a self-love poster spotted on Providence’s not-so-mean streets
I spotted this philosophical poster on my way across the street to walk underneath the changing trees of fall.
“A heart that loves itself cannot broken.”
First let me say that I love these mysterious people who are stapling self-love posters to telephone poles. Their intent to spread the message of self-compassion could not be more admirable. Their tactile work is so much more satisfying and human to take in than another inspirational quote on Instagram.
My heart swelled reading their message. But my critical mind could not stop there.
“But is this true?” I stopped to ask myself, before crossing the street to walk through the park. “Is it really true that a heart that loves itself cannot be broken?”
the first blush of fall on that walk
My heart got broken this year in a way that it had not been broken in years. There were nights when I woke up at 4 am and felt like a meteor had landed in my heart, leaving a charred crater in its wake. The despair of that break-up left my heart jagged and in pieces.
Did that mean that I don’t love myself? Or did that mean I was allowing myself to feel?
I thought about that lovely poster on my walk through the trees.
Here’s how I would amend the text if I were to make it feel true to me.
“A heart that loves itself cannot be permanently broken.”
“A heart that loves itself heals more quickly after heartbreak.”
“A heart that loves itself will not lose itself in grief for years.”
“A heart that loves itself will grow more resilient to love again.”
When I was going through the worst of this heartbreak, someone told me it was a good sign that my heart hurt so deeply. Being more heartbroken than ever, he said, meant I had opened up to love, and the hurt would only lead my heart to grow back stronger. I took solace in the idea that heartbreak could only grow my capacity to love.
Here is what I know for sure by now: Heartbreak is unavoidable. Loss is the flaw in love. Many of our attempts at romantic relationships do not work out over the long-term. Even superficial online dating attempts can break your heart, slowly over time, little by little, cut by cut. Horrible people will be elected as our leaders. People will disappoint us. Our friends and lovers and family will pass away.
There is always going to be heartbreak and disappointment.
The best we can hope for is that our hearts break and then grow back stronger. Self-love comes when we stop blaming ourselves. The key to healing your heart is taking out the thorn of self-blame.
Healing is a shift in perspective. A shift of knowing that you are lovable and life can be good even after devastation. Cue the song, “I Will Survive.” Seriously, if you are going through a heartbreak right now, play that song on YouTube and dance to it. We need to feel the feelings and let them move through us, through journaling, talking with a trusted friend, coach or therapist, dancing, walking, or whatever works best for you to alchemize the pain.
It’s not inevitable that a heart grows back stronger. A heart can also break and not stitch back together. A heart can grow bitter, jaded, shriveled, and resigned, which happens all the time.
Many, many people give up on love and their dreams all the time. It’s a miracle to keep going and to be at peace with your life as it is right now.
It takes a strong heart to keep on beating. A heart that loves itself.
P.S. In a little over two weeks, on Thursday November 4, at 8 pm ET (NYC time), I am going to interview my dear friend Carolyn Arnold about her new memoir Fifty First Dates after Fifty. This is a free online event to celebrate the launch of Carolyn’s book. We would love for you to join us.
Carolyn, an inveterate social scientist, and definitely a quirky, independent woman, devised an unusual dating plan to go on fifty first dates to find the right partner for her. I’ll be asking her about how she stitched her heart back together after disappointments and rejections.
Once you have been slammed a number of times in dating, how can you stay positive and keep going? You can read this interview I did with Carolyn way back in 2012 to get a taste for what we will be talking about.
If you have been considering working with me as your life coach this free event is a nice low-pressure chance to get to know me a little better and see me in action interviewing Carolyn. If you are over 40, 50, 60, or 70 and battle voices in your head thinking it’s too late, you should definitely come. You can register here.
If you are looking for something to watch, I suggest Love on the Spectrum, an Australian docu-series on Netflix about autistic people on their dating journeys.
It’s light, entertaining, and uplifting. Plus, the people they are following have a lot to teach all of us, including neurotypical people, about how to be emotionally brave in dating.
Love on the Spectrum is the best dating show because the people are so incredibly real. They say things like this, “I feel very warm, appreciated, and comfortable with you. How would you like to go out with me on a third date?” I loved it when one of them said he would never want to be on The Bachelor because he wouldn’t get to be himself.
Dating is tough enough for everyone, but it is has got to be tougher for autistic people who face stigma and tend to find social interactions challenging. What I love about the people on the show is their honesty. No pretending, no facade. What you see is what you get.
When it comes to love, their sincerity is so refreshing. They get hurt and disappointed, but they don’t get jaded and they don’t give up. One of the most important qualities to cultivate when you are dating is resilience. They also have parents who really support their self-love.
Lovely Michael is not afraid to say, “I’m on a quest to find true love.” How many of us are willing to say that out loud?
Another great line comes from 22-year-old Teo, who said, “I get so nervous about… what if I die alone?” Who says that on a date?
They bring gifts on first dates. They take it slow. They ask permission to hug or hold hands. Their courtships are so quaint and lovely compared to the hot mess of the dating-app world.
The people on the show get advice from Jodi Rodgers, relationship specialist for autistic people, who teaches them how to ask questions and listen to the answers.
Since the dating apps have come to dominate the ways we meet, almost everyone today needs a rudimentary course on how to date today because phone-based apps like Tinder and Hinge have shaped many people’s behaviors to be downright rude and bizarre.
I suspect the producers are heavily coaching them to say how they really feel on their dates, or they are just the most authentic people ever. I have never seen modern-day people be more open confessing their feelings. “I’m into you–how do you feel about me?”
Someone has to be brave enough to ask that question first. Telling someone else how you feel on a date equals MAJOR LIFE SKILL.
The people on the show are young, in their twenties and early thirties. I would like to see the show follow older people on the spectrum in their dating journeys too and to hear about how their relationships have gone.
The bottom-line message from the show is: Be yourself. Be brave.
A friend told me about YDB. I am not sure of the origin of this wisdom, but it’s too good to not share.
This is for all of you who are struggling with an ex, a break-up, an RO (romantic obsession).
I know how hard it can be to get over people especially when you have opened your heart after it’s been closed for a while–and allowed yourself to believe in love again.
It didn’t work out. And your heart hurts. You can’t believe how long you are thinking about this person and what you once shared.
Here’s what you do. You tap into the power of YDB.
What does YDB mean?
You Dumb Bastard?
Yucky Discolored Box Syndrome? (Yes, this exists on the Internet. It has something to do with Adobe.)
It means YOU DESERVE BETTER!
So go ahead and write the acronym YDB before his or her name in your phone contacts list, if she or he is still in there. Or emblazon YDB before their name in your mind. YDB Mark. YDB Carlos. YDB Francesca. Change their name to YDB-their name for as long as you need to.
Maybe it feels like a leap to believe that there is someone out there for you who will be a better match for you. Well, in the meantime, you also deserve better than torturing yourself with thoughts about someone who doesn’t want to be with you anyway.
Whenever we are trying to change our experience, we are working on changing our thoughts. That process typically doesn’t happen overnight. Choosing new thoughts on purpose is a practice. It’s like going to the gym and lifting weights. The strength to choose new thoughts comes because you are consistently choosing differently.
So whenever that person comes to mind, you repeat YDB.
By brute force we start to believe that new thought.
Put it in your phone or in your journal or on a sticky note on your refrigerator.
The humorist Fran Leibowitz (star of Netflix’s docu-series “Pretend It’s a City”) talked to NPR’s Terry Gross about living alone in New York City during Covid.
Leibowitz said, “Well, it still seems to me to be by far the best choice. I cannot understand how people who do not live alone have stood this last 10 months, because the only upside of having to stay in my apartment is at least there was no one else there. I would find that unbearable, I mean, truly unbearable.”
Ha! When I heard this line on the radio, I glanced around my own apartment to ask myself whether I was happy that there was no one else there. I mean, sure, I love my solitude and all my weird secret single behaviors, with no TV blaring news programs or sports I don’t care about, but I can’t say that I genuinely agreed with Leibowitz that living alone during Covid is the best option—for me. I am not quite the badass Fran L. is, or rather, I’m a different breed of badass.
We all experience living alone and being single differently. Even if we can be OK with being single–or actively enjoy it–living Covid single has been something else. Since I’ve been in transition from Buenos Aires back to the U.S., I’ve done a little bit of everything over the last year: living alone, living with family, in a relationship, and single. I have to say, the transitions were the hardest. Living alone after spending weekends with a partner or living family most of the time was tough. Solitude is a good thing—and there can be too much of a good thing. I missed having people to talk to without setting up a Zoom or dialing the phone.
I was glad to see this news story from the New York Times: A Pandemic is Hard Enough, For Some Being Single Has Made It Harder. The concerns of people who live alone have often been ignored by governments in coronavirus guidelines that unilaterally discourage household mixing—what about all those households of one? For many of us who are single and living alone, the need for human contact can push us to the limit. Some of my single coaching clients have talked about not feeling human, just because they are working on Zoom or email, missing all the serendipitous, everyday fleeting encounters we’d normally have, at the dry cleaners or the office.
Not everyone has access to the New York Times so I will give you a few key nuggets:
“Some who said they were content with being single before the pandemic have nonetheless struggled with what they’re missing in emotional support and even routine physical touch.”
“…while people missed sex, there was more severe pining for nonsexual forms of touch: the day-to-day contact, couch cuddling and hugs — even high-fives — that have been severed off in an age of social distancing.”
“For some, losing nearly a year of searching for a partner is time people didn’t think they could spare…” “That’s especially an issue for those feeling a biological rush to have children.”
This is an especially good Twitter thread to read. A clinical oncology consultant in the UK started a conversation about the dreadfulness of being single during Covid.
I don’t know who wants to hear this, but being single during this pandemic has been downright dreadful.
I’m not taking away from the seriousness of the pandemic. Please take it seriously, but by God has it been hard when you simply don’t have anyone to share time with.
All this time alone has its silver linings. Look at all that time you have to get in shape/learn a new language/get clear about what you really want in a relationship and your life. That’s all true, and I’m all for using our time intentionally, living consciously and deliberately.
And we need to be real about the challenges we are facing. Otherwise we stuff down the emotion in our bodies, and it manifests as pain, illness, stiffness, and get this—fatigue! Is that why Covid has been so tiring?
What about you? How are you living Covid? If you are single, are you savoring the alone time or dying for the time when you can go out dancing or to the gym or to yoga class, or wherever it is that you see people? If you’re in a relationship, do you sometimes wish you were living alone? If you are single and living alone, do you wish you were cohabiting so you had someone to talk with? If you’re single with kids home, how is it going for you?
Let us know in the comments.
I want to remind you that I am a life coach who specializes in working with women and men who identify or aspire to the quirkyalone concept, so if you have quirkyalone tendencies and you are struggling with any of the above (or something else), there’s a good chance that I will “get” you.
Could you benefit from the structure and support of life coaching?
Last month was one of the more bizarre periods of my life. When I married myself five years ago it was an entirely private ritual that only two friends attended. Marrying myself had nothing to do with being single. Marrying myself was about a deep process of self-love and -acceptance. Really marrying myself was part of a healing process.
After TeleNoche aired an interview with me about self-marriage a month ago the Argentine (and Latin American) press got interested–as far away as Marie Claire Mexico.
I did three TV interviews, two radio, and two for the press, all in Spanish! Whoah!
Suddenly everyone knew me as “the first woman in Argentina who married herself.” People I interact with daily on my block (at the cafe, gym, kiosco, and health food store) congratulated me.
Weeks later my body pump teacher at the gym is still teasing me every time I slow down during the class. “Sasha, is marriage not treating you well?”
The latest surreal conversation on my block was with the Venelezuan at the local dietetica (health food shop) who came out from behind the counter when I was shopping to ask if was me. “Are you the woman who married herself?” I was there to buy almond milk and suddenly I was talking to him about what happens when women make vows to themselves.
If the people in my neighborhood are any indication, self-marriage had captured the attention of Argentina. Or Latin America. I didn’t even know it was possible anymore to achieve such media penetration now with so many different outlets. A woman in my weekly writing group told me she heard people talking about self-marriage everywhere from Twitter to Clarin to La Nación, Argentina’s leading conservative paper where a man wrote this little essay mocking self-marriage. He ended this with this typically Argentine poetic ending, “I point out that there is no love for oneself, above all, because there is no love for oneself without love for the other. and vice versa.”
Right. Exactly. That’s what I have been saying. We are in agreement buddy. My self-marriage was a private act. I never posted about marrying myself when I took that leap back in 2014 but I got a lot of benefit from marrying myself so when media wants to talk to me about it I oblige. My self-marriage was all about building my capacity to love myself–and others too. Then people get angry that women want to love themselves! “You’re such a narcissist.” “How sad you couldn’t find anyone to marry.” “Society is falling apart, etc.”
Maybe these people haven’t noticed that women have a tendency to give away so much of themselves in relationship (or in the pursuit of relationship) there is not enough left for themselves. When you love yourself you have more love to give. You’ll have better relationships! Why is making vows to love and care for yourself narcissistic? On the other hand, the Marie Claire Mexico got it just right in their writeup, pointing out that you can be in a relationship and marry yourself too.
How this “First Woman to Marry Herself in Argentina” madness started
This Latin American wave of self-marriage publicity started three weeks ago when Jason Mayne, a young reporter from TeleNoche was researching self-marriage because he was going to LA to do a story and wanted to do more. He discovered in a news story that I married myself here in 2014 in Buenos Aires’ Japanese Garden. He emailed me and two days later we taped an interview about self-marriage in the Japanese Garden, just where I had married myself with two friends in a very private, tiny ceremony five years before, witnessed by two close friends: one Colombian, one Estonian, both fellow tangueras.
I didn’t tell anyone on social media about my self-marriage when it happened. No one cared for five years. Where were all those self-wedding presents? Hahahahah evil laugh. After TeleNoche, all of a sudden all Argentine media wanted to talk to me.
In the last two weeks I have done three television interviews, two radio interviews, and one print interview (Infobae) for one of the biggest new sources. One Argentine friend emailed to say, “You’re busier than the president!” In fact, I lost myself in all the TV interviews. Neglecting my self-care meant that I needed to come back to the vows of my self-marriage to put my my health ahead of my work! I found the whole experience to be both scary (what do these people in Argentina think of me now? I must admit I do think about what people think of me) and extremely confidence-building. I had no idea I could do television interviews in Spanish. When I listened to this fifteen-minute radio interview with a station in Mendoza, I was in shock. I sounded like a porteña (a Buenos Aires person)!
Self-marriage does not equal “sologamia.” Please stop using that horrible word!
All the while I have been continually clearing up misconceptions. The media loves using “sologamia” in headlines and asking me how I am living the word “sologamia.” I don’t even know what that word means, and I never used the word to describe self-marriage, but let’s make it clear. The word “sologamia” clearly creates an impression in people’s mind that marrying yourself means you are committing to be alone. That might be the case for some women or men who marry themselves, but that has never been the case for me or even one of the women I have talked to who have married themselves. Self-marriage is a ritual that involves making vows to yourself, and it’s usually a ritual of self-love and self-acceptance.
I am currently single and want to be in a relationship. But that doesn’t mean I would divorce myself. This self-marriage is forever.
Would you marry yourself? Pollo, the host of Con Amigos Asi, would!
So with all of that, I present you the transcript from this truly hilarious segment of “Con Amigos Asi” where the first woman who married herself in Argentina explained how and why it’s done.
This interview was truly like nothing you have seen on American (or probably European) TV. It was like hanging out with a group of friends at an asado (BBQ). My friend Sharon said it was like an asado with great vibes.
I surprised the twentysomethings on the show because they assumed marrying myself meant I closed the door on marriage. No. There are no closed doors. These are two distinct things.
I explained that as I got older it becomes clear that the path of self-love is very important but it’s not recognized in society.
They were very open to listening as well as joking around.
We did some really hilarious spontaneous mini-coaching sessions on their contradictory feelings about relationships. “Sometimes I’m happy, Sometimes I cry. I’m confused Sasha.”
Also, one more thing: When I talked about this show with my Colombian friend (who also married herself and cares deeply that people get the deeper meaning of self-marriage) she worried people would get the wrong idea and think that marrying yourself is kind of like that joke on Seinfeld, when Jerry meets a woman played by Janeane Garafolo and says, “I found my soul mate, this woman is incredible, she is just like me!” That was a funny joke but no, that’s not what self-marriage is about! Self-marriage is about self-acceptance, not marrying your doppelganger.
Also facial treatments are great self-care but they are probably not the deepest expression of self-love. (During one of the spontaneous mini-coaching sessions on the show one of the women said she would express love for herself with facial treatments.)
But I will trust that you get that these are jokes.
Self-marriage is profound and funny, like the best things in life.
An asado (bbq) with really good vibes – watch it here with a transation
Note: We have an English translated transcript of this video below. For your best watching experience, you can click through to watch on YouTube and scroll down to read the transcript as you watch.
Sasha Cagen: The Woman who Married Herself, interview on “Con Amigos Asi” on the Argentine cable TV channel KZO
Pollo: I don’t have it clear.
Juan: What? What? Wait, wait.
Pollo: And now, the only woman who married herself… well, I do not know if she is the only one, but she is the only one in the program today. She married herself… she married herself!
Pablo: And she is not unfaithful with herself. I cannot believe it!
Pollo: She married herself and imagine how much less mess you have to go through. She has no problem living together with a partner, they do not fight over going to their parents´ houses.
Jani: For me, she was a visionary.
Pollo: This starts here and never ends!
Pablo: She separates from her husband and keeps everything!
Pollo Exactly, there is no contract to pronounce it…
Juan: If she doesn´t cook, nobody else will.
Yani: Phew! She should have been when the lawyer was here.
Pollo: Wait! What?
Juan: Wait and… Can I ask you a question?
Pollo: Yes, in fact you can ask her but I can help you.
Juan: Would you marry Pollo Alvarez?
Pollo: Yes, I would marry myself.
Pollo: I consider myself a good candidate.
Pablo: Would you marry Pablito Giménez?
Pablo: Yes, bolúdo (Argentine Spanish word to call someone an asshole in a friendly way). Yes. If I don´t love myself, who else will?
Juan: I won´t marry marry Juan. No way.
Pablo: That is true.
Yani: We all know that. Luckily it´s crystal clear.
Juan: You believe in my a lot, eh!
Pollo: I… Yes. The truth is that If I think about it, yes, yes, I would marry myself, yes.
Joshi: For me, the ideal partner.
Pollo: With whom?
Pollo: With yourself?
Joshi: Yes (nodding her head)
Pollo: Well, now I speak with her. Let’s welcome the dearest Sasha Cagen! Welcome, please come forward. Sasha Cagen (pronounced in English)? In English is it Cagen?
Joshi: (pronouncing her surname correctly): Cagen!
Sasha: Hi, how are you?
Pollo: Welcome! Come in, please!
[A lot of back and forth about how to pronounce “Cagen” in English and Spanish.]
Pollo: Really, because obviously, surely, to do what you did, has to do with a process and with something that you believe in, but for outsiders, perhaps the most orthodox ones, you got our attention. So tell us, what is it all about?
Sasha: Well, yes, it’s usually not that someone wakes up one day and decides to marry herself or himself. Self-marriage is usually part of a period of introspection. I think it’s something people who are working on these things to love themselves enter into this process of self-marriage. It is something you can do for recognition in your life, as an adult. Because we do not have many rituals for adults. We have marriage and, I do not know what else, a birthday, but it is not something very…
Yani: Fatherhood. Motherhood, too.
Sasha: Yes, and well you can even marry yourself if you are already married. I am a life coach and I have helped women who are married to marry themselves. Because… especially women have a tendency to get lost in the relationship with others. Whether you are single or you are with someone, self-marriage can be a ritual to make a commitment to yourself. It is very personal and it is very creative because we do not have magazines that tell you what to do when you marry yourself. That’s why it is very free.
Pollo: Now I ask you, I understand what you are saying to me, that to marry yourself is creative and that it is part of the process but what is the difference between marrying oneself and not marrying oneself. Because in general I do not understand.
Joshu: The change?
Yani: The difference?
Pollo: What is the difference? Forgive my ignorance.
Yani: Single or married with yourself–isn’t that the same?
Sasha: It’s a process, a ritual …it´s something that you want….
Yani: Ah! It´s a ritual.
Sasha: I believe people have to be….
Joshu: Something symbolic maybe….
Sasha: People want something to do for that ritual of self-love. It’s symbolic and for me it was something that happened some months before my 40th birthday, because I felt a lot of pressure and unhappy because I had not found a man to marry. I was also doing therapy and thinking about how to love myself after working through many internal things. And it was weird, of course, it was strange.
That’s why for me, to marry myself here in Argentina was so much more free. I was far from my family, my normal friends … [Laughter] I have also my not-so-normal friends … open-minded friends I met in tango and they supported me. My Colombian friend, she got married to herself too. And she was present in my day. [Note: It should be said I have plenty of open-minded friends in California too!]
Pollo: Did she marry herself?
Sasha: Yes, she was present and….
Joshu: And did she know about this because of you?
Yani: No, no she married herself.
Joshu: Yes, yes, but did she get to know about it from you … I think this self-marriage is a beautiful idea, did she hear it for the first time from you?
Sasha: No. It was ten years ago, when I published this book [holding the Quirkyalone book in her hand]. I interviewed two women in California who married themselves. When I was 30, for me it was also like, why do you need to do this? I also was judgmental but I also felt interested in it. But it was also like … hmm … good for you, but it’s not for me. After time as I got older I realized that it is so very important to love yourself. To learn to love yourself really is a very important path in life. And we don’t value this so much because we want to get married, because society gives importance to marriages. So it is a ritual of self-love…
Pollo: It´s okay. It´s right what she is saying.
Joshu: But Sasha, do you feel that marrying yourself shows even more self-love than not marrying oneself … no? Because one can have self-love without marrying oneself, I just say.
Sasha: Yes, totally. Yes, and it’s not necessary need to marry yourself.
Joshu: But you felt even greater self-love when you married yourself?
Sasha: Sorry? Oh, If I feel greater self-love? Yes! Well, because I have the reference of this ring, you see, it is a commitment and it is a symbol. That’s how I can remember it.
Joshu: Yes, you see it and you remember it.
Sasha: Exactly. It´s a symbol that I can remember.
Pollo: I have a question, sorry. Again, I am very very ignorant on the subject …
If one learns how to value yourself and that is why you can marry yourself isn’t it the same learning to say OK, society believes that you have to marry because the canons say that … Anyway, I can be single, alone if I am OK with myself, I do not think it is necessary to marry yourself. And yes, I understand that maybe it is something more from society than something that I really want. Do you understand the point?
Sasha: Yes, it’s not necessary and I’m thinking a lot about this now, at this moment because this idea captured society in Argentina and …
Pollo: Yes, because we have so many problems in our society so this is excellent… It´s like a break within such a big mess… that we say, OK, let´s talk about this!
Sasha: It is something different.
Pollo: Yes. It´s good.
Sasha: I have been thinking about this and I think maybe the people who have experienced abuse in their lives really need a ritual, and understand that can be valuable to do a ritual of self-love, there are people who understand exactly why … and there are people who say why you need to do this? And I think you need to have a calling for self-marriage, it needs to call you, otherwise it’s not right.
Pablo: And the paperwork is the same? You go to the registry office? It´s the same as if you marry someone?
Sasha: I didn’t do that. [I thought he was talking about a wedding registry for presents.] But I could say those are the presents I want, for me it was very quiet. It was more of an internal process, more than an external one.
Yani: And one question… I ask you a question….if you did a whole process of self-worth and self-love because of something in particular, why does it matter to you what society thinks of you because you can easily love yourself. And it´s like a little bit contradictory in the sense that if you love yourself and at some point you don´t care about what the rest thinks, why doing a ritual to show the rest? I don´t know if I’ve made myself clear.
Sasha: I think the point is to talk it out loud, to have witnesses and when I say this to you and you are my friend I promise that I want to follow this path, that I will say no to what is not good for me. I will love myself, I will consider myself beautiful. It’s a memory, the same as a wedding.
Yani: And if you fell in love with someone, for example…. ?
Sasha: It’s all good.
Yani: Can you be unfaithful to yourself?
Sasha: There are no closed doors.
Yani: Ah! Ok, yes.
Boy: In fact, in the end, it ends up being just as marrying with someone else… You are in a relationship right? And the wedding is more symbolic because… you… the love is the same, it wouldn´t change anything theoretically. So….no….
Sasha: It´s something….
Boy: If it changes, it changes, as the lawyer said. Papers change.
Pablo: Well, but…let´s say…. In terms of love… it´s the same.
Pollo: The thing is you shouldn´t marry thinking that you are going to divorce… it´s a great mistake.
Pollo: Because we should do nothing thinking, Oh, I get on the plane and I have…. And no…. You have to do things and then you…. Have to consider the consequences of what will happen… If you don´t move forward you are a coward I believe….
Yani: Sasha… and when you get to know a new person, right? Now do you tell him look, I am married to myself? No, you don´t tell him?
Juan: For me it’s OK to tell him/her anyway eh…
Sasha: No, it’s fine. When we know each other, but in the first date it would be very weird.
Yani: No, it’s not good.
Sasha: it has to be shared with time, yes, I believe.
Juan: Why did you choose to marry in Argentina?
Sasha: Because I felt freer here that I have a love for tango. I moved to Buenos Aires because of tango. I have several friends from tango and I feel like the freedom to follow this path here that for me in California, in California I was afraid of my self-marriage being seen as something from Burning Man, I don´t know if you know it.
Pollo: Yes, yes.
Sasha: But it was like I don´t want to be associated with Burning Man. I want to make it authentic, mine.
Juan: Burning Man is that festival that takes place in the desert.
Someone: And what´s the book about?
Sasha: The book is this, that is a word that I invented and it describes the people who want to be with someone and are patient, who can wait for the right person, so in that path, It’s very easy to feel social pressure because you’ve been single for many years so… that word means maybe, if you’ve been single for a long time it´s because you are selective and you are strong so it´s another perspective.
Yani: Did your parents want to kill you because of the self-wedding?
Sasha: (Laughs) No, no no!
Boy: No, no, if your parents…. Like… I don´t know, when you were thirty years old or when you were of a certain age that they made you feel…..
Yani: Pressure. That is why you decided to investigate about the subject or…?
Sasha: No, my parents were always very relaxed about marriage and they wanted me to be happy.
Yani: Ah! OK.
Sasha: I felt the pressure from society. Yes, because I think a girl feels it when she is 12, I felt like “If I have a boyfriend we are more.”
Someone: Yes, that´s true.
Sasha: Yes. It´s like you are pretty or you´re better because you have a boyfriend, why? Maybe you haven´t found the right person.
Pollo: And also, you should see, in connection with this, behind closed doors for both women and men … maybe on the outside it seems excellent and on the inside there’s a hell.
Joshi: Yes, anyway, beyond that also the society…
Juan: Both things, marriage and alone….
Boy: Now it´s not exactly like that
Pollo: Not anymore.
Yeni: Do you think that today is not exactly like that? At least… For me, to some extent it is.
Sasha: No, yes, yes, it´s still like that. (There is still social pressure to be in a relationship.) I work with those people. I am a coach and that’s one of my specialties.
Pollo: What type of coach are you?
Sasha: A life coach.
Pollo: And what does it mean?
Sasha: It´s kind of a therapist.
Sasha: But there is more action in it.
Pollo: But… is it for couples? Do you go with your partner?
Sasha: I also have couples because I have couples and they want to build a relationship where no one gets lost.
Pollo: Well, well, wait. Let´s imagine we are in the coach´s office. Can we?
Sasha: Yes! We can.
[Here’s where we start the spontaneous mini-coaching sessions….]
Pollo: Who wants to be treated by the coach? Joshi, Joshi…
Yani: The punishment because he was late.
Pollo: No, but he doesn´t want it… if he doesn´t want.
Yani: It doesn´t matter.
Pollo: We need that before…. Yani, good, perfect…. She´s decided it herself…. I didn´t decide it.
Pollo: Can you come here, Juancito? I haven´t decided it, I swear.
Juan: I liked it more the passive Jeni.
Pollo: A big round of applause to Yani.
Boy: Good Yani!
Pollo: Well, are you single, Juan? Well, deal with it yourself.
Pollo: Well, he will do a consultation.
Boy: Good Yani!
Pollo: Well, are you single, Juan? Well, deal with it yourself.
Pollo: Well, he will do a consultation.
Joshu: Will it be a performance or real life?
Pollo: No, no…. not real life.
Pablo: No, real life never.
Pollo: No, no because otherwise it´s confusing.
Sasha: Are you a client?
Sasha: Very good. I love it.
Juan (sad background music): Sasha… you know, something is happening to me lately and…. And I thought that given my age… I am already 35… I feel that many of my friends are having a family, they are finding their way in life and… I cannot manage to achieve that… I am standing to the other side of it.
Pollo: No, but he is 10 years less than what he said.
Juan: Six less years.
Yani: Don´t interrupt! Leave him…leave him!
Juan: And I feel all of them are finding their way in life… and I am staying sideway of it, but the truth is that I don’t want to force a situation to be in that train that today I feel I am not ready to get on.
Sasha: And… How do you feel about all this? What are your emotions?
Juan: Well, they are contradictory. Sometimes I feel good, I feel comfortable, I have my freedom… but other times, on a rainy Tuesday I feel I would like to have a boy by my side to watch TV.
Sasha: A boy? Or… a girl!
Someone: He is a chamuyero.
Pollo: A rainy Tuesday he goes out with an umbrella.
Sasha: Oh! A boy…. Ah….Do you want to be a father?
Pollo: He wants to be a dad to watch TV. But… he wants to be a dad for the rainy Tuesday, if it does not rain on Tuesday we are… No, no, sorry. Continue.
Sasha: And on Wednesday when it rains, you also want a child?
Juan: Yes, until Wednesday.
Sasha: I want to understand how how strong the desire is. If the desire if very strong.
Juan: It´s contradictory. There are days that it is strong, some days it´s not. There are days that are yes, the desire is strong and the days that are no.
Sasha: And when you feel it in your body, when you connect with yourself?
Juan: For me it´s hard. It´s very hard to connect with myself.
Sasha: Oh, well. Have you thought about marrying yourself?
Pollo: Ah… she is going toward that way.
Juan: Very good, very good, very good. Come Joshi, I tell you that with Joshi we have… here it´s the truth, now comes the truth… um
Sasha: Oh! Well!
Pollo: A kiss to Joshi´s mum that she always watches us.
Joshi: Ah… kisses!
Joshi: Hi Sasha
Sasha: Hi, how are you?
Sasha: What do you want to focus on today?
Joshi: Um… the truth is that I don’t have a partner and maybe I feel like something is failing. Am I make myself clear? Like I don´t know very well which way to follow. if keep on like this. Or not.
Sasha: Failing as a woman or failing as what?
Joshi: Life, in life maybe… in general.
Sasha: In life…
Sasha: And is it something you really want, the relationship?
Joshi: It happens to me that sometimes yes, too much. And sometimes no. I am in a dichotomy like… Sometimes I cry, sometimes I smile.
Sasha: And what do you feel most of the time?
Joshi: Most of the time? Um… I am confused, Sasha.
Sasha: And… have you thought about marrying yourself?
Pollo: It´s OK, it´s OK.
Sasha: That is the solution.
Someone: That is the solution.
Joshu: Mmm…. Yes, I have thought about that.
Sasha: Oh, yes? Do you have vows? Have you thought about vows with yourself? (In Spanish, this word sounds like Botox)
Someone: Not Botox, vows.
Sasha: No! Vows.
Someone: The granola won´t be shared if she marries herself.
Joshi: Vows… um… yes, yes. I thought… I feel that I would be a great partner for myself.
Sasha: What would you like to promise to yourself?
Joshi: Eternal loyalty. I mean, that to begin with. Um…. Love, love.
Sasha: Love to yourself.
Joshi: Yes, love to myself. It´s weird how it sounds but…
Someone: It´s OK, it´s OK.
Sasha: And how do you express that love? How would you like to?
Joshi: I take care of myself, I do skin treatments…
Someone(boy): Me too…
Joshi: And that is self-love… and I take care of myself a lot.
Sasha: What would you like to tell yourself so that you love yourself? What your internal dialogue would be? What would you say?
Joshi: Like… a mantra to myself?
Joshi: Uf… Maybe I would repeat it all the time like… “How pretty you are!”
Sasha: That´s good!
Pollo: It´s fine!
Juan: It´s fine.
Pollo: It´s fine!
Sasha: I like it, I like it… it´s very soft.
Pollo: Excellent, excellent!
Pablo: I am beginning to think that Joshi uses all specialists who come so in real life she doesn’t pay the real ones.
Pollo: The last thing I ask you, obviously. Is it in the bookstore this book (Quirkyalone)?
Sasha: Well, today I emailed my agent to say we have to sell the rights to an Argentine publisher because there is a lot of interest now.
Sasha: There is a translated book in Brasil (SoSingular), of this book but in version, but we don´t have it yet in Argentina.
Pollo: Well, but, look… there is it, there is your instagram so that they can ask you questions there.
Pollo: Two more things before we go. I would like that with this vision of a woman with a more open mind that at least, from the people we are here. You tell me who here you believe is closest to marry himself or herself… I mean… Who of all of us, from the little you have seen us… you say… which goes that way to marry him or herself… Who do you think?
Sasha: Oh. Him! (Pointing at Juan.)
Juan: Come on Juan! You have found the love of your life.
Pollo: He does not make good coffee.
Pollo: And the last thing I say… It has nothing to do with this but I would like you to answer this. If you had to … This is an intuition, it´s almost a prejudice… Who do you believe…. From all the people who are here, maybe nobody but…Who likes men and women? Who likes people … who does not care about gender?
Sasha: Ah…you mean bisexual?
Pollo: Bisexual… who? Who? Who do you think? I want to know.
Someone(boy): Come on Sasha! Say it! It´s just a question.
Sasha: Those two. (Pointing at Yani and the other boy, Pablo)
Pollo: Those two!
Pablo: It´s OK, yes, it might be… A big round of applause to Sasha!
photo by Julia Ribeiro / shot while filming a “nota” for the Argentine news program TeleNoche about self-marriage in the Japanese Gardens (where I married myself in 2014!)
What happens when a national news program in Argentina wants to know about the American woman who married herself in Buenos Aires? That happened this week. The interview was all in Spanish. Oh my god, it was amazing! We shot this very entertaining video in the Japanese Garden in Buenos Aires–exactly where I married myself five years ago!
This interview was a chance to spread the concept of self-marriage as a ritual of self-love and -acceptance in South America in Spanish on the biggest nightly news show in Argentina TeleNoche. Since then I have gotten lots of media requests from radio stations and newspapers in Argentina.
Just as a reminder, self-marriage does not at all imply or require being single. I’ve helped married and single women marry themselves in my coaching practice.
I see comments on social media arguing, “But constructing a beautiful relationship is so important.” I agree! Perhaps some who marry themselves don’t want a relationship but that’s not my approach in my own life or with my clients. In my view, self-marriage is not a rejection of intimate relationship but a foundation for it. Self-marriage is the foundation for everything.
I also want a loving committed, interdependent relationship with a man. That’s the vulnerable part of me that might not get seen in my advocacy for self-marriage or Quirkyalone. If that sounds contradictory, so be it–it’s really not not. Loving ourselves helps us love other people. Being kinder to yourself helps you look at a a loved one, a friend, or strangers, with a softer, more loving gaze. I can’t say that marrying myself made me a perfect person, but the ring is always a reference point to remember the way I want to treat myself and others.
That’s the deep side of self-marriage. There’s also a hilarious side because marrying yourself can be pretty fun. With Jason Mayne of TeleNoche I was able to be more myself than I am in most interviews.
When I talked about Quirkyalone with Anderson Cooper on CNN the interview felt like a battle. When you go to battle you’re tense. When you’re joking you can be more relaxed. Maybe it’s was Jason’s sympathetic genuine millenial vibe, that we were in a park, or that I was speaking in a foreign language. Anyway, he managed to bring out the best in me. We had so much fun!
Watch the video and let me know what you think.
For those of you who don’t speak Spanish, my team and I translated the interview.
Jason: And this ring, what does it mean?
Sasha: Well, it’s a commitment to myself, that I’ve taken that step of marrying myself.
Jason narration: There is a movement that grows in the world that is called sologamy or self-marriage, people who marry themselves. And one of the references is now in the city of Buenos Aires. Let’s go talk to her because I want to know what this is about. How is it that you marry yourself, is it a traditional party? No? Well, here we’ll see.
Sasha, what’s up?
Sasha: Hi, how are you?
Jason: Very good! I want to see this, what you have here. Is it a commitment ring?
Sasha: Oh well, yes, it’s my commitment ring with myself.
Jason: What does this ring mean?
Sasha: Well, it’s a symbol of the fact that I took this step to marry myself. As a symbol of self-love and self-acceptance.
Jason: And how long have you been married?
Sasha: It’s been five years. We’ve been together for 5 years!
Jason: Where did you get married?
Sasha: Here, in the Japanese Garden.
Jason: Where are you from?
Sasha: I’m from the United States, I fell in love with tango, I moved to Buenos Aires, I decided to marry myself and I did the ceremony here in the Japanese Garden.
Jason: And does it have something to do with not expecting the prince and going against all that societal pressure of marriage?
Sasha: Yes. I was going to be 40 years old and I had not married a man yet and I wanted to do something for myself, a ritual. About being an adult, being a woman, taking charge of my own happiness. And also my self-acceptance, that’s a very profound thing.
Jason: Did you tell your friends, your family that you were going to marry yourself? What did they say to you?
Sasha: Well, I told very few people, because I knew that most people would not understand. My mother told me, whatever is good for you is good for me, but I know she thought I was crazy. And that’s OK.
Jason: So it’s about not depending on sharing moments with another person, its about feeling feeling good being yourself?
Sasha: Yes, and I also like to be in a couple. Getting married to yourself doesn’t mean that I want to be single, it’s not like that. It’s that I want to take care of my happiness, when I’m single or when I’m with someone.
Sasha: For me, what is fundamental is to write the vows.
Jason: You wrote the vows?
Sasha: Yes, of course.
reading the vows from five years ago, translated to Spanish
Jason: These are the vows of your self-marriage?
Sasha: My self-marriage yes, because I can also marry a man. it’s not exclusive, it’s very polyamorous.
Jason: The polyamory, I like it, you already stole the concept.
Sasha: Yes, we are in everything.
Jason: Okay, for example, what does it say?
Sasha: I promise to follow what I love, my passions. I promise to fall in love with others’ imperfections as well as I fall in love with mine, because I’m not perfect.
Jason: There it is …
Sasha: I promise to see myself beautiful and accept my sexuality.
Jason: These were the vows of your self-marriage …
Jason: After, for example, was there a honeymoon?
Sasha: Well, there was a day to celebrate with friends, the honeymoon is still coming.
Jason: It’s pending.
Sasha: It’s pending.
Jason: And marrying oneself is only for women?
Sasha: No men can also marry themselves.
Making some very important point about self-marriage to the crew!
Jason: At what time did you say I want to marry myself?
Sasha: That was some months before my 40th birthday, I was very anxious.
Jason: How is the wedding ritual?
Sasha: Yes, there were many cases when women who wear the white dress and do the whole party. Everything.
Jason: You got gifts for self-marriage?
Sasha: There were gifts that were very sentimental, but not a lot of money. My self-marriage was very inexpensive, very economical.
Jason: Are there companies that offer self-marrying services?
Sasha: There are a few. There’s a box you can buy from the internet to help you with your process, and I see it as very economical, compared to the United States. Getting married in the US is very expensive, and we see what happens in many weddings and for me here is something very economical option that will help you a lot. And you’ll never divorce yourself.
Jason: So more economical, and you won’t get divorced if you marry yourself!
Sasha: Yes! And you’re free to do what you want.
Jason: Could it be that this is the key to happiness?
Sasha: It could be, yes!
Jason: Since you didn’t do something . . . as part of the production. (Takes out fake bouquet of flowers.)
Sasha: Oh no.
Jason: Here we throw the bouquet of flowers to the back.
Sasha: For the next. Let’s go. (Throws bouquet backwards to Jason)
Jason: Yes! I never thought this moment would arrive and it arrived.
Sasha: It arrived.
Jason: Thank you Sasha.
Sasha: I’m so happy for you.
Jason: Now the only thing that is missing is the ring and I’m all good. And the honeymoon.
Sasha: Let’s do it.
Jason: Thank you.
Pop music plays…
Analyzing the light and where to shoot – these guys were hilarious. The tattoed sound guy thanked me and said my story would help him get his mother off his back because he could tell her he was marrying himself.
Are you ready to come marry yourself in the Japanese Gardens in Buenos Aires? Or in some other beautiful spot in this city, or in your own city? It’s all possible! I do help women and men, single or already married, marry themselves through my coaching practice so if you want some support to take this step yourself, you know where to go. Check out my coaching page and request a consult.
My team and I have also welcomed women to marry themselves or do their own personal honeymoon with a Tango Adventure in Buenos Aires. If that gift to yourself appeals to you, check out the Solo Chica Tango Adventure. With Solo Chica you will not be solo long, just like when you marry yourself you might attract better offers after you take a stand for your own self-worth!
I’m 27, and I’m so thrilled to be a quirkyalone. I think it makes for a far more conscious, expressive and spontaneous life. Quirkyalonedom rules! But I struggle with thinking about what quirkyalonedom will be like in the future. How will it feel when I’m 50…70? Will the “this rules!” feeling that this is how life is meant to be lived dull over time? Will I look fondly on my quirkyalone twenties but think of myself as being naive to the future?
Thanks for the newsletter and the thoughts. I‘m happy to be part of it.
Hi Alex, Thanks for writing in with this excellent question. You sent this question two years ago and it took me two years to answer you because the question is so profound I only wanted to answer you when I was good and ready.
The first question I have for you is, What does quirkyalone mean to you?
To me, the essence of being quirkyalone is being true to yourself.
It’s hard to imagine how you can ever go wrong when you are true to yourself.
Being quirkyalone includes the possibility of being quirkytogether. So you really can’t go wrong when you stay true to your north star.
On the other hand, lots can go wrong when you lose touch with yourself: you might regret staying in a marriage with someone you’re not in love with because of your fear of loneliness, staying for years in a job you don’t believe in, or not taking the chance to express yourself to people you love.
What do people regret when they are on their deathbeds? Bronnie Ware is a palliative care nurse who spent years caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. She published a book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, and the most common regret was “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” Another common regret: “I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.”
From an exhibit “Signs of Regret” in Washington DC based on Bronnie Ware’s book exploring regrets of the dying
Back to your pitch-perfect question. Is it possible to be naive about the future in your twenties? Sure, we are all naive when we are in our twenties. That’s the nature of being twentysomething. You don’t know yet what’s to come because you’re not there yet.
When I was in my twenties, I remember feeling that life was like Christmas Eve. The best was always to come and I didn’t have to make any limiting decisions yet. I remember an older man telling me at a party that I would not feel so romantic about being quirkyalone in my thirties. At the time I thought he was a jerk but when I got into my thirties, I thought, you know, he was right. My mid-thirties brought some rocky times. When I hit my mid-thirties most of my friends were getting married, buying homes, and having children. I wondered where I stood with all those life milestones and if I was being left behind.
Now I know that I wasn’t alone. The mid- to late-30s can be a stressful, dark passageway of the soul for single women–especially if you might want to have children but haven’t found a partner. People are starting to call this trend “social infertility” and it’s a problem that doesn’t get much attention. We only have so much time to find a partner and we have to decide. There are forks in the road: especially, have children or not. By 39, it can feel like time to pull the red alarm.
Men face their own pressures but men don’t usually perceive themselves as having the same biological clock pressure or “expiration date” in dating.
But just because life doesn’t happen on the prescribed timeline doesn’t mean life won’t happen. I wish I could have soothed my 35-year-old self from the position of where I stand now. I was really terrified about being aged out of the dating pool and being unloved for the rest of my life. I also worried my life would get dull without children, but that hasn’t been true at all. If anything my life has gotten more rewarding and my mother-friends convey their admiration for my more varied “selfish”(self-ful) life. (They love their children, but there are tradeoffs.)
I am proud of my life because I have been very intentional about my choices. I dug deep to ask myself what really matters and acted accordingly, even when it meant surfing with massive amounts of self-doubt. But because I am always checking in with myself on the why of what I’m doing at the deepest level I have no regrets. Here I’m talking about big decisions like where I put my creative energy, whether to be a self-employed entrepreneur or take the safer path of a job, the relationships I choose to invest in, and where I live.
If you don’t find someone to marry and have children by the end of your thirties turning the page into your forties may be a relief. If you were ambivalent about having children and it didn’t happen, now it’s no longer an option. There’s freedom in that clarity. You can go forward not scrutinizing every date to see if he will be “the one” to pop out a baby in the next two years–that’s a lot of pressure for dating! If the kids and marriage thing don’t happen, your forties can be a kind of rebirth. (I’m not saying this is easy. Many people go through grief over not having children and luckily there’s Jody Day’s Gateway Women community to help with releasing the grief.)
Then come the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, and who knows how long? I haven’t gotten to my fifties yet but I asked some of my newsletter subscribers to respond to your question and I love the nuanced responses I got from older women.
Leslie said: “I turned 71 on October the 6th. I live on Cape Cod with my three elderly dachshunds and I am truly a Quirkyalone and have been since 1976 when I divorced my husband of only 6 years. I left him in Minneapolis and drove back to New England with a four-year-old son and three-year-old daughter, $100 in my pocket, no job, and no place to live. The rest is a very long story and I am now a grandmother of two, work part-time in the car business, sing in Sweet Adeline, an a cappella chorus, own a small dog-sitting business, am a hospice volunteer, and take courses in anything that interests me and am never lonely.
I have had four or five serious relationships over the years but none ended in marriage. To the young lady who wrote you I truly believe that keeping your heart open may lead you to the perfect person but if not, a very satisfying life lies ahead if you stay true to yourself and never stop moving and learning.”
“In response to Alex:
You can’t possibly predict anything about feelings that far ahead. You can’t predict next year, let alone decades in advance.
I am 64 and quite like the label and status of quirkyalone. I’ve a sister, other family, friends and business associates, church community, customers, social media, God (not the least). So I’m not alone.
My husband died a few years ago and I’ve developed and adventured, wept and laughed, played and got myself into messes left right and centre, hated my singleness and aloneness sometimes BUT I would not have it any other way. So there.
Maybe you were asking, will I regret being quirkyalone now if I stay perpetually single? I want to speak to you if you have this fear. It’s easy to shut down and give up on love because it hurts and it’s fatiguing to be on the lookout for a partner for years when you don’t find someone. This is a fatigue and angst that doesn’t get talked about much! On the other hand, if you really want a deep experience of love don’t give up. Know it’s possible and maybe you just need to give it time and believe in yourself, your lovability, and your unique path in life.
Sara Eckel (author of the fantastic book It’s Not You: 27 (Wrong) Reasons You’re Single) argues that single women are far too likely to berate themselves with criticism to explain why they haven’t found a partner (with messages we pick up like lint from our culture like “you’re too picky, or desperate, or independent”) and I couldn’t agree more.
But I can say sometimes there may be particular reasons why we may find forming trusting, long-lasting healthy relationships challenging, based on who we are and the experiences we’ve had. It’s always time and energy well spent to reflect and do personal growth work to have better relationships. That’s been my story and the story of a number of my clients, and that’s some of the most valuable work you can do in a lifetime: to open yourself up for deeper love. People who have been in long relationships also often need to do healing relationship work–just because you have been in a long relationship doesn’t mean it’s particularly healthy.
Finally, I hear in your question one more question. Will I regret being quirkyalone if I wind up alone when I get to my 70s? Who will take care of me if I’m old and fragile? This is a topic we are going to have to address as a society because so many of us are going to be single in old age, whether we marry or not. Our society is going to need new models for health care, mutual support, community and caregivers who receive a living wage.
It’s impossible to predict the future. You could meet the love of your life now and he or she could pass in his or her 50s. You could have children who are not suited to be caregivers. I understand wanting to control for the future. Certainly I do. But all we can really do is live and love moment by moment.
I hope these words have been more reassuring than scary as you think about the road ahead. I think avoiding regret is really about honesty and the courage to take risks. If you do cozy up with another human in a long-term relationship, you know you are with your partner because of love and desire, not fear of loneliness or to fulfill societal expectation. In every area of your life, be honest with yourself. Ask yourself what you want. Ask your body what it wants. If you put your heart into your life and relationships (of all kinds, including your relationship with yourself), even if you don’t get exactly what you wanted you will have nothing to regret. We don’t have total control over what happens in life. But if you get clear about what you want and live from your desires rather than fears, there can be no regrets, only lessons learned.
Do you have thoughts or a story for Alex? Please share with us in the comments.
It’s my birthday week, so I send you greetings from a new year. I’m back in Buenos Aires (I’ll fill you in on the rest of the Forever Young European tour later!).
For my actual birthday, I was able to have an intimate dinner at my apartment with a few close friends in Buenos Aires. My friends are scattered all over in California, the Northeast, Brazil and Europe. On birthdays, I’m nostalgic for times in San Francisco when my birthday parties were full of long-term friends. But really I am lucky to be able to have dinner with a few dear souls here in Buenos Aires.
Over the birthday dinner, I read my hopes for the next year, what I accomplished over the last year, and “what I know” – it was wonderful to be witnessed in my hopes and dreams and also for what I’ve accomplished in the last year. I recommend this kind of reflection–and sharing it with others to be witnessed–as a ritual for your birthday.
Over the dinner we had a fabulous conversation about what it’s like to be single expat without children living far from family or our roots. We were talking not only about our own personal situations but about this historical moment that we find ourselves in.
For those of us who are not following the traditional formula of what it means to be a woman (being a wife and mother, the caretaker of others) our lives can feel a bit off the map of the media and social media—the pressure might be as much internal as external when you don’t see your own reality reflected back to you very often. Facebook and Instagram can be a confrontational landmine with all those happy family and kid photos from friends. Even though I am well aware of how hard it is to be a mother, and I generally feel at peace with my decision, I still sometimes wonder, hmmm, am I missing out? Am I way off track here? What about MEEEE?
My anthropologist friend pointed out that it’s extremely recent in the history of humanity that any great number of women have been free to construct lives outside of the identity of caretaker. (Let’s say women’s participation in the workforce really took off in the last half of the 20th century. It’s not as if this revolution toward equality is complete—women still earn less than men and we assume women will be the primary caretakers of children and aging parents, or that women have an instinctive relationship with babies. If a woman doesn’t relate to babies or her baby, that’s seen as weird; a father doesn’t bond with a baby, well, that’s not his thing.)
It’s no wonder that a lot of us feel self-doubt about our paths through life, even if we come off as confident and having it all together.
We are pioneers in the big picture of herstory.
That’s what conversations like these are so valuable. That’s why we need each other.
I’ve been thinking a lot about companionship and community lately. As much as I love and need solitude, I also need committed relationships that provide companionship. Loneliness has become the modern epidemic. (Read this fantastic story on “All the Lonely People” for more.)
Facebook aims to fill the gap with “presence” and “community” but actually I find Facebook often tends to make us more distant from each other because people send a chat message or leave a comment rather than call. Social media can facilitate in-person connection but it can also create a lot of shallow relationships. (I believe that some more authentic online communities such as Gateway Women, o or online classes I have taught, can cut loneliness and bring people together—but it has to be an online community where you feel safe to be authentic and real.)
We all need to have some degree of companionship and commitment from others. One big attraction of a committed romantic relationship is that it’s committed. It’s not casual. It’s not, hey, I’ll show up for you if it’s convenient. It’s, I will show up for you. You show up for each other in times of need. If I get cancer, if I need help financially, and so on.
Many people–50% at any given time–are single in the US, for example.
Even if we really do want to be in a committed romantic relationship, how can we also create those kinds of commitments with friends? How do we create a feeling of being loved and solidly held with our friends too? What forms of support do you have in place and treasure, what do you appreciate?
We need other models for committed relationship. We are the pioneers, so what will those look like? One person won’t have all the answers. Many people will. I wonder what thoughts you have on the topic. What works for you in terms of companionship and support, or what do you wish for more of in your life?
I’m also going to be exploring the concept of a private, supportive online community–quirkytogether, if you will, where important and nourishing real conversations like this can take place and people can also meet each other, online and off. Having met many of you as my clients through coaching, my online classes, and the Tango Adventure, I know this is an ideal community for such supportive, nourishing, life conversations–and I’ll be asking for your thoughts on what a community could provide soon too.
Hi! I’m Sasha
I'm a women's empowerment coach. I talk to women about their lives and help them get unstuck and create the present and future that they want. My books Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics (Harper SanFrancisco) and To-Do List: From Buying Milk to Finding a Soul Mate, What Our Lists Reveal About Us (Simon & Schuster) have been featured in 100+ media outlets, including the New York Times, CNN, and NPR.
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Sasha Cagen is the author of the cult favorite Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics and To-Do List: From Buying Milk to Finding a Soul Mate, What Our Lists Reveal About Us. Her work as an author, life coach for women and entrepreneur has been featured everywhere from NPR and the New York Times to CNN and Vogue.
In her well-loved newsletter going to thousands of women and men who identify with "quirkyalone," Sasha is the voice for people who don't want to settle--in any area of life.
In her coaching practice, Sasha helps smart, successful women (and sensitive, self-aware men) get clear on what they really want and then to achieve their goals while always helping her clients focus on core issues such as self-worth.