Why do I value my own single lifestyle as much as I do? Well, this may sound strange, but in my profession, I do mostly couples and relationship counseling/coaching. When people ask me, “Are you married, or are you in a relationship?” I used to pause, and want to use the counseling cliché, “well, this isn’t about me, this is about you.” Now, I proudly say that I am happily single and that I have been married before. I have also had my share of various relationships.
So what do I mean when I say that I do the work that I do, and this work helps me to appreciate my single life more? What do I mean when I tell people that I am happily single? Am I truly happy?
First, let’s talk about what I do for a living. I am a psychotherapist. I primarily work with couples (straight, gay, lesbian, Christian, non-Christian, whatever), and I work with people who are dealing with other transitions in their lives, like divorce, grief/loss, career/education goals, break-ups, retirement, new relationships, etc.). And since San Antonio is a military city, I do work a great deal with active duty military members who generally have a lot of transition going on in their lives. I love my work, and I believe that this is the career path that was chosen for me despite all of my efforts to do other things. I was initially on the pre-med path and changed my major to Psychology because I became fascinated with the study of human behavior; I later used my work in the criminal justice system as a presentence investigator and probation officer as a stepping stone to enhance my educational goals/internships; and I used my special education teaching certification to enhance my knowledge of behavior modification, which is crucial when one is a therapist. I’ve worked with every population one can imagine, and that has prepared me for what I believe is my true calling…relationship counseling and coaching.
When people come to me about relationship issues, they generally come to me when the relationship is in crisis. For example, there has been the threat of a divorce, or break-up; or there has been a separation; or there has even been domestic violence. I rarely have people come in at the beginning of a relationship for general guidance, and I rarely have people come in when they just want guidance on learning how to become a whole healthy person themselves. Don’t get me wrong…it does happen, it’s just rare. And it is rather refreshing for people to be proactive rather than reactive.
Because I know all of the work/effort that is involved in maintaining a relationship (an intimate relationship), I know that an intimate relationship is not something that is right for me at this time. That does not mean that I’m not capable, it means that I am CHOOSING to be single and not engage in all of the things that are necessary to start/maintain what society deems an intimate relationship. I find fulfillment and happiness from all of the relationships that I have in my life…whatever they may be and on whatever level they exist. I am also happy being alone, but I do not feel lonely. I control who is in my life (or not), and to what degree. I am not concerned about “making anyone happy”, except myself because I already know that it is impossible to make someone else happy. I have already learned how stressful it is to try to please everyone else around me, so I don’t do that anymore. Everyone else is responsible for his/her own happiness. Learning that has been like a huge burden lifted from my shoulders, because I used to be a perfectionist, and I used to want to make sure everyone was “happy”. Now, my philosophy is that the burden is now on their shoulders, not mine.
I know that all of this may sound cold and selfish to many people, and that’s OK. I am continuing to work on my own wholeness as a person, and I am enjoying the journey. I look at life’s challenges and see them as learning experiences. I appreciate and respect all of the various relationships that I do have in my life. I can honestly say that I am a happy person…I am happily single!