I do my own taxes. I buy my own groceries. I write my own emails. I pick my own outfits. I buy my own health care. I plan my own vacations. I schedule my own meetings. I clean my own bathroom. I have my own orgasms.
It’s been this way for a while, and I’m likely to continue down this path for a minute—single, self-sufficient, and mostly okay with it. I’m not alone: for the first time there are now more single Americans than married ones, and of those single people, more and more are living alone. Our economy seems to be reaching a point where young, upwardly mobile individuals are likely to live out of the house on our own without family and friends, which has important implications for everything from healthcare to taxation to how we conduct our daily lives. “Singles can be more mobile in their career,” says Bloomberg news, but they are also “more sensitive to job loss, injury, or illness.
Indeed, these are the hardships that remind us that humans aren’t meant to live alone, even in an age when new technologies like Seamless and Uber aim to convince us otherwise by attempting to simplify our most intimate chores. Really, we are born vulnerable and dependent and we grow old vulnerable and dependent. We’re just kidding ourselves in the interim.
But if you do find yourself flying solo, how do you proceed in a way that feels good? How do we keep up with the couples, find happiness with ourselves and remaining open to the possibility of a relationship with another human? How do you run a one-person power couple when you’re pressed for cash and time?
Here are my thoughts on how to be your own power couple without exhausting yourself by yourself.
DON’T TAKE SHIT FROM ANYBODY
When you’re in a partnership this is easier: you know that you’ve got somebody who’s on your side or “team.” But when you’re solo you need to get an excellent bullshit meter, because you don’t always have somebody around to remind you that your boss, that guy at the checkout or your annoying college acquaintance is, in fact, nuts. Act like you’re on your own team. Remove yourself from situations and conversations that degrade you.
TAKE CARE OF—AND ENJOY —YOUR BODY
Whether that means getting a massage, getting laid when you need to, or getting Obamacare before it’s too late. Learn to cook, and invest in what you’re eating. Make sure that you find people—whether they’re sex partners, friends, or professionals—that can help you feel physically fulfilled, even if you know they’re not a candidate for soul-mate.
TAKE YOUR FRIENDS OUT FOR DINNER (OR LET THEM TREAT)
Sometimes I get made fun of for constantly having “one-on-ones” with my dearest friends. I will remind you, however, that often the couples with the most longevity are deeply connected to the communities where they’ve situated themselves. Whether you are single or coupled, maintaining intimate friendships that transcend marital status is essential to feeling like a powerful person. Take turns getting the bill. Nothing fosters connection like gifts, guilt and debt!
As a single person it’s a lot of pressure to have to keep all your bills paid, your house clean, and your dry-cleaning picked up, but there are ways to set yourself up for success. “Taxes” “Warranties” “Loans” “Letters from Ex Lovers.” I have all of these labeled in a cabinet. Don’t be messy with your W2s and 1099s, kids; keep that paperwork in order. I’m a fan of work exchanges with friends. Trade tax-prep help for painting a bathroom. Couples negotiate exchanges of free labor all the time and it’s smart to do so with people that you’re not necessarily sleeping with. Something, like house-cleaning, may require shelling out for. Figure out which tasks you can manage yourself and which ones could be worth outsourcing, assuming you can pay someone a living wage to do so.
START A REGISTRY
My friend had the idea of MySingleRegistry.com. if consumerism dictates that married people get to clean up, single people should too. (I’m pretty sure she bought the domain name back in 2013 after a particularly bad breakup. If you’re a hot-shot investor, email me and I’ll put you two in touch.)
GET AN INTERN
This is my dream. Somebody who shows up at my door with his laptop, teaches me how to use Twitter and slowly grows to hate me because I’m so disorganized over the course of our time together. I am accepting applications.
KNOW YOUR LIMITS
I will never have a good sense of direction, take out the trash, fix cabinets or perform high-level calculus. I’ll never be good at those things and I don’t want to be. When you’re a highly competent person it’s important to know what you can’t or, more importantly, WON’T do.
I suppose the most important thing to remember when you attempt to live life as your own power couple is the fact that you don’t always have to have it together. A lot of single people hold themselves to an incredibly high standard of performance. We are our own worst critics. In moments of self-doubt or despair ask yourself, “What would Bill say to Hillary right now? What would Beyonce whisper in Jay’s ear? What kind of grapes would Antony insist that Cleopatra consume to make her feel better?” And if you can’t answer that for yourself, that’s OK too. In fact, it might be better because that’s when you ask for help from another human. You never know who might be running their own personal power couple right next to you.
PS: Join me on Playboy’s Twitter next Wednesday at 2 PM EST / 11 AM PST. Bring your questions and tag them with the #JustTheTips hash-tag. The juiciest of them will receive my attention. ;-)
Just the Tips is Playboy.com’s weekly advice column, with professional matchmaker Katherine Cooper. Have a question for Katherine about sex, love or dating? Shoot her a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.