

  108. As for anybody else, if you don't love yourself, you are totally useless to others. You rather destroy others.

  109. Love and Marriage is Like Americans love for Black Friday, and China's love for treasury Bills. America could be a Material Fantasy land, When Americans get to have a free ride, while the World is holding worthless treasury Bills. Hope they Chinese J-20s are as good as F-22s. The day of reckoning is when US Military has to buy J-20s from China. But, the Repoman is for real.

  110. We need more of this. With any luck they won't reproduce and and fewer people mean a better world for bears and walruses and trout. We should also encourage homosexuality.

  111. Emma should indeed stay with herself. Someone so self-absorbed wouldn't be very good with anyone else.

  112. Think about it, can any body be closer to your heart than yours?

  113. In fact you don’t need to be loved by someone else because you *are* love. But not many people know that, even in the abstract sense. If anyone says they prefer to be their own soul mate they are either a saint or more likely a liar.

  114. The worst part of being your own soulmate is coming home after a hard day and giving yourself a shoulder rub.

  115. "Sometimes, though, the only suitable companion may be yourself." Anyone who thinks of oneself as oneself's "companion" is obviously desperate for marriage. Good grief.

  116. In the words of Jerry Seinfeld, "I can't be with someone like me; I hate myself!"

  117. If you’re looking for a soulmate, you’re looking for the wrong thing out of romantic partnership. Rather than be your own soulmate, why not just can the whole concept? Emma Watson’s saying she’s self-partnered is provocative, I suppose, and it does lead us critique our assumptions about what constitutes a fulfilling life, but it’s a rather unpretty, jargonish use of the English language. She might have said, “I’m single and quite happy and satisfied with my life, thank you.” But then, I suppose, you wouldn’t have the hook for an NY Times opinion piece.

  118. One of the most important relationships I have is the one with myself.

  119. I think a lack of humility is the problem. The idea that you don't need anyone's love or help is a bit sad. The logic presented in the article is the same sort of logic a person with a schiziod personality disorder would put forth.

  120. @aliber it specifically said you could have many other types of relationships aside from a romantic one that can be very fulfilling. As one who has been trying to find a new mate for six years after a divorce, I should know! And I am also about to give up and self partner.

  121. Calling being happily single being "self-partnered" is intellectual nonsense. One can have fulfilling relationships whether or not they have a traditional partnership. Referring to "self-partnerships" implies that we all need "partnerships" for fulfillment. We don't. And "self-coupling"? Don't even ask.....

  122. Being alone does not always mean being lonely.

  123. When myy therapist reported that she no longer dated after several failed marriages with malignant narcissists that brought her to the brink of financial disaster, it finally occurred to me that I also could take a "pass" on finding a mate. It was liberating.

  124. @Laurie Jo Not that you shouldn’t pass on finding a mate and feel liberated by it, but what does your therapist’s experience say about her ability to judge character in her personal life?

  125. @Laurie Jo Physician heal thyself!

  126. My True Crime habit works the same way...

  127. Yes! Of course you can be your own soulmate. I talk to myself a lot. My family ridicules me for this. But I find that it is the only attention and intelligent conversation that I get on most days.

  128. In Greek mythology Narcissus fell in love with his own image reflected in a pool of water. There is nothing new under the sun.

  129. The author's failure to consider Homosapien's biological characteristics which may contribute to the need for partnerships and suggesting it "was essentially religious in origin" is naive.

  130. The irony here is that the exact same sense of self that allows you to navigate the world successfully.... ...allows you to navigate in the exact same way... with another... and be the better for it. I have no idea why anyone would celebrate their solitude except perhaps the ethical-egoist... and yeah - we have a great deal of those travelling the world as fellow life-travellers... the good news is that they are happiest when you ignore them.

  131. @SteveRR: I celebrate solitude because I enjoy it. I like people, too. But I like their company in much smaller doses than what most people need or want.

  132. @Anne That is almost exactly what I said

  133. The very first Queen Elizabeth proclaimed she was married to England. And Cate Blanchett was truly historic, delivering that line, and persona. And how much more courageous was it back then?

  134. SO much depends on a person's natural disposition. Are you an introvert who craves--no, *needs*--deep solitude on a regular basis? Or are you an extroverted social butterfly who loves to talk and commune with partners, friends, random people on the bus? What works for one person--being single or coupled or poly or whatever--is what works for that person. No judgment. Just like some people can't imagine life without kids and some of us can't imagine wanting to be a parent. Such is the bell curve of humanity and the rich diversity of humanity and our choices.

  135. The best part is my will. When I die, I leave everything to me! I do admit though that the marital arguments are tough. They usually end up with me calling myself names and then sleeping on the couch.

  136. @Sam And presumably, by the next day - forgetting what the argument was about.

  137. Well, everyone should at least respect themselves. Loving yourself can go too far, sometimes. Also, "soul mates" are a myth. Some people fall in love, some don't, some do many times, etc.

  138. First off, I really enjoyed all these comments. Not one "ugh, these women are so selfish" rotten apple in the bunch, as far as I can see. Just thoughtful explanations of needs, wants, fears and hopes. One of the most delightful surprises of moving into my 40s has been that far from the desperate, angsty singleton society and pop culture told me to expect to become, I'm a content cat lady who enjoys time with friends and relatives or time with myself. I enjoy being an "auntie" to friends' children, and find that not having had my own kids feels like it was the right decision all along. Especially because I have no siblings, however, I'm very aware that as I grow older I will have to work diligently to make sure I'm taken care of financially and health-wise, and to stay in touch with members of my birth and chosen families alike. That's the tradeoff we "self-partnered" folk must accept.

  139. My partner and I have been married for 36 years and together for 5 before that. We consider ourselves socially selective. We love generously my our two (now grown) daughters while acknowledging Buddhism's First and Second Nobles Truths. All told, partner will confirm I'd happily living alone on a lighthouse island with a dog, nature and a good book collection. Self-partnering probably 'raises eyebrows' with some because previous generations believed having children with a (married) partner was an essential aspect of life. In earlier agrarian times, a large family shared group living chores. Practically speaking, modern urban careers don't require working the land or operating the family store lessening a family's beneficial utility. Recent decades also showed the institution of marriage isn't obligatory to happiness. One of our daughters says she'll not have kids because the world is tumultuous, crowded and environmentally cramped. We're in full agreement. Kudos to anyone who learns happiness with them self first. Of course you may meet a future loved one but being single doesn't mean your life is less fulfilling than those with significant others and/or kids. Namaste.

  140. It's all these single and thoughtful people who quite often fill the breach for family and friends who become overwhelmed by their choices, in particular, when some buy into the fiction that a woman can have it all - a career and family. So, in my experience, it's all the singles out there with their generous helping hands who fill the breaches and prevent the cracks in our society from ripping asunder.

  141. Interesting. Earlier today I retrieved a book from my shelf that I hadn’t opened in years. It was Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass” and other poems. The book opened on Song of Myself, then the spine broke and a page came loose.

  142. I think the comment that once upon a time, partnership in marriage was a life defining end in itself instead of being part of a larger puzzle is silly. My parents were married almost 70 years, and their marriage was just like everyone else's, a mix of work and child rearing and hobbies and struggles and joys. It was a partnership that was part of the larger puzzle of life. I believe that is what most marriages have always been. Calling oneself "self-partnered" is a sound bite that in no way reflects the complexity of humans.

  143. I can't help but think this is all just a reaction to the endless questions posed to women, especially younger women: who are you dating? When will you get married? Are you married? Do you have kids? How many? On and on and on. The questions aren't about what brings you joy, what art you're making, what are your passions. It's always about relationships. It's painful when you want a partner or a child and you don't have one and it's annoying when you don't want either. I always caution my younger friends that the questions don't end even when you do get married. Then it becomes about kids. And if you have a kid? Then it's about when you'll have a second one. My husband has not faced these sort of questions. He gets asked about his career, his hobbies. It's remarkable how different we are treated. The same is true for celebrities. Men are not dogged with relationship questions and they aren't scrutinized about their looks or their lives nearly to the extend that women are. Reminds me of the op ed recently about Keanu Reeves' date at the LACMA gala, Alexandra Grant. The article was about her silver hair, not her art. It was offensive!

  144. @Kate Taylor Swift was asked, now that she is 30, when she was going to get married and have kids. She told the interviewer that a man would never be asked that question and she refused to answer on that grounds.

  145. @Kate I am a recess monitor at an elementary school. Yesterday, I overheard a third-grade girl ask another third-grade girl if she was single. That third grader, sounding a bit shocked to have been asked the question, answered: "of course I'm single!" To which the first girl responded, "that's sad."

  146. @Linda It's true! Men are never pressured into marriage.

  147. I used to be my own soul mate but then we grew apart and now we're in the middle of a bitter divorce. Luckily, there are no kids involved.

  148. I know a good divorce lawyer who also practices physiotherapy.

  149. Both the piece's subjects and its author have spent way too much time gazing deep into their own navels. I get that solipsism is pop's new lingua franca (it's been on the rise since the 70s singer-songwriters' heyday), but really...And who could take seriously the science-drop that "Many of us no longer require love"? Neil Postman was right: We're clearly amusing ourselves to death.

  150. The author needs to re-read Plato's Symposium. Far from advocating a heterosexual complementarity alone, Aristophanes' wonderful narrative is probably the earliest to place male-male, male-female and female-female couplings on an equal footing, stating that each of us is looking for our other half, but this other half may be a man or a woman, depending on whether each one was originally part of an all-female, all-male or female-male unit.

  151. The classic example, of course, is parenting. There are sacrifices, of course, but it seems to me possibly the greatest opportunity for growth that a human being can experience. One of my regrets in not having borne children is that I’ve never had the chance (and demand!) to stretch my better self that raising kids would have offered. Oh well, maybe next time around. In the meantime, parents, I salute you!

  152. @Judy You touched on the area of human experience in which having a complementing partner to advise, differ, assist, complete is so important--and which makes our individual limitations most evident. It says something that this crucial social role is such an afterthought when we are fashioning our individualist philosophies! That said, I double-salute those who do it alone!

  153. @Judy you would have made a good parent. And my thanks to the non-parents who had more time and money to give away to others.

  154. Jay Orchard, Jack Schultz and Sam of San Fran. take this to a hilarious conclusion. It would seem that for women commenting here the topic is more serious. I do notice that when I hear the "golden oldies" of the fifties and earlier, the notion of love is idealized. The expectations are unrealistic. The word "settling" has a negative connotation and yet "settling" is what the long marriage is all about. There is no such thing as "the one".

  155. The problem is that people are looking for something external to complete themselves. It's not a question of who completes me. It's a question of who do I want to give t? - because being in a relationship should be about giving to another person - the person you really WANT to give to. This is the Taoist like paradox of life. Similarly, we don't go into business to make money, we go into business to solve problems for other people. And so on...

  156. @Tim Bachmann We go into business not to make money but to solve problems. Are you kidding me?

  157. I love this article, and I love the entire concept of “self-partnering”. And like a song you hear that feels as though it were written just for you, this article and this movement speaks to exactly what I’ve been going through in recent years, and I’m not even of this generation, I’m what you call, middle-aged! The majority of my adult life I’ve struggled and suffered through heartbreak and disappointment looking for “The One”, only to realize my desperation was more a neurotic fear of loneliness, and co-dependency. My ex- and I recently told each other, “let’s find happiness on our own, by ourselves, alone, together”.

  158. The One was always the Self, woven through DNA we’re just beginning to interpret. Others, especially those with whom we have thousands, even millions of interactions, become the mirrors through which we grow, choose, and, perhaps, remember. Who wouldn’t want to look away from the mirror sometimes or maybe just put it away altogether?

  159. Why does anyone feel the need to explain themselves? The only reason these "celebrities" are obliged to even comment on their choice is a purely commercial consideration, to wrap up their current dating status in some bold and bogus manifesto.

  160. so true, and yet can any conversation about this be truly complete without acknowledging the mountains of research about how most heterosexual monogamous relationships, in which the majority of women are in, have been so corrupted by the archetype of heterosexual dynamics of power, class, and subservient self-identity, we could never say what is innately human in the behavior. It's almost meaningless to talk about what is intrinsic human behavior when it is all so shaped by culture, etc. It's particularly offensive when considering that the self-relationships are predominantly female and it is such an old trope to call this non-focus on children/family/males as selfish or narcissistic.

  161. Individualistic culture eventually decides self-partnering is better suited to ideas of individualism. Movie at 10.

  162. Underrated comment ^^^

  163. I love this article. If self-actualization and growth is an important part of who a person is, it becomes much more obvious that a relationship with oneself might be the least obstructed path. Of course, hitting the "jackpot" of finding someone who allows for that growth and supports you emotionally would be sublime. But hearing only one's own voice, and embracing self-expression (wherever that might lead) without expectations to be met is not to be undervalued. So, it's all a journey. And articles like this may help some to embrace their "singlehood" as a choice, and eschew a lifestyle to which they are simply not suited.

  164. Although I have been happily married for nearly 50 years, have a number of friends, and have siblings and other family members whose company I enjoy, I also appreciate my times alone including occasions when I’ve traveled by myself. I also am quite comfortable dining alone, even in restaurants where virtually every other diner is with at least one other person. I find the opportunities to quietly spend time and enjoy experiences without having to concern myself with whether an accompanying person’s needs are met to be special. Doing so does not make one anti-social but actually, I believe, refreshes oneself. As others have noted, being alone is not synonymous with being lonely.

  165. @Mikes 547 There is much to be said for self-awareness. Knowing how to treat oneself well can be refreshing and energizing. It can bring peace and strength. Partners need not be joined at the hip to be happy. A successful life is reflected in contentment with self and with friends. It is easier to appreciate times together when one is also able to stand on one's own.

  166. After two long “live-in” relationships and then two marriages, when I became a widow, I was bereft of everything that made life “worth living”. I had always been in a relationship of some sort, and I didn’t know how to be alone. Eleven years after my husband died, I have blossomed in a way I never thought possible, simply by deciding to take care of me first. I made a conscious commitment to myself a few years back, after realizing I was happier and more content by myself than I ever had been in any of my relationships. I am finally who I always wanted to be - a strong woman with tremendous gratitude for all I have been given. No, life is not perfect - money is a constant worry, and when something breaks here in the house, finding someone to fix it can be a real pain. But still, my life is full of small joys, and I really appreciate this. I am never lonely, as I have many meaningful relationships and the support of my family as well. I am not saying this way of life is for everyone - it's not - but for the right person, being self-committed is a deeply satisfying way of life. I personally love it and would never go back into a. relationship, for any reason. I am, finally, free to be ME, and that's all that matters!

  167. There is nothing wrong with not being married or partnered up in some way. It's a blessing to be content by oneself, and to enjoy and appreciate one's own company. Why invent the term "self-partnering"? It is nonsensical and superfluous.

  168. @DYB I agree. Monks and saints are revered for their solo status.

  169. Just overlooking some of the comments below and reading the article, it appears that deciding to live the rest of your years living with yourself depends heavily upon a person's status; divorce, death, age, bad relationships and so on. Nevertheless, despite what the article entails, I can't help but notice a strong correlation between the rise in loneliness, the opiod epidemic amongst our youth, the constant use of video games and this idea that just ourselves is enough to live in this world. Perhaps if we focus and heard tails towards the beauty of companionship, then perhaps we can cure many of the ailgments Just overlooking some of the comments below and reading the article, it appears that deciding to live the rest of your years living with yourself depends heavily upon a person's status; divorce, death, age, bad relationships, and so on. Nevertheless, despite what the article entails, I can't help but notice a strong correlation between the rise in loneliness, the opiod epidemic amongst our youth, the constant use of video games, and this idea that ourselves is enough to live in this world. Perhaps if we focus and heard tails towards the beauty of companionship, then some of the ailments of this country may be remedied.

  170. Affirming the fact of an essential diversity in human temperament and needs is core to reading this article without reacting from any particular point of view. The core identity of an introvert is someone who renews & restores by turning inward, resting their social self in solitude. An extrovert renews their energy by turning outward and in interaction with others finds their restorative vitality. Of course, this exists on a continuum and although there's a preference for one or the other, most people integrate their individual and relational selves. A problem is that often in romantic/ passionate love there is a powerful dynamic of "projection" in which disowned or unconscious parts of the personal self are sought for in the 'other', the One. This idealized image of the other often deflates & reverses into a negative projection. Projections need to be reclaimed by the self (as hidden fraility or buried treasure). Couples can do this in a mutually enriching way. "Search for the Beloved" by Jean Houston is an examination of the lover search as quest for spiritual wholeness and "Romancing The Shadow", Connie Zweig, PhD & Steve Wolf, PhD, is a engaging look at projection. In the end, it's not a matter of choosing partnership or solitude, but whether the self is conscious and integrated enough to trully choose. "Love your neighbor as you love yourself" is not simply a directive, its a truism: how we love is a mirror of our selfhood.

  171. Left out of this rather esoteric argument is that in any marriage, both partners need to compromise. You cannot have a marriage without both partners negotiating the terrain of their relationship on a daily basis, and neither partner can be selfish. No one gets everything they want, but at the same time, marriage cannot be left on autopilot. I suppose I was one of the fortunate few. I can't say my husband was "the one", but he was my best friend and partner, and that is all anyone can ask of a marriage. He was far from perfect, but then again, I was not perfect either. After his death, it was tempting to try and replace him. But after 25 years together, I no longer find that necessary. Fear of serious illness makes that prospect less than desirable, and frankly, frightening.

  172. As Cole Porter said, "Anything Goes"! Happy people, marrieds included, live longer.

  173. I would love to declare myself my own soul mate. But I have commitment issues.

  174. For all the non-sense Millennials get accused of, the one accurate criticism I would lay at us is this tendency to take a well worn concept, like being comfortable being alone, and reinventing it and acting like they are doing something new. You feel no pressure to get married and are comfortable being alone. Great! But that isn't new and you aren't brave. It's essentially a lifestyle choice that has existed since women's families stopped marrying them off for economic reasons. Being alone is acceptable to almost everyone in modern developed countries. Many of us exist in this state for a long time before changing our lifestyle so we can share it with someone. None of these choices are negative because again, none of this is new. These kinds of dilemmas that apparently require new nonsensical words like "self-coupling" are completely fabricated and in my opinion if you need to stick yourself under a label like that, you really are not all that secure with "self-coupling."

  175. Song of myself Living alone is the ultimate symbol of freedom. Loneliness can be overcome, rather easily, in this modern age of the TV and the iPad. There is so much on the internet to keep you busy and fascinated. It’s hardest around the holidays because our culture crams family togetherness down your throat. Fortunately by January 2 all those family movies fade into nothingness. I live alone and I am very content. Take that George Bailey , it’s a wonderful life to be alone and unbothered ,living with the one person on this whole planet who will always be there for me 365 days a year, 24 hours a day...myself. Lonely are the brave and Vice versa.

  176. Reciprocity, trust, and compromise are the things that lead to longterm growth with "The One." Too often, it's only one person doing the compromising and long into a relationship they find out the other can't be trusted. A lot of us saw our grandparents unhappy, our parents unhappy, and we thought we could do better only to find ourselves unhappy. Reciprocity, trust, and compromise may be there in the glory days of first love, but for many, it's shed like dead skin.

  177. @Linda that word...reciprocity...stuck with me too. It doesn't mean much in a world where so many think their only contribution to a partnership is earning at least half of the living. Not much more.

  178. My husband of 21 years died four months ago, and I am struggling hugely with his loss. I have no intention of ever attempting to meet anyone else, and anticipate spending the rest of my life alone (with cats and dogs, of course). I have always been comfortable with my own company and even when my husband was alive and healthy I would frequently go out and about alone, and even vacation alone (he was very much a homebody). I know I will be able to take care of myself. I have many interests, and friends. The only thing I anticipate struggling with as a single person is not having someone to share things with. After all, it's true that troubles are halved, and joys are doubled, when you share them. Many times a day I think of something, or see or experience something, and tell myself I must share that with my husband when I get home--only to remember that he isn't there. And things going wrong (e.g., my roof just started leaking, and the other day the power went out for several hours) are much more frightening to me now, dealing with them alone. My question of those on this thread who have lived alone for a long time and who say they are happy alone is how they overcome that lack of a person to share things with. What compensates for that? I'd love to hear what you have to say on this. Thank you.

  179. What compensates for an truely intimate partner who actually cares like you do about your roof leaking, your appliance breaking, the cat getting sick, your grandchild’s birth or daughter’s graduation? Nothing compensates for that. I also have plenty of friends, good good friends. I have lots of interests and plenty of responsibilities. Nothing takes the place of a true partner. I lost my husband of 25 years 15 years ago. On the other hand, I must not forget that, although I had a very good marriage there were times in it when I felt acutely lonely. Being single makes friendships a bit deeper. There were also many times when we disagreed about the course of our lives, where we would live, where we would travel. Now, the decisions are mine alone. And there is something good in that. But it doesn’t compensate. If you, reader, have a real true imperfect partnership, be grateful.

  180. Having been single my whole life with a few fraught relationships throughout, my philosophy is to find some kind of peace with whatever your life is like today. I've always yearned for a partner but because of personal issues, being raised inside of a very painful marriage and other inexplicable circumstances it never happened for me. I'm almost 67 and decided when my father died 10 years ago that I would not spend any more time obsessing over what I don't have, but do the best to accept life as it has turned out for me. He had such a difficult marriage but he led his own life within it and loved it in spite of my very depressed mother. Those who have had years with a partner should be very grateful, but then accept this new chapter and love yourself, make new friends, find new activities that can be enjoyed with others not necessarily a singular partner. The beauty of this changing world is that we can live in so many different ways without being judged. We just have to change our minds about how we face our lives the way it is today, as this is all we have.

  181. In reply to EB, about missing the sharing after losing a partner: I remember my mother describing the same exact experience after my father died, that she would be on a walk observing things she would have shared with him, and reflexively thinking she still could. That’s very tender and natural. I was married for 20 years, but becoming single wasn’t much of an adaptation in terms of sharing, as you are feeling, perhaps because we were two very different people. But the question you put out there to others did intrigue me, about my own substitutes for sharing little things when living alone. Often I feel satisfied by taking a photo of something, even if I don’t send it to anyone. If I’m reading something, such as these comments, I’ll take a screenshot of my favorites, to save, even though I almost never look back at them. It’s like a ritual. I also own two dogs, and I talk to them a LOT, sharing my thoughts or observations. If the dogs weren’t here, I’d probably talk to myself in the same way. I also keep a running list of things I want to remember to tell my daughter when we speak weekly. I wish you well, and I believe you will discover your powers for adapting. It can take time: be gentle on yourself.

  182. You must be talking about young people who are almost always out to conquer what they can of the world. Older people often realize that conquering the world is pretty much impossible and that love and relationship is everything in the end. Those who want self actualization in the early years will mostly turn to relationships as they mature and become confident in themselves. Their are always exceptions, but self actualization is a lonely quest after a certain age, and it gets old over time.

  183. I agree that Emma Watson is on to something and that marriage or other types of partnering have been simply different options since the 60s. I am troubled by those who seek “the one” or “a partner who fulfills their highest-level needs” because no partner is perfect all of the time and thinking that my happiness is created by another person could lead to co-dependency, abusive relationships, or separations from good but not perfect partners. Sharing life and supporting others is probably essential for most of us but marriage is not.

  184. I wonder how a biologist might see it. If we indeed are in end times, wouldn’t the need for self preservation actually being us together? Or perhaps are we finally realizing that having close to 8 billion people on this planet creates a yen for Thoreau like solitude?

  185. I got married for the first time at 60. I believe Mary Wollstonecraft got it right in 1792 in her 'Vindication of the Rights of Women' - and so did Virginia Woolf in 'A Room of One's Own.' Women subservient themselves automatically because that is the culture of the world. Wollstonecraft lived next door to Godwin because she didn't want to have to deal with his household needs. Woolf knew her inner literary life was drained by chores. I love my husband. We get along well. But the culture I was raised in trained my eyes to the dust and the dishwasher, even though I try to ignore it. I now long for a duplex.

  186. Agree with everything you say...except “subservient” is an adjective, not a verb.

  187. First of all a relationship has psychological challenges, and also interwoven with that are physical issues. A perfectly healthy in-every-way couple are especially lucky, but perhaps not always can we ignore the obstacles that exist when one or both people don't always feel so great. Not to preach, but proper healthcare without having to worry about the bills is one giant step for society, one comprehensive step for all of us. That would certainly help to make people more confident and open about being around one another and getting together more, promoting intimacy as well. It's one less expense that could cause you to lose your house and perhaps your partner over paying the hospital. We also need to clean up the environment to improve the air we breath, unless you live way out in the wilderness. And What If you want children, and the city water isn't so great? OK, this turned into a bit of a rant. But if you have to think twice, or even three times about marriage on top of the usual emotional demands, I feel that attraction should normally be followed by action. Fulfillment is so important to us all, however, wherever, you find it.

  188. I've had a long history of either short-term or unsuccessful pursuits of relationships. And what I've come out of it with is an ability to be alone and not feel lonely. I have a lot of friends from all walks of life and a great family support system. While I would eventually like to have a longterm partner, I'm not worried about it. In fact, I feel I've dodged a lot of bad relationships because of my troubles. I've also missed out on a lot of good people who were not my ideal but who would have added a lot to my life. Still, I wouldn't have been able accomplish some of the things I've done if I were domesticated.

  189. After a 20 year marriage, and 20 years divorced, I am a cheerleader for single-hood. I’ve always been satisfied with my own company, which helps. My problem is, that at almost 70 years old, I still feel threatened by unwanted attention from men, who often don’t take No for an answer. I’m not especially good looking, but my appeal must come from the fact that I have a roof over my head and a car that runs. I am so sick of unwanted male attention, I swear I’d join a convent if that was possible.

  190. @Just Curious Every attention is "Unwanted" until its "Wanted". Be glad men still find you attractive and are willing to make the first move which take a lot of courage. And stop ascribing nefarious reasons for men hitting on you , men want connection, sex and company as much women, no matter how old they are. And if they are hitting on you , who by your own description is no beauty, that means they are not swayed by shallow and frivolous reasons which is all the more reason to be glad with the attention. And if you are not looking for company, reject their advances, with humility and a bit of compassion.

  191. Key point here is men who “don’t take no for an answer.” She needn’t feel grateful to get this type of attention.

  192. @GANDER-FIR OMG, have you been asleep for the last 40 years? Women should be glad? I too am 70 years old and what men intend, that I should care about, with humility and compassion no less, is not even on my mind when confronted with unwanted attention. For thousands of years women have been expected to care about what men think. Men instead should listen to women with humility and compassion. After 40 years it appears some just don't get it.

  193. I’m not sure it’s just self-partnering. I suspect most single people are also in love with their phone.

  194. @Jim untrue, many single people like to interact and build on a conversation. Many married people are glued to their ipads on the long commutes.

  195. @Jim My initial thoughts toward your post were perhaps unfair. I was baited by my own personal experiences as a young single woman and responded in a fashion that I hate—claiming that another’s opinion is ignorant. This is what I want to say: Singling out (pun intended) those who are single and making a blanket statement about their habits and choices is exactly why these young women might hold the desire to voice a stance that falls outside the realm of the current status quo. Just because they do so does not mean that others should have to pigeonhole them into yet another stereotype (a.k.a. single=self-absorbed people on their phones) because the term "self-partnering" doesn’t quite fit into a familiar lexicon (at least not yet). As Tara put it, many singles like to build conversations just as many married folks are glued to their phones. These characteristics belong to people, not a stereotype created to insult what is not understood. Single, married, heater, trans, gay, queer, non-binary, and anyone else who falls into the beautiful space of what it means to be human—we are all people who deserve the freedom from falling into the arms of another kind of stereotype. This stereotype is the one that is not willing to embrace those who are brave enough to express their identity in the way they, and they alone, see fit.

  196. @Jim Don't you dare talk about Peggy like that.

  197. My mother always said you have to love yourself first before you can love someone else. Enjoy your own company before you go seeking others. She also stated that she maybe alone but she was not lonely. In this very complex world and the insincere people who are looking for happiness without giving anything in return,. One needs to be careful who we let into our inner circle. The world is full of good ,interesting, exciting people we all need to enjoy life without limitations as long as we are not disrespectful or hurtful of others for no reason.

  198. In 1979, well-known social critic and university professor Christopher Lasch published, "The Culture of Narcissm," a highly regarded and much discussed book of his era. I suspect that even he had no idea of the pinnacle of narcissm that would be attained four decades later by individuals of such profound self-absorption and emptiness as the subjects of this column. And this writer can endorse this?

  199. Good article. I do not know why so many people are obsessed with the assumption that every person who decides to remain single (by choice) is somehow a freakish oddity, bizarre, weirdo etc... The fact is that many single people are likely to be far more mentally and emotionally stronger than people who feel the necessity to be partnered up regardless of how dysfunctional the relationship in question is.

  200. In my experience, most people don't find happiness serving themselves, or find their fulfillment through expressive individualism. We're not that individual, and there's a limited amount that we have to express. Those who seem most happy have found a way to serve others, to be useful, helpful, nurturing and loving, and to be acknowledged as a valuable part of a human community. There are myriad ways to serve others, but the most common way to do so is through marriage and family. Those who never experience a long term monogamous loving relationship with another person, and who never experience parenthood, have missed out on two of the great adventures of life. They are adventures that we are biologically well prepared for. There are other paths to happiness and fulfillment, but you should be careful turning away from those two. They represent big opportunities in life. According to, 80% of women are only interested in dating 20% of men (men are less choosy). That choosiness is understandable when women are economically self-sufficient, but as young people age without finding long term partners, it also represents opportunities lost.

  201. @Tom Meadowcroft So the men who are "less choosy" about the women they date are not looking to date, they are looking for sex partners. The 20% of men that get chosen by women are either uber attractive sex partners or are the rare guy willing to actually date and entertain commitment.

  202. As a divorced, single parent, I would be fine being “single,” except that I like and want sex. And I don’t find one night stands appealing. I’ve had a few lovers over time but they’ve been a little too surface. I do wish I could find that perfect in between, committed lover and companion without all the trappings of marriage. (And if you think I’m male, guess again.)

  203. @Soccer Fan So, friend with benefits?

  204. "The ideal of completion hearkens to a time when women were economically and socially dependent on men and marriage was reserved for heterosexual couples." - No, I think it was about feeling that something was missing in the goal of finding a balance in life. We are different with others then when alone. And especially different with a significant other. Now a good friend can be a significant other, but it is different still when there is attraction. With a real SO we can speak honestly, or not at all. There is no spin, or pretense. When that is "complemented" with attraction then we approach a balanced life. Married, you can still have alone-time, but alone, you cannot always summon a genuine hand to hold. Although many false hands may be proffered. Yet solitude is fine if that's for you. But it is usually part of the balance. You don't marry and have children to accommodate society. But it is marriage and children that create society.

  205. I am not sure why a person's life needs a unifying concept (such as "self-actualization" or "self-sacrifice"). It's possible to be devoted to a partner and yet have a self and a mind. It's possible to be single without treating it as a supreme decision or truth. Life is full of complexities, contradictions, and changes; why not allow and live them? Why not learn from life instead of trying to make it fit into a takeaway or Big Idea?

  206. @Diana Senechal Bingo. Everything has to be portrayed as some kind of new discovery of The True Way (same with diets, exercise, our relationships to technology, religion, and so on). Looking for a 'soul mate' has little to do with reality. A partner is something else. Not to say that there aren't good reasons to live on one's own; there are plenty. But do we have to call it being your own soul mate?

  207. @Fjm Exactly. Thank you! I will quote you later, when I discuss this on my blog.

  208. @Diana Senechal Because that's what philosophers do. Nobody is refuting your statements on having a distinct self while beomg in a relationship, and on singlehood as not being a supreme decision. But as long as the Meaning of Life remains unanswered, as long as the Pursuit of Happiness remains elusive, questions that try to see the bigger picture, the formula if you will, or the unifying concept will be asked.