How to survive living alone in a city of couples, according to the March 1985 issue of Metro magazine. Unsurprisingly, much of the advice remains true to this day...
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Living Alone in a City of Couples
By James Allan and Louise Callan
"...I get so sick of the We People. They never say I. They say, 'We're going to Hawaii after Christmas' or 'We're taking the dog to get his shots.' They wallow in the first person plural because they remember how shitty it was to be first person singular."
In conversations like this, in a book full of acutely observed dialogue, author/journalist Armistead Maupin blows wide the myth of American cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York as places packed with unattached people happy to swing in a single state. His Tale of the City is the witty, bitter odyssey of a group of characters in search of the meaningful and permanent relationship.
Auckland differs from the San Francisco of Maupin's book only in terms of what is available in the way of meeting places and entertainments specifically for single people. Being single is an increasingly common state...both long term and short term. Once singles are recognised as a social, political and economic force, as they have been in America, then that too will change here. But in the meantime a person living beyond the pale of marriage, children and long term relationships, whether by choice or circumstances, can sometimes feel like a social outcast.
Meeting people, changing your status, coming in from the cold, can be difficult in a big city. And for those who want and like to live alone, people who in earlier centuries had an important and valuable social role to play, there is still the need for a change of attitude...both from them and from those around them.
A Sense-ible Guide to being single in Auckland
OK, maybe you're very happy being alone. Perhaps your partner is a traveller who is out of town three or four nights a week. Or you are waiting for your next grande amour, but keen to have a bit of fun on your own 'til he or she turns up.
For all those singles who are keen on solitary pleasures here is an unashamedly hedonistic guide of singular thrills and delights.
Buy yourself some French perfume or after-shave. Skip the cheap ones that smell like Jey-Pine. Go for the imported, expensive, luxurious ones and really treat yourself. Sprinkle it between the sheets and on your pillow-case. There's nothing quite as relaxing as slipping between perfumed sheets. Marilyn Monroe wore only Chanel No.5 to bed. Find your favourite eau de nuit.
Often people feel embarassed dining alone in the evening, although a small local restaurant can be a great boon to a hard working single.
Often people feel embarassed dining alone in the evening, although a small local restaurant can be a great boon to a hard working single. Lunch, however, is quite a different matter. And Auckland is buzzing with really glitzy sparkling brunch places where you can have a very reasonable meal, with half a bottle of good wine, for $25 or less. Saturday and Sunday are especially popular for sending notes, via the waiter, to that attractive stranger seated by the palms.
Buy yourself something terrific to wear. A garment that just feels wonderful against your skin: a silky slinky dress, an Italian suit. Even better, have a massage. A real massage, not one of those seedy sauna-parlour jobs. Look in the Yellow Pages or ask around for a respectable table masseur. Forty minutes of pummelling can lift your spirits and soothe the spinal cord.
Take in a few new sights. Send yourself overseas - a first-class air-ticket to England is a mere $4,440 (plus $40 tax of course). Closer to home, travel over the sea on a ferry to Devonport, a one-class cruise across the most beautiful harbour in the world for far fewer dollars. Take a sleeper on the night train to Wellington for a long weekend - trains have such romance. Or simply pack a bag on a Friday, get in your car and drive until you find somewhere that satisfies the eye. Travel by the back roads.
The ultimate in pleasure for one are those tiny-tape machines you wear anywhere you happen to be going.
The ultimate in pleasure for one are those tiny-tape machines you wear anywhere you happen to be going. Get yourself some new tapes, the ones you've been promising yourself for weeks. Take your phone off the hook, adopt your favourite position for listening, or your favourite activity (we know someone who swears his bread dough won't rise unless he kneads it to the rhythms of Cole Porter), and send your ears to paradise.
Places to Go and Things to Do
Firstly: The Right Approach
Think about your life and which aspects of it you wish to improve. Do you really want a 'special someone', or would a good companion or becoming part of a new social group be preferable? Listen to your own needs, not the ideals foistered on you by society. It's your life;; decide how you want to run it.
Having decided on a specific aim, make a move. No one will come knocking on your door if they don't know you're at home. Call up club secretaries. Go and see people at a marriage bureau. Get into town to see plays and concerts. Do something. There is nothing as positive as action.
Dress the part
If you want to meet professional people don't go out dressed as a Bikie. You'll fit in better at an exercise class if you turn up in suitable clothing. New Zealanders feel happier, and relate more easily, to someone who looks similar. The way we dress gives our signals about how we feel about ourselves, and also gives other clues on our likely reactions. If you can make others feel secure before you even speak, you're halfway there.
Don't be shy of asking people you've just met to your next gathering; everyone finds it flattering to be asked out.
Don't expect too much
Women, don't wear a wedding dress on the first date. Men, don't attempt any big physical carry-on in the first visit.
It's a Catch 22. The harder you try the less likely you are to succeed. Sure, meeting new people can be a tense act, but keep calm and don't let your tension show. Don't hurry things. Don't push your kids onto likely partners. Don't nominate yourself for club secretary at your first meeting. The more you know about a group or person the surer you can be about them, and the less likely you'll be hurt or disappointed. Take your time, travel hopefully, and good luck!
- Tennis club
- Special interest organisation
- Political party
- A gym
- Car club
- Night class
- Pet club
- Art gallery
- Film society
But best of all, entertain yourself!
Have friends round to your place for a meal regularly. It doesn't have to be grand and with the terrific deli's about these days there's no need to know how to cook. Throw a big party twice a year. It's not hard once you've tried it. This gets you invited back to other people's places and meeting in private homes is probably the most comfortable way many people get to know each other. Don't be shy of asking people you've just met to your next gathering; everyone finds it flattering to be asked out.
Remember, life is not like romance novels. It's unlikely Mr and Ms right are waiting to sweep you off your feet just around the corner. Chance is a very fickle mistress. All this may seem cold comfort and calculating compared to the myth of the happy accident which we are fed from our earliest years. It's not; it's simply a change of attitude, taking charge of your own life and fortunes.
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