Being Single Is Easy

Especially in terms of money.

Photo credit: Roger Davies, CC BY 2.0.

I don’t know if you’ve read Emma Lindsay’s recent essay Being Single Is Hard, but I’m guessing a lot of us have, since it’s one of the most popular pieces on Medium right now.

Being Single Is Hard

You have to start any response like this with a huge dose of YMMV, but for me, being single is easy. It’s a lot easier than dating, and it’s enormously easier than that year(s)-long dance where you try to figure out whether you and someone else are going to go from “we’re dating” to “we’re partners.”

I suspect that, in the right kind of relationship, being partnered might be easier than being single. I have not yet had that experience.

That said, here are some of the specific ways in which being single is easier for me:

Food and Exercise

For instance, my friends often give me flack for not eating very healthily (though, I feel compelled to smugly note, last time I had a blood panel workup it was fucking spectacular. +1 for high fat, high sugar diets.) They’ll give me a hard time about grabbing fast food, or eating out a lot, but then nearly all of them cook with their partners and exercise with their partners. It is easier to maintain a healthy lifestyle with a partner.

I have never eaten more fast food, or eaten at more restaurants, than when I was dating somebody. This probably has something to do with the difference between “dating” and “partner,” but my experience of dating people long-term has involved a lot of the other person inviting me to his place, the other person not having any food in the house, and the two of us going Dutch on some restaurant meal.

(Then, the next morning, going Dutch on some restaurant breakfast. Food doesn’t spawn overnight in refrigerators, after all. That’s mold.)

I also exercise less when I am dating somebody. I have a morning yoga routine that I’ve been doing since 2008, but mornings are different when you’re spending them with someone else. There’s the “morning rush logistics” part, the “not wanting to be a weirdo” part, the “inability to ask for what I need in an early-stage relationship because I’m afraid to look like a weirdo” part, and the “these apartments are so small that there isn’t room for one of us to do yoga while the other person does anything else” part.

Also, the people I date are significantly less invested in the number of steps I get on my Fitbit than I am.


Lindsay’s post doesn’t really look at how money is different for single people, except for one short paragraph:

Yet, if you’re not healthy, this is seen as one of the many ways you could be undatable, and it’s also seen as your fault. You didn’t level up enough before trying to date! Similar arguments apply to saving money, or maintaining your mental health.

Saving money before you start to date is a smart idea, because dating is way more expensive than being single.

I’m not even talking about the whole “spend $100+ on a blowout or whatever before that first date” thing, because that has never been a huge priority for me, although it is definitely a priority for other people and should be noted.

What 7 Women Spend on Beauty for a First Date

I’m talking about the eighteen-odd months you spend in a relationship that doesn’t yet come with the cost savings of splitting rent or sharing household expenses or combining incomes, but does come with the costs of dinners out, movies, vacations together, and so on.

During that time, you’re almost maintaining two households—you’ve got stuff at your place, you’ve got stuff at the other person’s place, you’ve got extra food at your place for when the other person comes over, then you’ve got the cost of a restaurant meal because the other person isn’t all that interested in sitting in your tiny apartment and eating leftover beef stew.

(Someday I may meet Leftover Beef Stew Guy, or Going On A Long Walk Is Way Better Than Going To The Movies Guy.)

But I have been able to save so much money by being single. It’s also been easier for me to save money by being single, because I never have to wonder whether the answer to “what do we want to do for dinner?” or “what do you want to do tonight?” is “something that will cost you $40.”

Long-Term Life Planning and General “Shit-Having-Togetherness”

My partnered friends think because they were well put together they attracted a partner, but I think having a partner makes it easier for them to be well put together.

Again, I need to stress that there’s a huge gulf between “dating” and “partnered” that I have not yet crossed. I imagine that on the other side of that gulf there are two (or more) adults who are invested in a set of mutual goals and discuss ways to achieve those goals together.

From where I stand, it is way easier to invest in my goals and achieve them as a single person.

The shortest example is the whole “I wouldn’t have been able to write two chapters of my novel every week if I were dating someone” thing. That work takes up half of my available evenings.

Nicole Dieker is creating a novel: The Biographies of Ordinary People | Patreon

I also might not have been able to say “I’m going to live on 48 percent of my pre-tax income and use the rest to pay freelance taxes (duh, also ugh), pay off debt, and save.”

Checking In With My Savings Plan: August Edition

My life got way more together when I got single, because I was holding both ends of my rope. I wasn’t offering one end to someone else and waiting to see if that person would pick it up.

Most importantly: I have a picture of where I want to be next year—in terms of the work I’m doing, the home in which I’m living, the time I’m able to devote to volunteering and giving back, and so on—and a plan for getting there. I know that plans change, and things might come up to get in the way of that plan, but I also know that I don’t have to ask anyone if I can work towards this plan. I don’t have to compromise. I don’t have to think “well, I have to consider what might happen if we move in together.”

I could meet someone, of course, who would change everything. Someday I may end up saying “having a partner is way easier than being single.”

But for now, in all the ways I’ve listed, being single is easy.

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