How Do You Really Want to Live?

Live the life that’s right for you

Posted Dec 28, 2009

Last month, a reporter asked me a question that I usually don't answer because it was about dating, and I resist the implication that since I'm interested in single life, dating must be one of my favorite topics. That assumption instead speaks to one of my favorite myths - that if you are single, there is nothing you care about more than becoming unsingle. For most single people, that's just not so.

I did answer the reporter's question, though, because once I started to think about it, I ended up in a more profound place than the one toward which she was trying to lead me. Her question was about dating coaches who conduct "exit interviews" when their clients do not get a second date. The exit interviews are with person who did the dumping. The coach then takes that feedback to the client who was ditched, in hopes that the client can use the information to be more successful at dating in the future. The reporter wanted to know what I thought of the practice.

Here's what I told her:

That sort of feedback could be useful but brutal, though I suppose a good coach could pass it along in a constructive and tactful manner. There's another side to it, too. You know those clichéd parting words, "It's not you, it's me"? Sometimes they are actually true. If the dumper conveys those words through a coach, they are probably going to be more credible.

What I'd most like to say about this whole issue, though, is something more radical. I think the date-seekers should take a step back and ask themselves if they really do want to lead a conventional coupled life. I say this based on more than a decade of studying and listening to and writing for and about people who are single. I wish I had kept a count of the number of single people who have contacted me after reading Singled Out or my "Living Single" blog for Psychology Today, saying that they finally realize that they LIKE their single lives. They realize they had been pursuing the coupled life because that's what everyone expected them to do and to want. But it's not what they really want. Now not everyone is going to look inside and come up with that answer, but among those who do, it can be a life changer - an "aha" moment when they realize, "Now I know what life I really want to live, and it is not the prepackaged one."

My New Year's wish for all of you is that you live the life that's right for you.