Relationship Diversity Podcast

Shattering Stigmas Surrounding the Choice to Be Single with Jess Frey

December 07, 2023 Carrie Jeroslow Episode 77
Relationship Diversity Podcast
Shattering Stigmas Surrounding the Choice to Be Single with Jess Frey
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Episode 077:
Shattering Stigmas Surrounding the Choice to Be Single with Jess Frey

Have you ever stopped to ponder the societal expectations wrapped up in our relationship statuses? What if you could unravel these norms, embrace your independence, and discover the joy of choosing a solo life? In our latest episode, we invite Jess Frey, a single mother and advocate for racial and social justice, to share her personal journey towards soloamory. Jess's insights are a testament to the liberating power in choosing to live single and the self-discovery that follows.

Breaking societal norms is never easy, but Jess's story serves as inspiration.  We get personal, discussing the societal pressures of conforming to traditional relationship structures and the stigmas associated with being solo.

Let's take the "shoulds" out of our relationships and step into what we really desire.

This is Relationships Reimagined.

Join me for this new paradigm of conscious, intentional and diverse relationships.

Jess's Podcast: Unapologetically Overcoming

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Please note: I am not a doctor, psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist, counselor, or social worker. I am not attempting to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any physical, mental, or emotional issue, disease, or condition. The information provided in or through my podcast is not intended to be a substitute for the professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment provided by your own Medical Provider or Mental Health Provider. Always seek the advice of your own Medical Provider and/or Mental Health Provider regarding any questions or concerns you have about your specific circumstance.

Jess Frey:

I love being able to do what I want when I want, where I want, with who I want, and not have to worry about checking in with someone or I'm going to go here with these people and I'll be back at this time. I just like having freedom to live life how I want to live life.

Carrie Jerslow:

Welcome to the Relationship Diversity Podcast, where we celebrate, question and explore all aspects of relationship structure diversity, from soloramory to monogamy to polyamory and everything in between, because every relationship is as unique as you are. We'll bust through societal programming to break open and dissect everything we thought we knew about relationships, to ask the challenging but transformational questions who am I and what do I really want in my relationships? I'm your guide, Ca Jarislow. Bestselling author, speaker, intuitive and coach. Join me as we reimagine all that our most intimate relationships can become. Today's episode is an offshoot of our conversation series that I'm calling lived experiences. In it we hear life stories from the people who live them with the intention of cultivating understanding, empathy and connection. There's such power in storytelling, which can also create an opening for self-reflection and awareness.

Carrie Jerslow:

My guest today is Jess Fry, a podcast host and coach. We talk about her intentional choice to practice solamary, purposefully choosing to be single in this chapter of her life. But first a little about her. Jess is a single mom to a teenage son. She works for the county, the local DSS, primarily with the homeless population, and she has two other part-time jobs in similar fields. She also has her own online clothing boutique. She's in the process of starting her coaching business, where her focus will be on helping individuals learn to love themselves and feel comfortable in their own skin. She started her podcast in June of 2022, called Unapologetically Overcoming. It discusses topics that usually have a negative stigma associated with them. Her hope is that by talking about such topics, people will see that they, too, can overcome difficult situations and, hopefully, the stigmas can be eliminated. She's been diagnosed with depression, anxiety and an eating disorder. She's also been a victim of domestic violence and has gone through other traumatic experiences, but has been able to overcome them and has found happiness. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with friends and family, going to concerts and traveling. She's also passionate about advocating for racial and social justice and human rights.

Carrie Jerslow:

Let's get into the conversation. Hello everyone and welcome to this episode of Relationship Diversity Podcast. I've got another episode with a wonderful guest, jess Fry, who is going to be talking about her experiences choosing to be solo, single to practice solo amary. A lot of times, this choice of relationship structure is highly stigmatized because we have all of those images that are put in our minds through movies, society, culture. That is one thing I don't want to be is single and on my own, and if I'm single, either something's wrong with me. I've done a whole episode about solo amary and a lot of the cultural beliefs around it. Jess, thank you so much for being here to talk about your life, talk about your choices and to open people's minds to this being a very intentional choice and the reasons behind that.

Jess Frey:

Thank you so much for having me. I'm really excited to be here today and have this conversation with you.

Carrie Jerslow:

I always like looking at childhoods and what we're shown and how that influences our experiences in life. So could you start there and talk a little bit about your youth and your family?

Jess Frey:

Sure. So I come from a two-parent home. My parents were married. They're still married. They've been married 43 years, which when I hear that number I'm like how can you be with anyone for that long? That's such a long time. I know people do it and I applaud them for doing that. So my parents have. They've been married the entire time I've been alive. I think they're like any other normal relationship, and I say that in that they have their issues, because all relationships have issues. Sometimes things are great between them, sometimes things aren't, but I think, looking at their relationship, I've learned that if that's the route that you choose, you stick with each other and you work through those things, no matter how hard they are. I've seen that with them because there's been a few times when I've seen things going on as I've gotten older and then no, if I would stick around after something like that and not awful things, but just things like if I have boundaries and things I don't wanna put up with, I might not stay in a situation like that, and they have.

Jess Frey:

I think sometimes that's like a generational thing because they grew up in a different time than we are now growing up and have grown up, but I have watched them support each other through difficult times. My dad, when I was in high school. My dad had to have open heart surgery and was out of work for months and my mom took over and she was essentially the head of the household and was doing all the things that because he couldn't, he wasn't working, he was in the hospital for a while and that was a big thing for our family and watching the roles go back and forth of them taking care of one another when they needed it and supported each other when one needed it more than the other. So that's the model that I've had as far as marriage and relationships.

Carrie Jerslow:

As far as my parents go, that must have been an interesting experience to see those gender roles reverse. How do you think that affected you, seeing your mom take on this role of breadwinner for lack of a better word, which I don't really like that word but the person that goes out and works and takes care of the household? How old were you when that happened?

Jess Frey:

I was in ninth grade when that happened and I never really thought about how that impacted the way I look at gender roles. But now that you're asking that question, I almost wonder if that has anything to do with where I am now in my experience and choosing the things that I'm choosing and recognizing that I can be that person and I can be the one being the breadwinner and doing all the things that typically the man would do in a relationship. So I never really thought about it like that, but maybe that situation does have more of an impact in the choices I've made throughout life.

Carrie Jerslow:

Yeah, and I think my generation, our generation I don't know if we're in the same generation, but I'm a Gen Xer and I saw the split up of my parents and my mom, who had been a stay at home. Mom had to go out and get a job and work and I came out of that thinking I am never gonna depend on a man. It came back to bite me in the butt a little bit, but I remembered being 12 and saying I wanna know how to support myself from the very beginning, which made me a very independent woman and served me in many ways. But then, when I was wanting to bring in a co-partner to co-create a life together, I had trouble letting go of control because I had to work through that belief. I had to heal that belief. And did you have any siblings growing up?

Jess Frey:

I have one sister. She's seven years younger than me, so I'm the older sister.

Carrie Jerslow:

So it's just her and I, and what did your relationships look like starting from teenage years?

Jess Frey:

I had my first real boyfriend in 10th grade I think, and it was a normal kind of high school relationship. Didn't last very long, but it was my first kind of experience of being hands with somebody in the hallway in between class and that sort of stuff, going to school dances with them. My next relationship after that was my first serious boyfriend and we started dating not long after him and I broke up and we were together my last two full years of high school and then my whole four years of college. So we were together for six years and when we broke up he was cheating on me and I caught him. So I ended that relationship. I tried to make it work but he didn't want to make it work. So I guess maybe he ended it because he was like I'm done basically, but found out about the cheating. I was like what's going on here? We lived together. We actually worked in the same place.

Jess Frey:

I thought my world ended when that happened because in my brain I was like we're going to get married, we're going to have kids, we're going to live happily ever after. But it didn't work out that way and I was devastated. I literally felt like my world crumbled around me and it took me a really long time to get over that A really long time and I kind of dated a few people here and there but was never in a serious relationship after that. Then I met my son's father and we were together for almost 13 years and we could do a whole other podcast and sort of felt that whole situation. But what I will say is that that relationship didn't go the way I thought it was going to go either. Things happened and again that relationship I didn't. I had had enough. There was a lot of issues going on that I was willing to work through. We were in counseling together. I was really committed to trying to make that relationship work. But you can't do that when it's one sided.

Jess Frey:

And it didn't work and I had finally had enough. My son was getting older and there were a lot of unhealthy things going on in that relationship and I was like this is not the image that our son should have of what a healthy relationship looks like. So I was done. I told him I want the keys back to our apartment. If you don't give them back to me, I'm going to the rental office and I'm sending them to change the locks. I do not want you here anymore. And that was three years ago, this June. So I have been single for three years. I've learned a lot in the few relationships that I've been in, but I am single now and I'm happy. Single I really am. I know that a lot of people sometimes don't believe that when I say that, they're like well, don't you want this, or don't you want that, or wouldn't this be nice? Maybe it would, but I don't need that, at least not right now. I obviously reserve the right to change my mind, but I'm good where I am right now.

Carrie Jerslow:

We talk about a lot in this podcast about how we evolve as people. If we try to stay the same, we are giving up on the truth of our own nature, which is this ever-evolving self, and I think it's really beautiful, specifically coming off of the experience that you had with your son's father, to choose to focus on you and to choose to be on your own. Do you remember that being after that relationship, it being a conscious choice to say I don't want to be with anyone, or do you think that that's how it evolved as you were healing from that relationship?

Jess Frey:

I think initially it was conscious, because I didn't want to jump from one relationship right into something so soon after that one had ended. But I also knew that I needed time to heal from everything that that relationship was and everything that it wasn't, because we go into things thinking they're going to go one way and then when they don't, that's a whole separate thing that you have to deal with too. So I do think initially it was a conscious decision and then over the years it's conscious, but maybe not so much. I don't perseverate on it, but I'm just where I am now. I'm happy, I'm good, so I'm not thinking about I need another person in my life to fulfill me and to make me happy and for me to do the things that I want to do in life.

Carrie Jerslow:

What do you love about being single?

Jess Frey:

I'm going to be totally honest. I love being able to do what I want, when I want, where I want, with who I want, and not have to worry about checking in with someone or I'm going to go here with these people and I'll be back at this time. Obviously I have a child, so there's a level to that. But he's a teenager, so he's self-sufficient. He stays home and hangs out when I go out and hang out with friends and all that. But I just like having freedom to live life how I want to live life, and I think you can do that sometimes if you're in the right kind of relationship. But I think that doesn't always work out like that in relationships and then there's that struggle and then you realize maybe this isn't what I want. So I do enjoy the freedom of being single, absolutely.

Carrie Jerslow:

Yeah, I remember the days that I was single. There's been periods in my life that I've been single and absolutely loved it. One was in New York City and just the freedom of being able to walk out my door and go wherever I want, do whatever I want. There's so much to do there and it was just so fun to be able to do that.

Carrie Jerslow:

And the other way that I've liked in the past and sometimes I think this comes from a wounded place, not always a healed place is financially is that I have liked to have my own autonomy with money and I've been able to bring that into the more awareness I have of that, bring that into my partnerships. But I think that when I talk about relationship structure, there's ways that you can be in certain structures but also have elements of other structures in your current structure. So if there is ever a time that you decide that you want to I don't know start looking for someone to date even what are aspects that you think you would want to keep from your single life or from your solo amorous life that would be important for you to bring into a different relationship structure.

Jess Frey:

Independence is really important to me, and when you started to talk about how that came from a wounded place instead of a healed place, it made me think of that, because I historically feel like I have been let down by other people, especially in relationships, and I feel like at some point I'm the only one who I can depend on. So when I say independent, that's what I mean, not like I don't need someone to do these things, but just like I feel like I'm the only one that I can depend on. But I also feel like it's important to still be able to be me and be who I am, even if I was in a relationship. So, truthfully, this may sound completely selfish and I think I've had a conversation with one of my guy friends about this before, but I don't want to have to change anything about me or who I am to be with someone. If you don't like certain things about me, then you can stay over there, because I'm not changing who I am for anybody.

Carrie Jerslow:

I love that and I think that that is the place to build any parts of your life from. And this is what I love about solo amary is that it is the time to really get to know who you are and yes, you can do this in other structures, absolutely. And that time I hear a lot of people who choose to be single and who love it love that they know themselves or they're getting to know themselves or their goal is to know themselves deeper and deeper all the time. And I think a lot of times when we're in relationship, it's more challenging to set the time aside to know who I am and to be who I am unapologetically.

Jess Frey:

All right. Sometimes you spend so much time trying to be what the other person wants you to be instead of just being you, and then you wonder why things don't work out. It's because you're not that person that you're pretending to be for them, you're somebody else and that's no way to be in a relationship with anybody friends, family, your partner.

Carrie Jerslow:

In these last three years that you've been on your own, what are some of the ways that you have gotten to know yourself in a deeper way?

Jess Frey:

I think I've been doing more things by myself, which is something I would never do before, Even something as simple as going to get ice cream by myself. I wouldn't do something like that alone. I just recently, in July, I went on a retreat and there were other people on the retreat but I went by myself and again, that's something that three years ago I probably never would have done so traveling alone, doing things alone, taking myself out just me, even if it's just to do something for myself.

Jess Frey:

You always have to do things with other people and that's hard for a lot of people and it was hard for me the first time I did something like that. I think I told the story on another podcast that I was interviewed on. I have a friend who's a DJ and he does these parties every month. It's called Lined Down Wednesday, so it's like R&B music, singing, dancing, and I go religiously every month and there was one month that I was supposed to go with a friend. She didn't end up getting a ticket, but I already had a ticket and I was like, should I go, should I not go? And I'm like I'm just going to go. And I went by myself and I was nervous, even though there's people there that I know from going all the time.

Jess Frey:

But I went and I ended up making friends who I'm friends with now. I see them now when I go. They came and celebrated my birthday with me. So really putting yourself out there and doing those things that you're maybe a little afraid to do, that's what I've been doing over the last few years.

Carrie Jerslow:

I love that because when we get out of our comfort zone, I think a lot of times we can surprise ourselves what can happen. And I've read some studies that have said that people who choose to be single tend to have stronger friendships, stronger relationships with family or chosen family. Because I think that there's some stigma that if you're single, that you have trouble connecting with others or having more intimacy. I'm not talking about sexual intimacy, I'm just like emotional, mental intimacy with others, and I have read some research that says the exact opposite and that those relationships with friends, family, chosen family actually solidifies their choice of wanting to remain solo and single and that they love their life even more because they have deeper relationships that are intentional and chosen.

Jess Frey:

I agree with that, because I do think there are so many other ways that you can have relationships and find, like you said, love and intimacy and all of those things without it being a romantic relationship. There's this thought that we've all been taught that you have to be in a partnered relationship in order to experience those things, and it's not true.

Carrie Jerslow:

Yeah, and I think we are right now and other people who talk about this subject are destigmatizing and starting to show, through our lived experiences, that there are other ways to look at being single than the cat lady that is like 80 years old with 50 cats, and there's nothing wrong with that. If you're the cat lady and you love cats and you want to live with your cats, great, do it.

Jess Frey:

That's what makes you happy. Go for it.

Carrie Jerslow:

Right. Right, because life, I believe, is meant to live in the way for us to find what makes us happy in the best way that we can, because there's so much stuff going on in the world that is not. And claiming our lives to do our best to find joy, whether it is in a small thing of just connecting through a phone call with someone or smiling at someone in the grocery store, or something really small that can help us bring more joy slowly into the world. So I guess a question I have is have you faced any judgments when you tell people I'm single, I'm happy being single? What are some of the things that people have said to you or how they've judged you?

Jess Frey:

One thing that comes to mind is a conversation I had recently with someone and it wasn't necessarily a judgment towards me, but just like a single mom raising a son, it was that type of situation. They were like don't you want someone or don't you feel like your son needs someone in that role, not only to model again what a healthy relationship looks like, but also a positive male role model, and it probably wouldn't be a bad idea. But at the same time there are other places where my son has those positive male role models. It doesn't need to be in a partner of mine and ultimately it's not someone else's responsibility to do that job anyway. Obviously my son. If I were ever to be in a relationship, my son is part of the deal, so they know that coming in. But I think that's one of the things that I've discussed personally with people is the importance of having someone there like that for him.

Jess Frey:

I've also had conversations around that whole independent thing. I own my own home, so I cut my grass, I shovel the driveway, I put the garbage out and my son helps with this stuff. So don't get me wrong, I do those things and I don't have a problem doing those things. And someone has said to me on more than one occasion about how, if I would have difficulty accepting help doing those things and it's not that I would have difficulty, but Again, I've learned not to depend on other people.

Jess Frey:

So maybe if somebody showed up and consistently showed that they could do those things, I may soften a little bit, because I think the stigma is I don't need someone. I don't to a certain extent. But obviously having someone else to depend on for certain things in a perfect world would be nice. So I think that's that judgment that maybe I put off that energy, that I don't need people, but I do need people. But again, that doesn't have to come from a partner. There's plenty of other people in my circle who can fulfill the things that I need if and when I need them.

Carrie Jerslow:

Exactly exactly.

Carrie Jerslow:

These are programs that our culture has really infiltrated into our mind as the only way to be happy and the only way to experience life. And, jess, I feel like what you're showing us is that there are other ways, and there are other ways that can bring happiness to you. And here's the beautiful thing is, what you do doesn't have to be what anyone else does, and what I'm hoping that this episode will help is if someone is on the other side of the world listening to this saying I feel bad because I love being independent and on my own, but I'm told by my family or my society or my culture that I should be doing this, and I think anytime that word comes into your thoughts, I should be is a perfect moment to take a pause and ask yourself is that really what I want? Is that really what I desire in this moment and, like you said, jess, it can change a year from now.

Carrie Jerslow:

You could decide intentionally well, I think I might be ready to date, or something like that or you could choose to be single for the rest of your life and be happy and have close friendships and relationships with a lot of other people, and that is perfectly okay and beautiful in and of itself, so that there are so many options, and I hope that if you're listening to this and you feel all the shoulds towering over you, that you'll just take a moment and a pause and ask yourself what you really, really want in this moment. So, jess, thank you so much. I do want you to talk for a moment about your podcast, because you have a podcast and I would love for people to know about it so they could check it out.

Jess Frey:

Thank you. Yes, I do have a podcast. It's called Unapologetically Overcoming. It's available on Apple, iheartradio, amazon, spotify and Podbean and it focuses on topics that normally have some sort of stigma attached to them. I've shared some of my own stories. I have guests on that. They share their stories. They share stories of people that they work with and like their businesses and the work that they do with people to help them overcome stigmas. The focus is to hopefully eliminate the stigmas that are attached to so many of the things that people are living through and dealing with, because chances are pretty good that someone listening to any given episode has experienced what that episode is about, and I really just want people to know that they're not alone and whatever it is that they're going through, they can get through it and there's something better on the other side.

Carrie Jerslow:

I love that and I really do think when someone hears, oh, it's not just me, oh, other people have experienced that. It brings connection and I think it helps. I know when I hear someone oh, someone's experienced something that I have, it makes me just take a deep breath and say I'm not alone, it's not just me, because I think when we sit in our own minds and we have all of the self judgments right there's a lot of that self judgments about our life and when we hear and we come to a space that is accepting and loving, that is incredibly helpful on our healing journey. So everyone go check out unapologetically Overcoming. We will link it in the show notes so we can very quickly just click on it and go listen to one of her episodes. So, jess, thank you so much for being here and sharing your story and opening people's minds. Thanks so much for listening to the Relationship Diversity Podcast.

Carrie Jerslow:

Want to learn more about relationship diversity? I've got a free guide I'd love to send you. Go to wwwrelationshipdiversitypodcastcom to get your sent right to you. If you liked what you heard, please subscribe to the podcast. You being here and participating in the conversation about relationship diversity is what helps us create a space of inclusivity and acceptance together. The more comfortable and normal it is to acknowledge the vast and varied relating we all do, the faster we'll shift to a paradigm of conscious, intentional and diverse relationships. New episodes are released every Thursday. Stay connected with me through my website, carriejeroslowcom, instagram or TikTok.

Carrie Jerslow:

Stay curious. Every relationship is as unique as you are. Are you wondering why you never seem to find lasting fulfillment in your relationships, or do you create the same kinds of relationship experiences over and over again? Can you never seem to find even one person who you want to explore a relationship with? Have you just given up hope altogether? If this sounds like you, my recent book why Do they Always Break Up With Me is the perfect place to start. The foundation of any relationship, whether intimate or not, is the relationship we have with ourselves. In the book, I lead you through eight clear steps to start or continue your self-exploration journey. You'll learn about the importance of self-acceptance, gratitude, belief, shifting and forgiveness, and given exercises to experience these life-changing concepts. This is the process I use to shift my relationships from continual heartbreak to what they are now fulfilling, soul-nourishing, compassionate and loving. It is possible for you. This book can set you on a path to get there Only available through Amazon or through the link in the show notes.

Solo Amory and Overcoming Relationship Expectations
Exploring the Joy of Being Single
Exploring Independence and Overcoming Stigmas
Find Lasting Fulfillment in Relationships