Who are you without a man?

“Who are you without a man?”

I heard that question first recently from Carol Denise Ensley AKA Niecy Nash, as she was speaking about her previous divorce, before she got remarried, and it got me thinking.

I’m not as comfortable as I used to be with sharing my personal opinions/experiences, so be patient with me. I also want to try and express these words without coming accross as bitter. It’s nearly impossible to celebrate singleness without coming accross as desperate for a relationship; or worse, bitter about previously failed love. I am neither of these things, and I hope my words don’t get lost in translation.

I turn 27 this year. I keep saying that out loud so I can actually hear it. When I was 21, I used to think 27 was old old. I thought by 27, one must have their life in order. I had then my own definition of what it means to have your life in order. I am 26 now, turning 27, and I realise I am still very young, with so much life ahead to live. I realise I very much have my life in order, but not in any of the ways I imagined it would be.

For the first time since I was 15, I am single – fully single. I am not in a relationship with anyone. I am not flirting with anyone, or even hoping for a relationship with anyone. I know that may seem insignificant to some, but to me, it is monumental. For those who know me, I have spent pretty much my entire adult dating life as a serial monogamist. If I wasn’t in a relationship, I was actively looking for my next relationship. I’d sort (with rather impressive speed) through all potential partners, till I picked one I could tolerate. I’d be planning my wedding 2 months into knowing someone (yes, yikes).

I started paying attention to how (with the specific context of the country I come from), life is pretty “1 plus 1” – You get educated, you get married, you have children… or at least that combination in some shape or order. Anything outside of that is perceived as failure. I have my opinions about this being deeply linked to our national state of poverty, where there really isn’t much life to explore outside of these things.

This becomes even more apparent for women; where most women never even get the chance to live alone, without a family or the presence of a ‘man’. Most girls go from living with their parents to living with their partner. Most girls never get to experience a life outside of other people, and any attempt to do so is seen as wayward. For the life of them, women are expected at every point in their lives to be possessed by someone, be it their families, a husband, or even their children. It is a way of infantilising women, but that is a talk for a different day. It is social engineering at best, and not nature as some might try to lead you to believing women are made in this way.

Since I was a child, subsconciously, there was a life trajectory set for me. I grew up in a family where my parents were married (still are), with my two siblings. When I dreamt of a future, it looked much like what my parents had: me – a working woman, a wife, a mother; all the wonderful things that my mother was, so excellently. There was a husband, there were children, and there was a job, in my supposed future.

I am a young adult woman now, and there are none of these things in my (what was then) future. I am not employed (I am self-employed). I do not have a husband, nor do I have children, and to be honest, I am not certain that I want either. This is a realisation I came to only a year ago; around the time I decided I was not going to be spending my life with the last man I loved. The last man I loved, despite his faults, was a wonderful human being to me. We had a lot of good years together, with a love that was pure, love which made me whole – whole enough to be content with being alone. Even in all the ways we ended, there really is little to no bitterness for me there.

A few months after my relationship came to an end, I attempted to date again, twice. Both attempts were terribly shortlived; partly because I was still navigating the emotions I still held for my ex, and mostly because I was not even sure I was certain that I liked the new humans, or that I wanted to have them present in my life. I also started to realise that though I held the two humans I have loved (the only two exes I claim) in my life in high regard, and I still hold a deep love and respect for them both, as far as romantic love goes for me, I am no longer drawn to them.

For the first time in my adult life (literally), I started discovering who I was outside of a man. For the first time in my life, I was not trying to support a man’s dreams. For the first time in my life, I was not waiting on someone to support my dreams. For the first time in my life, it was just me – discovering what I even liked about life.

My first year single coincided with the year I was most desired (they lied about women losing desirability as they grow older / become more successful). I have never been desired (and respected by the said potential partners) as I am now in my life, which leaves me in a space to be able to choose, and also to say no.

The year also coincided with the first year I was financially stable (shout out to Covid-19, another story for a different day), and I could actually afford to explore the things I did like. I started to discover who I am outside of a man.

Previously, my hobbies outside of my work revolved around having a partner. I loved going to dinner *with my partner. I loved chatting *with my partner. I loved going on vacations *with my partner.

Being single and alone meant discovering if I even liked these things outside of having a partner. I discovered that I love going to dinner. Credit to my being a busy business woman, I enjoy going to dinner alone. I get to eat food I like, and be alone with my thoughts to think through my businesses. I also enjoy going on dates with friends and colleagues – just food and great chats.

I discovered that I love going on solocations. I took a lot of solocations in 2021, and discovered I actually like travelling alone. I get to do all my activities on my own schedule, and not feel guilty about not being a present friend / partner. And I discovered I do love chatting with people, but only in small doses. I have come to love my personal space, and I am getting better at drawing boundaries.

Being without a man made me realise I am not even sure I want to have a man, and if at some point in the future I choose to have one, they will have to be absolutely delightful, with life principles that leave me in awe of the magnificence of their existence. Till then, I am actually quite content exploring more life (even if it means the rest of my life) outside of having a man.

All this to say I wish more women got the chance to explore life outside of having a man(/a partner). I think men(/partners) are absolutely delightful, but they might just be more delightful when they become wants, as opposed to needs. I think we’d choose better men(/partners) for ourselves, too, were we not always in a rush to have a man(/partner) – just any man(/partner). Maybe more women could be happier – genuinely happy, and maybe men could be more accountable, especially in the ways which they relate to women. Just maybe.

All my love,


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Before you go, check out the plans I have for 2022 here. See you soon!

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11 thoughts on “Who are you without a man?

    1. This has opened my mind to things I never thought I would imagine. It’s has made a shift in my life. Thank you Nthanda.

  1. Wow, Nthanda! What a beautifully written expression of something I and many of the women I love have been experiencing. Thank you for sharing this with us. I see you. 💜

    1. Thanks Phindu, for reading and responding. I actually didn’t realise it would be so relatable to many, and I am so glad that it is. I see you too. 🤍

  2. Everything that had to be said. I love the insights, I hope more women get to see this ❤️

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