Many of us fear being alone, for reasons that can be somewhat inconsistent. This fear is sometimes associated with the pain we feel right after a breakup and, of course, losing the comfort that comes from a relationship, even a problematic one, is difficult. However, the hurt caused by a breakup does not come from loneliness, but from the transition between one situation to another. Loneliness comes later, after we go through that first turmoil that can sometimes be very painful and is typical of a transition that, initially, seems to lead to a worse place.
People also people get terrified at the mere idea of being single because, until a few decades ago, it meant being inadequate, as if a single person were someone who wasn’t good enough to be picked by anyone else. Single women were called spinsters and single men had their manhood put into question, among other stereotypes. Back then, very few people chose to be single and most actually believed they were single because of their inadequacies.
Everything has changed in the past few decades, though. A huge number of people get divorced and in several large cities around the world, people living alone are almost 50% of the population. In São Paulo, Brazil, more than 15% of the population lives alone and it is a well-known fact that the most frequently built kind of housing these days is smaller and centrally located, meant for just one person.
Today, there is no longer a stigma attached to living alone, although most women still prefer to be divorced rather than single (at least someone wanted to marry them!) People are happy to go to parties, travel or go to the movies with friends or solo, or even just stay at home alone and enjoy all the resources that have been invented for our entertainment.
Men used to be unable to care for themselves, but now they can handle their own laundry, cooking and grocery shopping – the microwave was a game changer for many. These changes are significant, but happened rather quickly in the past few decades, so it’s unsurprising that many people still can’t see that being single can be a joyful and, in time, more gratifying experience than trying to live in strife with someone incompatible.
The question we must ask is: considering how much better single people’s lives can be nowadays, which includes sexual experiences without the limits inherent to most romantic relationships, will the institution of marriage come to an end? Can this millennia-old institution compete with the happiness one can attain from single life?
I believe that marriage, as it has been for the past hundred years, is doomed to extinction; the concept of a marriage of opposites, in which one person has qualities the other lacks, won’t resist the change of times. After all, the capacity to compromise is decreasing, not only because people are more emotionally mature these days, but also because they can easily be happier alone; people who enjoy being single are not interested in making compromises to be in a couple.
Right now, we are going through a transition; when thinking about relationships, many people don’t believe anymore that “opposites attract.” What they want now is to find their “soul mate.” Well, soul mates are compatible; they have similar personalities, tastes and interests, which make living together much easier and require less compromise. Basically, it’s a life style not dissimilar to the one enjoyed by single people.
This is the new era, in which marriages do exist, but only when respectful of each person’s individuality. The quality of life of single people is the “cut-off grade”: marriages that don’t make people as happy as they were when they were single will disappear, and the ones that remain will be the relationships that make the partners live even better than before!
Tradução: Amanda Morris