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Is it so wrong to be single? 

By STEPHANIE ZUBIRI, The Philippine STAR Published Mar 03, 2024 8:49 am

Ever since I was a little girl, I was conditioned to think that the be-all and end-all was marriage. Every single cartoon, every fairytale ended up with the girl marrying her prince and living happily ever after.

Why must all relationships end in marriage? And why must happiness always include a partner? Why is it so wrong to be single?

After two marriages, I am in no hurry, really, to tie the knot again and have come to even question its necessity. Must we have binding contracts that keep us together? Can’t this be a choice made every day? What about all these new kinds of relationships? Ones with different rules and lifestyles? I’m not saying there’s no happily ever after, I’m just wondering if it must all look the same, which is making it down the aisle.

Even Disney has caught up to this; the last few releases don’t see the heroine getting married, many of them don’t even have a love interest — look at Moana and Mirabel from Encanto, they find joy in purpose, in following their hearts and in having love for themselves and for those around them. Neither of them needed a partner to complete them or their story.

My last guest on Soulful Feasts is a perfect specimen of unconventional; choosing self-authority and living his most authentic self, the lifelong bachelor by choice, DJ Tony Toni of Boy’s Night Out on Magic 89.9.

‘Why does every date need to lead to marriage?’ he asks. ‘Why can’t we just connect?’

Tony has been single for over 25 years and is happy this way. “It started when I first moved here from Canada,” he explains. “It was more of a financial decision because I was just beginning my career but then it became a conscious choice.” He admits that in the beginning it was fun and the unsettledness and spontaneity of youth was a driving factor. “I was living out my ‘ho’ phase in my twenties then I realized, what a pity, all this energy that you waste. You become desensitized and it’s no longer meaningful connections.”

Today, being single means something completely different for Tony: “I don’t want to fill a void in my life; I don’t want to have a relationship that comes just from a place of needing. I have been choosing to fill my own cup and to love myself. You don’t need a better half; you are, in fact, whole.”

Despite his ultimate bachelor persona on his radio show, Tony is profound, pensive and quite the advocate for meditation and mindfulness. I met him over the pandemic during an online panel talk about mental health and we connected over his spiritual journey. He practices transcendental meditation for a minimum of 20 minutes a day and is committed to his health, wellness and personal growth. “Every year, I take two weeks off totally alone; I cut myself off from society and sit still with myself,” he shares.

When asked if there ever was someone that got away, he slightly evades the question but does reply with confidence: “I think it was also a conscious choice. I pondered why should we give the power to allow someone else to make us either unhappy, joyful, or even feel loved, when we have the power to do that on our own? That's when I really dove deep into meditation, and to just be in the moment.”

Tony is, however, open to love. “Of course I am,” he says. “I believe if you're closed off, then there's something that you're fighting and you shouldn’t be living in a fighting state. You shouldn't be irritated or annoyed because then you're a ticking time bomb.” What he does stress is the importance of meeting someone who is on the same path as he is. “I'm doing all the work for myself and it will be difficult to be with someone who doesn’t have the same practice or discipline.”

This resonates so much with me. Not too long ago, I had received a wonderful piece of wisdom from Mary Ho, a sound healer and shaman from Singapore who often visits Healing House. After a one-on-one session with her, she expressed to me that people who are healed or healing can’t be with wounded souls. “You deserve to be with someone who is on the same healing journey as you,” she expressed. I have never forgotten these words and they’ve been a great reminder for me to set boundaries when I need them.

However, Tony, like other men, is not an island. He is still actively dating; however, he does have a problem with a particular strange notion in the Philippines: “Why does every date need to lead to marriage?” he asks. “Why can’t we just connect? On dating apps in the US or Canada, it’s about connecting with people, there’s no end goal. If it lasts long then great and if it doesn’t, it’s okay. Who do many women equate their worth as ‘marriage material’? It’s sad, they’re so much more.”

What happens when things get too sticky and downright toxic? Tony shares that he is upfront every time he dates someone. “I am always clear and communication is key. And when things get toxic, I cut ties as soon as possible.”

He’s also not afraid to grow old alone (which is one of my personal fears), and in this light he has taken his health much more seriously. “I want to live as long and healthy as possible. I think what I've been doing the past few years is really taking care of myself, being more mindful of who I spend my time with, what I put in my body, how I treat myself. And I think at the end of the day, you can't worry about that too far ahead. You have to worry about the now and how to make this present moment matter.”

He feels strongly that “if we're not exuding that happiness and joyfulness each second, each minute — which is tough — it's like you're dead already. If you’re in a relationship because you're just worried about finding someone to take care of you, this is not right for me. So the most important thing is being your own source.”


Soulful Feasts is available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts with new episodes every Tuesday. Brought to you by Anima Studios. Catch this episode.