Truth Or Truth With One Single Woman


Peter McGraw plays Truth or Truth with Pip Brown, the host of One Single Woman podcast.


Listen to Episode # 220 here


Truth Or Truth With One Single Woman

A quick announcement. The show is moving to every other week for a bit. I just need to take a break, post-book launch. I appeared on my guest’s show, One Single Woman. I recognize the irony of me saying that and I hope you do, too. She began her show in 2024 as she explores the societal pressure surrounding relationships, marriage and children, pressure which she personally battled until stumbling upon the SOLO and child-free movement. She kindly agreed to join me to play Truth or Truth. Welcome Pip Brown.

Thank you so much for having me on. I’m so honored to be here.

This is going to be fun. I love playing truth of truth. It’s wonderful to see these singles-focused show pop up. They’re happening and in the UK.

They are happening in the UK.

We have Solo Powered, which is Irish. We have Lucy Meggeson Spinster’s show. She’s in London, and you are in London?

I’m on the Isle of Wight, on the South Coast of the UK.

More remote. You’re not a city girl.

I’m not a city girl.

That’s good. We have diverse perspectives here. Let’s get to know you a little bit. You stumbled, as you say, across the SOLO and child-free movement. What does that mean?

Discovering The Solo Movement

This was Easter of 2023. I went onto my show on my phone and I typed in something like single woman or something to do with being single and up popped a show called Spinsterhood Reimagined but I thought, “That’s a name.” The first thing I thought to myself was spinster. The word spinster doesn’t conjure up a terribly positive image, does it, to anybody? I thought, “I’m going to have a listen to this.” On the cover was Lucy Meggeson, the host. She was jumping in the air.

She’s splayed out like a starfish.

She is. She’s in her denim jacket and loving life. I thought, “I am going to have a listen.” I started listening to Lucy and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Lucy was speaking my language. That’s the only way that I can describe how I felt and it changed my life. It changed my life. She was interviewing all these women who were living independent lives. They didn’t have children and they were loving it. Each and every one of them was loving it in a completely different way, but they were all loving it. I also heard a gentleman being interviewed on there. That was you.

A bloke.

Sorry, it was a bloke. You were her first bloke. You weren’t my first bloke.

I was her first.

You were. I thought, “Who is this guy?” I thought this smart, witty, and charismatic guy then I came across SOLO and I binged SOLO. I couldn’t believe, again, what I was hearing. It was all of these people celebrating what the life I had lived, but I had lived it in the shadow of feeling that there was something wrong with me for doing so and trying to fix my situation the whole way. All of a sudden, I was validated in my innate feelings of how I had always felt.

That’s wonderful. A lot of people describe this hallelujah moment when reading the show.

I won’t lie to you. When I’d listened to say three of Lucy’s episodes and I cried.

You cried with joy.

I think it was relief and a very eye-opening moment in my life.

I launched SOLO and Lucy launched Spinsterhood Reimagined with that goal in mind. It was to give people an alternative perspective, hope, excitement, and validation. In many ways, I don’t believe that you can, with a podcast, undo all the social pressure and all the cultural teaching that we experience across the world, globally. This is not limited to Western culture.

If anything, it’s sometimes lighter in Western culture compared to other places. What you can do with it is take someone like yourself or like many of the readers who always felt like a misfit. Always felt a little out of place or there was something wrong with them because that’s the narrative. If you don’t want this thing or if you can’t get this thing. There must be something wrong with you. You’re broken and yet, that doesn’t gel necessarily with the rest of their lives.

There are broken people who have emotional and psychological problems that make all of their relationships fraught, make their work fraught, or make their lives very difficult. My guess is when you looked at the rest of your life, it was good. I had some problems here and there. We all have problems. It’s a human condition then you have this dissonance, which is like, “I look at my life, it’s wonderful. I’ve got great friends. I’ve got family relationships. I’m involved in the community. I like my work. I’m healthy. I’m taking care of business. I’m a good parent to myself,” as I like to say.

Yet, you don’t have this one thing and everybody’s like, “Oh, you poor thing. What’s wrong? How do we fix you? You’ve had bad luck.” That’s easy just to accept. Someone comes along like Lucy, jumping in the air, jumping for joy, saying, “This is my best life.” Not disparaging the other life. Here come the tears.

Tears of, as I said, relief and joy. As you said, that was my story. I always felt happy within myself but there was this outside pressure of this monumental thing that was missing from my life. That’s how my show came because that’s what I want to do for people, what you, Lucy, Ariana, and other shows that are out there doing is adding that.

As you said, it doesn’t take away that pressure. It doesn’t completely take away. One of your guests, and I thought that was such a good way of saying it. It was Kriss Rita. She was saying about unlearning all these narratives that have been running through from the day that we’re born to get yourself to a point. As you said, it’s never going to go completely. It will always be there, but to get to a point where you’re confident and happy in yourself is such an incredible journey. That’s the one that I am on and have been on.

It’s wonderful. I’m happy you typed single woman into your show search toolbar. You did something that most people don’t do. You didn’t just receive this information like, “I’m going to do this, too.” Pretty quickly, you launched your own show, which is quite striking. What caused that next step? You went from your hallelujah moment then said, “I’m going to now start broadcasting my positive message.”

Mixed in with the relief and joy was a bit of anger, to be honest. I’m somebody who, if I feel strongly about something, I want to do something about it. I’m not going to ignore it. I thought, “The more of us there are, the more that we work together. The more that we promote each other, the further this is going to go, isn’t it? The further into society, this is going to stretch and reach out to more people.”

It is so important because it’s important within society, that people are able to feel comfortable within their own life choices, which in turn leads to them making better decisions within their life. When you take that pressure away, we all know that there are people in the world who are in situations which aren’t right for them. They’re even miserable or they’re leading a mediocre life at best.

For me, this is about saying to people, “You do not have to follow this life path.” Even if that is what you want to do, it’s so important to recognize that in order to, if you are a someday or a just may, and you want to go off and do those things. It’s still so important to realize that you need to be happy as a single person before you can do that properly. When you are happy on your own, you’re not going to let the wrong person into your life under pressure to take that journey.

We’re about to play truth or truth, but I want to add to that perspective, which is there’s this narrative which you should work on yourself. What underlies the narrative, too often is you should work on yourself so you can be appealing to someone else. What I like to say is you should work on yourself full stop, because you shouldn’t be doing it for some imaginary prince charming or princess or whatever the narrative that you are.

You should do it because when you become a whole person, become a good parent to yourself, question the rules, the arbitrary rules that we encounter as humans, it allows you to be the best version of yourself. To live a remarkable life, as I like to say. If that happens to throw off this other benefit, which is romance and/or sex, should you want it, fine. You shouldn’t be doing it for that reason. It gives the romance or the sex too much power over your life.

You only have so much control over that romance and/or sex due to where you live, your proclivities, or chance in the world. I want to compliment you because as I see it, there’s like three levels to the SOLO movement or the child-free movement. The first one is receiving the message and being affected by it. Feeling that hallelujah, your shoulders dropped that belief and allowing you to better now craft your life. You mentioned these some days and just mays.

Again, I’m not anti-marriage but what I want people to do is to choose it. I want them to think about it, consider it, and know what they’re getting into, and say, “Yes, I still want to do that.” If you’re designing your life in that direction, great. That’s wonderful. I don’t want people to default into it. The first level is receiving. The second one is doing the light work, which is word of mouth. I tell two friends who tell two friends, “There’s this show, Pip Brown. She’s delightful. It’s so empowering. There’s this show SOLO Powered that talks about doing things alone. It’s so empowering.” That very low key, then there’s advocacy work.

You jumped right into advocacy. You started putting this message out into the world to strangers to be found in search, be picked up off of the media or social media and so on. I think we’re going to start to see more of the advocacy work and it’s necessary. We need a chorus of voices out there because you’ve got to find the message that works best for you. There’s no one message that works. Whether it be people writing books, doing memoirs, doing podcasts, or writing essays. We have members of the SOLO community who are working on a single bill of rights that will be very media worthy. What ends up happening is like the more people who get involved in advocacy as you have, the more this message is going to spread and that’s exciting.

Thanks, Peter.

One Single Woman Podcast

Let’s play some truth or truth. For the reader who’s not familiar with truth or truth, we have three rounds of questions. In each round, we ask each other one question. In the first two rounds, we’ve shared the questions in advance so we’re prepped. The third round is a surprise question. I’ll kick it off. Are you ready?

I’m ready.

When I launched SOLO, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. The show had been a learning tool for me. What have you learned because of the One Single Woman Show? What new perspectives have you developed by launching this? Are there lessons that you’ve picked up that now you’re teaching?

I would say, if I can say about the production point of view, because as you said, I lead into this. It has swiftly become a full-time job, which I wasn’t quite aware how much work. I know that you know this, how much work goes into these shows. It’s quite unreal, isn’t it? Lessons-wise, in that way, if I could go back, I would have maybe prepped slightly more before launching.

I’m learning so much more about interviewing people. In the beginning, I was trying to prep to the point of almost controlling a situation and you just can’t. You’re going to go off on tangents. You’re going to talk about all sorts of things. It’s been a huge learning curve with regards to the amount of work and also balancing all of that with social media and coming across good guests. From a personal side of things, I wasn’t prepared for how exposed I was going to feel.

I grew up in quite a private family. I remember it was the 10th of January 2024, my first episode went out and I woke up that morning thinking I was going to be sick. I couldn’t believe what I’d done. I thought, “What have you done? You’ve put yourself out there.” I’m talking about personal topics. Topics, which, up until that point in my life when I came across the movements, were something which made me feel alienated. All of a sudden, I was here talking so openly about them. You listen to other people’s stories, points of view, and their experiences on shows all the time.

The second that is turned on you, it’s a completely different experience, isn’t it? I’m sure that you’re fully aware of that. It has been a huge eye-opener for me and I’m very much evolving as a person. I’m learning to speak my truths and put my opinions out there. In turn, it is gaining me a huge amount of confidence. With regards to the content, I’d started off very much with a point of view of the single side of things.

I thought, “I want to go at the positivity of being single.” Although, I had mentioned that I would be covering all sorts of topics that were within societal pressures as it has evolved. In coming across a child-free movement, I ended up going down a rabbit hole of finding this exposure to a lot of truth. It led me to a place where I now feel extremely passionate about the fact that the realities of parenting need to be exposed within society because we are all told again. As you said, we’re all told, “That’s what you do. If you haven’t got that then there’s something wrong with you.”

I believe from everything that I have read and listened to, a lot of people are entering into that for what I would say are the wrong reasons. That is something that I’m looking to evolve more as I go along. It’s trying to speak to people. I’ve put a recent episode out called What If You Regret having Children? I went through a lot of the feelings that I have towards this. A lot of the things that I’ve discovered and I have asked for anybody to reach out to me if they would be willing to speak to me on that subject.

I still want to keep very much in touch with the single side of things. As I said before, that’s where it all starts. It’s feeling a comfort and as you said, working on yourself. Not for that relationship but for yourself. If you can get to a point where you feel good in yourself as a single or a solo person, then that is the route to taking you on the right path in life. As I said, it’s evolving as it goes. I’m touching on quite a few subjects and I’m getting some good feedback. It’s been a good personal journey for me so far. I’m so glad that I did it.

Certainly, it’s a way to solidify this feeling that you had when you were getting these messages. You were developing this alternative perspective, but then it allows you to develop your perspective much more. I have a saying which is, “what are you waiting for?” A lot of people are waiting for “the one” to go and do that trip or to buy that condo. They’re waiting for everything to be perfect for them to start working on their book or their show or their art or to pick up guitar or whatever it is.

There’s never going to be a perfect time. There’s no guarantee that that time will come. You learn on the job and this is a very Silicon Valley perspective, which is called an MVP, a minimum viable product. The idea is that you should be a little embarrassed by your product when you first launch it. You should pay attention to what works, what doesn’t, and adjust it as you need to.

If it doesn’t continue to work, you drop the product. If not, if you’re getting good market fit, then you just keep building it and making it better. That’s a wonderful perspective. I’m embarrassed by the earlier versions of my show. I think everybody is. You develop your voice and this authenticity, which the audience craves. They want it. They need it and that’s good.


This issue of being child-free is important to address. As I see it, we’re given this one model, this nuclear family, two parents and 1 to 4 kids. Some people don’t want the kids. Some people don’t want the co-parent or both. Having a perspective and being willing to talk about this, and the problem is that we don’t get two perspectives which you’re giving.

The first one is no one talks about how they believe that having kids was a mistake for them. It’s just too unpopular. It’s too hurtful to the kids. That level of honesty is too painful to articulate. To say, “I regret having children,” is a rarity for someone to do. While the flip side to say, “I regret not having a kid,” is easier to say. We get this skewed perspective there.

The other one is, we have this tendency in society to say the person who doesn’t have kids is selfish. They say, “It’s selfish to do that.” Now, my cheeky response is, what are you talking about? Having kids is the most selfish thing you can do. You’re basically creating mini-mes. That’s not fair either. I don’t think this is about selfish or not. It’s about figuring out what you want to do that’s best for you and that would be best for the children that you might have. Very clearly, there are people who are not cut out for parenthood.

Also, not prepared. This is the thing. The platforms that I have come across are a couple. Facebook has, “I regret having children.” Reddit has regretful parents. All of these posts are completely anonymous but they are devastating. They range from people being mildly unhappy and saying that they’re bored of their life to a very extreme end of how they feel about their life. As you said, a lot of people in the world see what is portrayed within that fairy tale notion of what we should all be doing. Perhaps, aren’t questioning how hard that journey is. Even if you enjoy it, it’s hard. It’s something like I say, it needs more light thrown onto it.

This is a good segue into your question.

Missed Opportunities

Peter, leading on from that. My question to you, do you feel you have missed opportunities within your life through fear or even acknowledgement of it not being the outwardly conventional path?

No, next question.

You’re right on. I’ve got that one.

That’s easy. That’s such softball.

It doesn’t work like that.

I know. There’s this term in the behavioral scientists called counterfactual thinking, like “what if” thinking. What if I had done something different? How would my life be different? They call it sliding doors moment based on the movie. People think counterfactually all the time, “If I hadn’t hit that light, I would have made my flight.”

The problem with counterfactual thinking is you don’t know what would have happened because a simple change, a sliding door, can set off a cascade of effects beyond your control. There are counterfactual lives. The tech nerd wonk folks talk about living in a simulation. If you could simulate your life a thousand times or 10,000 times or 100,000 times, what are the range of possibilities? In some of those simulations, you die in the womb. Other simulations, you hit the lottery or you’re a parent or not. In some simulations, you’re healthy and others you’re not. We could go on and on.

I would say that there was a very good chance if we run my simulation that I get married and have kids. I don’t think I was destined to be a lifelong bachelor. I needed “bad luck or good luck,” depending on your perspective about this. I had some near misses, as I like to joke or play on words. If I had had kids, in some ways, it would have been a great fit, and in some ways, it would have been an ill fit.

It would have been a great fit in the sense that, I have a saying which is, if you do something, you do it right. I would have been highly motivated to create a remarkable life for my children in part because that wasn’t the case for me. That’s the way I approach all my social relationships. Once I become a friend, I’m trying to help as much as possible. If I have a relationship, I’m trying to help as much as possible. I’m trying to help my close family as much as possible. In that way, it would have been a good fit. I had a woman once say to me, “You’d be a great father. I’m not sure you’d be a great husband.”

How did you think about that?

I’m not sure. I took it as a backhanded compliment. It would have been an ill fit in two ways. One is that it would have ratcheted up my anxiety in a way that would have been difficult because of my vigilance and especially as a younger person, my tendency to worry. Not even younger person, like in my 30s and 40s, I noticed my anxiety kicked up that I would wake up in the middle of the night and have to check the child. Is he or she still breathing thing, which shows that I would care but also, that would be difficult. It would be challenging and challenging in general.

The other one is there’s a Christmas movie called It’s a Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart. I’m a little bit of a Jimmy Stewart character in some ways. His name is George Bailey in the movie. For people who are not familiar with the film, the movie starts with George planning a trip, a worldwide trip. He’s going to South America or somewhere. He’s buying a piece of luggage.

He’s like, “I want a big suitcase.” He’s talking about the adventure he’s going to have. He is not interested in having a family. He’s not interested in having kids. He wants to have adventures because of a sliding door, a run on the bank, and family issues. He ends up taking over the building and loan. He ends up taking over the family business. He meets a woman, a wonderful woman. They get married and have kids. His life takes a completely different path.

The message is, “George, you have a wonderful life.” He’s surrounded by friends and family. He makes a difference in his community. He’s a good person and so on. Has no regrets in that sense. I have been able to live George Bailey’s alternative life. I’ve been able to travel the world, have adventures, make art, and be a global citizen.

As I was getting my education and my career going, I often felt that the escalator was going to crowd out so many of my aspirations that graduate school, for example, was so difficult for me. It was wonderful but so difficult for me that when I did have a girlfriend, the work suffered and I suffered. Again, a lot of people are happy to make that trade off. They’re happy to say, “If I don’t do as well, that’s fine. If I don’t get to do these things, that’s fine because I want this other thing.”

I never wanted that other thing enough that if I had done it, I, unlike George Bailey might have these moments where I felt a little bored or a little stressed or not feeling like I was exactly fitting into that life. I would persevered and done my best, but I might have had those moments of regret because it wasn’t the perfect fit for me.

In general, I have missed opportunities through fear and not following a conventional path, but I’m okay with that. When I look at my life and I look at the life that I’m living, in this version of the simulation, it turned out well. I’m living a remarkable life. I’m healthy. I’m happy. I’m doing my most meaningful work. I have achieved job and financial security in a way that I could never have imagined that I marvel at. I’m okay with it.

That’s so brilliant what you said, because also it sounds like you’ve made conscious decisions the whole way. As opposed to following just a path. There are regrets, whichever path you take, isn’t there? There will always be either regrets or the not knowing of what life would have been like? What ifs.

In SOLO, I talked about the fashionista, this relationship that I had that was very heartbreaking and fueled my SOLOhood. Oftentimes, good comes from bad. Sometimes that’s the case. There was a woman years earlier when I was in graduate school who I was crazy about. I was ready to marry this woman. I wanted to live with her and she wanted kids. That was just matter of fact. I was just like, “I’ll have kids.”

She ended up cheating on me and wrecking me, breaking my heart. In part because she wasn’t ready for that traditional thing. In many ways, I was the one who was pushing it more so than she was. It’s very easy for me to imagine how that could have turned out. I have had a number of friends in the ensuing years say to me and bringing up her name, “You guys were so good together.” I’m like, “What are you talking about? That ship has sailed. There is no going back after something like that thing.”

Even other people recognize the potential within that relationship. When I think about the sliding door moment, I think about that sliding door moment with her more so than other types of relationships because of how I felt and how well we got along. Clearly, through her actions, it wasn’t something that she wanted. It took me a while to get over that, to learn from it, and learn the possibilities that I could have had.

An Unconventional Life

Round two. Pip, your life is unconventional in many ways. You didn’t want to go to university. You didn’t want to get married or have children. You’re not a big traveler. Everybody’s like, “Travel. I love to travel. Go on the dating apps.” It’s very rare for someone to say, “I’m a homebody.” You seem like you’re a little bit of a homebody.

I am a homebody.

You’re this unconventional thinker. You don’t exactly fit with the narrative and you are. There’s a lot of people in the community who are like you. You’re a no way SOLO. For now, you’re not interested in romance. I don’t know if you’re interested in sex or not. Have you always felt that way? Is this new? How have you evolved to being in no way and to being comfortable with it?

SOLO| Philippa Brown |One Single Woman
Solo: Building a Remarkable Life of Your Own

I wouldn’t say being a no way is new. My acceptance of being in no way is brand new. I was saying about the pressures that I always felt. The other thing to say is I’m not a diehard no way. I’m in no way at the moment.

You’re for now and not forever.

The main reason that I am now is because I am so enjoying this liberation that I’ve had. I honestly feel I’m not interested at the moment. I’m not interested in first dates and getting into all the little awkward first things. I don’t want that in my life at the moment because I spent so long worrying about all those things and feeling like that was what I was meant to be doing.

Now, I have thought to myself, “No, I want a break in my life.” I want to enjoy how I have always felt, which is enjoying my own company, being comfortable in my own company with the added bonus now of, “I don’t have to care what other people think about this. I do not care what other people think of my relationship status.” That has been the most liberating experience. I’ve been in and out of short-term relationships.

My longest relationship was around about two years, and that was a long-distance one. That was with a guy who I met through dog rescue. He lived over in Spain, and as I say, we were together a couple of years. We would see each other about once a month, either him coming over to me or me going over to him. That’s probably why that lasted two years, to be honest.

I was going to make that joke.

I always felt that within my relationships, I was always compromising something. I had this sense of that I wasn’t happy not being in one because I was feeling pressurized. As soon as I got into one and I thought, “This is it, I’m in a relationship.” I was like, “I’m not happy now either.” It’s like, “This isn’t for me.” To give you an example, my last relationship was at the end of 2019. I broke up with him two days before Christmas of 2019 because I couldn’t go through it.

You’re supposed to get through New Year’s. Come on.

I couldn’t take the step of Christmas. I couldn’t. We’d been together about six months, and he was a classic example of a someday. He wanted to be with me.

He was probably very excited about you, Pip.

He was excited. He wanted to be with me all the time, weekends and evenings. That’s another thing that I’ve learned about myself is how much time I need to myself. I couldn’t understand why I had this guy and everything fitted into place. I didn’t want to be with him all the time. I didn’t want all of that. Poor bloke. I was working at a vet at the time. One of my colleagues, a vet colleague of mine came back and said, “I’ve met your other half.” I said, “Sorry?” She said, “Your boyfriend came up to me and said his other half works here.”

Anyway, I ended up having a bit of a ding-dong with him over it because I thought, “I’m not your other half.” I said that to him. He said, “You are. We’re in a relationship.” I said, “You’re not my other half.” I think I said, “I might be yours, but I said you’re not mine.” I’ve always known intrinsically that I am whole as a person. I’ve never felt the need to be with somebody in order to feel complete that is not part of my makeup. It never has been.

I’m very independent. I’m very comfortable on my own but I was fighting that. That was what I was doing. I was fighting that because of the because of the outward with pressures. As you said about the comments, “It will happen for you one day, this massive thing that you’re missing out on.” The truth of it is, I’ve never met a man who I thought, “I want to marry you.” I do wonder how many people genuinely do meet that person because what I aspire to find in my life is somebody who ticks a hell of a lot of boxes. No relationship is going to be perfect, but I know what I want. At the moment, that’s nothing to be honest. I’m not dating. I’m not seeing anybody. It is me time at the moment completely.

That’s wonderful. Most people never get to that first characteristic of being a solo, which is to be wholehearted. That’s wonderful that you have been wholehearted as long as you can remember. When you are wholehearted, it does remove some of the pressure to do this thing. If you’re not walking around feeling incomplete or feeling less than, then that removes some of the motivation to create completeness to then become worthy by matching up with someone.

If I hear you correctly, the benefit of you embracing your new wayness for now, at least, is you have this comfort. You’re very comfortable with the fact that you’re not interested in pursuing a romantic relationship. You’re comfortable in passing on an opportunity, perhaps. Also, it mathematically frees a lot of time and energy that goes into the pursuit, the maintenance of this relationship, which is supposed to be so important that it crowds out all your other relationships.

Is there any other benefits that you see beyond the fact that you’re living your most authentic life at the moment? Are you comfortable with this? You now have time and energy because you’re not swiping going on first dates or having to spend Christmas with some bloke who you’re not as into as he is into you?

It’s given me the time and the headspace to start my show, which is to get my message out there. As you said, it’s given me time and space. I cannot describe the liberation I feel within my life, where this pressure has been taken away. All of a sudden, I am me. I’m not me looking for a relationship. I’m not me trying to get into a situation. It’s given me the opportunity. As I said, I don’t give a damn what anyone thinks of me. That is, for me, an opportunity because that’s changed my life.

I used to feel like a bit of a weirdo, but now I’ve got the opportunity to educate people around that as well. I can even just the little conversations that you have in passing with people where if somebody asks you about your relationship status. You’ve then got the opportunity to pass on this knowledge. That’s not the most important part about a person and the more that we can spread this knowledge.

I bought myself a drill. I’ve studied building up DIY. It’s given me the opportunity to explore myself and to manage my own life without those external pressures. Another opportunity has thrown my way is to find like-minded women in particular and some men. Within other solo communities, I’ve come into contact with so many like-minded people. That’s something which I make a point of on my own show, to say to people that it is so important to be around like-minded people.

That doesn’t even have to be physically. If you’re listening to somebody or if you’re in touch with people. I’ve got friends like Lucy, for example. Lucy and I will send each other hilarious voice notes on a daily basis. I’ve never met Lucy in the person. I’ve never met her, but I know that she’s there. The confidence that has given me in my no way status is unreal. Other women within that community listening. It sends you down so many rabbit holes of listening to people who are like-minded in that way. I spend my time exactly how I want to spend my time. As I say, the main thing that I have learned is to not give it down what other people are thinking of you.

One thing that I enjoy about the show and was completely unprepared for is the stories people tell me in private because they recognize that I’m not going to judge them. They have license. They feel comfortable. The stories and the revelations is remarkable in a way. I get a chance to support them, which is great because people carry around these secrets.

They don’t know who they can talk about. They’re embarrassed by it. They feel they can’t talk to normal people about it because they don’t understand. The other one is I’ve made all these friends all over the place. If you listen to me enough and you still like me, we’re probably going to get along. I have these people who reach out who offer to help, who show up a SOLO salons.

It’s expanded my social network in a way that was unexpected because, you know, podcasting is broadcast. But because of the SOLO community and because people will email me, it’s been fun to make these new connections with people all over the world. And as you said, like-minded, open-minded, and accepting people who are appreciative of the message and the relationship.

Benefits Of Solitude

Peter, my question to you for round two. What do you personally gain from solitude?

This is apt because I have recently done a couple episodes about solitude. I have a whole chapter in my book dedicated to solitude. It’s important in part, because if you are a SOLO, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a lot of solitude but it means you can if you want. Solitude is too often maligned. It’s associated with loneliness. That’s a very different experience than a lot of solos have with regard to solitude.

They enjoy their alone time. It makes them a better person and it can do so in a variety of ways. I have been thinking a lot about why I enjoy my solitude as much as I do. I feel like I need it. I want it. I desire it. As a lot of things, you can see the origins early in life. A frequent reader knows this, I grew up in this very chaotic household. A mother who was struggling to pay the bills, be a mother, and to be a person. She had a pretty substantial personality disorder.

Home was not a happy place. It was a chaotic place. My mom loved us, my sister and I very much, but could be very manipulative and could be frankly mean. Also, being young can be difficult, especially being like a tween in the teen. It’s just a difficult time in general. I found soullessness in my room. I was lucky enough to have my own room. As Virginia Woolf would say, “A room of one’s own.”

I could sequester myself in that room close, the door and I learned to entertain myself. I learned primarily to entertain myself through books. I was a voracious reader. I would read Stephen King novels and Robert Highland’s science fiction. Even some of the classics that I was reading in my English classes and so on. Those books were an escape for me. They also became a world to dream of. I would say fantasize about.

There’s a difference between a dream and a fantasy. A dream could come true. A fantasy is not going to likely come true. They were fantasies but in reality, they were dreams, in part, because I got to experience those things. I got to go to the Serengeti. I got to go to Cuba. I got to go to places that Hemingway hung out in. I got to go to Spain. Although I didn’t go to a bullfight, they gave me hope. They planted a seed that there’s a bigger life out there than my provincial South Jersey lower middle class, working class, public school, or state school or kid life.

I didn’t even realize that that solitude was important to me except that I started to notice that as extroverted as I was, as social as I was, and as big as my friend group was, I always wanted to retreat into a room of my own. I’ve lived alone most of my life. I certainly preferred it to having roommates, which I have only four years of my adult life had a roommate or roommates. Again, those weren’t unhappy times, but they weren’t exactly the right fit, in a sense.

What I gain from my solitude is that it gives me some autonomy. I get to do what I want. It gives me some greater authenticity because when you’re alone, you can truly be who you are. By the way, if you’re not being truly who you are when you’re alone, there’s some work to do because there’s something about yourself that’s not letting you fully embrace your authentic self.

I fill my alone time with positive things, with self-reflection, rest, relaxation, renewal, and creativity. I write, and most of that writing is done alone. I joke that if I hadn’t been a solo, I could have never written the book on the timeline I was given. If I had a traditional relationship, something would have given the book or the relationship in that sense. I needed to spend vast swaths of time alone and to be comfortable with it.

I feel like I’m missing out on the world in order to fully focus on this very important, meaningful, and incredibly challenging task for me. I feel like I’ve gained much more from my solitude than I have lost from it, in part because I’m comfortable with it. It agrees with me and it fits my lifestyle, which is one of personal growth and one of focusing on my professional endeavors. Now with the solo project doing my most meaningful work.

I spend a lot of time on my own. I spend a great deal of my life on my own. I love to see my friends when I can and my family. I don’t literally spend so much time on my own. Sometimes I feel the need to go out in the middle of nowhere and be on my own, not just in my house. Do you ever feel the need to be in touch with nature and the greater power that’s out there?

Yes, I’ve mentioned three benefits of solitude that apply to me, self-reflection, rest, recovery and creativity. The fourth is this notion of peak experiences. When you’re alone, you can often experience all because you can be fully present in the moment. Those are often nature-based. I travel alone a lot. I like to do my psilocybin trips alone. Ideally, I’m doing those adjacent to nature. I have a cabin or hi-fi homestead where I can go out into nature. You’re drawn to nature a lot.

I do think that’s the case. I am planning this summer to do a vision quest in the Colorado mountains. This is a spiritual journey. It has its roots in various indigenous people. The idea is to be far away from people, away from technology, and be on your own in nature, living amongst the flora and fauna, and giving yourself a chance to reflect and to see what might come to you.

We live such busy lives, these digital lives. We fill our time with lots of stuff. It gets hard to reflect. Going out into nature and being detached from people, things, and possessions to have your sleeping bag and your rations or even to fast. To even give up eating for some period of time. People, monks, and other wise people, spiritual leaders have been doing this for millennia. I don’t see why that should stop with us.

In our natural state, we would have had to fast, wouldn’t we, for periods of time? We would have to fast. I have got an image of you in a loincloth. One of the things that I like about doing my mushroom trips alone is I don’t have to censor myself. I can run around naked. I can cry hard. I can laugh, dance around, blast music, and do weird things.

I had this time where I got this idea, “I’m going to lay on these rocks in the sun, naked.” This thing, which if you were with a trip setter or with someone else with your partner, like, “What are you doing? Are you okay?” I had this idea of doing what you want in the way that you are truly you. That solitude grants you and being away from other people and not worrying someone’s going to stumble on into this like naked guy who’s covered in mud. Who knows what’s going to happen?

Who knows?

Let’s do the third round, a little rapid fire here. This is a surprise question, so we don’t know what the other person’s going to ask. Why don’t you kick it off because I want to finish with you?


Peter, people without children are often asked, “What will be your legacy.” What do you want Dr. Peter McGraw’s legacy to be?

The first thing I want to do is some commentary on that question. For people who care about legacy, first of all, having children is a great way to have legacy but it doesn’t mean it’s going to be a good one. Hitler’s parents had a legacy. Charlie Manson’s parents had a legacy. All’s well may not always end well in that sense, but you are going to have a legacy you’re going to pass on.

By the way, this is important for the human species to continue. You also have the potential for a positive legacy. Albert Einstein’s parents created a positive legacy. Virginia Wolf’s parents provided a positive legacy. I get that. I get the question, although, you only have so much control over your legacy. I have an academic legacy already, which is my humor research.

The work that I have done regarding my academic research and specifically the humor project will live on beyond me. My papers will live on. Even if they get corrected or they are found to be lacking in some ways, they will be building blocks for better theories and better understanding in that sense. In that way, I feel like, “Check.” I’m probably not going to do academic work that’s more legacy inducing than that.

I will have a legacy in terms of my friends and familial relationships, especially my relationship with my sister. She’s had kids that will be indirectly played on. I do believe that my friends have made my life better and I have made their life better and because their lives are better, they go on and do things that make the world better in that sense.

The third element is the SOLO project. Even if I ended it, I have helped seed ideas. I’ve contributed to this movement in a way that has given people some hallelujah moments. It has helped them feel seen, given them a new perspective, a new language and a new comfort. That’s going to have a cascading effect. As I talked about earlier, there’s that, I tell two friends who tell two friends. That word-of-mouth thing.

The various voices, Bella DiPallo, Lucy, you, me, and other people are creating this cascading effect there that is legacy-inducing. This show will live on. My book will live on beyond my years. I’ll give you an example of this, and I talk about this in the book. A fellow lifelong bachelor gifted me a book called The Challenge of Being Single. I eagerly read the book and realized very quickly that this book was old.

I was four years old when it was published, in 1974. It was written by two women, an academic and a journalist. Many of the topics and issues that I was covering and you’re covering are in the book. The only real difference is the tone of the book isn’t as positive as our message. These were the early days of recognizing singlism and recognizing the challenges that single, divorced, and widowed people face in a world built for two.

I was like, “Are these women still alive? Can I get them on the show?” I did some Googling and they had passed already. It was 50 years later, but I found their obituaries. I found at least one. I can’t remember, maybe both. I only found one of their obituaries online. There it was. It talked about who she was. A main element of her obituary was that she was a fierce advocate for singles. She created a legacy, one that touched me, my friend, and other people years after her death and 50 years after her work, in that sense. This is striking at USC. She even had a class on the challenges of being single.

Did she?

I know. It’s wild. It was a fascinating situation. I don’t do things for legacy, per se, but it’s nice to have that in my back pocket.

It’s so good to be putting things out. In days gone by, there’s always been advice to single people online and in books, as you say and everything. A lot of it has been how to get yourself out of that as opposed to embracing it. Again, what we’re doing is so important to pushing people towards embracing it instead of buying into the narrative that you’re in the wrong situation.


Indeed. Thank you for asking that question. Let’s talk dogs. You live with two rescue dogs, Hattie and Goose, and you work in the dog business. You have volunteered at a dog rescue, and you have a dog walking business. One thing that I have noticed about souls, and if I can make a plug, there’s people who are reading this by way of your social media and so on, may not know that there’s a SOLO community, which people can sign up for at PeterMcGraw.org/solo.

We have various topics. There’s like a SOLO advocacy thread. There’s a reader question thread. There’s various threads for areas. There’s a Denver, Portland, New York, and a London community. They’re all very small at this moment, but they’re growing. There’s also solo and their pets thread. It’s a very active thread. Even though I don’t have a pet, I’m a member of it.

People post their pictures of their dogs and cats and other animals and so on. There is something special about pets in general and something very special about dogs specifically as humans best friend that helps, in some ways, provide some companionship. Some love, unconditional love. What is your journey with regard to dogs generally and your dog specifically?

My mom says I was never a girl that was playing with dolls, as in baby dolls. I was always the girl playing with animals and pretending I was a vet and pulling a dog around the house with a piece of string. It was from quite an early age that it was there that I was going in that direction. As I got older, I used to plead and beg my mum so that we could have a dog. Eventually, when I was probably around 14 or 15, we had a dog.

We went on to have two dogs. After that, I ended up going to college and doing a course for animal management, which was in a place in Winchester in the UK. I had a placement at a local vets to do my training at this placement. I was dealing with a lot of animals and I came across through that world, the whole idea of the rescue world.

Within my assignments, one of the other things that I had to do was carry out a lot of voluntary work. I contacted a local dog rescue on the island, and I went and volunteered for this lady who was rescuing all these dogs. I ended up going with this realization of how many dogs? It’s not just dogs. There are other animals, but how many animals there are in the world that need help.

In some capacity in my life, I always try to help animals. Whether I’m donating money or carrying out. Nowadays, I carry out home checks on half of a mass of animal charities. It sent me down a road of a friend of mine, who I adopted a dog through, was very heavily into it and I got into it with her. We were bringing dogs over from Spain and coordinating all these rescues to go into different homes. It’s something I feel extremely passionate about. I find I am at my absolute most authentic and happiest when I’m with my dogs on my own.

They sleep in the bed.

SOLO| Philippa Brown |One Single Woman
The Challenge of Being Single

They don’t. They are welcome to, but they don’t.

It sounds like you have more than two dogs because you have this business. You have dozens of dogs in your life.

I walk between 10 and 15 dogs a day. I live in a village and I drive around. I pick up the first load and go down the beach. They have a hooligan around and drop them all back. I go through to the next town and I do a load through there, then usually back here to do a load more. Again, when I said that I spend a lot of time on my own, I truly do because a lot of the clients are at work but apart from the odd little conversation, I am on my own in the fields or on the beach most of the day, which is perfect for me.

It sounds lovely.

I can listen to shows as well. It’s lovely. When you said about me being a homebody, it’s something again on this journey that I have embraced about myself so much. It was another pressure that I felt. It was this pressure that I never wanted to go to university. I love to go off and have holidays and explore places. I don’t mean that. I don’t literally stay at home, but I haven’t got that sense of, “I don’t want to go and see everything.”

I don’t have to go off and do all those things in order for me to feel happy. There’s a lot of pressure on people in a way to almost look. If you’re solo and if you haven’t got children, almost look as though you’re presenting this incredible lifestyle where you’re drinking all the time. You’re off doing all of these things. There’s a bit of a gap there to also present somebody who enjoys a remarkable life in a way that is remarkable for the fact that I enjoy my life as it is.

I appreciate you saying that. I’ve heard, especially from homebodies, which is, it’s hard to make homebodying sexy. It’s like, how to make it interesting in a world that is too focused on social media and presentation. To me, there is no one remarkable life. There are remarkable lives. If you are a homebody and that agrees with you and it brings out the best in you, then you should do it.

If you’re doing it completely solo or with your dogs, that’s wonderful. I want to end with a fun statistic about pets. I did a survey of singles and non-single pet owners. I asked them, if you had to choose between your pet and your partner. What would you choose? It’s a Sophie’s choice question. The singles don’t have a partner, so it’s an imaginary partner. Seventy-five percent of them said, “I would choose my pet. I would choose my pet over this imaginary partner.” On the other side, asking non-singles, would you choose your pet over your partner? The number’s lower, but it’s still pretty shocking, 25%. One in four said, “I would choose my pet over my partner.”

It’s eye-opening. I vented a relationship over it before. I have somebody who wasn’t massively into dogs. I thought, “That’s got to go.”

I get it. Pip, thank you for joining me.

Thank you for having me. It’s been an honor to be on the show, which is, as I said, a show which is so inspirational, especially a bachelor presenting all of this outward because there’s this statistic of like the happiest demographic of the single and child-free women. You’re very much providing that voice from a male perspective. That’s encouraging for a lot of men out there as well.

I appreciate that. I’m excited to see your evolution as you continue this journey.

Thank you.



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About Philippa Brown

Phillipa (Pip) Brown hosts the One Single Woman podcast.