Your girl is single. Very single. And at 23, for the first time ever, I’m not looking to change that. In the past, anytime I wasn’t in a relationship I was thinking about when my next one would start, who it would be with, and how it would inevitably end (cynic at heart!). But right now, I’m really feeling myself — I even embarked on my own mini “Eat Pray Love” trip this summer after going through a bad breakup. And no, I didn’t learn how to make pasta, find myself, or have a passion-fueled summer romance with a boy named Stavros.
Actually, I was my own summer romance.
After a series of self-romancing dinners, some hot self-love sessions, and hundreds of sleepful solo nights, I’m convinced that these things are 100 percent better when done alone.
As someone who’s gone on two solo backpacking trips, I can confidently say that not being tethered to someone else’s plans and preferences (I’d rather starve than wait at each landmark while the other person takes 74 selfies) is liberating and allows for constant spontaneity. During my five-week trip across Europe this summer, I stayed in 12-person hostel dorm rooms, went to bars by myself, and ate countless meals in solitude. Although this was uncomfortable at times, it pushed me to interact with new people. I chatted with a bartender in Croatia who had been traveling on and off for 10 years, made a friend from London who has since visited me in New York, and had the craziest birthday of my life at the ruin bars of Budapest. If I was traveling with a boyfriend, he might have punched the bartender for talking to me (shoutout to toxic masculinity!). I wouldn’t have spent two weeks traveling with a stranger turned good friend. I definitely would not have rerouted my entire trip to visit Budapest (a $500 decision I justified with the city’s $1 beers). In fact, not once on my entire trip did I actually feel alone. I was automatically welcomed into the community of solo travelers in Europe, and that was a camaraderie unlike any relationship I’ve ever had.
Let’s be honest: we eat differently by ourselves than when we’re on a date. I’m proudly past the point of ordering salads and only finishing half of them to fit the weird archetype of a woman that 1. is never hungry, and 2. doesn’t exist. But I’m also definitely not burping out of satisfaction after a good dish when someone who I might want to sleep with is sitting across from me. Eating alone is the best — you can swap the knife in your right hand with a glass (OK, bottle) of your favorite wine, skip the small talk, dive into that book you’ve been meaning to start, and yes, order those messy barbecue ribs and not share a single one. You also save approximately 7,482 hours (a number backed by science, clearly) not calculating how to split the bill.
Women’s masturbation is often portrayed as this whole production: candles, rose petals, and a few handy pointers from the pages of Cosmo. IRL, the beauty of self-love is that you can do it anywhere, anytime with exactly zero pieces of fancy equipment. Sure, sex is great (sometimes?), but there are tons of factors that limit where and when it can be done. Have you ever been alone on a Sunday afternoon, mid “Law and Order” episode, and been weirdly turned on? No, just me? Real talk: Solo sex has the benefit of being on your terms. You don’t need to explain to your partner why you’re suddenly looking at Detective Stabler in a new, sexually confusing light. You just pause your Apple TV and get to it.
I like a good cuddle just as much as the next person, but I also like not waking up with a dead arm because someone decided it would be cute to sleep on it. As Glamour reports, according to a study conducted by the University of Leeds and Silentnight, 29 percent of participants said their partner was — and I’m paraphrasing — fucking up their sleep. I can absolutely see why. I become hyper-aware of my body when I’m sleeping next to someone. I oftentimes lay awake, mind racing through, Do I look like a beautiful, delicate sleeping beauty right now? Is that smell me or the drunken noodles I ate naked in bed last night? Can I slither out of bed to pee without waking him up?
We’ve all fantasized about waking up in a ‘90s rom-com, our inner Zooey Deschanel begging our partner to ~get lost in Ikea~ with us. OK, but have you ever actually gotten lost in Ikea? It’s a Swedish nightmare. You turn a corner and there are 33 sets of identical, angular desk chairs that weren’t made to serve the human body next to a makeshift food court with nothing but soft serve and meatballs. It’s lawless. Order online, exchange wine for your friends’ labor, and avoid the superstore entirely. You’ll thank me later. Besides, there’s no better feeling than not having to compromise. You want that overpriced decorative mirror that you’ve been eyeing on your Pinterest board for six months? You do you.
Not only do you not have to wait for your schedule to line up with your S.O.’s to watch the next episode, but you can also rewind anytime you were too busy scrolling through Instagram to pay attention, sans judgment. Gone are the days of meekly asking your very annoyed partner to explain when the hell that character became the bad guy. Just pause the episode, look it up yourself, and take a detour into some Detective Stabler fan fiction while you’re at it.