The Solo Pod & a New Language for Singleness

A few months ago, I posted the following on Tumblr:

There is a type of single woman on the Internet who loves to tell you how happily single she is whilst posting constantly about love, relationships, why she’s single, and the literal laundry list it will take to change her mind.

If you’re going to spend all day thinking and talking about partnerships, please stop playing in our faces and just settle down. Lol.

When singleness truly works for you, you don’t spend a lot of time contemplating partnership. You just… Live your life? And enjoy the solitude?

I just want the girls to be honest with themselves.

So discovering Solo – The Single Person’s Guide to a Remarkable Life was a breath of fresh air. Hosted by behavioral economist and committed bachelor Peter McGraw, the Solo pod explores the joys and benefits of an autonomous life. Not as a consolation prize for not finding “the one”—intentional. unpartnered. living.

It could not have come at a better time. I was quite tired of the Single Woman Who Loves Love. Not my lovely friends who happen to be such women. But the idea we have to load female singleness with qualifiers to prove there’s nothing wrong with us. “I’m not bitter. Love is beautiful. I just…” Especially when single men aren’t asked to do the same.

I do not love love. I’ve fallen in and tolerated it because—holy shit—what a rush. But I’ve never loved myself in love. I’m sharper, more creative, and generally at peace as the sovereign ruler in a kingdom of one. I enjoy control more than intimacy. I don’t buy this as a fatal flaw that must be scrubbed away with therapy, release spells, or however we overcome trauma these days. It simply is what it is.

While I don’t believe singleness must be validated by living remarkably, what I LOVE about the Solo pod is its updated language for the unpartnered.

For McGraw, there are Singles, Solos, and subsets of Solos. All based on one’s approach to their singleness.

The One Day Approach. As in “one day, my prince/princess will come.” Also known as Singles, who are single by circumstance. If there were eligible, desirable partners to be had, they’d have one. They can live perfectly fulfilled lives on their own, but would prefer to be partnered.

Solos are the alternative. They tend to be intentionally unpartnered or simply don’t center partnership as thee ultimate life goal. They break out into three approaches:

  • Just May. As in “Could settle down one day but aren’t hanging their hopes on it.”
  • No WayIntentionally unpartnered and disinterested. (It’s ya girl!)
  • New Way. As in “interested in alternative, non-traditional forms of partnering; often those that center autonomy instead of merging lives.” You’ll find living apart and ethically non-monogamous couples in this bunch. But “new way” relationships aren’t limited to any specific model. It’s more like “something other than the traditional Relationship Escalator.”

And what is the “Relationship Escalator,” you ask? Allow author Amy Gahran to explain:

Relationship Escalator. The default set of societal expectations for intimate relationships. Partners follow a progressive set of steps, each with visible markers, toward a clear goal.

The goal at the top of the Escalator is to achieve a permanently monogamous (sexually and romantically exclusive between two people), cohabitating marriage — legally sanctioned if possible. In many cases, buying a house and having kids is also part of the goal. Partners are expected to remain together at the top of the Escalator until death.

The Escalator is the standard by which most people gauge whether a developing intimate relationship is significant, “serious,” good, healthy, committed or worth pursuing or continuing.

I think the Laundry List/Love Love Girls fall somewhere between One Day and Just May. I see potential for a New Way arrangement in my 50s. Until then, I am solidly No Way.

What I needed—which I didn’t know until I found this pod—was a new framework for long-term singleness. A veteran of the single blogger game (back when we were “Lonely Hoes” to be ignored unless you wanted to be lonely, too), I felt adrift. I was done with the Relationship Escalator after my last break up (2016. The ex? Who told me he “was fine” not having children? Had one by 2018). I never imagined I’d lose interest in dating altogether. Or have to re-discover my lust for life and social skills at 39 after an ongoing two-year pandemic.

I heard your 30s are for eliminating the things that don’t pay you back—Twitter, dating, those pesky Fallopian tubes that could have trapped me with some man’s rock-head ass baby in a Post-Roe Ohio—and your 40s are for doubling down on what does.

Living Solo—with choice and intention—sounds like a lovely start.

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