The article is in the “dear Abby” style from Cary Tennis. A somewhat distraught and stressed doctoral candidate is being pressured by her boyfriend of 10-months to tie the knot. He doesn’t feel quite right to her but she thinks since she’s been running away from other boyfriends, maybe it’s time to change that behavior. Should she accept his offer or flee?
The answer is just great, imo. Here is Cary’s call to embrace being single:
So I suggest that you declare yourself unabashedly, consciously, deliberately single. Not single until the right man comes along. Not single as a regrettable consequence of a series of failed relationships. Not single as in poor lonesome spinster who can’t land a man. Single as in free, self-sufficient, independent, committed to growth, happy and OK with who I am. Single as in maybe I’m free tonight and maybe I’m not. Single as in I control my own time. Single as in I have choices. Single as in I like you a lot and I will try to meet you halfway but this is my bed and I have to be somewhere in the morning.
Yes! It’s okay to just be yourself and choose to be single if that’s what enriches your life most. You don’t have to follow the societal norm and become married (and the follow the societal reality and become divorced). Embrace being single and be proud of it.
Cary offers this analogy to underscore what we need to consider:
Psychotherapy has changed many individuals. But your mother’s psychotherapy will not protect you from life’s struggles any more than your mother’s feminism will inoculate you against the difficulties of negotiating your freedom as a woman. You have to consciously seize that freedom just as women before you had to. It is still necessary for individuals to find their own truths and uncover their own biases and hidden agendas.
And that own truth might mean, as I am slowly but surely accepting for myself, that you are happier single. This’ll bring out all those biases you have, all that internalized singlism. You’ll have to do some major dragon taming. This will get easier with practice, though, and the more you build the life and the connections that enrich it.
Cary suggests that the woman can approach this guy differently – not just capitulate or flee – she can lay out what she would like, from breaking up and being single to leaving things as they are. She can negotiate. (Admittedly, I am a little confused about the last part of this article. Does Cary suggest that being single is the opposite of marriage? I.e., someone can be in an unmarried couple and therefore they are single? I think that’s not what he’s saying but it’s not completely clear to me.)
As if Cary senses what her decision would be, he ends his column with a call to make a specific choice: “Declare yourself single!”