One's Company

I've been married and I've been single (my present state) and can indisputably testify that sleeping alongside another breathing body won't ward off ''the lonelies.'' Having a boyfriend or husband is not akin to holding a cross under a vampire's nose; you will not automatically be protected against feeling alone. Take it from one who knows: Being in a bad relationship is the opposite of comforting. Yes, I hope to one day remarry, but it will be because I love the guy, not because I hate being single.

Alone but Not Lonely
One of the best aspects of being single is not having someone by your side 24/7. Yes, you read that right. I'm not trying to stereotype, but I frequently see couples shortchanging themselves and sinking into ruts vast as quicksand. They allow their lives to become ultra-routine, figuring that it's okay to walk on the boring side so long as they're strolling hand in hand.

Many singles, on the other hand, work harder to have a well-rounded life. They keep themselves fit, attend lectures and workshops, go on interesting vacations, do volunteer work, engage in hobbies, look for more entertaining activities than dinner and a movie -- aren't these activities actually just attempts to find a mate, you ask? Perhaps, but the bottom line is that it's fine if these pursuits are undertaken with the hope that a man will materialize so long as if at the end of the night fun was had, man or no man.

Putting Yourself First
Another bonus derived from ''singlehood'' is the freedom of having time and space that's exclusively yours -- especially for those who see the ''alone'' hours as a gift rather than a burden. They have an invaluable opportunity to develop a satisfying interior life and nourish their creative side. It's so much easier to write a novel or concentrate on Kant if you don't have to break away to make dinner for hubby.

Yes, there are times (after enduring a particularly brutal meeting at work, on a starlit winter night) when the only thing that seems worth having is a man's arms around you. Not to knock the joys of being caressed, but it's not the only joy to be found in life.

(Perfectly Happy) Party of One
I am not saying you shouldn't make an effort to meet a man, but I am saying don't fritter your life away in a desperate search to become part of a couple. I am suggesting you spend time with people whose company you enjoy, not just people who you think might be ''the one'' or lead you to the one. The more you enjoy your own company, the less driven you'll feel to hang with anybody just to have company.

Being alone on a Saturday night is not a fate worse than death. Being with the wrong man can be.

Do you have a dating question? Ask Sherry on her message board. Or read through the Dating Doyenne archive.

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