170: Being Single is Luxurious Living
Monday August 14, 2017

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~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #170
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{As always, I encourage you to listen to the audio version as much more is talked about beyond the transcript below: more anecdotes, examples and ideas about how this episode is really about enjoying our time alone whether we are coupled or single.}

Having lived on my own most of my adult life, but significantly so these past five years, without hesitation I can say, I’ve loved every minute. Some people scoff in disbelief, but it was this time alone (not being lonely) that enabled me to cultivate my dreams and gradually turn them into my reality.

Even if you are not single at this moment, I would encourage you to listen/read this post because the more we understand any individual’s choice, the more at peace we can be with our own.

Inspired by Mari Andrew’s recent illustration on Instagram synchronized with the return of my partner who has been working abroad for nearly six months, I have been contemplating the single life and then the life one shares with a partner significantly more than I have in the past.

In many ways, I have felt single these past 5-6 months with regards to how I go about my days; however, my heart is partially here in Bend and partially where he was temporarily working which meant my mind as well as my scheduling in order to communicate, definitely did not feel single. But as he returns home, I am grateful. Of course, most importantly grateful for his return, but as well, grateful for the time I had being single and the fact that I sincerely savored these past five years.

As I mentioned in 2011 in this post, and went more in-depth in TSLL book, being single is a beautiful opportunity; not something to run from. But rather directly into, embracing every moment. In fact, in my case, I wholeheartedly agree with Elizabeth Gilbert’s quote,

“Avoid romantic entanglements in your youth and focus on yourself. The amount of hours of time I spent with boys and men that I could have been … I could speak fluent Mandarin now in the amount of hours I spent . . . I wish that I had spent those youthful years just feeding this mind.” 

It was my twenties with regards to love, which I have shared in my first book that I wish my focus, my priorities, due to societal expectation and pressure and due to my ignorance until I rid myself of that ignorance, had been on myself and my journey, which is what being single (no matter what your age) enables you to do at a much deeper and more independent level.

Let’s talk about the luxuries of being single and demystify the derogatory notion that being single is a stigma. This stigma has been loosening its grip a bit as fewer women (53%, 18 or older are not married) are married than those that are single in the United States according to a 2015 US Census Report. And of all people 18 or older, 45% are not married. However, the media, communities and the online dating businesses would prefer if you sought out a partner to wed. After all, there is money to be made if you feel you are missing out. You will subscribe to their services, you will purchase their products in order to enhance what we all know doesn’t need enhancing (you are enough just as you are), you will fork over money for weddings.

Now, I am not advocating for single life and against being married, but I am jumpstarting a conversation about where the pressure to marry is coming from. If it coming from a sincere love and affection for your partner and they for you, beautiful. Dive in. But if the pressure is coming from an external force, inflicting guilt that you wouldn’t feel if society didn’t apply the pressure or expectation, then step back and recognize how luxurious living single can be.

Neither lifestyle is better than the other, single or coupled or married. We each make it simply luxurious based on how we structure our days, our time, our thoughts, our conversations and our priorities. But today, I want to pay homage to a lifestyle that has served me very well and a way of living that provided a haven for my dreams to materialize.

1. Fleshing out your dreams

Since I mentioned it in the introduction, I wanted to start with this benefit of being single: you figure out what you truly want. As you go about your life as a single person, you have the time to listen to yourself, focus on yourself without balancing your pursuit with another’s. And upon coming to better understand yourself, you begin to navigate a journey that leads you to new experiences, new people that are more in alignment with what you value, whether they will become a future business partner, a new client or a life partner potentially.

2. A trust in yourself is strengthen beyond expectation

As Mari mentions in her illustration, I couldn’t agree more. You begin to recognize how resourceful you actually are, perhaps more than you realized. Need to know how to handle a-locked-out-of-the apartment/house situation? You’ve done that, figured out a plan B for the next time that it happens, and brought yourself peace of mind in the process. Need to tighten your budget to save up for that dream of investing in your business? You’ve done that, been disciplined and found out you could live without so many dinners out.

3. Fewer heart worries

What I mean by this is as I have been going about my days these past months, I have been comparing how I felt this year versus last in which I was single. And one of the differences is in moments of worry that are completely out of my control, my heart aches. When you are single, your focus is on yourself, your projects, your job, perhaps more remotely your family, if you have children, they receive more of your time, your pets, and any idea that tickles your fancy. The unknowns are fewer, not entirely gone, just not matters of the heart, which we know are intense when we care for someone deeply and have made ourselves, and they to us, vulnerable with what we’ve shared.

Put succinctly, more of your energy (because emotions are energy) is free to use as we wish.

4. Meal time is anytime you need it to be

As someone who is a very regular breakfast eater and eats the same thing, I never think twice about what I will have because I know I will always have what I need, and I need it as soon as I wake up. When it comes to dinner, I eat when I get home from school or when I am done with a project with the blog. That time shifts and changes, but when I am done, I am hungry and I eat. On the flipside, when you dine with your partner, you want to share the meal with them, so your schedules need to be flexible, patience is sometimes needed, but it is certainly worth it.

5. Bedtime and wake time are yours to choose

Whether you are a night owl or an early bird, your day ends when you say it will end and it begins when you throwback the covers. No need to worry about being quiet, or keeping the lights low or off, the house awakes (if you live alone) when you awake and the day begins.

6. Vacations happen when you are able

With no need to check more than one schedule, when you are available and you have the funds, you can enjoy a much-needed getaway. While traveling with a partner is something I now eagerly look forward to, I also loved the flexibility of going when I needed to recharge. I would just look at my dogs and ask them if they were ready, and they always said yes (I think . . . I hope!) and we were off!

7. Change of plans can happen at the drop of a hat

If you are eager to see a movie, but at the last minute, you’re not feeling up to it, no worries, just don’t go. If you want to leave the party at a certain time or earlier than you expected, you don’t have to check with anyone, just leave.

8. You can be as frugal or as lavish with your money as you please (within your means)

Money is a funny and integral part of any chapter of our lives, but when we are single we are the sole captain as we don’t share a mortgage/rent, bills, investments, etc. Some may see this as a drag as we have to foot the entire amount and not split it. But I rather like knowing and have having complete control over my money (not to say you have to relinquish this when/if you become involved). As well, being secure in your money handling skills is a very attractive quality and something to look for in a future partner as well.

After all, you can choose the size and location of the house/apartment you want based on how much you want/are able to pay without agreement with anyone, you can splurge one a dress from the fall collections, but trust yourself to skimp on the money spent on an upcoming vacation. You get to make these decisions without explanation.

Now there is a flipside to all of these luxuries when we find a loving partner who just walks well with us through life. Each of these positives becomes heightened in a manner that often (at least for me) I didn’t expect but wholeheartedly appreciate and savor.

The gift, of which there are many, of being single is that we give ourselves time to fully become fluent in the language of ourselves so that we can then be the translator in the world as we work with others. Not only does our time alone enhance the quality of our lives professionally and platonically but when we do, if we do, meet a potential partner, we are more likely to find someone who enables us to keep the luxuries of the single life that we just don’t want to give up as well as reveal to us that the luxuries of being part of a couple are pretty amazing as well.

From my experience, having a positive experience of living single, embracing it completely, has enhanced my appreciation for the journey I have just begun with my partner. First of all, it was a choice of desire, fondness, affection and respect rather than an act of desperation, resignation and acquiescence. And secondly, I wasn’t looking for love, I was already in love with my life which is how we met, doing, seeking out what we each love about the life offered here in Bend.


~The Truths and Myths of the Independent Single Woman, episode #94

~Why Not . . . Be a Confident Single Woman?

~How to Live Alone Well

~Why Not . . . Live Alone for a While?

~The Audio Book is Now Available of Choosing the Simply Luxurious Life: A Modern Woman’s Guide (Audible, iTunes & Amazon), learn more here

~Subscribe to the weekly TSLL newsletter here

~2017 TSLL French Week Round-Up

Petit Plaisir:


Newly updated with more series options and mini meditation options when you don’t have a full 10 or 20 minutes to meditate but want to keep the daily practice.

~On August 4, 2017, Andy Puddicombe (the voice you hear on the Headspace app), sat down and meditated for 2 minutes with Jimmy Fallon and his audience.

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12 thoughts on “170: Being Single is Luxurious Living

  1. Generally, I agree with you. I only had a few boyfriends before I got married, and both of them were very long-term (the second one becoming my husband). By spending my last few years of high school and literally all of college, save one summer, in a long-term relationship, I feel like, to some extent, I missed out on a beautiful opportunity to cultivate female friendships, worry only about myself, and figure out who I was.

    I also know a few women who are perpetually single. They know who they are without budging in the slightest and become a nightmare to the poor guy who tries to date them, and so being single prevents them from having someone moderate their worst tendencies.

    Moderation in all things, right?

    Sounds to me like you have (because I have it, too) the best of both worlds: a great significant other who doesn’t expect you to pine when you’re apart, and the self-confidence to do your thing when you are alone.

  2. What a timely podcast! My husband’s been away for a few days and I’ve been imagining how to incorporate a few “thinking single” things I’ve savored into our “thinking couple” regular schedule. I look forward to more of your thoughts as you embrace a shift toward partnerships:)

    1. Thank you for reading as while the title states “single”, it really is about enjoying our own company. And when we do have that, as we aren’t with our partners 100% of the time, knowing how to do it well is an absolute luxury. Enjoy this time on your own. 🙂

  3. Great podcast Shannon, as always! I would love to see a podcast with tips on how to transition from being single to being in a relationship again! I’ve been sjngle for five years and as the time goes by I find it harder and harder to get into a relationship. Thank you 🙂

  4. I loved this podcast. I got married six years ago, when I was 40. I honestly didn’t think I’d ever get married – and I was fine with that – until I entered into a relationship with The Husband. Even now, I still cherish my independence, even as I am grateful every day for the partnership we have. And I know that if I hadn’t had all that time on my own to learn who I was and what I wanted, I would never have been in a position to recognize when I had finally found the right partner for the rest of my life. I won’t lie, it took work to become the team that we are. And I won’t pretend I don’t ever miss the days when it was just me, in my little house, with just my cat to worry about. What I have learned is that it’s okay to be happy where I am, and occasionally nostalgic for the past. It just means that both of those time periods are happy ones for me.

    It sounds like you have cultivated a rich, independent life, but one that you can also share with a loving partner. Brava!

    1. Marcia, Thank you very much for sharing your experience. Your point about learning about who you were and what you wanted thereby being able to recognize the right partner is powerful. As well, it takes work, communication, negotiating and discussing what works for both individuals. I cannot thank you enough for your comment.

  5. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for discussing this. I am 41 and single, never married haven’t even had a relationship in 6 years. I spent my 30’s in an existential crisis trying so hard to procure husband and baby and when it never worked out it was awful. Now I’m at a place where I realize how beautiful, rich and full single life can be. Sure I hope to find someone someday to share my life with perhaps but when you’re young, no one tells you that there is so much to live for, be proud of and relish in being single. It’s so scary when you’re in that mindset that having a significant other/children is when life will “start”. I hope to be able also to change that mindset in young women, perhaps write a book, etc. I never had anyone to look up to, admire, that was living a single life. Like you I hope to change that. I would have avoided so much pain and frustration if I’d only been shown an example or been exposed to discourse on this matter. Thank you Shannon!!

    1. April, You are very welcome. Our culture does a fine job of drilling into women’s heads exactly what you have shared – life doesn’t ‘start’ for ‘real adulthood’ until you are married and with children. Couples without children are bombarded by this indirect and direct messaging as well. And life for each of us begins uniquely because we are not the same entities and have a unique talent to share with the world. For some it will be being a parent, but not all. Homogeneous thinking is to the detriment of a civil and progressive society and that includes how we think about what living well is. Your comment is much appreciated. Wishing you well and good luck on sharing your book with the world!

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