You don't need to be with someone to be happy.
Sounds obvious, right? Countless things make our lives rich — friends, families, careers, Netflix — yet attaining a partner remains the implicit goal of most women's lives. "Are you seeing anyone?" and "Are you trying to date?" and "Anyone special in your life?" all suggest we'd be better off with someone, and that ending up alone is second-rate.
But that's pretty much bullsh*t, and none other than Miley Cyrus is calling it out.
"It has a lot to do with being a feminist, but I'm finally OK with being alone," she told Time this week. "I think that's something we have to talk about more: that you can be alone." She added:
"There are times in my life where I've had boyfriends or girlfriends. And there are times where I just love being with myself and don't want to give part of myself away to someone else ... I think that's a new freedom for women, especially. I don't know that my mother would have been able to be 22 and secure in being alone. But my future doesn't rely on having a partner."
Yes, women can plan for the future and build happy lives without a partner waiting in the wings. But she's right: We need to talk about that option more — so it can actually be seen as a valid option.
"I just love being with myself": Sure, we celebrate "single ladies" when they're the subject of celebratory Beyoncé anthems or heading out on the town for one last "fling before the ring." But single as a long-term status or an active choice? Even in 2015, the status has a whiff of pathetic fatalism.
But being "alone" (the word itself conjures up such sad imagery) has its upsides, as even the most coupled-off women can admit. Everyone needs time to themselves, and activities assumed to be joint can be highly enjoyable when done solo. More importantly, embracing periods in our lives in which we rely on ourselves, follow our ambitions and examine our own identities are valuable for growth.
Just ask someone who's been married and then single, like 27-year-old Zahava. She told Mic, "I found that inner happiness and I learned to really love myself, and that's what made me more happy and fulfilled."
"My future doesn't rely on having a partner": Or ask Cyrus, a woman who already went through a so-called "broken engagement." When landing a permanent partner is society's biggest expectation, not keeping that partner can seem like failure, or at least a significantly second-rate option.
"You want to hit these benchmarks," Megan, 31 and divorced, previously told Mic. "We're all so motivated — it's like, 'I'm going to go to college, and then I'm working on this, and now I'm doing this and now I'm dating.' You want to be able to say you're moving forward and feeling successful." And the most important piece of that success, it would seem, is being married.
But as Cyrus points out, our future happiness and fulfillment simply doesn't require it. All women are free to make the choice to be single, temporarily or for the long haul, and live their lives without a partner at the center of it. There's no reason Cyrus is the only one who gets to just be herself.