My partner is going away for ten days, out West on business, leaving yours truly to fend for himself, home alone. No big deal, except it has rarely happened in our 34 years of living together.
Interestingly it opens up all kinds of issues that as a partnered person are not usually on my radar. Basic things like how quiet is a house occupied by one. How helpless is the single occupant to things going wrong and requiring fixing when that occupant is practically-challenged. How lonely one could quickly become. How vulnerable one feels when not in the best of health and needs a helping hand or even a sympathetic ear,
I’m sure single people cope. I know for my part I don’t do it well.
When things break, for example I’m pretty helpless. I don’t know how to change the batteries in the smoke detector, unclog the ice-maker in the refrigerator or really understand the settings on the washing machine .I’m practically-challenged – and to be honest like it that way when there are two in the house.
And when I’m sick, as happened recently requiring a couple of visits to emergency, I very much need someone to hold my hand, figuratively at least.
Heck, I don’t even like watching TV by myself.
Simply put, I’m not good at being a solitary person. If I suddenly became single, I am sure I would immediately work to change that, just as I have done previously. Not that I have had to shop around much, having only had three relationships of any duration in my whole life, but all reflecting varying degrees of neediness on my part. Now I know that is not a characteristic of a particularly good relationship and the first two weren’t. But the third one has been enduring, a combination of needy impractical me and caring practical partner that has worked. Sometimes they do, you know.
And in truth, being in a serodiscordant relationship has probably helped. True, in these days of viral undetectability, whether one partner (or not) is positive or negative seem much less of an issue. But that’s not to say that there have been times when it’s been huge. Immediately on diagnosis, of course, amid the flurry of nervous activity that inevitability ensues, but also when I’ve been sick or otherwise burdened with HIV “stuff”. So my partner turns in to poz caregiver at the drop of a hat, and back again when things return to normal.
Getting older of course may change everything. We both work when many others have retired and both are in pretty good health. But sooner or later, one of us will become a caregiver to the other, a role likely not determined by status but by fate. The prospect is scary.
But anyway, life goes on and for a week or so I get to experience the single life. It’s not for me though. I’m just not suited for it.
Does it work well for others? Is it anybody’s first choice? I’m really not sure, but I suspect not. We seem hotwired to be partnered, which has, it turns out, nothing to do with propagation of the human race and everything to do with the universal need for companionship. Most single guys that I know want a partner, some desperately.
Having said all that, it feels wrong and disrespectful to suggest partnered is better and that conversely, being single is missing out on something. And I’m sure those without partners will see many advantages to their situation.
All I can say is that I’ve been both single and partnered and I like the latter state most.