John Donne wrote: “No man is an island, entire of itself.” But are some people more suited for island life? Are some people better off on their own, alone, rather than in a committed relationship?
I’m 47. I’ve never been married. I lived with Mack for six weeks. It was an epic failure. There are myriad explanations why this six-week foray into cohabitation didn’t work out: we didn’t know each other long enough, Mack hadn’t completely cut ties with his former girlfriend, firm merger, the stress of the holidays, disparity in income, differences in lifestyles. Or we simply gave up too quickly.
But the thought that keeps rolling around in my head, the thought that plagued me on my darkest night after Mack moved out: Am I incapable of a truly committed relationship? Am I too damaged, too broken, too flawed to live with another human being? Am I only capable of serial monogamy? Am I only capable of being in relationships from a distance? Am I that fearful of being vulnerable that I can’t let another person all the way in? Am I meant to be alone? Am I, unlike the majority of human beings, really meant to be an island?
Let’s assume that I am meant to be an island. Entire of myself. At least romantically. Is that so bad? The advantages to living alone are great: With regard to everything that happens in my castle, or on my island, I do what I want when and how I want to do it. Period. I’m trying to think of one true negative aspect to living alone. Or living without a man, to be more accurate. I can’t think of one. If something breaks, I hire a handyman. They’re usually better at fixing things than the guy you live with, anyway. If you get one of those rubber things to open jars, you can open your own almond butter. If you don’t want to take the trash out, you hire a maid. Or a yardboy. Or a poolboy. Or whatever you need. You don’t have to live with a man to have help with your chores. You also don’t need to live with a man to have great sex. According to people who have lived with someone long-term, the sex is better when you live apart, anyway. Okay, yes, it’s nice to have a warm body next to you in bed. But not when they’re snoring. Or when you’re snoring. Or when you have to get up in the morning and they don’t.
One might argue that you can’t be a fully-realized human being until you are in a committed relationship with another person. But what about Tom Hanks in Castaway? I’m guessing he was more transformed after being an island than by living with his wife. And hell, I’m better off than he was. I don’t need a soccer ball. I have cats.