‘I don’t need a man, but I want one…and that’s okay’
Switching from independent to interdependent
One of the things that has become widely apparent in the months since the height of The Pandemic, is that we were not created to be alone. Whether or not you even believe there is a Creator, we have a natural desire for one other which cannot be ignored. In March this year, the World Health Organization released a study which revealed that The Pandemic had a severe impact on the mental health and wellbeing of people around the world. Over at the Office for National Statistics, research was undertaken to map levels of loneliness during The Pandemic. Unsurprisingly (to me at least), the research revealed the following:
Living in a single-person household, difficulties with relationships caused by the pandemic, and not having anyone to talk to have also contributed to experiences of loneliness.
Age and marital status are known to be significant factors in experiences of loneliness. Pre-pandemic, those aged 16 to 24 years, renting, and single were more likely to say they often felt lonely than older age groups or those who were married.
Interesting. With loneliness linked to issues with mental health and wellbeing, that means that for those of us living alone - whether as single people or without close proximity to good friends and family - it doesn’t look good. Last year, after living alone for a few years, I found myself the unexpected lodger at my dear cousin’s home following a diagnosis of an aggressive cancer that was ravaging my abdomen. I initially resisted needing anyone to look after me, but I soon got so sick that being on my own wasn’t even an option. It wasn’t so long ago that I could barely walk or keep food down without wanting to throw up my entire insides. Then [thank God] I got better and at the end of 2021, I returned to my new home; alone again. And I suddenly realised I didn’t want to be alone anymore.
So when I started seeing someone earlier this year, I was ready, but cautious. On our first official date, he made a comment about me being an independent woman and I quickly corrected him. ‘I’m an interdependent woman’, I told him in no uncertain terms. Then we both looked at each other awkwardly as we realised we’d stopped right outside a wedding shop. Talk about algorithms IRL. But I wasn’t embarrassed, I wanted him to know that I wasn’t trying to find someone to be my business partner, I needed someone to do the things I couldn’t (or/and didn’t want to) do by myself. And it was the first time I’d been able to admit to myself that that was okay. I watched my mum as a single parent do the superwoman thing. And she did an incredible job (because obviously: me) but as an adult I can see how she must have hurt without a partner to lean on. It also means she couldn’t allow herself to be soft in the way I see so many loved wives be.
Having someone cook restaurant style meals for me twice a day, take out the bins without me asking, clean out the fridge each time we do a food shop, look up recipes for any and every ailment I’ve had as a legacy of chemotherapy (or sometimes champagne), hold me when I’m sad, work on future projects with me and listen to me complain about any and everything…this is my love language. I used to think it was “words of affirmation” or “receiving gifts”. But a blanket description for me is just having someone recognise and seek to meet my needs, whatever they are.
Friends and family who have seen me recently tell me I’m glowing. And yes, that’s partly because I use Alpha-H which does incredible things to my skin. But it’s also because I’m being looked after, I’m being loved and I’m happy. And this happiness is because I know what a healthy relationship looks like for me. It means understanding that my partner will never satisfy me completely because only God can fulfil our deep spiritual need. It means letting someone take care of me and not trying to do everything myself. I remember years ago being weighed down with bags on the tube and a guy stopped me and asked if he could help. In my hurry to get on, I waved him away and said ‘Thanks but I’m okay’. I’m okay. I’m okay. I’m okay. How many times do we have to keep trying to carry things for ourselves before we fall?
Quite honestly, it has been a relief to stop carrying everything on my own. Yes it does make you more vulnerable and there’s no guarantee relationships will last. But if nothing else, this has taught me that it’s more than okay to want to be loved and to let someone in to do that.
Ps - This week’s essay officially marks a full year of me spamming your inboxes with my writing! Hope you’ve enjoyed it…exciting news coming next week!