Singleness = Fullness, Wholeness and Being Open to Possibilities, with Shani Silver
Our For the Love of Dating, Sex and Relationships series continues, and lest you think we’re solidly in the camp of “all people must be paired up,” let us assure you we’re firmly on the side of choosing whatever state of being (attached or not) best fits your life. We’re here, in this episode, to talk about the state and the choice of singleness. So maybe you’re unattached and you want to find the love of your life. Perhaps you’re getting pressure from friends and family as to why you remain available. (we can all hear that well-meaning person’s voice in our ear–”but you’re such a catch! Why are you still single??). Maybe you’ve gone on a LOT of dates (bad and good) and you’re ready to get off that train, but don’t want to give up the notion of potentially finding someone one day. We have good news. You get to choose to be happily single. And that does not preclude you from future partnership. So maybe the happily single part is what you’re struggling with (and that others in your life who want to see you partnered up aren’t helping) but our guest today knows what you’re going through and wants you to know you’re not alone. After years of actively dating and pursuing dates through a variety of digital means, writer Shani Silver decided she didn’t want to spend the rest of her 30’s swiping through face after face to see if maybe love would find her. She decided to go a different route and is here to share where it’s led her on her quest to be happy with who and where she is right now. Shani likes to say that she is not an advocate for singlehood necessarily, but an advocate for women feeling good while single. She wrote a book called A Single Revolution: Don’t Look for a Match, Light One which she hopes is helping women feel better about this incredibly valuable time in their lives. She gives us pointers on how to make ourselves available for all kinds of experiences and people–whether we’re looking for love or not—and surprise, it doesn’t necessarily have to involve dating apps or even dating itself! During their conversation, Jen also discusses her tentative steps into singlehood after 26 years of marriage and her brief experience on dating apps, and how love organically found her. Single, married, divorced or looking for love, we can all look at this time in our lives (and in the lives of our friends) as one to be embraced, not scorned, and why, more than ever, it can be a positive, endlessly full-of-possibility way of living.
Hey everybody. It’s Jen Hatmaker. Welcome to the For the Love Podcast. I’m really glad that you are here. I am absolutely loving the series that we are in right now on this show. We are doing a series called For the Love of Dating, Sex and Relationships. It’s pretty packed, as you can imagine. Those are three categories that can be their own thing: dating, sex and relationships.
So we’ve put them into one series and it has been incredible so far. I love my guests in the series. I love the conversations that we’re hosting, because let’s be honest; it’s been a pretty unique experience to find myself single in my 40s after a 26-year marriage. I’m new to this community. I hadn’t been single since before we had the internet and the world has changed so much since then, especially in the ways that we meet people romantically.
I mean the apps, you guys, there are just so many apps. We’re going to talk about that a little bit today in a way that might surprise you. And then for me at least, couple that with really almost two decades of deconstruction and reevaluating who I am and what I believe and growing more fully into a person who’s less codependent and wanting to flourish independently and help the people around me flourish too-it’s just a lot. It’s been a whole new rodeo for me.
In some ways, it’s hard and challenging, but in most ways, it’s really good, almost like a reawakening here at the middle of my life. This is something that I do know–I haven’t been in it for long but long enough to know that the way you experience the world as a single person feels different than being in a couple.
It just is. From the way you show up for holidays to the social events–it’s different. What groceries you’re going to get, how much coffee you make in the morning–just everything’s different. It’s just a completely different scenario.
My experience of it comes after getting married at 19. So I essentially had no experience with any independence as an adult ever. Not a day. And then of course there are so many women who have been single, like through their 20s, 30s, 40s, onward. Maybe they’ve never been in a long term partnership at all, whether by choice–which is absolutely a valuable and viable way to live your adult life–and sometimes not by choice.
But regardless, it’s weird to navigate a world that assumes that you either are or want to be in a couple. Of course not only that, but that you are a young, cisgendered, straight person looking for a mate to make babies with. Or if you’re like me and divorced, that you have to be looking for someone to be with so that you can perfectly blend your families. And then if you don’t do those things or don’t want to do those things, that you’re different because that’s the prescribed dream. Picket fence and all that.
When your story just doesn’t fit the narrative, it can feel lonely or like you’re doing something wrong or something is missing. Don’t get me started on church and being single, especially when you’re out of your 20s. That is a whole other thing that we’re not going to get into today, but I know that’s a struggle and that’s real.
I think being single at any age has its struggles for sure, but it also has its incredible benefits. On the one hand, it can make you feel othered because [being in a couple] is simply the predominant story in our world, but it can also be exhilarating. It can feel liberating. Do you know? I obviously am in a relationship right now, but I’m not married and I have been independent in my life and in my family and in my home now for almost two years. It’s pretty wonderful to wake up in the morning and know that it’s no one else’s responsibility to take care of me except me. Because guess what? I can trust me. And I am good at it. I am good at taking care of me. I am good at taking care of my people. Therapy helped me to see that.
I decide how I want my bedroom to look. I decide how to balance my budget. I decide how I want to show up in the world. I decide how I want to spend my time, how I want to spend my money, how I want to spend my future. Of course, we can do these things as part of a couple, but these are the gifts that being single and a ton of therapy has taught me. I don’t know if I would’ve learned it otherwise.
Here’s the thing. You and I are worthy to enjoy life to the fullest right now, right where we are. We don’t have to wait to be partnered to feel complete. We don’t have to wait to be partnered to take a vacation to a place we’ve always wanted to visit, to buy a really good set of sheets. We can do all those things for ourselves with or without a partner.
And so my guest today feels the same way and she’s kind of on a mission to help single people everywhere recognize it too. I loved this conversation. I went over time with her because she’s so interesting and hearing her talk was so liberating and so empowering and encouraging. Anybody right now who finds themselves single in their life by choice or not, or you love somebody who is, you’re going to really love this episode.
Shani Silver is my guest today. She’s a writer. She’s a content creator who lives in New Orleans. She’s the host of A Single Serving podcast. And she’s written a book called A Single Revolution: Don’t Look for a Match, Light One. And it is so good, you guys. Her TikTok is a treasure. You’ll want to follow her over there for sure because you will laugh, you will nod your head, you will not be able to stop watching until you get to her last video.
I think what I love about Shani is that she gets it. Like she really gets it and I’m not going to steal away from our interview because she really talks about this. But she knows the shame that people steer toward others because of their relationship status. And even like this, as she calls it, a fruitless frantic search for a partner for a decade, which just made her sad and exhausted and lonely. So she helps people see, “Hey, you know what? This is not a prerequisite for a beautiful big full life. You can flourish no matter your season, no matter your relational status.”
She’s not a blanket advocate, by the way, in case you think she is, for staying single forever. Those are not the binary choices guys. She is an advocate for helping single women feel whole and good and liberated and safe and secure while they’re single, regardless if they chose to be there or not.
And regardless if they ultimately find themselves in a relationship or partnered or even married–because you’re a full person right now just as you are. You’re a full person when you are a single person. You are a full person when you are in a couple. I’m grateful to have learned this in my life, in my 40s. So grateful to have learned this. And even though I am in a relationship right now, I got to walk into it whole and complete and that has made all the difference. I think you’re going to love this conversation. I promise you, this is a liberating, empowering conversation and you are going to absolutely love my guest today, the very lovely dynamic, wonderful, Shani Silver.
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XO – Team Jen