Being single is a choice, a choice that can only be made when one has clarity and self-awareness
Working through Louisa May Alcott as part of the school-required reading was slogging work, but when I discovered her letters a few years later and read that she had chosen to remain single and “paddle my own canoe” because “freedom is a better husband than love,” she became much more interesting. Being single is a choice, not a compromise, and a choice that can only be made when one has clarity and self-awareness. And yet, most cultures often treat those who make such a choice with pity, confusion, mistrust, and outright condescension. It is the people living with similar choices who are at the heart of the stories in Lounge this week.
We meet people who have created the kind of companionship they want in their lives, and it's not surprising that many of them tend to be women. Their lives don't revolve around one person, the romantic ideal isn't something they stake their future on, and they've made clear decisions about their identity. To this end, they work on their well-being and create a supportive environment for themselves. They are not closed to the idea of love, but they are eager to find it on their own terms.
At the other end of the spectrum, as we explore in another story, is the anxiety fueled by the search for a partner, much of it through dating apps. There is ambivalence here, a bit of a merry-go-round with all the seats occupied by people who don't know what they want, and therefore keep playing. And strangely enough, now that they've had enough of the world of swiping, they're returning to old ways of dating — going to meetups, taking classes and looking away from their screens — to enjoy the process.
A vibrant essay by economist and author Shrayana Bhattacharya on our collective small-heartedness, reflected in the state of our love lives and our public lives, complements these stories. She draws the connection between power and love, pointing out that our obsession with rank and status is also reflected in our dating and mating rituals, when what we probably need is a greater capacity for compassion.
And as always, we've got recommendations for movies and shows to watch, music to discover, books to read, and restaurants and shows to visit, whether you're making plans for this weekend or in the coming weeks.
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