Angelica Malin by Rosie Parsons
Unattached, edited by Angelica Malin, shares thirty essays about the many experiences of being single. Despite the book being called “Unattached”, all the writers, from influencer Megan Barton Hanson and academic Bella Depaulo, to Malin herself who put the book together after a shock break-up from her partner of five years, describe their single-hood in ways that are anything but lonely. Angelica beautifully layers the voices in the book, including her own, sidelining the perceived importance of romantic love, and celebrating other kinds of attachments – with friends, family and ultimately with ourselves.
Unattached is taking a permanent place on Vyrao’s shelves. Think of it as your intellectual companion to Beyoncé’s Single Ladies. As we launch our candle Rose Marie for self-love this week, and celebrate International Women’s Day next week, we talked with Angelica to hear more.
Melanie Rickey: We love Unattached at Vyrao. It’s a journey to self-discovery in many voices. Is this what you intended with the book?
Angelica Malin: You know, there wasn’t much that spoke to what I was experiencing at the time, which was being newly single in a world that felt really coupled up during the pandemic. I went online looking for a book or a podcast or something just to feel connected to other women who were in a similar position and I didn’t find what I needed.
MR: My biggest learning from the book has been awareness about the “single positivity” movement and the single-hood teachings of Ketaki Chowkhani. How important do you think this teaching is and why?
AM: Ketaki is one of the only people in the world teaching Singlehood Studies and I wanted someone to come at the subject from a more academic point of view. Creating more education around different ways of living, and showing there isn’t one way to lead a happy and fulfilled life, is so important. For most of us, from very early on, the things we are taught about life are sold to us in fairy tales, all happily ever after stories and Disney princesses. We simply don’t see different narratives on the subject of being single. There is starting to be a shift. I noticed this year on Valentine’s Day there was a lot more conversations around individuality and celebrating different kinds of relationships, not just the romantic.
From very early on, the things we are taught about life are sold to us in fairy tales, all happily ever after stories and Disney princesses.
MR: The book left me curious to learn more about the nuts and bolts of the process of your self-discovery, and it’s what I wanted to talk to you about. What have you learned?
AM: My breakup was shattering. I was devastated I hadn’t seen it coming. Everything I imagined for my life disappeared. I’d planned our wedding in my head, what our children would look like… it’s a unique sense of loss because it’s the loss of a fantasy, and that’s a very particular kind of mourning. So what I learned was I had to go through the pain, not go around it.
MR: What’s the scariest thing about being single?
AM: I think what really terrifies us in a breakup, is that life suddenly feels so free. Because in a relationship you’re not free. It’s harder to have goals and dreams as an individual. It’s much easier to have those dreams when you’re in a couple. We can find ourselves doing things because that’s what you do in your couple without thinking, ‘what do I actually want?’ So my personal development journey has been questioning everything, feeling fear, and moving forward anyway, not being frozen by it.
We can find ourselves doing things because that’s what you do in your couple without thinking, ‘what do I actually want?’
MR: What have you learned by being single?
AM: I think I’ve learned to spread out my needs and desires between different people. And I’ve built a richer life around it, so my friendships are stronger. I’m also clearer about, say, the kind of people I like travelling with, and all these things I didn’t really look at properly or invest enough time into before, because I was putting it all into one relationship.
MR: How important has it been for you to build a relationship with yourself?
AM: Absolutely crucial to it all, and it’s what we hear throughout the book. Its the opposite of sleepwalking. It’s about consciously asking yourself what you actually want, and creating more of a dialogue with yourself. I believe every woman needs to have a period of time being single because it helps you so much in understanding what a healthy relationships look like to you. When people are running from those things, or wishing it away, it’s because they don’t want to be with their own thoughts.
MR: What is your definition of self-love?
AM: To me self-love is about acknowledging more work has to be done on yourself, on a more regular basis. To keep up your self-esteem, your confidence, especially when you bring dating into the mix. Make sure you are surrounding yourself with people that fill you up. If you don’t maintain those things, you have more potential to let yourself down. So I think the self-love point is more important when you’re single. Being aware to respect yourself, creating healthy boundaries in your personal and work life and understanding what that looks like.
MR: In your introduction to the book you describe weekends “full of self-care” – how did these weekends develop – and what did they transform from, to?
AM: I set up a Sunday Club with some friends. I figured, why don’t we make a weekly thing where we’ll have a dinner, drink wine, eat chocolate? We talk about all our work stuff, but also the date that we’ve been on that week and we laugh about that.
MR: What are your wellness routines?
AM: I absolutely love candles and have different ones for different times of the day. It’s something I got into over lockdown and so I would have a very spring-like candle in the daytime and would make a step change to something more musky for the evening. I actually I think it’s so important. It really helped me get into a different gear shift.
MR: What routines have you hung onto from those weekends, and how do these activities factor in your daily life now?
AM: The main thing I like is to do a strength class. I really feel like the narrative has changed around weightlifting because it’s always exclusively girls in my class. Lifting weights is so good for me mentally because there is such a connection between physical resilience and emotional resilience. I‘m much more able to take on the day when I’ve lifted something that morning.
Angelica Malin is also the editor of About Time Magazine, and author of She Made It: The Toolkit for Female Founders in the Digital Age. Thank you Angelica Malin.