Ok, this will have nothing to do with writing, science fiction, fantasy or horror. Well, maybe the latter... you may be horrified by what I'm about to write. *g*
I've read so many sad tales of the lengths people will go to just to have a relationship (JR's blog has several); have watched scores of friends settle into less than fulfilling relationships because they didn't want to be alone, that I'm speaking out. (Warning - long blathering ahead)
Several years ago, a number of friends of mine and I were going through relationship problems at the same time. One friend was dating, but felt that every man she met just used her for sex, another friend's husband had left her to "find himself" after 20+ years of marriage, yet another called off her engagement because her fiance just seemed to shut down and quit communicating with her, and I had just broken up (for numerous reasons) with a man I was briefly engaged to.
As I was laying in bed one night, I asked myself why I had even agreed to get married in the first place, when the truth was, I really didn't want to and knew it when I said 'yes'. (The same could be said the both times I did go through with it.) I then thought of the other women.
On their own, they were all capable, intelligent, vivacious, fun and charming. Yet they seemed to lose themselves in relationships - they would turn either controlling and bitchy, or clingy and insecure, allowing themselves to be treated badly. (More often the latter.) I thought of men I knew who, on their own, were intelligent, charming, fun and acted with integrity. Yet, put a woman in their vicinity and they turned into something else entirely.
I kept asking myself "why?" Why do we do this to ourselves and each other? Don't we, at heart, want the same things? After a while, I began to believe that maybe not. Maybe we really don't want the same things. Maybe we're just hardwired very differently. (I still don't have any answers to that - if you do, please share.)
In the end, I decided that all I could focus on what was I wanted for myself. I realized that in each instance of a long-term relationship, I was looking for a sense of security. Not necessarily financial security - just a sense that there was someone else who would help me out and take care of me if I needed it. It was a strong enough desire that I was willing to sacrifice key parts of myself to try to fulfill it. That's when I realized that no one else will ever be able to give me that. It's impossible. We never know what each day will bring.
I started focusing on what made me happy, and I realized the times I was happiest in my life only once had to do with someone else (my daughter) - every other time I was alone. The transcendent moments of joy that I experienced were when I was doing something completely and solely for me. I realized that I'd spent the greater portion of my life caring for other people - mother, brothers, husbands, child - very seldom did I ever just take care of me.
Thus, I decided to forgo relationships entirely and I've never been more at peace with myself. I've spent the past several years alone raising my daughter and trying to work in some "me" time. When I received the contract for my first short story, I experienced a happiness that I have to say I've never had in a relationship. The weekends I spent with my critique partners, pouring over our writing, brought me more pleasure than any weekend wondering what to wear on a date.
Which brings me to my point: I wholeheartedly believe that one of the greatest problems facing mankind is that people don't know how to be alone and be happy. They search for solutions outside themselves: sex, alcohol, drugs, religion, marriage. Yes, I said it: marriage. For some, it's just another escape. Yet we see what happens when people don't know how to be happy by themselves and marry the first person who comes along: ugly divorces, unhappy or unwanted children. Then they just keep on going to the next person, making things worse.
I often feel like an alien on this planet. You see, I don't know another soul who truly feels the way I do. Several people (most) pay lip service to the idea, but when it comes right down to it, they'd still rather be in a relationship, even if it's a bad one.
People don't believe me when I say I like being alone. They think I'm just hurt/bitter/afraid/deluded, whatever. They say I just haven't met a good man (or had good sex) - um, no, I've known good men, had good sex. That's NOT the issue. Then they look at me in horror and say, "But don't you get lonely?" They can't comprehend when I say that honestly, I'm not even sure what "lonely" means. I don't know what they're talking about. Does that make me an anomaly? Maybe.
I'm not afraid. I like my life. I see it as pure potential. That's exciting.