Being solo vs being single

About two and a half months ago I broke up with my partner of almost 4 years. It was an amicable break up. We still care about each other. Occasionally we have lunch together or I swing by his office space (rented to him by my mother). “Schatz” (‘Darling’) still slips into our conversations because it is so ingrained. These years will always mean a lot to me.

Nevertheless, I am immensely glad for this [kind of] relationship to be over. We are simply not a good fit for the long haul. And I was ready to move on long before I admitted it to myself.

Right now I enjoy the feeling of being on my own. I have constantly been in committed relationships for the past 7 (!) years, ever since I started uni. And by ‘constant’ I mean they were literally back-to-back or even overlapping (with everybody’s consent). They were not necessarily labeled this way from the start but in 2/3 cases we considered the day of our first hook up our anniversary.

The only break I had was two weeks after my first and very unhealthy relationship went up in flames (now that I’m thinking about it, the official start of this one was marked by the change of my fb status. Should have probably been a sign). After that I had no desire to be in a committed relationship and was intent on staying single for a good long while so, naturally, I had a new bf within two weeks.

Today…I need a break. I want a break. I feel like I can finally breathe. I don’t miss my relationship. I am happy being single.

This state of being romantically alone had me thinking about solo polyamory again, something I have given a lot of thought and at times considered myself practicing. Definitions of solo polyamory are varied but my personal one is, at it’s core, this: I am my own primary. 

Practically speaking that means things like living on my own/not moving in with a partner, not having entangled finances and definitely not making major life changes for someone else. For example I wouldn’t want to move to another country for my partner. I spent the last seven years building my life here and I would not be willing to just give it up.

In less specific it means my self-care and happiness come first – not necessarily dogmatically but in general. It will not come at the expense of others and I will try to find solutions that are good for everybody but in the end, I am the boss of my own life. I am not defined by my relationship(s). I am me, not a part of a couple or triad or whatever configuration.

And that brings me to the difference between “being single” and “being solo”. I know I talked about being happily single above … but to me being single implies being in a state of looking or at least being open to the possibility of pair bonding. Single, as opposed to being in a couple. And I don’t want that. I’m not looking for a relationship right now and if I do end up wanting one again* the way I hope to structure it is notably divergent from what we think of as ‘normal’.

Perhaps I’m reading to much into ‘single’…but from the moment of our birth we are spoon fed the dogma of “Everybody needs to be in a romantic monogamous 2 person relationship and you can’t be happy without one”. Apart from the fact that it seems rather insulting to the close friendships I’ve been cultivating for years – I’d rather be ‘alone’ than with the wrong person (i.e. filling my life with friends, casual sex, work, hobbies, sports, travelling, learning and a myriad of other things making it interesting and worthwhile).

In either case solo polyamory gives me a different, an enriched perspective. ‘Solo’ conveys: “I am (by) myself and I am fine.” Partners may come and go but I will always have to live with myself so I better be okay with that. And that applies whatever my relationship status.

*Which, let’s face it, is very likely. Like most humans, I’m a social creature. I’m just exhausted.