x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Five reasons to stay happy (and single) in your pyjamas

There are lots of proverbs warning against being single, but there are also plenty of good things about that state of life.

'An unmarried man is Satan's brother." Really? "Men and women were made for one another. You are a sinister spinster." I am? These judgements might seem harsh, but they are just two examples of Arab proverbs that are hard on single men and women.

Everyone picks on single people. And that is why I am going to defend "singlehood" and outline some benefits. Of course, there are many advantages and disadvantages to everything, but five is all I can squeeze in.

Last week, I wrote about the five rules for a successful marriage, so now it is all about us singles. We all have married friends who want to set us up with someone they know, regardless of compatibility or any type of character assessment, and then they get offended when we opt out of their schemes. They can't believe that someone may actually be very happy being unattached.

One male colleague summed it up like this: "There isn't much to being single, just close the door and don't let anyone in."

This was supposed to be a recommendation about how easy things could be, but I have to disagree. Any single Arab woman knows that closing the door is actually a challenge for every mother and aunt. And they love a challenge and the chance to bug everybody who "thinks" they are happy being alone.

That said, there are those sad people who are always looking for a partner wherever they go. Sure, having someone special is great, but it all depends on the relationship. Divorced women, or those in difficult marriages, are the first to say that being single has its advantages.

Here are my to five reasons why single people should just be comfortable with themselves.

First (and this is very important): Freedom to spend all day in your pyjamas.

You can wear what you want when you want, and act as you want, without ever worrying about someone else's watchful eye. Some married people also can do this, but too many of my Arab friends have to be "perfect" when their husbands are around. The worst is when a husband picks on his wife for an "extra" kilogram (who is he to decide?) or complains if she doesn't greet him in full make-up (when he's the ugly one!).

Second: Full control over the remote control.

And I am not just talking about the TV remote, but control of your life. You can decide the pace, if you want to go backwards or forwards, or even pause a moment to reflect. This can be a problem for singles, especially people over 30, who become rigid in their routine and forget to be flexible. It can be difficult for even close friends to keep up with every rule and expectation.

Third: You can follow your dreams. Ironically, I used to think that wives, with their husbands' support, had it easier because they could do what they wanted. But so many forget themselves amid the responsibilities of family and children.

Single women or men can commit to causes close to their hearts and make a difference. I am a dedicated activist on animal-welfare issues and, no matter how many times my married friends say they want to join me, they always end up with something "urgent" at home. Being married shouldn't stop you from following your dreams, but it often does.

Fourth: Be the "hero". OK, this sounds odd, but a single person can decide how much to be a hermit ("most of the time" sounds good to me), and how much to engage the world, especially when others need help. If you do things out of kindness, no one can blame you for it.

Fifth: You can treat yourself, every day. Sure, two salaries are better than one, but besides friends and family (and in my case my pets), on whom do you spend besides yourself?

Most important is to always respect and love yourself. This is true of everyone, single or married, and a person can't be a good partner if he or she isn't already a good person.

So I'm bored every time I hear someone whining about not being able to find "Mr" or "Mrs right". There is more to life.

And remember, there are far more proverbs out there about in-laws.

 

rghazal@thenational.ae

On Twitter: @Arabianmau