Could the Single Life be Your Happily Ever After?

Attractive woman hugging a cute dog on desk

Once upon a time in America, marriage was the norm for adults. But today, for the first time since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking these numbers in 1976, there are more single Americans than married — a total of about 50.2% or almost 125 million single adults. And it’s not looking like those numbers will start rising again anytime soon. According to Pew Research Center, “many single adults in the U.S. are content being on their own.” Still, as a story in the Wall Street Journal states, “single people still face a stigma, even though their ranks have grown.” That stigma stems from the belief that marriage is the elixir for happiness. And while it can make one feel more secure, loved, and less stressed, The New York Post reports that “being single could help you live longer.”

Social psychologist Bella DePaulo wrote for Psychology Today: “Consistent with lots of other research, these findings again debunk the myth of the single isolated person. Singles spend more time in touch with other people, both in person and through other media.”

The Tiny Buddha Blog put it this way: “Single is not a status. It is a word that describes a person who is strong enough to live and enjoy life without depending on others.”

Still, many believe living single is a lonely, sad existence. There’s even a song that makes the single life sound like the worst possible outcome for anyone. Written and recorded by Harry Nilsson, the song One was also recorded by Three Dog Night and many others. Here are the sad and depressing words:

“One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do
Two can be as bad as one
It’s the loneliest number since the number one
No is the saddest experience you’ll ever know
Yes, it’s the saddest experience you’ll ever know
‘Cause one is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do
One is the loneliest number, whoa-oh, worse than two

One”

A song like that paints a miserable picture about being single, for sure. And while it is true that single people don’t have a human partner to share the ups and downs of life with, that doesn’t mean they’re at home weeping because no one is there to love them. In fact, the opposite can be true.

I’m here to tell you that it is possible to be single and live a fulfilling and happy life. As one of today’s single Americans, I am happy and content with life. However, it took me years to focus on creating my own happily ever after, starting my journey of acceptance by strengthening my relationship with myself. I learned that I’m just better at being single. For me, being single is a blessing as long as I have a dog (or two) by my side.

Although I assumed I’d be married with a family, even a couple of grandkids by now, my choice in romantic relationships made that reality impossible. And believe me, I tried, wasting time obsessing about changing my single status for many years. From video dating to online dating and everything in-between, I did it all. And you know what? I always ended up with the same kind of man — a narcissistic bad boy who I thought I could change into the man of my dreams. Not!

After years of therapy trying to break this unhealthy habit in the hopes of entering into a healthy relationship, I finally came to the realization that my bad picker in the romance department is something I can’t change. I’m hard-wired. And while the single life may not be for everyone, for me, it sure beats being with the wrong person, trying to make a relationship work. I’m happy and content surrounding myself with dog love, along with a few good friends who love me unconditionally. I don’t have to answer to anyone but myself.

While I may be a bad judge of character when it comes to the opposite sex, the good news is I’m an excellent judge of canine character. That’s hard-wired in me too. Choosing the right dog as my companion has always come naturally. Amazing friendships also come easily to me. And for me, that’s more than enough.

There are many books out there about living the single life. The titles I’ve read share valuable information. But I decided to do something different. Instead of offering practical advice, I decided to write a book about the single life by sharing my own personal journey of self-acceptance. The book is called I’m Not Single, I Have a Dog: Dating Tales from the Bark Side. My hope is that others like me with bad pickers won’t have to waste their lives fixating on something that might not be in the cards for them, or worse, live a miserable existence with the wrong person. Marriage is not for everyone.

Looking back, I now understand that my career choice didn’t help in my search for Mr. Right. Working at leading public relations firms in Los Angeles gave me opportunities that few people get to experience but kept me too busy for dating. I got to meet some of the top names in Hollywood while I toiled away for more than sixty hours a week in the entertainment and travel industries. That left little time to concentrate on myself, let alone develop a healthy relationship. Sure, my career was interesting, but I didn’t realize that I was choosing work over family.

In writing the book, I came to the realization that my childhood dog, Siesta, has a lot to do with my successful single status. That ugly, grey chihuahua taught me more about love than the humans in my life. Because of my special bond with her so early in life, I’ve always felt more comfortable with a canine (or two) by my side than a mere mortal man.

In my twenties and thirties, when all of my friends were saying their “I dos,” I felt like an unlovable loser, destined to live a sad, lonely existence as a spinster. Well-meaning people would ask, time after time, when would I settle down? Why hadn’t I found a nice guy to marry? They still ask.

NOTE: For all you are reading this that ask the singles in your life why they are still single, I humbly request you stop. It’s insulting, suggesting there is something wrong with being single — something the single person must answer for. I believe no one should ever have to defend their single status, any more than people who are married should have to defend their choice to marry. Some of us are better off by ourselves.

I didn’t realize in my younger years that I was always be surrounded by the best kind of love — unconditional love. While friends walked down the aisle, I headed to the dog pound where I found my first dog as an adult — a beautiful golden-haired mixed breed I named Blondie. Besides the friends I’d had since childhood, I also developed a new friendship with Angel, a woman ten years my senior who quickly became my mentor, friend, and second mother.

Angle was an actress, socialite, and photographer whose life couldn’t have been more opposite from my valley girl roots. On the outside, we appeared to be unlikely BFFs. Angel was married to an “A” list actor, sister to a supermodel, with parents who were personal friends with the Queen of England. I, on the other hand, was single, dating out-of-work musicians or actors, with parents who were active in the local Methodist church in Northridge where I grew up. As we got to know each other, we found that despite our differences, we had a lot in common. Unlike me, Angel married a good man and cherished the family that the two of them created together. I’d hoped her influence would lead me to tie the knot myself. But it didn’t.

Still, we shared a deep affection for our four-legged family members. She was the proud guardian of two-pound mutts and a Scottie named Hobson. We spent time outdoors with the dogs, hiking Runyan Canyon. She never questioned whether I was bringing Blondie over. She got me, and I got to have her in my life for twenty years until 9/11. She was on the first plane that hit the World Trade Center that terrible day. I still think of her every day.

My memoir takes a look at that tragic day, examining the deep sorrow I still experience over losing a best friend. I also explore my romantic relationships in my twenties, thirties, and forties in the book, comparing them to my friendship with Angel and the love of my dogs Blondie, and Baldwin, the Puli rescue who came into my life after Blondie died. The book uses humor and emotion to share my life journey with readers. I don’t hold back, covering everything from the joy of getting my first dog as an adult and the thrill of training and competing with my Puli in dog sports, to the terror of becoming a victim of domestic violence and much more.

Somehow, Angel, Blondie, and Baldwin helped me overcome my insecurity and fear about living the single life. That self-acceptance allowed me to move into a place of self-love, independent of any man and filled with the affection and support from my friends, both two-legged and four. At 63, I am living proof that it is possible to live a happy single life. The key is to find your tribe and your passion. Once you have those, everything else will fall into place, I promise.

Take it from me — yes, it is possible to be single and live happily ever after!