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Listen to Episode #201 here
Solo Love Letters, The Sequel
Kriss, what do I say every time?
Welcome to the show.
What advice do I give? What is the first thing I say?
Be myself. That’s, “Be authentic.”
I still keep inviting you back.
I know, and I still keep joining you.
Welcome back. My book, SOLO: Building A Remarkable Life of Your Own, is out. I like to say that Solo has a big tent. It would be impossible for me to speak to the diverse experience of singles, age, gender, race, goals, lifestyle, and so on, so I made the critical decision to solicit love letters from the Solo community. They are in the book. They speak directly to the reader.
It was an extremely competitive process. Twenty-four of them were accepted. However, there were many great ones, many compelling letters. I want to start exploring more of them with Kriss Rita, who helped me with the process and has come back for a second round. This is Solo Love Letters Part Two. We’re going to share three more letters, do a little commentary, and reflect on them as we did before.
Welcome back, Kriss.
It’s good to be here. Thanks, Peter.
I thought the first round was great. I enjoyed it. Do you have any reflections from that conversation?
I keep thinking the biggest reflection on the gist of the Solo love letters is often the idea of a remarkable life. It’s a recurring theme in almost all of the letters of people realizing that they get to generate, create, and craft a beautiful life. It doesn’t have to be the product of partnering. That’s always a takeaway for me.
Yes. I had Kym Terribile and Julie Nirvelli on for the 200th episode. We spoke briefly about the book. They got an advanced copy and read it. I said, “What do you think?” They gushed about these letters. I do agree with you. There’s something joyous and exciting about the letters. There’s this feeling of reinvention, validity, and opportunity not in all of them but in general across the ones that are in the book and even the ones that we talk about here. In that first episode, you told the story about this matchmaker who questioned your commitment to finding a partner.
Do you have an update on it? I don’t even know what to call it. Is it love life, romantic life, or sex life?
My endeavors or whatever.
Pursuits of a remarkable life and what it might include. I’ll also bring it back to the letters from last time. One of the questions I asked you about was Eric’s letter, who is a couple person, right?
Eric Lassahn. He is my good friend and a Solo ally.
That was one of my questions. Is he still a solo? Is he a solo, even though partnered? I asked that question again about myself because I have a partner. I partnered up with my friend with benefits. He continues to be a friend with benefits and a monogamous friend with benefits, at least for now. That’s my update. My question to you when we were going to record again was when do you move from SOLO to ally, or can you be solo and partnered? You said, “It’s in the book.”
Despite your advanced copy, you have not read it. For a lot of people in the community, they don’t need to read the book. It’s all going to seem familiar. This notion of being solo is independent of relationship status. There are these three elements. You are wholehearted. That is the case whether you’re partnered or not. You strive for self-reliance and autonomy as long as you maintain that within your partnership and as long as you don’t give that away.
There’s this tendency to think unconventionally about your romantic life and your life more generally as long as you’re not defaulting into the escalator. Even if you opt into the escalator, you’re unconventional because most people don’t opt into the escalator. They default into the escalator. If those three things hold, you’re still a solo. You’re still under the big tent.
Those three things hold. It’s interesting because I had an appointment with my therapist discussing this whole figuring out, being autonomous, and not defaulting to the relationship escalator and she didn’t know what that was. I was able to educate her on it, which was cool. It helped me feel like she knows that concept for other solos that she does therapy with. That felt nice. I felt like an advocate.
She and I also talked some more about that. I came up with the idea that maybe I’m on the relationship elevator. I can get off on any floor I would like. We can get off on a floor together. We can go down or a floor up. It’s not until death do us part. That’s the piece that gets the anxious attachment style in me going. It is knowing that it’s not an escalator but an elevator that I can be on or not be on. I can step off of the elevator or I can get back in with the partner or not. That’s the adventure that we went on in my therapy appointment. We were talking about this new relationship for myself and maintaining my autonomy.
That’s wonderful. People like to adjust that escalator metaphor. Someone talked about a moving walkway and that they like that. It’s whatever works. This is a friendly suggestion. I know it’s in my best interest to make it. Solo is an excellent gift to therapists.
If you have a therapist who doesn’t quite get you, you can go read this book. It will help them with their clients because of the defaulting that they have. There’s something wrong with you if you don’t want this kind of relationship or if you can’t make it work. They don’t realize there are all these alternatives or this whole menu that you can draw on that still maintains a connection with people, that is still fun, that is healthy, and that is remarkable.
My previous therapist a few years ago, one of the reasons that I parted ways with her was because I didn’t feel heard with my solo identity. I felt like she was always defaulting to, “One day, you’ll meet somebody. One day, you will.” I really didn’t appreciate it. It didn’t feel like she was meeting me where I was at. Your suggestion is a good one.
Let’s get started. Our first letter writer is Jill from Las Vegas, Nevada.
“I’ve always preferred flying solo. The ease, the simplicity, and the unexpected encounters and connections made possible by traveling the world of solo delight me. I love people, maybe more than most. When I am with people, I engage fully, completely, and intensely. Space and time alone allow me to recharge, reflect, and marinate in the energy exchange. Maybe being an only child has something to do with it, but I feel most myself, most relaxed, and most at peace when I can rely on plenty of time solo.”
“On the outside and with people, I am extroverted, the life of the party, but long stretches of time interacting with people and being in the presence of others with no guarantee of solo time on the horizon drains me to my core. It overwhelms my senses. I love being with people, sharing experiences, and connecting with others in all varieties of relationships. Still, I need my space, a lot of it.”
“Quiet time to let it all sink in, recenter, recalibrate, and recharge my battery is essential to my health. Sharing a hotel room? No, thank you. Going to movies alone? Yes, please. Hiking, road trips, traveling abroad, festivals, classes, walks, hikes, workouts, museums, cafes, dancing, showers, baths, and sleepings, I prefer to do these things solo.”
“Don’t get me wrong. There are times that I love having a friend, a partner, and the right company by my side, but when I think of doing a thing, inviting someone along is most definitely an afterthought or not a thought at all. I have traveled the world with friends, boyfriends, family, and new friends I met along the way. I’ve lived with 12 people in a tiny 2-bedroom flat in London and bunked with 30 women in hostels. I’ve lived in a VW camper with my boyfriend for a year, traveling from Seattle to Guatemala by land. I have lived with various roommates and boyfriends in different cities and situations. It was all wonderful.”
“What I cherish about moving through the world solo, be it to the movies or to Mexico, is being open to what comes without being tethered to familiar identifiers or without having anyone slow me down. I love waking up when I want to and eating or not eating wherever I want or I don’t want to. I love having a great day with someone and then saying, “Goodbye,” and heading home to hang out with my dogs. I love painting when I want to, chatting on the phone when I want to and not taking a shower or taking a shower when I want to.”
“The freedom of solo living is abundant. My careers has always been highly interactive. I was in teaching, sales, and, prior to that, bartending and serving. I love all of this work. Still, at the end of the day, I take refuge in coming home to spend some quality time with my dogs. Motherhood and marriage were not meant to be. I lost my twin girls at four months pregnant and never met someone whom I wanted to spend quite that much time with, as in the rest of my life.”
“I have grown into my solo life in my 40s with a different sense of intentionality, ownership, and effervescence. I stopped internalizing the question slash comment, ‘How can you be single? You’re such a catch,’ and started owning my choice and preferences to do my own thing, no explaining, apologizing, or acquiescing to societal norms. I love the people in my life and those I have yet to welcome in, and I love this solo journey.” That’s Jill.
I really want to hang out with her.
I know. I want her to be my friend, and then I want her to go home alone and be happy.
That’s right. I want her to go enjoy her solo time all she wants. I will do the same and we’ll get together later.
First of all, I have to say Jill’s an excellent writer. That’s such a nice bit of prose there. What’s your first reaction to reading that?
My first reaction is like, “There’s a remarkable life and somebody who did all the things.” I feel similar to her in that she did all the things. She’s doing all the things and has come around to owning that having time by herself is as valuable and important as traveling, having fun, and going and doing these things. The solo time is equally as important. I love that.
Jill knows herself. She knows herself, not because she’s tried one thing and it works. She has tried all the things and she knows the range of possibilities, what works, and, at this stage in her life, what doesn’t work for her. I have this hard time believing that if you jammed Jill into a relationship escalator, citing the “research” and the common beliefs about it, my sense is she would make do. She’d find a way to thrive, but there’s a little something that’s off. There’d be a little bit of friction with her partner.
I have a friend who receives the world very similarly, like, “You can go now,” kind of feeling that we have around people or even with each other. It’s like, “You can go now.” The nice thing about the two of us is we’re not offended. I’m doing this little wavy motion with my hand as I say this. You’re also not offended by getting the, “You can go now,” kind of thing. It’s the, “I get to go now? Good,” feeling.
Exactly. Only somebody that wouldn’t understand that would wish for them to be in some specific relationship. You would be wishing something for them that doesn’t suit who they are. They’re like, “Why aren’t you in a relationship yet? Why are you single? It’s such a mystery.” It’s because I like the life that I’m living. Don’t wish on me things that I don’t want in my life.
I agree with this. There’s a new research paper. I sent an email to the author of it to see about having him or one of his colleagues on the show. It reveals the idea that solitude and loneliness are not equivalent. People can have huge swaths of solitude, but because they have meaningful connections, they are not lonely. They know that they can reach out and make plans. It is having plans, seeing people, and being connected. You don’t need it all the time to avoid loneliness. You need to avoid the situation where you have only solitude and you don’t want it all the time. That’s the precursor to loneliness. It would be impossible for someone to try to characterize Jill as lonely in any way because she likes her time alone, and she seems to be good at finding it at this stage in her life.
Agreed. I feel like Jill has a nice solid grasp on the things that fill her cup. Solitude is one of the many things that fill her cup.
That’s right. What I would guess, too, is that if she had only solitude, she would feel like there’s something missing also. She says she’s good at people. If you can live in a 2-bedroom flat in London with 12, you’re good with people.
Agreed. She even said, “I like people more than most.” I appreciate her intuneness when she’s fed up with people and then choosing herself.
Also, she has these careers that are highly people-oriented, like teaching and sales. She did bartending. She was a server. That probably made her better at those jobs, having some time to herself so she wasn’t depleted all the time. She could show up full tank and ready to go for those highly social jobs.
The thing is that she knows what you said. What she knows about herself is she knows what fills her tank. A big variety.
I have two other quick thoughts about Jill and her really wonderful story. It has a moment of deep heartbreak in it, also with the loss of these children. One of the things is that there is no one remarkable life for any one person. We make these decisions in life. Sometimes, they seem rather arbitrary, like where to go to school, where to live, and what career choice when you’re eighteen years old. It sets you on this path, and that path may be good or not good. It’s hard to know whether it’s ideal or whether it’s the perfect path for you because you don’t get to try all the other paths that are laid out for you.
One of the things that can happen is that you can live a lot of remarkable lives. You can have these different chapters. You can move to different places. You can try different careers. You can try different types of relationships as you have. You can start to then hone in a little bit on what works more for you. Maybe social jobs are good as long as you have lots of alone time, for example.
Living in a camper van will work at a particular stage in life, and then at some point, you say, “I want to have a shower readily available,” or whatever those things are. Those are trite. I like this idea that being single especially provides what I call optionality. That is the ability but not the obligation to make a choice.
When you’re riding the escalator, you have a lot less optionality. If you want to move to a new city, that’s hard to do. If you want to start a new career, that’s hard to do. You need buy-in from a partner. One of the nice things, and it seems like Jill has been able to do this, is she’s been able to experiment, try different things, and pivot her life based upon her circumstances and her priorities. That’s really exciting and fun, and for some people, that’s liberating.
I’m guessing that somewhere along the line, she was like, “This is working for me.”
Thank you, Jill, for such a wonderful letter and sharing it with the community. Letter two is from Julian who is a higher ed pontificator based in Boston, Massachusetts. I’ll read his letter. “I was ‘raised’ through culture to pair up and eventually to get married when you getting married was, and still is, a common point of conversation where I come from, so I did. Although somewhat later than many in my mid-30s, I immediately settled into a blissful married life. We bought the house, had the kids, enjoyed fulfilling careers, and had what I thought was an idyllic life, the kind of life I was conditioned to want. I felt I had ‘arrived’.”
“I remember sipping a drink one evening during a tropical vacation, congratulating myself on how happy and complete my life was because I was happily married and how I was fortunate to have found someone to have a life with. Three weeks later, with no warning, my wife announced that her feelings had changed and that she didn’t love me anymore. Two months later, she told me she wanted a divorce. Two months after that, she moved out. To say that I was blindsided is an understatement. I did not see it coming and thus began my solo journey.”
“I loved being married. I loved feeling that there was someone to come home to, someone to support and to be supported by, and to go through life with. It turns out that what I had done over a fifteen-year marriage was to hand over my entire identity to this relationship or this other person who was clearly on her own journey and did not include me.”
“My entire sense of self was tied up in and to this other person and the marriage that she represented. When that relationship ended suddenly and without warning, and she left, I was utterly devastated. I’d handed over who I was to another, and when she left, I didn’t know who I was. Two things helped me to understand all of that and to get on my own journey of self. Those were therapy, which saved my sanity, and the Solo show, which, more than anything else, helped change my attitude and perspective about being unmarried.”
“Solo, the show, was the first place I’d ever experienced that celebrated solo. The idea that one can and should be experiencing life as fully formed humans and not relegated to being part of a couple, that idea sounds obvious, but to me, it was nothing short of a revelation. The Solo show also helped me better understand what was happening to me relative to the couple-centric systems and structures that pervade everyone’s lives. All of a sudden, I was the only single person in my circle of acquaintances, and that brought on significant changes in how those circles related to me or didn’t anymore.”
“Four years after what was the most emotionally traumatic experience I’d ever had, I’m happier, more assured, and more content with myself as myself as a solo. I don’t feel the need or urge to date in the modern conventional sense of the word, i.e. to cast a wide net on the apps, because I’m content as a solo individual with deep friend relationships, some of them sexual as a bonus. The irony is that I would not have understood the journey I’m on nor the level of contentment with myself, I feel, had it not been for the emotional upheaval as part of a couple. I’m okay with me for the first time ever. I have SOLO to thank for that and my therapist.”
I love Julian. I would like to be his friend as well.
This is one that I’m nodding the whole way through. I’m like, “Me too.” That’s what I kept thinking when I was reading it and when I was listening to you read it as well.
There’s a lot to unpack with this one.
Agreed. I’m bringing it back to myself for a second. One of the things that I’ve been thinking about with this new coupling for myself is this concept of wanting to be in something, not needing to be in something. Julian mentioned his entire sense of self wasn’t being a partner and being a husband. If you go into partnering, if it’s what you want to do, with a solo identity or a solo approach to life, then if everything explodes, you still have yourself.
You haven’t handed it all over to one other person and this concept of the couple being the biggest and best thing on the planet. There is something about that that he talks about. He knows, like, “I’m never going to give myself completely over to an identity as only a partner.” You don’t need something. You’re choosing it. I’d much rather be chosen than feel like somebody was tied to me, if that makes sense.
It’s this idea that someone wants to be with you rather than needs to be with you. I’ve talked about this on the show. It’s in the book. I had a girlfriend whose mother met me and then told her, “He doesn’t need you.” I thought it was an awful thing for her to say because she didn’t say it in a complimentary way. She said, “You’re going to have trouble keeping this man because he doesn’t need you.” It’s a scarcity mindset. It’s very hard to build a robust, remarkable relationship on a scarcity mindset rather than an abundant mindset. One of wanting rather than needing is a much better foundation and a lot less risky.
It’s a lot of pressure for me personally to be in something with somebody that needs me. If you can flip that mindset to it not being scarcity, what if it was more like, “Do you know what’s awesome? He chose you. He doesn’t need you. Isn’t that great?” That perspective is what lights me up instead of in the past when I thought I needed to be in a relationship. This time, I chose to be in one. If it doesn’t all work out, I’ll be fine because I have an identity that is a lot more broad and beautiful than being this one thing.
I have to do a little editorializing here. I’ve got Julian’s back here. I want to say this. You should never be blindsided by a breakup. If that happens, it means that the other person was not behaving with integrity. I imagine a scenario where it’s an abusive relationship and then somebody disappears or something like that. This seems like it was overall a healthy relationship and that his partner made a decision. The problem with that is it’s not like this decision, the divorce, the move-out, and these kinds of things happening.
If you are in a relationship and there are some issues with that relationship, you owe it to not just yourself but your partner to have some conversations about the fact that things aren’t going right. You should not be blindsided by a breakup, a divorce, or something. I know of a man who went through a divorce. He was building a house with his partner, which was a second house, for months. Soon after the house was finished, she asked for a divorce. She was building a house with this man and she knew that she was going to let him go. That feels really wrong to me.
I don’t have all the information about Julian’s situation or this other man’s situation, but in general, there should be no surprise. It’s why I think this notion of relationship design is such an important one because it requires constantly revisiting your connection, your agreement, the rules, and the expectations. You’re checking in, “How are things going? Are you happy? What’s going well? What can we work on?”
That is a very abundant mindset kind of conversation because it’s focused on the opportunity of making improvements and addressing problems rather than being scared to ask, “How are things going?” Being scared is a scarcity mindset in that case. To have Julian blindsided by this, him thinking that everything is fine, is not okay.
That’s awful. The other thing is that I wonder if other people feel this way. I’ve experienced loss in my life. I’ve had loved ones die. I’ve had important relationships. I have to say that, in some ways, the grief I’ve had around lost relationships was more difficult to deal with than even the loss of a loved one in some ways.
This came up in the Loss, Grief, and Growth episode. There is something about breakups that are hard to cope with, in part because the person’s still there. Your feelings for them have not gone away. There’s sometimes a possibility that it could be undone. The person would change their mind. They’re like, “Maybe we could fix it,” and so on.
Especially in a world where it sounds like Julian’s community is very escalator-focused, they see the dissolution of this relationship as being really bad or a major failure and disappointment. They don’t even know how to treat you. Some of them will let you go because you don’t belong anymore. They’re like, “You’re too messy now.”
They’re like, “You’re too single.”
You’ve lost this wonderful person and this wonderful marriage, and you lose your friends. You lose your support system as a result of it.
I don’t want to minimize the loss of a relationship as not being a huge deal. I do believe that when you spend time with yourself, find yourself empowerment, recognize what fills your cup, recognize what is helpful for you, or know that you are secure in yourself, I’m not saying the grief won’t be there, but you won’t completely lose your identity fully afterward either.
In the second part of his letter, he talks about the role that the show brought into his life at that time and what a pivotal time to find Solo. When you can start looking at this as a gift like, “There are other people out there. There is a community,” he said it was a revelation. It was revelatory for him to hear these ideas for the first time. A lot of the community come to Solo with not a similar story but a similar feel to Julian where you’re broken and tired of not fitting into the societal norm, and then you come across this, this guy, Peter, and he starts talking to you about how you can have a remarkable life. You’re like, “I can? That’s excellent.”
You can start approaching life in a different way that feels so much more in your wheelhouse. You get to create your abundance. It’s you crafting it with your community with relationship design. It’s you having intentional conversations, tuning into yourself, and deciding when solitude is important and when partnering and having fun with a group is important. It’s a much more empowering way to approach life, whether it be in a partnership, solo, or whatever your choices are. That’s a really cool piece of his story as well.
When I started this show, I wanted it to be a resource for me when I was 25 years old and felt like there was something wrong with me. There was nothing out there that said, “You’re doing okay. It’s going to be okay. Keep being yoU. Keep working on these things. You’re not broken. There’s nothing wrong with you. You’ve got some things to fix.”
One thing that’s really exciting about Julian’s life is that his soloness and his therapy have allowed him to move on into this unconventional world. It seems like he’s having a good time. He has bounced back better than ever, so to speak. He has this journey. He has this new set of discoveries and new types of relationships. He probably has new friends. He has new ideas. That’s exciting, but it also demonstrates something that came up in our conversation earlier about Jill. He wasn’t unhappy in his marriage like that worked for him. He’s not unhappy as a solo. That worked for him, too. We are, as humans, adaptable. We can grow and experience new things. We can learn new perspectives and apply them to our lives in order to live a more rich, remarkable life.
It’s unfair to think in terms of counterfactuals, the what-ifs of the world. This is relevant even to your new situation. What if Julian or anyone else for that matter, was more of a solo in that relationship, and how that might have changed the dynamic with regard to the way the happiness of his partner and so on?
By no means am I blaming anyone or anything. I don’t know the story. It’s a thought experiment of sorts, which is to the degree that you are wholehearted, have some autonomy, and think unconventionally. It allows you to navigate these escalator-style relationships with more prowess and more panache that they could be elevated.
I agree with everything you said. That is something I’m navigating. Same as with Julian, I’m navigating it with the support of a therapist. You can wholeheartedly believe in all the concepts of solo and relationship design, and when put into practice, it’s not always easy to do. Asking for what I need isn’t always easy for me, so it is me learning ways to do that with the support of the community, support of therapy, and support of knowing all of these things I know because of being part of this community. It’s not an A plus B equals C. It’s not a clear pathway. It’s all over the place. It’s surrendering to the unknown. I like what you’re saying about coming from an abundance mindset. That’s a good thing to keep in mind through all of it as well.
This term solo is misleading in a sense. I kept writing in the book being solo but connected. It is this idea that you’re single and connected. It’s very hard to make a change in life when you’re completely going against the grain or when your partner’s not on board, your friends aren’t on board, your coworkers aren’t on board, and your nation-state’s not on board.
I had an episode about single women in India. I had a guest send me a note about how inspired he was by my guests. One was a professor and the other one was an author and advocate. They’re freedom fighters. They’re rebels. They’re leading a rebellion in a country of a billion people in the same way that you need resources if you want to make a change in your life. If you want to get fit, maybe you hire a trainer, get a nutritionist, or find a gym buddy. It’s these kinds of things.
All of this is the same here to the degree that there are useful episodes. People can join the Solo community at PeterMcGraw.org/solo. They can find like-minded people. They can ask for their advice because they have no one else like them that they can ask for their advice. The third letter is one that’s short but sweet. This is Emily, who is a nurse and is located in Queens, New York.
This is a good one. I’m going to read this one. “I’m aromantic. My journey to solo probably started around the time I realized I was aro. Finding a word to describe the aversion I had always naturally felt towards romantic relationships offered me validation. Realizing I could be a complete person on my own and that I didn’t have to be looking for ‘my other half’ was freeing.”
“The Solo movement specifically helped me to realize I could have many people I rely on for different things. It didn’t have to be one person for all things. Solo changed my behavior by allowing me to own my independence, not apologize for it. I travel alone. I eat out alone. I go to movies alone. Those alone times are as fun as the times I go out with other people. After becoming solo, I feel more pride in myself. I don’t tell family, friends, or strangers that someday, I will meet someone. I am my own someone.”
Short, to the point, and great.
I’m starting to cry on the show on a regular basis. I almost burst into tears when you were reading, “I travel alone. I eat out alone. I go to movies alone. Those alone times are as fun as the times I go out with other people.” That is someone who loves themself. Isn’t that amazing?
It’s totally amazing. When I was reading through all the stories and making notes for you, I had that whole paragraph or that small paragraph where it starts with, “Solo changed my behavior.” I have it highlighted. I’m like, “This is one you can include somewhere.” It’s such a great sentiment and so well said. it makes you want to cheer for her.
I’ve never thought of that before. There are a lot of people who find their alone time aversive. They’re uncomfortable with it. They’re uncomfortable with themselves, so they’re looking for that Friday night or that later in the day when they can meet up with a friend, see a family member, have coffee with a girlfriend, or whatever it is as being that’s a good time or that’s something to look forward to.
If you’re Emily and like a lot of other people in the Solo community, if you love yourself and you’re doing the things that you want to do, going to the movies that you want to see, going to the restaurants and eating the cuisine that you want to eat, reading the book there as you’re dining alone, journaling, listening to a podcast, or enjoying reflecting, it’s not that you don’t have anything to look forward to. It’s that you have everything to look forward to. You get to look forward to seeing your girlfriend and having coffee. You look forward to going and journaling and having coffee alone. Those are different experiences. One’s not better or worse than the other.
There’s no value in either of them. They’re both great. They’re both great and appropriate to your life. I’ll contradict myself, but sometimes, when you do find a label, it can be empowering. Her finding the term aromantic and feeling like, “Thank goodness. This is part of who I am,” what freedom that was for her. I also love that piece because, in the last letter, Julian, and myself, finding the solo as an identity in some form or fashion also is freeing. You’re like, “I fit in somewhere. I’m not the only one. This isn’t abnormal. This is different.” What a wonderful gift a label can be sometimes.
I point people to the aromantic episode a lot with Jessalyn Dean. She speaks very eloquently about it. She does a lot of educating around this idea. I have a little bit of a romantic in me. I’m not aromantic. It’s worth checking out the episode regardless of what your desires around romance are because you probably know aromantic people and asexual people in your life. Not defaulting to the belief that everybody wants romance, that everybody wants sex in their life, or that everybody wants both is a useful thing to do because it changes the way you ask questions. It changes the assumptions you make and so on.
I have to imagine living in a world in which you are disinterested in romance or even might find it gross, you could feel really adrift. You could think, “What is wrong with me?” You listen to love songs. You watch the rom-com. You listen to your friends talk about their relationships. Your parents ask you, “Is there anyone special?” You’re thinking, “I don’t see what the big deal is here. Why is everyone rushing towards this thing? It’s not for me.” You might feel like the only person in the world like that. I’m so happy Emily has found it.
I could imagine you’d feel ticked off by people who keep wishing something for you that you find aversive. You’re like, “Stop wishing that for me. That’s not what I want.” This also speaks to the wide variety of people that are part of the SOLO community. There are people for everyone to connect with in the community.
There are people who want to ride the escalator. There are people who want to design their relationships. There are people who are no-ways through and through. There are lone wolves. There are people who are the life of the party and everything in between. That makes it a little bit more challenging to represent all of that and cover all the topics. It’s thrilling. It’s exciting. It’s an opportunity to learn.
Even if you’re only one of those styles, you know lots of other people who have a different style, a different set of goals, and a different set of values around this stuff. You can be a better friend, a better partner, a better family member, a better coworker, a better manager, or a better member of the community realizing that.
You can connect with Jessalyn in the community because she’s in there. You can have a chat with her if you want to talk more about that episode that she did.
Being aromantic must be a little bit like being a vegetarian and people keep trying to feed you meat. You’re like, “I don’t want any meat.” People are like, “What’s wrong with you? This is good for you. This is the way it’s supposed to be done.” You then realize there’s something called vegetarianism. You can say to people, “I’m a vegetarian,” or, “I’m a pescatarian,” or, “I’m a vegan,” or, “I’m whatever,” and then people go, “Now I understand.” In 1945, if you told someone, “I’m a vegetarian,” they’d be like, “I don’t understand.”
I was in Bali and I was trying to explain in my very limited Indonesian the idea of gluten-free. It was difficult. It’s that kind of a feeling. Saying, “I’m aromantic,” and having people nod as opposed to being like, “Can you please explain to me what that is?” What a gift.
For someone who’s asexual, aromantic, or both, it has to get a little bit tiring to the degree that you want to share this because, at best, you get treated as a curiosity. At worst, people think there’s something wrong with you in part, maybe because they find it threatening or it doesn’t even match with their worldview at all. It’s delicate. Do you nod your head and try to move the conversation on or do you say, “Here we go. Let me get the blackboard.” The last thing I want to say about this with Emily is this is someone who is wholehearted. She’s very much a solo in that sense.
I’m going to read this again. It’s a short but important letter. She said, “After becoming solo, I feel more pride in myself. I don’t tell family, friends, or strangers that someday, I’ll meet someone. I am my own someone.” It’s so good. Thank you, Emily. Thank you, Julian. Thank you, Jill. Kriss, thank you so much for supporting this endeavor.
Thank you so much for inviting me back. It’s always a pleasure. I’ll look forward to the next time.
- Kriss Rita
- SOLO: Building A Remarkable Life of Your Own
- Solo Love Letters With Kriss Rita – Past Episode
- Loss, Grief, and Growth – Past Episode
- The Truth About Single Women In India – Past Episode
- Relationship Design – Past Episode
About Kriss Rita
An aspiring entrepreneur as a Positive Psychology practitioner and coach, Kriss Rita lives in Portland, Oregon. You can find her biking around Portland to meet friends for happy hour, brunch, and live music or hiking and camping with her dog Betty. She works as a special educator and consultant advocating for inclusive employment for people of all abilities.