September 15, 2020

"But after a long day at work I just want the option of coming home and not talking to anyone, making whatever I want to eat and not worrying about anyone else."

"I don't even feel like I sleep as well when I share a bed with my boyfriend; I prefer having sex and then coming home to my own apartment to sleep. Something about being alone truly relaxes me."

From a letter to the WaPo advice columnist, from a woman who does want eventually to marry and have children and who wonders if she needs therapy or if she'll just get over her preference for living alone. The columnist doesn't give much of an answer: You have conflicting needs, so they'll only be met imperfectly. 

I'd say that for some people the traditional answer is their best answer: Don't live together until you marry and don't marry until you're ready to to have kids and put family first. Why should the person who doesn't want to live together unmarried be the one who has to justify her preference?

51 comments:

Big Mike said...

And I'd say your last paragraph is absolutely correct.

mikee said...

The therapist gave excellent advice: the truth. We all have conflicting needs and desires and habits and traditions and experiences. Adulting consists of consciously choosing which of those conflicting items gets chosen, and which get discarded - because they conflict.

I'd love to climb trees like I did as a 10 year old, but my 60 year old body conflicts with that desire. I don't climb trees any more, at least not like when I was 10. Such is life.

If the woman wants marriage and babies, she can have them, but she loses most of the solitary pleasures in her life.

m stone said...

Agreed, Ann. I await the majority dissent.

m

Temujin said...

My wife also has conflicting needs. Some days she prefers me to dress up as Genghis Khan. Other days, it's Jim Ignatowski from Taxi. Hard to know what a woman wants.

Achilles said...

From a letter to the WaPo advice columnist, from a woman who does want eventually to marry and have children and who wonders if she needs therapy or if she'll just get over her preference for living alone.

That just means someone doesn't like "doing the dishes."

If she is ditching out to her own place after all the daytime activities have made a mess I am guessing it is her.

Wince said...

Althouse said...
I'd say that for some people the traditional answer is their best answer...

Exactly, paint a line down the center of a completely symmetrical apartment like they do in situation comedies.

Dave Begley said...

Ann, you're the best.

And the people who are picking on you because of your supposed liberalism should wake up and smell the coffee. (Ann Landers reference.)

Yancey Ward said...

Some girl to thrill me and then go away
(I need a lover that won't drive me crazy)
Some girl that knows the meaning of ah-
Hey hit the highway!
You betcha'

stevew said...

She says she wants to marry and have kids some day, just not today. The only conflict I see is between what she prefers (living alone) and what she thinks she wants, some day. It is blindingly obvious to me that she should not succumb to the boyfriend's request to move in with him. At least right now she won't be happy in that arrangement, which likely means he wont't be either. She doesn't need therapy, there's nothing wrong with preferring to live alone.

Perhaps the occasional sleep over weekend - or weekend away - to test whether her preferences have changed? Of course, the boyfriend may not want to hang around for this to play out.

Marcus said...

She can do all those things in the lead-off quotation even if she marries. Many man suffer like that.

THEOLDMAN

Kevin said...

Men have been dealing with this for centuries.

Suddenly a woman feels this way and it’s newsworthy.

JB71-AZ said...

She's an introvert with 'needs'. One of those is the need to be by herself, one is the need for sex, and one's a need for companionship - which is by far the least of the three, it would seem. And her boyfriend may be great in the sack, but she's putting him aside in order to be by herself.

Relationship's over, really. He'd be better off moving on, and she'd be better off with a vibrator and no cat.

MayBee said...

It depends what the problem is.
She doesn't want to live together unmarried? THat's not a problem.
She's afraid she won't want to live with people once she has children? That's a bigger problem.

PM said...

Why fret? Just name it.
Musicians call it wood-shedding.
Try hermitting.

wild chicken said...

And the answer is, because the guy might wander off with someone new if he doesn't get his way. Though typically it was the female who wanted to move in to keep an eye on him, and save money. Win-win!

But she's still in the flower ox extended youth so maybe that's not a problem.

Heartiste used cruder terms for it.

rcocean said...

I hope she finds someone. But I agree, she seems like the type who should be very careful about who she marries and she should be very open about what kind of person she is. BtW, women should be very careful about assuming there's going to be some quality man on tap who will marry you when you get around to deciding you want a family.

BleachBit-and-Hammers said...

Please stop having kids. The earth is full.
pass it on.

madAsHell said...

I adore coming home, having it be absolutely quiet and just the way I left it, doing as I please on my weekends, and so on.

Maybe she was assigned the wrong gender......

Laughing Fox said...

Possibly, this boyfriend is not the kind of man she would want to marry. The kind of man it would be worthwhile to put up with most of the time. If she is serious about wanting to marry and have children "some day," maybe she would be smart to drop this man and look for a better candidate.

Jupiter said...

"... from a woman who does want eventually to marry and have children ...".

Just not with this guy.

Bill Peschel said...

Looking back, I wish I had gotten married younger and had more kids.

That's the exact opposite of how I felt at that age.

The culture talks a lot about great sex, and the best I ever had/have is with my partner. We're also simpatico outside the bedroom as well.

I hasn't been a perfect or ideal life, God knows, but it's way better than I believed.

So, yeah, that relationship's dead.

Jim Grey said...

That woman makes total sense to me. I lived alone for 10 years before remarrying. I loved living alone, but I also wanted companionship. As I dated, I waited until I found someone who, among other things, was compatible enough with my solitary ways. Now that we're married and we live together, I get both the companionship I want and the alone time I want. It works pretty well.

Sacto_Dave said...

If you like quiet time alone, don't have children. That's not so hard to understand if you've ever had kids.

Big Mike said...

BtW, women should be very careful about assuming there's going to be some quality man on tap who will marry you when you get around to deciding you want a family.

rcocean is right. So many young women seem to have a notion that they can wait until they’re in their thirties and still have their pick of husbands. On a count of 3 ... 2 ... 1

“All the good ones are taken!”

And let’s not forget that close to 60% of all college graduates are female. For every three college-educated women who want to marry a college-educated husband, there are only two college-educated men looking for wives.

Greg The Class Traitor said...

Is she looking for a partner, or a subordinate?

"Hey honey, I want you to be available for me when I'm interested, and to be able to blow you off whenever I'm not interested. When I'm ready to have kids with you, I'll want you to marry me and then we'll move in together and have kids. I'm sure everything will go fine."

Hint: a quality male isn't going to go along with this plan. By "quality male" I mean "a man with self respect, who has options."

He'll either say "cool, no real commitment sex!" And then dump her when she decides it's "marriage and kids" time.

Or he'll say "I want to build a life with someone. So I'll stay with her until someone better comes along, then dump her."

What no one with any actual self respect is going to do is let her decide everything, which is what she is demanding

Kevin Walsh said...

Lived alone 38 years and counting. Love it.

The Cracker Emcee Refulgent said...

"From a letter to the WaPo advice columnist, from a woman who does want eventually to marry and have children and who wonders if she needs therapy or if she'll just get over her preference for living alone."

Like our hero, I also had a definite preference for living alone and viewed married life with some apprehension. The best indication that I had chosen the right partner was that it turned out I loved married life and my apprehensions were unfounded.
As for having children, if you're the sort of person who has to have your world ordered exactly as you want it, don't have children.

gilbar said...

So many young women seem to have a notion that they can wait until they’re in their thirties and still have their pick of husbands.

but the women in their 20's will say: "I'm HOT now...
I'm SURE that i'll be able to catch a great man in 10 years, when i'm 34...
after all!
It's NOT like there will be any HOT younger women around then... RIGHT??

gilbar said...

, I wish I had gotten married younger and had more kids.
let's do some math!

scenario one:
go to college, work for 10-15 years; quit, and raise one child.
When child is 18 (and you are 50-55), try to go back to work

scenario two:
get married at 18, and have 3 kids by 23... go to school part time while kids in school
When youngest is 18 (and you are 41), start working.
When you're 50-55 you ARE working, with 10-15 years of CURRENT experience

If women want kids; they should think about having them when they are in child baring age

bagoh20 said...

The happiest times of my life where when I lived alone. I definitely enjoy being part of a family too, but for consistent peace and happiness, being alone is the only time I'be found it. You only have to make one person happy, and that's a fraction of the work of two, and two is a fraction of the work of more. Being in a family is basically being led around on a leash, with very little time doing what you yourself would prefer. The to-do list becomes oppressive and insurmountable.

Bay Area Guy said...

Future cat woman. I want this, I want that, I need this, I need that. Run away from her!

Ann Althouse said...

I was enjoying the benefits of living alone — after having been married and after living for a long time with 2 sons. I liked not being seen — not having any social performance required. I had people to talk to outside of the home, and I had contact with others through writing from inside the home, so I didn't feel cut off and I didn't feel that there was anyone I could live with. But I changed my mind about that! Anyway, sometimes I say "I need my quiet time."

wishfulthinking said...

Right. Having raised two children while working on my own business and growing it from 0 to a successful enterprise I can tell this woman: She shouldn't marry and she should 100% not have children. No matter how tired you are once you get home (and assuming that you ignore your spouse) you have to take care of your children's needs: school issues, homework, cooking and feeding them, afterschool activities, school projects besides hw, etc. The multitude of variables encompassed in all those requirements are astronomical. A mother must have more stamina and dedication than an Olympic athlete in training.

Kate said...

When the kids were little I'd say, "Does anyone need anything? I'm about to lay down and not help anyone for a while, so speak now." It worked.

I sympathize with this introvert, but you can't guess what marriage and children will actually be like. It's too different for you to understand. This guy isn't the adventure for her, though.

Sebastian said...

"Why should the person who doesn't want to live together unmarried be the one who has to justify her preference?"

Cuz prog values are the default.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Being married/having a partner in life and wanting to also be alone/have alone time are not necissarily conflicting desires.

I love my husband. We spend most of our time together. BUT...I also like to have some solitude. Quiet time. Reflection time. Time to read a book. Listen to music. Sit alone outside and listen to the birds and wind through the trees. Work on a hobby.

My husband also likes his alone time. To work on a project in his shop. Uninterrupted. Listen to music while concentrating.

Our ability to be together and yet still have our own space, solitude, sit in the same room and not be compelled to yak or make 'small talk'. Peacefully do something separate but together, is probably one of the reasons we are so compatible.

Being married or in a relationship, or having children.....doesn't mean that you must give up your self-hood, that you can't have time to just be alone, to be separate.

Heartless Aztec said...

My sig other and I have been together for 20 years. We each have our own houses and it's the perfect arrangement for us. She has her place of refugee and I have mine. We wouldn't have it any other way.

Aggie said...

Everyone I know likes occasional solitude, it's healthy. I happen to like quite a lot of it. But this woman - an exemplar of her generation - has a point of view that is heavily salted with self. We expect young people who have not yet suffered hardship to be selfish - but she's talking about her boyfriend and the future prospects of parenting as if she were choosing appliances. Good luck to her. In my experience, people who are this self-centered early in life, even when they're talking about a future family, end up being alone and miserable - and asking themselves, at 50-ish, how it all happened - like it was the appliance's fault.

James K said...

It's hard to anticipate the pleasure you can get from having children. I had a hint of it when I became an uncle, then tenfold when I became a father. But if you're single, living alone, and liking that, you have to figure out whether the rewards of parenthood outweigh the loss of privacy and solitude. For most people they do, and there are plenty of women who didn't figure that out in time and then had regrets. Maybe she could start by getting a dog, or volunteering somewhere, just to get outside of her own little bubble.

In any case, my response would be more along the lines of: "Okay, you've enjoyed this phase of your life. Time to grow up. Do you really want to spend your declining years alone?"

JMW Turner said...

To the boyfriend, I say: "Run far, run fast..." If he convinces her to marry and, perhaps have a child, at some point, she'll become mysteriously dissatisfied and bolt, leaving you with the wreckage. A lot of Sturm und Drang coming and the child will never emotionally recover in the most primal way, the way most adults will when they have no choice. Yeah, ben there, unfortunately, done that. This sort of thing causes a lot of people to avoid another round of commitment. Happily living alone for fifteen years with an orderly life according to my specifications.

ALP said...

Biology. I don't have kids but people who do tell me that it changes you forever. Maternal hormones could change her mind.

I am in a relationship (26 years not married) that started out long distance and stayed that way for a few years. My SO is an only child so when his parents aged/passed - he was pretty absorbed with those issues. In other words - long before we lived together we had a lot of independence and autonomy, in addition to periods where we did not see other much. Thankfully, it is one area we are very much on the same page - we both make room for the other's need for solitude. Living in 2000 sq/ft + a big yard helps. I have 2 rooms in the house that are "mine". Considering the size of houses these days, often larger than ours, I would think that a decent sized house would afford opportunities for solitute.

tim in vermont said...

Too bad about the age difference, because she sounds like an ideal girlfriend to me.

ALP said...

One more thing - Separate bedrooms! Seriously, the last thing I need is the Love of My Life telling me to STOP SNORING at 2am. I think a lot of issues with couples that feel the need for more solitute is to have a "Room of One's Own". Too many people are hung up on the one bedroom scenario.

Jupiter said...

Folks are different. I will just make the observation, that the aspects of my life that I am proudest of, and take the most satisfaction in, grow out of things I had to do. I didn't choose them. I wouldn't have chosen them. Given the choice, I'd have done something else. Something a lot easier.

Readering said...

Some people marry later in life. Others marry serially, and occupy different floors of their large residence.

tommyesq said...

Had a friend who dated a girl for 20 years, lived in the same apartment building but in separate apartments. He would joke that they avoid all of the stresses - money, kids, clashing schedules, etc. - of married life. After 20 years, they got married, and moved in together, lasted 9 months.

DEEBEE said...

Her lack of self-awareness is breathtaking. She prefers to be alone finds it relaxing but sees no contradiction in her desire to “crowd” har life with hubby and babies. Then of course she is a modern women(I presume the latter) who wants to have it all.

Skeptical Voter said...

Heck she might be the perfect girlfriend. She gets up, dresses and goes home. He turns over and goes to sleep in his own bed.

cubanbob said...

Skeptical Voter said...
Heck she might be the perfect girlfriend. She gets up, dresses and goes home. He turns over and goes to sleep in his own bed."

Dang. You beat me to it. When I was single and in my twenties, that would have been the ideal relationship. Weekend date with benefits. Indeed I was fortunate enough to have several such relationships and then I grew up.

Marcus said...

I enjoy my FWB. I hope I never grow up.

THEOLDMAN

Indigo Red said...

"You have conflicting needs, so they'll only be met imperfectly."

That is not advice; that's a fortune cookie.