Social Question

KeepYourEyesWideOpen's avatar

Does single mean lonely and a relationship mean happy ?

Asked by KeepYourEyesWideOpen (345 points ) January 17th, 2013

To me, the answer is no. I think my happiness shouldn’t depend on other people, because then I’m just setting myself up for disappointment. Happiness comes from within and I should strive to be happy regardless of my relationship status.

Would you agree with that?

Please note that there isn’t any pressure to agree with me.

Once again many thanks for all the responses received!

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53 Answers

Shippy's avatar

It depends on the person, some find being alone great. I did for sure. But that was because in the past I had chosen exhausting partners. So I was better off being single until I got my choices ironed out. I used to think happiness comes from within, and of course it does. But others can make you happy as well. Or happier.

bookish1's avatar

Great question. This is certainly what society tells us. But I have been unhappy in unhealthy long term relationships simply because I was scared of being alone.

For most of the past year, I have been engaging in intentional single-dom to learn how to be happy on my own. I’m still lonely and crave emotional intimacy, but I won’t settle again for someone who doesn’t deserve me.

The guy overseas that I am in love with told me this summer that he discovered that one can find an inner intimacy. I guess I am still looking for that.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I loved being alone as well, and was only lonely rarely, but there are a lot of benefits to being a couple, and companionship is a big one.

Some days it’s living with your best friend which is fabulous, and others it’s like being forced to live with your worst enemy, that’s how it feels for me anyway, after 13 years together. The thing about relationships is that you can’t force them to change or stop them from doing something you don’t agree with, so that’s why your choice and communication are so very important.

That and seperate bank accounts, trust.

zenvelo's avatar

No, it’s not that simple. But as a divorced man, I do crave the companionship of being with someone that understands me and I understand her.

It’s a big support to oneself when you walk into a room and there is someone who smiles at seeing you, and it makes you happy when you see her. It’s not that the other person is focused on you, it’s also that you can focus on them.

As the Beatles said, “the love you take is equal to the love you make.”

KNOWITALL's avatar

@bookish1 Your love is correct, don’t give up until you find it. I am my own best friend always, and will take care of my inner child myself.

It helped me to think back to my childhood and what hurt me, and I try to talk to my inner child, forming a mental picture of myself, and tell her what she needs to hear. It’s very healing and healthy.

bookish1's avatar

Thank you, @KNOWITALL. It did sound very profound, especially in French :-p
I talk to my inner child too, especially when I have to do things that still scare me, like give myself injections.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@bookish1 Mmmm, you have a French lover, so sophisticated and romantic, jealous. Je parlez francais un peu. :)

burntbonez's avatar

I have not been in any long term relationships for several decades, and I haven’t had any significant others (not live-in) who lasted more than a few years during that period of time, either. I would like to be in a long term, live-in relationship, but that doesn’t appear to be in the cards. I’m not obsessing about it any more. If it happens, it happens. If not, I’ll deal with it.

My life is rich enough and full enough. Most nights are not a problem. But there are the occasional long dark nights of the soul where I can’t sleep and wonder what the hell I am doing with my life. And sometimes I get lonely. But it’s neither good nor bad. It’s just my life.

Blackberry's avatar

From my experience, being single is less stressful lol.

Aster's avatar

No; single can mean contented and peaceful and in a relationship can mean loneliness and/or irritation and stress. It all depends on the people involved.

marinelife's avatar

Not necessarily at all, although people in long-term, happy relationships are healthier and tend to love longer.

Coloma's avatar

I’m a content single for the last 10 years and yes, I am very happy.
I agree with @Blackberry after being married for over 20 years I have zero desire to compromise one tiny bit of my life for the sake of a relationship. I have yet to know anyone that is in a truly healthy relationship, based on growth and true caring over habit, comfort, fear of change and unhealthy dependencies.
@marinelife That is true for men only, for women, if the relationship is not really good women are healthier on their own.

lightsourcetrickster's avatar

@Coloma is it really?
I agree with the OP. You don’t necessarily have to be in a relationship to be happy.
Much the same you don’t need lots of money to be happy. You can buy a mansion with lots of money but you can still end up being miserable living in one.

blueiiznh's avatar

In my opinion there is no direct correlation between the terms happy or lonely while single or in a relationship.
One can feel happy and also feel loneliness.
One can feel happy and be single..
One can feel happy and be in a relationship.
One can be single and feel lonely.
One can be in a relationship and feel lonely.

I recently watched a very good documentary on Netflix that studied this topic.
Happy “HAPPY explores the secrets behind our most valued emotion”
I would highly recommend watching it.

Coloma's avatar

@lightsourcetrickster Yes, I have read that women are happier and healthier alone over being in a less than happy relationship/marriage.
Men benefit from almost ANY relationship, but not so for women.
I think it has to do with females tending to assume a caretaking role a lot of the time that is not mutual. I think this is especially true in my generation of late 40’s to 50’s.

I have a female friend my age right now that gets her boyfriend up in the mornings, makes his little boy scout lunch, cooks him breakfast, washes and IRONS his dress shirts and puts little notes in his lunch. Gah! I have zero desire to mother a man ever again, this guy keeps his own expensive condo and has a high paying professional job but spends 6 days a week at her house so he can capitalize on being tended to like a little boy.

Fuck no!
I break out in a cold sweat when I see my contractors work boots in my garage.lol

jonsblond's avatar

@Coloma You make it sound like all relationships are miserable and difficult. I wish you could have the chance to experience a healthy relationship. Not all relationships are as bad as you make it sound. If I do end up single some day, I hope to be as happy as you, but I sure am happier than I have ever been. A good part of that happiness is sharing my life with my best friend. =)

marinelife's avatar

@Coloma That is why I specified “in long-term. happy relationships”.

Coloma's avatar

@jonsblond Not at all, but in general, as I said, I have yet to observe what I would consider a truly healthy relationship. I just really, really LIKE being untethered these days.
@marinelife Got’cha.

Mariah's avatar

Oh, definitely not. Wish a single friend of mine would learn this.

lightsourcetrickster's avatar

@Coloma Men benefit from almost ANY relationship…....I don’t think that too many of us guys are that carefree about what relationships they would be!
My current gf does nothing like iron my shirts (seeing as we don’t have kids….lordy no), wake me up in the morning (ha, I wake her up in the morning – and not with my snoring, I do not sleep for very long most nights) etc etc. I think she’s cooked twice since we started seeing each other almost a year ago (27th will be the ‘year’ mark). Relationships shouldn’t be about one person taking the role of caretaker, it’s supposed to be about doing things together without feeling like you have a legally binding obligation to do those things.

I mean no offense whatsoever by this statement but if you’re of the serious belief that being in a relationship is about mothering a guy, then maybe get a guy with a real sense of personal responsibility who isn’t going to rely on his other half to get all the shit done round the house (or whatever). Times have changed and it’s not always about who wears the trousers in a relationship anymore.

You’re probably right about the way things are for your generation, but then again, I think that this kind of thing depends on how different people see how a relationship should be for them as individuals.

Zakat's avatar

I live like i think it does, even though I know it doesn’t.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@lightsourcetrickster I have never been with a man that didn’t PREFER nurturing. To me, it’s part of loving a person, helping to give them what THEY need.

That being said, I tell my husband “I am only able to treat you like a King as much as you are willing to treat me like a Queen”, it works. I’m not feeling that great today, and he said if i stayed home sick, he’d be my nurse, pretty sweet. :)

Coloma's avatar

@lightsourcetrickster Of course not, don’t get me wrong, I am not saying men prefer crappy relationships over none at all, but many in my generation do have a lot of stereotyped expectations still.
I have done so much personal growth work over the years and find most people do not ever go there. The pool shrinks considerably the healthier you get and that’s a fact!
It’s a dry little watering hole on the great savannah of middle age romance these days. haha

This cougar prefers keeping her territory free of grumpy old lions with thorns in their paw. lol

Sunny2's avatar

Not at all! There so many variations with individual requirements for happiness that it can’t be boiled down to a yes or no answer. To each, his own.

nicole29's avatar

The unhappiest I’ve been (in my adult life) has always been while in relationships. Trying to make something work that is not meant to be – that is, IMO, truly miserable. I’d rather be on my own and figure it out, than be stuck with something that I, deep down, don’t really want.

Aster's avatar

My daughter desperately seeks out new relationships. Between them she seems relatively content. When she “gets” a guy , at first, she seems so happy . After a few weeks she begins to sound depressed. Then it turns to anger. She remains angry for a few more months until they break up; then the cycle begins again. The crazy part of all this is that most of the time the same error is made: the guy wants someone to rescue him and she wants someone to rescue her and neither one is in any financial or emotional position to rescue anyone.

Coloma's avatar

@Aster What a nightmare! Gah! :-)

Aster's avatar

I know. It seems that a woman with an IQ over 90 would eventually give up because she’d know what was coming. I sit back and watch each relationship get flushed down the toilet. Like I have nothing else to do? The really bad part is many of them end with some level of violence. Not towards each other but their possessions. I wish to add that I have another daughter who is completely normal and a wonderful, level headed person.

burntbonez's avatar

@Aster, has she been diagnosed with a mental illness?

Aster's avatar

Not professionally, no. But I have diagnosed her with lots of them. Her father, a Ph.d, says that her decision making abilities and outlook on life are so ingrained by now that she’ll never change. And before anyone asks, she would never agree to any kind of counseling. She considers counseling an insult.

burntbonez's avatar

@Aster The pattern of behavior you describe reminds me of a pattern I have seen in some people who are mentally ill. Typically it is a pattern that shows low self-esteem. There are coping techniques that can help people deal with these issues, and indirectly, that helps with relationships, as well.

Aster's avatar

Yes; she readily admits she has a low self esteem. The only reason I can come up with for that and I am not minimizing it is her father called her terrible names as a teenager while I stood by with my heart beating out of my chest and saying nothing. I feel hatred for him when I remember it. Glad he’s gone.

burntbonez's avatar

@Aster, the reasons why don’t matter any more. She’s an adult now, and if she is going to make things better, then she is going to make things better. Some people try to make a living out of blaming the past; blaming parents and whatnot. That’s nice. It gives you a reason why you are in trouble. It says you didn’t choose to be like this.

However, to get better, you do have to choose to get better. You have to work on it. It can take a very long time. But people can tell if you are working on yourself. If you choose not to try to change, people tend to be less forgiving. The thing is, if you don’t change, things won’t improve. That’s kind of miserable.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Aster Although I’m familiar with some forms of mental illness, I’m even more familiar with ‘daddy’ issues, which I have as well.

It tends to make you pick any man that shows you love and/or affection. Anyone will do, even scuzbuckets and low-lifes, if they fulfill your need for approval. I think if you got her a book or something about it, she could really learn how to break this cycle. Once I realized it, I made a conscious effort to make better choices, with my head and not my misleading little heart.

Aster's avatar

@burntbonez She has not expressed a desire to get better and she actually just says she’s a “little crazy.” She does not see any kind of pattern in her relationships and would never accept any of my theories. She lives with hope: hope that her life will improve somehow by magic . Remember: the town idiot thinks he’s fine and everyone else is crazy.

Aster's avatar

@KNOWITALL she surrounds herself with scuzbuckets and low=lifes who she conveniently renames as “helpful, nice men with good hearts.” I have what I consider interesting stories of these lowlifes. Things you’d find hard to believe, actually. But things that make her giggle.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Aster With all the broken homes and divorces now, so many women are dealing with this that there is a plethora of information available.

I’ll be honest with you here, when I was around 18, my mom sat me down and made me listen to her (I practically hated her at 17–18) and she said gently and kindly “Are you angry with your father for not being here for you?” and it broke down all my walls and I started bawling.

Sometimes when it comes to stubborn teen girls, you just have to force them to face their pain that they keep trying to deny. :( I feel like I want to talk to her and hug her, bless her little heart.

burntbonez's avatar

@Aster, it must be hard to watch her go through this. Very frustrating. In my experience, people in these situations eventually decide to try to make things better. But it can take a frustratingly long time for observers who care.

Aster's avatar

@burntbonez Over the years you expect it. At least she lives in another state so I don’t have to watch it unfold. Her situation is really a whole lot worse than I’ve depicted it .

bookish1's avatar

@Zakat: I feel ya, man. Intellectually I know this is not true, but my heart has yet to learn this lesson for keeps.

@KNOWITALL : Would that I had a French lover… It was only a fling with a friend this past summer. But I have been in love with him for years and love him still. He’s part of why I decided to be single for my own good—I haven’t had an experience like that, with total understanding and tenderness and respect, since…my first love in high school. It brought me to life again. And now my standards are so high, haha.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@bookish1 I feel ya on that. I have an ex that almost ruined me for any other man. I went the opposite direction, in my dumb rebellious way, and married the next man I dated and who made me laugh.

My ex was an egg head, very smart, very serious, and a photographer, very artistic and into passion, beauty. It’s awfully hard to resist those brooding types.

What is your friend like?

bookish1's avatar

@KNOWITALL, he’s an actor and artist. Brilliant but also very laid back, whimsical and silly, which really appeals to me. Interested in politics, history, poetry, philosophy, liberation. Also he’s so small and beautiful I just want to put him in my pocket cries. I just had to stop thinking about him all the time because it was tearing me up. I really have not felt like this about anyone since I was an intense burning 14 year old, haha.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@bookish1 I can tell it’s love, ‘small and beautiful’, sounds smart, too. I love ‘thinkers’!!

Just make sure that you aren’t penalizing yourself, or putting yourself in solitary, for not ‘having’ him—you deserve love, happiness and to be treasured! :)

bookish1's avatar

Thank you very much, @KNOWITALL. I did put myself in solitary in the fall because I did not want to have sex or even just open up with anyone else for a while. That ended soon enough though, haha. I’ve been engaging in a few friendly flirtations around town recently. But I still aim to seduce the hell out of that little bastard when I go back to France next year ;)
oh my glory, and the best lay I could ever fathom… I need to go lie down now.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@bookish1 I feel ya, you pretty much have to!

Coloma's avatar

Well ya know, most humans do not really, fully, start to become self actualized until well into their later 30’s through 50’s. It’s the journey towards maturity and for a species that lives 70–100 years, it makes sense we don’t fully wake up for the first half of our life.
Now of you’re on the far side of 45, it’s doubtful it will ever happen and you’re stuck in your own mud forever. lol

blueiiznh's avatar

^^what she said. Adding, sadly too many choose to stay stuck in someone else’s mud.

bookish1's avatar

@Coloma: So, in a state of nature, where 30 is old age and people rarely live to 40… humans would never self-actualize. Innaresting.

Coloma's avatar

@bookish1 I suppose so. If base survival needs are not met self actualization never really arrives.
@blueiiznh Haha, so true.

lightsourcetrickster's avatar

@blueiiznh is that another way of saying they like to have shit thrown at ‘em?

blueiiznh's avatar

@lightsourcetrickster that or they are not strong enough to break away from the shit

Ela's avatar

I think it takes a lot more then strength to break away. Sometimes it’s nice just to know someone is there physically even if you know they are not emotionally.
Sometimes you can be just as lonely when in a relationship as when you are not in one. Sometimes the loneliness is deeper than that which comes from being alone.

I don’t believe happiness, in any form, comes solely from within.

mattbrowne's avatar

Yes. Relationships to other humans is the single most important factor to our happiness and well-being. Doesn’t mean someone needs to be married. But everyone needs relationships.

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