Why I love being single in my fifties

Sam Harrington-Lowe happy being single - Silver Magazine

I hadn’t planned to find myself single as I turned 50. But it was even more of a surprise to find that I loved it

In autumn 2019 my ten-year relationship broke down. As is often the case with long-termers, it went out with a fizz, rather than a bang. What I didn’t expect to find, once the dust had cleared, was that I love being single in my fifties.

Aside from a period where we were angry and disappointed that it was broken, the ex and I have circled back and become really close friends. I love him to bits. We hang out together a lot, we know each other inside out and backwards – we know where all the bodies are buried. And we are fiercely protective and supportive of each other.

I have wondered if this may be one of the reasons why I am happy being single

I have wondered if this may be one of the reasons why I am happy being single, actually. Maybe the close friendship safety net, and the opportunity to hang out with a close male friend means that I don’t need to fill the gap with another man. (And yes, I will talk about sex later).

My ex, it must be said, is thoroughly ‘enjoying himself’, incidentally. We talk about his wins and losses; the mad dates and the good ones. And I genuinely don’t feel a shred of jealousy, which is odd. Maybe because none of them have felt serious yet? If – when – he falls in love again, and it’s a proper thing, maybe that will be harder.

But I digress. I want to talk about me, and about being a woman in her fifties, genuinely happy to be single. How do I love being single? Let me count the ways…

It’s all about me

I cannot remember the last time that my own life was all about me. By choice – I’m not grumbling – I’ve had blissful years as mother, and lover. But I’ve been a parent and a partner for a ton of my adult life. Suddenly, I only have myself to look out for. Woot.

I cannot remember the last time that my own life was all about me

This has been startling in a number of ways. It took some getting used to – my life has revolved around other people for decades, so suddenly only having myself to care for has been weird.

I have found the time to work on some of the things that make me unhappy. To think about what I want, what I want to do, what I need to change. Hell, even what I like doing.

From macro to mega, it’s all about me, and I am enjoying this. Getting to know me, getting to know all about me…

Sleeping better

Fucking hell – snoring. You know this one. As we all get older and fatter, me included, snoring becomes a real issue. Not if you’re single though, tra la! I can snore like a bandsaw if I like, with nobody to complain about it.

And equally, I wake up without that psychotic desire to stab someone for keeping me awake with their own snoring. Oh happy, joyous, wondrous solitary sleep!

I’m a big advocate for sleeping separately anyway – sex in one bed, sleep in two

It’s not just about snoring though. I’m a menopausal woman and the past few years have not been fun in many ways. Some of those ways have been at night – having hideous dreams; waking up every bloody hour thrashing about; having hot flushes and peeling myself off the pillow with my hair drenched.

I mean, nobody wants to share a bed with that. And it was a lot easier to go through that without having someone else to worry about. I’m a big advocate for sleeping separately anyway – sex in one bed, sleep in two.

I’ve learned to use power tools

I mean, I’m a grownup girl with an independent lifestyle, right? But DIY used to scare the living shit out of me. What if I drill through the wall, or there are wires to destroy? What if I break stuff? How do I even work the drill?

Now I don’t care. I just have a bash at it and generally it’s fine (thanks Youtube videos). I built bedroom furniture recently. I’ve put up pictures (still on the wall), and completely re-hung the back gate with new hinges etc. I actually like it! Get some decent tools, that’s my advice. Then it’s a piece of cake. Thanks, De Walt tools inherited from Papa. *Blows dust off imaginary drill/gun.

Life is on more of an even keel

Or, perhaps more accurately, if things get wobbly, it’s my wobble. I’m not dealing with household drama, or the day-to-day aggro of other people’s emotions. The ebb and flow is all mine.

I’m surprisingly unlonely

To be fair, I have a large house and there is a lot of coming and going. There’s an office on the top floor which gets used by some of the team – either for working in or crashing on the futon. I have sometimes taken students in to help with the bills. I have friends round for lunch and dinner. Child comes home occasionally.

Picture of Alice the pug restng her snout on Sam's leg - article on Silver Magazine about being single

‘The Favourite’

The house never feels empty, but when it’s quiet, I love it. The peace. The freedom to do what I like. The calm. It’s blissful.

Having Alice Pug the Duchess of Pickleton helps. She is my constant companion, and we potter about the house together. She keeps an eye on me as I cook, she rootles through the recycling. I talk to her all day – something I forget is weird when we are not at home alone. She snuggles me the second I sit on the sofa, resting her snout on my leg. It’s quite hard to shake Alice off. I love her enormously. My daughter says Alice pug is the ‘favourite child’. I feel bound to point out that the dog is actually nice to me.

What about sex, I hear you cry

It’s a funny old thing, sex. I love sex, but I have no real interest in it unless I fancy someone. And I don’t fancy anyone at the moment, so sex is not really on my agenda.

I’m in no rush to find a person. Frankly, a couple of weeks on any dating app serves as a very good reminder that single is infinitely preferable. Ye gods, the horrors I’ve seen. I’d rather be single until I join the Choir Invisible.

…he was a lovely man, and I had a lovely time. But I could no more have shagged him than I could fly to the moon. One knows, instantly, if that thing is there

I actually went on a date the other day – the first one for three years. I kid you not. AND during Dry January. And he was a lovely man, and I had a lovely time. But I could no more have shagged him than I could fly to the moon. One knows, instantly, if that thing is there. And it wasn’t; such a shame. Alice even liked him – and yes I took the dog on the date. Love me, love my dog.

But he waved his knife about when he was talking and didn’t ask me anything about my life besides what I do for a living. So there’s that. I think we get much more fussy as we age. But why compromise? I don’t want a cutlery-waver.

Read: No 50 is not the ‘new 30’. It’s better than that

But back to the joy of singledom – are there any down sides?

Not being invited to dinner parties etc – and I think all single people would say this. Unless you’re in a twosome, you miss a lot of those things. I spend time with friends, and have as much of a social life as I want. But I am aware that there’s a kind of ‘couples circuit’ that you drop out of once you’re a loose horse, and that makes me a bit sad.

Single travel is exciting and challenging. But it’s fun to share that stuff

I wonder if some of that is down to you being a potential threat, as a wild singleton. Or maybe it is just easier to balance even numbers around a table. Anyway, that’s a thing. (Incidentally, any of my mates who have read this far – I am now ready for you to set me up with people, so feel free, but no weirdos please).

And going traveling with someone. Single travel is exciting and challenging. But it’s fun to share that stuff. Having said that, I’ve been having holidays with girlfriends (also single) again recently, and I LOVE that. Already booked a Greek island in May with three other girlfriends and I can’t wait! Girls on tour, lock up your sons etc.

Overall though…

In the grand scheme of things, the cons are massively outweighed by the pros. That’s not to say that I’ve shut the door on romance. But I’m loving this period of my life.

Eventually I’d like to meet someone naturally, not via an app. I’d like to be attracted to someone and find that ‘thing’ that grows between two people, and the excitement of knowing you’ll end up in bed together at some point. But for that I’d probably have to go out more, and go to social events to meet people. Perhaps the warmer weather will help. Buck up, spring and summer.

I’m open to new love, and I think we all know that if love were to come knocking, I’d be excited, start capering around like fool again, doing the ‘new romance’ dance. But right now I’m enjoying the single ride. And some decent sleep.

Read all about it

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About Sam Harrington-Lowe
Sam is Silver's founder and editor-in-chief. She's largely responsible for organising all the things, but still finds time to do the odd bit of writing. Not enough though. Send help.

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