Peter McGraw continues his series on solitude with a conversation with Sasha Cagen, the founder of the QuirkyAlone movement. A QuirkyAlone is someone who enjoys being single (but is not opposed to being in a relationship) and generally prefers to be alone rather than dating for the sake of being in a couple. Does that sound like you? They discuss the origins of the term, its evolution, and how the media landscape represents singles. If you stick around to the end, you will learn about one of Sasha’s favorite QuirkyAlones.
Listen to Episode #81 here:
We continue our series on solitude with a conversation with Sasha Cagen, the Founder of the Quirkyalone Movement. Quirkyalone is someone who enjoys being single but is not opposed to being in a relationship and generally prefers to be alone rather than dating for the sake of being in a couple. Does that sound like you? In any case, we discussed the origins of the term, its evolution and how the media landscape represents singles. If you stick around to the end, you will learn about one of Sasha’s favorite quirkyalones. I will give you a hint. You will know her by her first name. I hope you enjoyed the episode. Let’s get started.
Our guest is Sasha Cagen. She is the Founder of the Quirkyalone Movement, giving new meaning to the word quirky, spreading a message of self-acceptance for single and partner people who want to live life on their own terms. She’s the author of the cult hit Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics and To-Do List: From Buying Milk to Finding a Soul Mate, What Our Lists Reveal About Us. I do love a good list. Sasha is working on her next book, Wet. Welcome, Sasha.
Thanks, Peter. It’s good to talk to you.
I’m excited about this. I loved your book. I love the term quirkyalone. We should probably start by defining what quirkyalone means and dive a little bit into how you become a quirkyalone? How did you discover quirkyalone? How has quirkyalone evolved? Let’s start with the definition.
The basic definition of a quirkyalone is a person who has the capacity to be comfortable with being single and most quirkyalones want to be in a relationship but they don’t want to settle. A quirkyalone person develops more comfort and capacity to be single than the average person but usually, they are romantics and holding out for that person. It’s a state of being that includes many different emotional moments, let’s say, of contentment being single and also yearning, the whole spectrum of what it means to be a quirky, alone human.
I like this because I talk about solos as being single either for now or forever. Quirkyalones are in the for now category.
They are for now. I have a deep connection to quirkyalone because I came up with the word. I consider being quirkyalone is independent of being single or in a relationship. At the deepest level, even if you are married, you can still be quirkyalone.
This is a philosophy.
Those people don’t read this as much, though. What I like about this idea and this is something I have been writing and thinking about a lot, is the idea that we have this narrative, which is your single. Until you couple up, you are somehow less than. As a result, you spend a lot of time waiting, hoping, and putting off. As a result, that’s a great loss. That’s tragic, to be honest, given that we live short lives. What I love about quirkyalone is that notion of contentment like, “I’m unhappy the way my life is. I would also welcome this other state of the world and transition into it while also remaining comfortable with myself in alone time and so on.”
Since I wrote that book, I have become a life coach. I work with people mainly who identify with quirkyalone and I hear that a lot from clients. “The decision to buy a home is a big one where it can feel scary.” A lot of decisions get put off if one is single because it feels like, “I shouldn’t make that moved because it’s going to prevent me from finding a partner.” Especially for women, there’s this feeling that, “I should be adaptable, open and follow a man.” I can say, for me, that it came up in a big way.
The subject of the book I’m working on is a memoir and a period of my life when I went off traveling by myself in South America. I went through a lot of fear then that if I made that choice, that would mean that I was going to be alone forever. I bring that up to say quirkyalone is this ideal to be comfortable being single and enjoy your life. You are right that it’s tragic that we have so much internal negative self-talk about being single that stops us and that we feel that we can’t go live our lives and do what we want. Quirkyalone is a good tool for remembering that you can be whole as a single person. I’m sharing my struggle and the struggles of my clients to say, “Even quirkyalones struggle with that,” but you can do it. I agree. Go live your life.
I want to talk to you about evolution, how you have evolved and how your thoughts on quirkyalone have evolved? I’m excited to know about Wet but let’s talk about the origin first before evolution. Quirkyalone has been around for a while. How did it happen? It has become a phenomenon.
It became a phenomenon before many things became a phenomenon. Now, every day, it’s a new dating word as phenomena like situationship, aromantic or asexual. All of these terminologies are big now. Quirkyalone came into being from 1999 to 2000. It was a forerunner of our new vocabulary about being single, dating and relationship. I was in my mid-twenties at the time. It came from my exploration of life, observing my friends and pop culture. I had been a person who mainly had been single like the quirkyalone prototype definition.
I was the person who, in high school, wanted to have a boyfriend but there wasn’t anyone at my high school who fit the bill. That pattern continued into young adulthood, where I did date but most of the time I was single. There was this origin story at a New Year’s Eve party in Brooklyn when I was 25, where I went with my friends. At that time in life, it was still obligatory to go to a New Year’s Eve party. It was that moment of looking around the room at midnight for someone to kiss because that was something that I wanted. I was disappointed and didn’t find one but I noticed that nobody else was kissing either. It was this moment of an epiphany of, “I’m not the only one.”
The next morning, I went to brunch with friends and that was the moment when somehow, I decided these two words came together for me and, “We are quirkyalones.” I had also been obsessed with the show Ally McBeal and had been playing. That was a quirky show and there were a lot of scenes of her walking alone. Those words had been in a document in a job where I had been playing with them. After that, I spent a year writing a 700-word essay to nail a definition. That’s how obsessive and perfectionistic I am because I wanted people to understand quirkyalone. I didn’t want any misunderstanding.
I labored at this short piece to make it clear. A friend of mine who was younger than me at college received a draft and she started circulating it. This was even before it was published. I had people at Vassar College sending me mixtapes for quirkyalones. The next step was I had my own magazine that I published. I published it there. Utne Reader got a copy of it and they reprinted it. It went wild because people identified with it because the word itself, quirkyalone, felt validating to people.
It’s a single word.
It’s one word. It has a different meaning when the words come together. It’s not about being alone. It’s not about being quirky. It’s about this specific meaning when you use two words together.
It’s like a Venn Diagram.
It’s about not settling at the end of the day. Not settling in life and in love. Many people walk around feeling so much shame and feeling lesser because their lives haven’t followed the course or the map of how it’s supposed to go in adulthood. Quirkyalone was this bomb for people especially at that time because there wasn’t as much recognition of single people in culture. It felt tremendously validating to people and I heard from so many of them. That led to the book because agents were reaching out to me and there was a snowball of interest.
I want to ask one more question about the definition. I’m impressed that you spent a year getting this right. That’s wonderful. The choice of the word quirky, why? Can you tease us with some of the alternatives that you considered?
In the book Quirkyalone, I have a bunch of alternatives like eccentricalone, bizarrealone, or freakyalone.
Freakyalone is a whole different book and it’s in a different section of the library. It’s not in the library, first of all.
Why quirky? It’s because quirky is softer, for one. It’s eccentric but with a human touch that makes you feel you can get warm and cuddly with a quirky person in a way that maybe you don’t feel you can with freakyalone. It was that sense that I had as a young person and has remained the same as I get older. I only connect with a certain amount of people. I’m not a generic person and quirkyalones are not cookie-cutter type. It’s a practical recognition for a quirky person.
It may take a little longer to find someone who matches you, not that they have to have all the same quirks. Everybody is completely individual and all of my work has this honoring of our quirkiness. When I work with clients, for example, I’m interested in finding out who they are and how they tick because everybody’s different. That’s my orientation to the world. The quirky part is the way of honoring that. I love that about us as people.
I love getting to know people’s quirks. It’s important to clarify the alone. Alone is not about being single or about being on a desert island by yourself. The alone was more like, “I’m taking a stance of independence and willing to go to this wedding alone. Even though it’s uncomfortable to go without a date because I would rather confront the world alone, have fun and dance than be with someone that I don’t want to be with.”
This is part of a series I’m doing on solitude. The idea that I have been investigating is there are vast benefits of solitude. If you want to be able to enjoy those benefits, you have to embrace solitude. You have to be comfortable with it. Otherwise, it can become loneliness. I like this idea of alone and it may be alone in a crowd in that sense, maybe uncoupled and maybe a time of solitude. I like this quite a lot. It’s interesting because I’m not a quirkyalone even though I share some of the same values and beliefs.
The issue is I’m not a hopeless romantic. I’m adjacent to your crowd, in some way, but many of my readers probably fit in quite nicely so they may be coming to you for some coaching, perhaps. I do think it’s interesting, this idea of the ideal partner for a quirkyalone can’t be someone who wants to ride what I would call the traditional relationship escalator. That’s going to become a challenge because the quirkyalone might say, “I want to do a vacation on my own. This particular wedding would be a lot more fun if I went with my friend who is also friends with the bride and groom.” You stay home and have someone who’s understanding and something gets it.
It’s how I explained alone being this stance of independence, that I’m willing to do things on my own. It’s the same in being quirky together, which is being quirkyalone is a relationship that, as you said, people who are quirkyalone may still want to travel on their own or they might want to sleep on their own. This is a big thing to sleep well.
I do like my alone sleeping in a nice, cold, chilly room with a heavy blanket.
When I say that quirkyalones want to be in a relationship, sometimes people like you who are on the spectrum of not wanting relationships somehow may hear that is traditional. There’s still this part for most quirkyalones where they don’t want to merge entirely like this doesn’t fit.
Maybe I fit. I’m not anti-relationship. I have girlfriends, I date and have a vast array of relationships. I don’t want to be married with kids and I am not eager to have someone move in.
You can still be quirkyalone. Maybe by the end of the show, we can decide if you are quirkyalone or not.
I’m not the hopeless romantic or the hopeful romantic.
Those are words we would have to pull apart to see what are we even talking about there because probably as you get older, you get a little bit less dewy-eyed about all these things.
In part, because I don’t think it solves as many problems as people often think that it does is my sense. Another 700-word essay, another year of writing and we will get that cracked. How many times do you think you have said quirkyalone in your life?
I bet you it’s more.
It could be 500,000.
How many times have you said it since this started as a possibility? It’s not a critique. I want to get back to this idea of pop culture. We are close in age. You are younger and sprier. I do remember that time, the late ‘90s, early aughts. It seems a lot were happening in pop culture around singleness. I will throw out a few. There’s a movie that I liked quite a lot and this is in the early ‘90s, called Singles. It has a great soundtrack. It has a Paul Westerberg song called Waiting for Somebody, which captures that pain, that idea of wanting that kiss and that person.
There’s a line in there about going to bed alone that resonated at that time for me as a young man. Sex and the City, which was happening. There’s a movie that came up in a previous episode on SOLO called Love Jones. It was in the late ‘90s about a bunch of black singles. That was a precursor to a lot of the stuff that we are seeing nowadays. You mentioned Ally McBeal, I’m wondering, are there any others that, whether it be music, movie, television that stands out to you around that time that either informed your thinking or you remember?
We had Seinfeld and Friends, which are huge and iconic shows based on single people.
Seinfeld, in particular, did not romanticize partnerships. These were single people. They were very quirky, single and they didn’t wrap the show with anybody getting together.
Friends were more conventional, for sure. Interestingly, you say that there were a lot going on with being single then because I look at that time as a limited number of shows that portrayed single life and now that we have so many more. Everything is more greenlit now. It seems we have a vast tolerance to see single life portrayed in movies, television shows, podcasts and everything in a way that then I was searching for those few role models that I could identify with.
Maybe these are the ones that stand the test of time and they were the first through the wall and got this going.
They were big because of that. Seinfeld felt a breakthrough because they were different. Many sitcoms are family sitcoms.
This comes up time and time again. Less so in the media but even nowadays of how churches, government, businesses overlooked and undervalued singles because they are still seen through that lens of being in a liminal space that they are temporarily single.
I wrote a newsletter that I sent out to my people about being single on the pandemic and we are living a moment where single people have been overlooked. Especially in this country where nobody was willing to talk about sex except for in the New York City Health Department, where they issued bizarre guidelines to have sex with Coronavirus. None of the guidelines were set up to acknowledge the reality that a lot of people do live alone and live in households of one so where does that leave us?
Europe was a little better about that. There were talks about having sex COVID buddy. I’ve got some pushback from a previous guest. San Francisco made it illegal to have sex with someone else who wasn’t a member of your family. You were not allowed to meet with someone.
No Tinder dates.
It wasn’t stated that way but that was what happened. You are not allowed to be interacting with someone who’s not part of your family unit. If you lived alone, that meant you were supposed to be alone. By extension, you couldn’t date people and can’t have sex with people. It’s these kinds of things, which the effect is to discriminate against single people based upon their relationship status.
It’s to erase the whole experience. It’s like we don’t even exist. You are not thinking about us.
Hence, it’s why we are here, why Quirkyalone took off and it continues to be something in your life. How has it changed? How has it evolved since that original essay, the book and the media storm since then?
In many ways, it’s still the same. Quirkyalone continues to attract people all the time. If you are a quirkyalone, sometimes you don’t even have to hear the definition. You already know what the definition is. People are continually drawn to it. They come to the quirkyalone website and take the quiz. People in other parts of the world wake up to it. In Asia and India, I have a lot of people signing up there. In a lot of ways, it’s still the same. I do think that so many different kinds of alternative relationship structures have come to the fore since Quirkyalone was written.
Being a solo-poly and poly-people who don’t want a relationship, all these alternative arrangements have become normalized and so has Tinder. A lot of people have found ways to meet their needs without getting in a relationship. It’s much easier to have sex, for example. It’s more socially acceptable to be single. In some way, quirkyalone, even though it seems to be a celebration of singlehood, it’s also, in the deepest core, an argument for depth in relationship. All kinds of relationships take work, friendships and romantic relationships. This relationship that’s happening now. It’s a show but everything takes work.
We already had a failed attempt at this thing behind the scenes. I feel like we know each other now. We have been through defeat.
Sometimes I feel I want quirkyalone to be more of an argument for good, healthy and deep relationships. If there are some way that I have changed in my relationship to quirkyalone and relationships in general, it’s that now that I’m older and I have a lot more understanding of myself and how relationships work. When I was in my twenties, I thought it was a matter of meeting the right person, that would be the most important thing and everything would fall into place. Now that I have lived so much and I have dated so many people, you need to find someone where you are compatible and there’s attraction and all of that.
You can’t settle as quirkyalone but even if I find someone who’s a good match, it still works. It’s hard to be in a relationship with myself. I’m also known as a self-marriage expert and advocate. I help people marry themselves and I do that myself. That’s also a nod. I have to work on my relationship with myself to talk to myself more nicely and everything that goes along with that. With my personal advocacy of quirkyalone, there’s a societal drift where a lot of people think, “It’s easier to not be in a relationship. There are a lot of work. I would rather check out what’s going out there on an app and sleep with people.” That’s fine if that’s what you want but I’m also taking a stance to have a deeper relationship that will involve being uncomfortable. It’s not easy and that’s okay because I used to say, “Dating shouldn’t be a job. it shouldn’t be work. It should be easy.” It’s not easy for me.
There are three elements. First of all, I want to say thank you. You have clearly given this a lot of thought and you have done a lot of writing around it because writing will clarify your thinking in a way that talking about things won’t. It’s why I’m doing more and more writing about this topic. I do recognize that relationships are a lot of work and that they aren’t going to naturally be easy. They are for some people. There are some people who truly find a soulmate. Everything clicks and they love spending all of their time together.
Yes, they have some bumps but by and large, they are way better off. There’s that messy middle of people who want it, it’s rewarding but it isn’t easy in any way. I don’t think that the lack of ease should keep someone away from a relationship, whether it be a traditional one, a relationship escalator, a sexual friendship or any complexities that may exist with unconventional relationships. As you mentioned, poly, solo-poly, consensual, non-monogamy, etc. There is something that we don’t talk enough about and that is how profoundly damaging a relationship can be if you are not careful and if you are unlucky.
They can be abusive. Even something like infidelity and the heartbreak associated with these things are true risks. Divorce is the biggest thing in some ways. The destruction that goes along with a divorce, whether it be wealth, an extended familial network. I sense that you and the quirkyalones probably have this. They recognize the messiness, complications, challenges and sometimes profound ones. Sometimes that may lead someone to not want to settle that more balanced approach.
Not want to settle or not want to get involved? What do you mean?
The way that people approach relationships maybe is a little bit tentative. Maybe it’s slow to hire and quick to fire. It’s not this blind rush into the love that is going to be seen as good and solve problems because those first six weeks are fun.
It’s always a risk, for sure. Getting involved with anyone is a risk. I’ve got my heartbroken. It’s painful and it raises a lot of questions.
I’m a Behavioral Economist. One of the classic choices in Behavioral Economics is a sure win versus a gamble with some probability of a bigger win or loss. If you translate that idea into relationships, the sure winner is the single life in which you are doing it well. The gamble is it may pay off and be great and it may or may not. There are more uncertainty around the relationship with it.
If you have a deep yearning for a healthy, loving partnership and I’m not sure it’s a sure win to not engage in that risk. Everybody is different.
It’s sure but small.
Maybe a little bit flatter. The way that I see it is there are a variety of experiences in life. Some people will get married when they are young, they will stay married the whole time and their whole experience of life will be with a partner. Someone like me and a lot more people now, most people are going to have experiences of being single and being with a partner.
Maybe being single and being with a partner. It’s bouncing back between the two.
Everybody is different about how they feel about that and that depends on where they are in life too. It’s a sure win for you if it’s a yearning that you can let go of. If it’s not a deep need to have that experience of partnership with someone, then it would be a sure win.
It’s an imperfect analogy so I recognize that because there are things that are going on. The sure thing, for some people, is negative. As a single person, they are unhappy and don’t do it well. The gamble depends on the nature of that other person. It’s a decision between this sure thing now and a gamble that changes depending on who the person is. Forgive me, readers, for turning into an academic on you.
You could be good at being single for ten years and get bored with it.
It’s not even as simple as what I have described because now many other alternatives sit in between being single and the relationship escalator. As you said, some of those things do a good job of meeting your needs, including being freakyalone evidently.
Everyone needs to have their own freakyalone time.
Let me ask you about the who. Who is the quirkyalone? You have quirkyalones who are part of your movement around the world. My sense is that they tend to be women. Maybe overwhelmingly women and I know this because, in the book, you ask a question, “Can a man be quirkyalone?”
Men can be quirkyalone. It’s possible. I have met men quirkyalones. I coach them and have them come to retreats, the whole gamut. I have met them live and in the flesh. I have done several surveys and it has always been consistent that 85% of women are answering the survey. The other thing is it’s looking likely that this woman, Erin, who has been a major quirkyalone supporter and does a radio show every year on Quirkyalone Day, which we haven’t talked about, in KALX. She and I are collaborating and we are going to start a quirkyalone community that she’s going to head up. People can check out that and see if it’s live. That will give a new view of who are these people because we are in 2021 who’s getting attracted to quirkyalone now.
When is Quirkyalone Day?
February 14, 2021.
Are you are going to start a Quirkyalone Club on Clubhouse?
I haven’t joined Clubhouse yet but I might. We will see. I know I should. I know it’s the hot thing.
You should snag it so someone doesn’t squat on it at the least.
I will get on there.
I wouldn’t be surprised. It would be a great place for that community. I’m sure you have community members who are already in Clubhouse. That’s something I have been working on with SOLO since the beginning. I have the SOLO Clubs on Clubhouse. I also have a SOLO Slack channel. It’s small now but we crossed over 100 people on it. These are people all over the world, all different ages, all different experiences. Some never married, divorced, widowed but all are looking to live a remarkable life during their single time on the planet.
At some point, we should have a joint party with the Solos and Quirkyalones. They would get along great. Let’s talk about where this has led to. You said you do life coaching but you have also been exploring this more deeply with your book project. I’m eager to know a little bit more about this trip. What has happened since then? It has changed your life. This idea has knocked your life onto a different path.
I have been working on this memoir for a long time and it’s a deep story that got revealed in writing. I had a year writing 700-words for the Quirkyalone essay, which I can say worked out and had an impact and I have been working on this memoir since 2012. It’s a long time. This book is the story of how quirkyalone pushed me out of the life that I had constructed because I developed a bitter and negative attitude with quirkyalone for a while. It’s interesting to talk about this publicly in preparation for when this book will be released because I want to make sure that my readers don’t feel like I’m dissing them in any way. It was different to be the leader of the quirkyalone movement versus anybody who identifies with it. I felt overly identified with it. Anytime I would go on a date in San Francisco, the guy would google me and ask me about quirkyalone. I was like, “What the fuck? Can’t we go on a date and not talk about how being single is great?” It varies across purposes, in addition to all the other challenges of dating in San Francisco at that time. When I was in my mid-30s, I gave up on myself because I felt I had to be practical and get a better–paid job in Silicon Valley. I hit a breaking point where after I went to Brazil on a trip for three weeks, I decided that my future was in Brazil.
I was going to leave everything behind. I was going to find love and everything else. All of happiness, sensuality, and different life in Rio de Janeiro. I did do that. I didn’t find everything that I wanted. What happened was that I spent more time in Colombia and Argentina. I discovered Tango. I had a lot of sensual and relationship experiences but a lot of shame and my same patterns with men came up again and again. It was a story of I’m going to go away to find happiness.
It’s how Sasha got her groove back.
It’s a little bit like that. I was trying to get my groove back but then there is a serious undertone to all of this story. Years into the writing, I understood that a lot of my problems in relationships came from an incident of trauma that happened when I was six, which was sexual in nature. It was something that I never talked about. Since then, I have shared this with many different people and I have come to understand that many people, women and men, have these incidents that they never share with anyone. These things can have a deep impact on us in terms of the ability to trust, being important in a relationship and that the way we feel about ourselves.
This story starts with thinking that it’s going to be a direct line to happiness through finding a great Brazilian guy but it’s through awakening my sexuality and having all these experiences that I started to understand this. My body said things to me that I wasn’t willing to say out loud, especially through tango and a stint of orgasmic meditation at one taste which is this whole other thing, which is where I became a coach.
It’s this layered story of healing and it’s also me grappling with quirkyalone. In the end, I came to realize that I had done a lot of people-pleasing things with men and my audience of feeling I couldn’t be myself. At the end of this book, I still am single. It’s a step forward from Sex and the City and Eat Pray Love in the sense that the book ends with me being single. I hope I’m not giving a total spoiler to people before they read it. I have a different relationship with myself and other people. I’m lovable. It’s a book about a woman who doubts that she is lovable even though she is the queen of self-love with quirkyalone and goes on all these experiences and does all of these things to finally understand that she is.
First of all, I’m sorry to know about that incident but glad that you have been addressing it. The idea that something could happen at that stage in life and years later still affect you is upsetting. To be able to work it through is wonderful. I had Kristin Newman and she has a book, What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding. It’s like Stella Got Her Groove Back-esque. She was traveling, men and romance. At the end of that book, they get together and end up having a family. I was like, “Dammit.”
I read that book and enjoyed it but I noticed that at the end she said, “I only felt permission to publish this book because I had already met my husband.” I related to that because I can’t tell you how many times, in writing this book I thought, “Are people going to think I’m a slut.” There’s not that much sex in the book for a book that’s called Wet but I thought that that was interesting at the end of her book that I wrote that because it’s like, “Now I can be honest about those single slutty days because I already got my man.” I love the book. It was great.
She’s delightful and you are delightful, too. I appreciate how thoughtful you are about all of this. Do you have any favorite quirkyalones? Even one. Is there one quirkyalone that you can point out and someone goes, “I know that character? I know that person.”
In some ways, the strongest, quirkyalone example in our culture is Oprah because even though she has Steadman she is such an individual and her whole career has been about self-love.
All you have to say is Oprah and it’s obvious. One last thing. I have a note from our previous failed conversation about wholeness versus happiness. Can you end with that idea because I liked that idea and it’s something that I have been working through with the language of Solo that is important?
This has come about because Erin and I are talking about starting up this community and I wanted to have a definition of quirkyalone that was refreshed for 2021 and one that I feel comfortable with because I can only promote something if I feel in alignment with it. I have this elaborate definition. If I spent a year on the essay, I also spent a long time crafting a quirkyalone definition years ago. I wanted to take a fresh look at that and see if it still worked or if there was some w
ay to update it. One of the changes that we made was about changing happiness to wholeness.
One of the things that pissed me off when I was doing all that media about being quirkyalone in my mid-30s and everyone was constantly asking me about it was this idea of being a happy single. It was bothering me because in my fear state when I was so worried about never finding anyone because I thought I was telling the universe that I was a happy single, so I’m always going to be single. There was that aspect but also, nobody is happy all the time. This is ridiculous. It’s in our culture as a strong tendency.
It’s part of the Declaration of Independence.
It goes back centuries and millennia, the search for happiness. That’s okay but we have all kinds of emotional states in our life. Life is a roller coaster and we feel all kinds of things. To me, there’s a taut feeling of trying to be this happy, single person and it felt false, unrealistic and not a goal that I wanted to set up for myself. The idea of being whole was something that I could relate to and feel good about. It almost seems logical.
We want to be home as individuals because we want to be able to stand on our own two feet and navigate life whether we are in a relationship or not. That felt good to me and also with this journey of healing that I have been on and writing about, for me, it has deep resonance of owning all the aspects of ourselves that even the ones that can be shameful or difficult or not so shiny let’s say. It’s the shadow that they talk about. It’s powerful to aim for wholeness like that.
Especially to the degree that happiness is connected to pleasure in positive emotion. You can be happy and incomplete in that way that you are missing out on huge swaths of life that are important and that lead to growth. They happen to be difficult, painful, either lacking positive emotion or even creating. If you want to climb a mountain and you want to experience the awe at the top of that mountain, that’s going to be a painful affair. Climbing a mountain is not pleasurable at all. Give it a try and try to make it pleasurable.
If you want to climb another mountain, develop a new skill or do something meaningful in life, you have to often forego the pleasantness of a lot of things. I like this idea of wholeness in the sense that you get to be complete in some way and it leads to a different set of pursuits. It also suggests that there are multiple ways that one can become whole as a single person. I do like this. Time and time again, it’s this idea that somehow this partnered relationship is the standard so now you are incomplete, you are less than until you can achieve it. I use the word tragedy to describe it. Tragically, people spend lots of their life feeling un-whole and incomplete. At times, they might settle for a less than desirable situation to be able to check that box and to get the approval of others. Sasha, this was fun.
We’ve got up the mountain.
I look forward to the publication of your book, the next Quirkyalone Day, learning and seeing your community come together. That’s exciting.
Thanks for having me on. It’s cool. I also love your formulation about a remarkable life, single forever or for now and what you are doing is great.
That’s nice of you. Cheers.
- Quirkyalone Movement
- Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics
- To-Do List: From Buying Milk to Finding a Soul Mate, What Our Lists Reveal About Us
- Wax Crescent
- Quirkyalone Day
- Utne Reader
- Kristin Newman – Past Episode
- What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding
- Love Jones – Past Episode
- SOLO Clubs
About Sasha Cagen
Sasha Cagen is the founder of the QuirkyAlone movement—giving new meaning to the word quirky, spreading a message of self-acceptance for single and partnered people who want to live life on their own terms. She is the author of the cult hit Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics and To-Do List: From Buying Milk to Finding a Soulmate, What Our Lists Reveal About Us. Sasha is currently at work on Wet.
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