5 Ways Embracing My True Quirkytogether Nature Made Me a Happier Person (and Wife)

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For me, quirky started from day one outside of the womb, but actually knowing the word “quirkyalone” came around when I was in college. I was spending more time on my own, which I found so very, very awesome. I could spend entire days in my apartment with a book, listening to my own music without headphones, watching movies without anyone commenting on what they were about. I could go on day trips around the city, wander through shops at my own pace, without a single second wasted on worrying about what someone else thought.

But in the midst of this contentment there were strange questions bubbling up in my brain, unbidden. Wasn’t I supposed to be with someone? Or wasn’t I supposed to want that? I remember distinctly walking into the university bookstore and finding this cute, blue, hardback book with drawings and quotes. The pages reminded me of zines I had found and admired, and in those pages, I found a tangible peace, because I knew that there was a word for the kind of person I was.

Fast-forward into the future five years. I looked through my books and found that little tome of respite, and I considered giving it away. I was married, a ring on my finger and a heaviness in my heart. I was fairly certain that part of my life was over, because I saw all the faces on the pages talking about solitude and self and I was seized with a choking fakeness. I felt like I couldn’t be that me anymore…had I settled? Had I ruined it all by saying ‘I do’?

In Summer 2013, at the crest of the anxiety wave I had been experiencing, I got an email through the Quirkyalone Mailing List and an invitation to a Quirkytogether 101 class. Quirkytogether, the sibling concept of the quirkyalone movement wherein a quirkyalone could enter into a new stage of life with a partner. I was a little nervous at first as everyone introduced themselves; most were there to tackle what was keeping them from pursuing relationships. I was the odd entity – someone who was there because I was concerned about the feeling that I was trapped inside my own marriage. But as I joined in and took an active part in establishing trust with the whole, beautiful collective of the class, I found myself giving as well as receiving. I realized that I still belonged her, that I hadn’t left a part of myself behind. I had simply evolved.

A snake doesn’t mourn its shed skin, nor is a butterfly nostalgic for the caterpillar it used to be. As I interacted with the Quirkyalone community, I saw that many of the things I was worried I would lose out on were still there – travel, independence, my own interests – but now they were enhanced by the presence of another. And understanding that I was a better version of my true self saved my sanity and my marriage.

I recognized that for me, quirkyalone doesn’t stop at quirkytogether – it just gets different! And that’s why I feel like I am so fortunate to get to pay that forward, telling people from firsthand experience that you are still you, no matter who is or is not standing by your side. When you are single for a long time, and you give that up to bring someone new into your life, you may find yourself in what feels like a mourning period for that past self. You question if you’ve made the right decision. You doubt. And I can say confidently, now that I’m past that period, it’s the exact same as any other transition in life. New, awesome things are often risky. If we stay comfortable and stagnant, how will we experience the bigger world?

During my first year being married, after the initial honeymoon stage, I started to feel like I was stagnating. Every day started blurring together. The normalcy, which should have been comforting, was unnerving. I was mentally and physically a wreck. I had a hard time sleeping. I felt like I was living my life rappelling with a frayed cord down a cliff-face. The anxiety and fear that I was ruining not only my own life but my husband’s was a constantly clear and present stress. But after taking the Quirkytogether 101 class, and the self-actualization became the soundtrack to living in all its quirky wonder…I smiled more. I offered more acts of kindness to my husband (and to myself too). I was more forgiving. I wasn’t the only one who got stronger. Our marriage had grown muscle, and we knew we were okay.   And here are five ways that I have become a more accepting, loving person – to both of us – since I owned my quirkytogetherness:

Owning ‘Us’

Early in our marriage, I found myself feeling like I owed the world an explanation for the little idiosyncrasies of my marriage. It wasn’t that I felt ashamed, but I felt like I at least had to have a prepared speech on why we didn’t have the same last name. I had to have a memorized presentation on why we didn’t have a joint bank account or why we didn’t want to have children. Looking back on it, because of my own personal pressure I was exerting on myself, I felt like I had to defend myself. Now that I have my sense of awareness about who we are, I find myself more capable about owning those things with a certain pride. We are happy, and that’s all that seems to matter now.

The Importance of “Me Time”

“How can I make this something my husband will enjoy?” Before I took ownership of my solitude, I was constantly trying to find a way to force my partner into my hobbies. And while it’s great to have things to share with your other half, I found myself becoming discouraged and feeling like there was something “wrong” with us because we weren’t sharing the same interests. And not only that, but I felt guilty when I left to enjoy my own hobbies. What a waste of energy! Now, I possess fully my own interests, hobbies and decisions, guilt-free: recognizing the uniqueness of being quirkytogether allowed me the self awareness to realize that my husband and I are two fully-formed individuals. We don’t have to do everything together. I know that at the end of the day, he’ll be waiting for me, accepting me in whatever role I take on. And I know he feels the same.

I Am Not an Archetype

The first year of marriage was a lot like the first year of owning a home – it was always the first major topic of any conversation. Anytime I would talk to someone, the question was always, “Yeah, how’s that working for you? How do you feel being a wife now?” Like that was all I was. And that line of thinking led to my own subconscious constantly nudging, as if to say, “Better get used to it. This is me now. This is my world. This is it.” I was so wrong! I am not any one “it.” I am a wife, but I am also an adventurer. An artist. A writer. And my journeys have not ended because of one additional title I possess. I feel free to change, anytime, in any way. Once you step outside the gate and realize there is no pen confining you, you can really begin to explore your own personal potential.

Honesty and Clarity: a Winning Combination

Before I rediscovered my ‘quirky’ self, I felt like I was damaged goods. If I couldn’t make sense of my feelings in a way I could discuss with the person who was supposed to be here until “death do us part,” how could I be real with anyone else? I found myself being antisocial, concerned that I would seem disingenuous, fake or boring. It was only after my personal reformation that I became more forthright and honest with the people around me. As I became stronger and more aware of who I was, I knew immediately that I could be open with my husband. We had meaningful conversations about my decision to not have children, my mental health, and future financial struggles that I realized I had been avoiding. That new level of confidence spread to my other interactions with the world. No lies, no subterfuge.

Bright, Daily Joy

I am so, so happy: seriously. I feel more present now than I ever have before, because I’m not just waking up next to my husband. I’m waking up next to the real me as well. My joy at being able to accept myself gives me an agency and independence that was born from my quirkyalone spirit. I can go out and spend time with my husband and then still be able to revel in my own space and energy. I still take those trips to the bookstore to wander, and I still lose myself in projects on given days. Because I can still delight in being quirkyalone, my joy becomes contagious, and it becomes a great circle of happiness between us.

Editor’s note from Sasha: The Quirkytogether 101 class that Katie writes about was indeed wonderful. Currently I’m teaching these lessons through one-on-one coaching only; if you’re interested in busting out to develop and manifest your quirkytogether with my support, send a message here and we’ll set up an intro session.

Like this? Be sure to sign up for my mailing list and join me in Buenos Aires to learn about the quirkyalone approach to life and relationships through tango in the Quirky Tango Adventure.

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Posted in Quirkytogether

Meet Your Fellow Quirkyalones. The Survey Results Are In!

Quirkyalone Survey Results Infographic

This guest post is a collaboration between our new social media intern Katie Pugh and QA founder Sasha Cagen. Infographic and interview questions by Katie!

With over 300 responses from respondents from 26 countries with ages ranging between 19 and 74, the most recent Quirkyalone survey gave a really revealing look at the wide spectrum of people who identify with this amazing movement.

Quirkyalones comes from all different tax brackets and careers. They are students, cooks, teachers, insurances salespeople, software engineers, and more.

It’s really eye-opening to see that our lifestyle is not defined by what we do for a living or where we live but rather by a different approach to life, being single, and relationships.

After reviewing the survey results, I asked the queen of Quirky, quirkyalone movement founder Sasha Cagen, what she thought of some of the details shared.

Forty-seven percent of people said they would like to come to a weekend gathering of quirkyalones. There seemed to be an even split of people for and against coming to a Quirkyalone Together Weekend. Why do you think people are hesitant to meet one another? Do you think it’s the nature of being QA or something deeper?

Many quirkyalones are probably introverts who might be overwhelmed by the thought of a whole weekend. In a future survey I want to ask about extroversion and introversion. I decided to do an afternoon retreat this year for Quirkyalone Day rather than a whole weekend event.

Organizing the quirkyalone movement always felt a bit like herding cats. Quirkyalones are discerning and selective, after all. That said, whenever I lead a retreat, a trip, or an online class, I am reminded that people who identify with being quirkyalone and/or quirkytogether get so much support and friendship from meeting each other. A few find their quirkytogether too.

A really high percentage of the respondents said they wanted an online community—75.3%. This is something we are actively exploring creating in 2016. I’ve been talking with Jody Day at the website Gateway Women (for women who wanted to have children but for whatever reason could not) to get advice about how she runs online community.

The course topics people were most interested in taking were “being OK with being single in a couples world” and “getting rid of that there’s something wrong with me feeling in dating.” It seems like people want to focus dealing with an “us vs. them mentality”: “the different people vs. the muggles.” How does that make you feel?

I’m not surprised. I don’t think that coupled people are muggles–and remember quirkyalones can be quirkytogether too–but it’s a pretty big deal to learn how to stop negative self-talk about being single and completely accept where you are at in life, single or coupled, so I think it makes sense that people seek support around being OK with being single in a couples’ world.

In essence, people want help with self-acceptance because even though being single is much more acceptable than it was 15 years ago when I first started writing about quirkyalone, and there are so many more reflections of singleness in popular culture (everything from Grace and Frankie to Aziz Ansari’s Master of None), there’s still a heavy doubt that people feel about being single for a prolonged period of time. (I call it a “Single Inferiority Complex” in one post.) Many women and men over 40 really feel like it’s too late to find a partner and singleness becomes a heavy burden.

I call this “single shame” when the feelings of doubt get so large that people really feel there is something wrong with them and they will never be in a relationship. That’s where this us vs. them feeling comes in, as if there is a glass wall between quirkyalones and others. A lot of my writing, teaching and coaching work in the last few years has been about helping to name and dismantle that feeling of single shame. Speaking it out loud is the first part. Shame is in itself shameful, and has a way of getting in the way of dating or truly opening up.

We do live in a world that is couple-normative. We celebrate people when they marry. Most business leaders and politicians need a spouse to be legitimized. People say often that being a mother is a woman’s most important job.

So the validation that quirkyalone offers is really important of knowing, I’m not alone in this experience. It’s really very common for people to be sorting out these deep questions of being contentedly single and finding a healthy loving meaningful connection with another person over the course of their entire lives. Getting married is a lot easier than having a truly healthy relationship (with yourself or another person).

Personally, I was really surprised to see that there were a few people (8.5%) who said they saw being quirkyalone as a negative thing. Wow! If you could sit down with those people, what might you say or ask them?

I was surprised that 91.5% said being quirkyalone was positive. I think what’s so interesting is that 91.5% said it was positive to embrace being single while most also want some kind of relationship. These are people who can hold paradox, quirkylaones are complex people that way. It’s never so simple as being “happy single.” It’s, “I want to enjoy my life and I want a relationship too.”

Despite all that pressure to be in a relationship to be validated by society, overall people said being quirkyalone was positive by a landslide. That says something about the inner strength of these people because they recognize the value of their freedom and standards to not settle. They want to live their lives with intention rather than just falling into automatic, expected paths (gotta be married by 35 or 40), and that’s a positive thing.

What would I say to people who see being quirkyalone as a negative? First, I would ask them why. Then, I would ask, what do they really want in their lives, and what about being quirkyalone gets in the way?

My ex thought his quirks, for example, made him difficult to be with, whereas I think a person’s quirks makes them lovable. Of course it depends on what kind of quirks we are talking about.

My guess is that people who say being quirkyalone is negative for them don’t feel they have a choice and they feel hampered by their inability to be in a relationship. They might feel lonely (not uncommon in a workaholic, couple-obsessed world) or worry that having been single so long they are too accustomed to being alone or don’t have key relationship skills. We found in the survey that most quirkyalones people (81.4%) actually would prefer a quirkytogether relationship to being single. They are mostly not the “single at heart” group who are fiercely independent and only want to be single. The sociologist Bella de Paulo does great work writing about people who choose singlehood and only singlehood, that’s a different group.

I would also say, that part of us that feels being quirkyalone is a negative thing is a part of us that needs attention and love. A part of us is being called to development in being a quirkyalone who wants more intimacy and connection. Quirkyalones want to know that we can be with someone and still be who we are.

An interesting study from New Zealand crossed my desk last summer. The finding was that people who are happy single are those with “high avoidance goals” to avoid conflict. They wind up losing themselves in relationship, so they are happier single. That rang true to some of my experience and my experience of working with some clients. Not all quirkyalones have this fear of losing themselves in relationships, but some do.

If this is the case for you I would suggest there is some personal development to do so you can realize that you can be in a relationship, negotiate conflict, and not lose yourself. That’s one path toward quirkytogether.

There are a lot of tools and practices I have learned along the way with my own personal journey toward quirkytogether and that I share with clients. Nonviolent communication (NVC) is a philosophy about communication and a set of skills and a community where people can learn how to practice speaking their feelings and needs from the heart. I think it’s an excellent set of skills to learn for all relatiosnships. There are local NVC communities in many cities. Also I sometimes offer Quirkytogether classes online and talk about these topics with coaching clients.

A lot of people (63%) are interested in doing travel adventures with other quirky folks! You’ve done a few trips for tango in Buenos Aires. Argentina at this point, correct? What other areas of the world would you want to open up to? Why do you think quirkyalones want to travel together?

Since 2014, I have led five Quirkyalone Tango Bliss Adventures in Buenos Aires. That trip has come out of my own deep love for tango and Buenos Aires, and from my own personal experience of realizing that learning tango creates enormous self-awareness and offers us a lot of beautiful teachings about confidence and being quirkyalone and quirkytogether through the body. (I wrote about that here in “What Tango Taught Me About Relationships.“) In addition to being totally blissful, and offering me a healthy dose of sensuality when I’m single, tango has been my healing path so it’s something I love to share with others.

That trip is based on personal passion and there can be other options too. I would like to create more Quirkyalone Travel Adventures to give people an opportunity to travel, learn something new, and meet new people without going alone. Most people in our survey said they have traveled alone, but that shouldn’t be the only option if you don’t have a partner or friends to go with. Travel alone is rife with its own challenges, and not all single women or men are comfortable exploring new territories on their own. Hostels are a great way to meet people when you are traveling alone but they shouldn’t be the only option.

For now, I’m focused on the Buenos Aires trip only because it fits with my life as I’m living part-time in Buenos Aires and working on a new book. I’m interested in creating more yoga retreats around quirkyalone–Mexico, Bali, in the US, and the “wet” (embrace your sensuality) topics I’m writing about in Wet. I’m interested in partnering with travel companies, so if you are out there, contact us!

More quirkyalones than not (61.8%) said in the survey they actually felt like they were born QA rather than became QA over time. What were you thinking when you created that question for the survey? What do you think those two answers “say” about quirky folks?

I noticed from the beginning of writing on this topic all the way back in 2003 that some people traced their quirkyaloneness back to their childhood or teenage years and some people said it came later as a shift of perspective after a break-up, divorce, being widowed, or through life experience. I was curious to find out now how many people identified in each group.

In Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics, I write about two types: born-again and womb. The womb quirkyalones feel they have always preferred to be alone rather than settle and the born-agains became quirkyalone later in life. As I started to coach people over the last three years, I got to know my clients and realized that these two groups have a different developmental journey.

People who feel they came out of the womb mostly have been single throughout their lives. For them being single is the natural state so they are not as challenged by things like traveling alone (compared to others). Their journey is about full self-acceptance and if being in a committed romantic relationship is a desire, it’s about is finding their own quirkytogether way toward being in a relationship. It’s about challenging beliefs that a relationship is not possible for an independent person and getting clear about what they really want. Also what I said about learning they don’t have to lose themselves in relationship holds true for many wombs.

The quirkyalones who “became” quirkyalone have a different journey. They might have stayed in relationships longer than they really wanted to because being alone was scary. They are getting used to the idea that no one is coming to save them, and happiness is really built from within as an inside job. For the born-again quirkyalones, waking up to this new way of being is a discovery of the possibilities of being single and also that they can be with someone and it doesn’t have to be “the one” since they are no longer looking for someone to complete them on every level.

There’s overlap too. I’m a womb quirkyalone but sometimes I feel like a born-again because I’ll slip into a trance of desperation, or pressure, then I wake up again to the reality that I am OK as I am right now without a partner. Being quirkyalone is a little like continually waking up.

The two groups want the same thing. I could see that clearly at one of the Tango Adventures in Buenos Aires, we had women who always had been single and women who always had been in relationship, both wanting to learn how to not lose themselves in a relationship. Since there are always these ways we divide women: mothers vs. child-free, single vs. partnered, it’s cool to see the fundamental desires we have in common.

Anything else you want to say about the survey?
So grateful to all the people who took the time to answer! I loved hearing what people want more of from the quirkyalone movement: more visibility, more content, more community. I need help to create that. I’m realizing that I want to be more quirkytogether in the way I am leading these activities with a quirkyteam, so if you are out there and want to help grow this movement then give me a shout via email.

Sign up here for Sasha’s List to get updates on her writing and the quirkyalone movement.

Sign up here to be an early beta user of the quirkyalone online community to come later in 2016.

Like this? Be sure to sign up for my mailing list and join me in Buenos Aires to learn about the quirkyalone approach to life and relationships through tango in the Quirky Tango Adventure.

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Posted in Quirkyalone Day

Join us on February 14 for Quirkyalone Together

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Click HERE to get all the details on Quirkyalone Together February 14!

Like this? Be sure to sign up for my mailing list and join me in Buenos Aires to learn about the quirkyalone approach to life and relationships through tango in the Quirky Tango Adventure.

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Posted in Quirkyalone Day

Take the Quirkyalone Survey!

Some exciting things are brewing in the Quirkyalone HQ that I can’t wait to tell you about later this week. .

For now, I want to share this LINK with you so you can PREPARE YOURSELF for this news.

I invite you to click HERE to take the first Quirkyalone Survey in 10 years. This in itself is historic! We created this survey to take the pulse of the global, diverse, and growing quirkyalone community. This survey will take you 5-10 minutes, not two seconds. We want to get to know you and the quirkyalone community in general, so sit down and take a break from your day to tell us about you. To be clear, we want to hear from you whether you are single, married, in a committed relationship, dating, or on dating strike–if you identify with quirkyalone, we want to know about you.

Click here to take the Quirkyalone Survey 2015!

Tell us about you and your life as a quirkyalone/together and what you would like to see from the quirkyalone movement. Creating quirkyalone is a collaboration and we want to hear about you and your desires.

By FULLY completing your survey, you are entered into a drawing to win a free 50-minute coaching session with Quirkyalone author and founder Sasha Cagen (me!) on the topic of your choice. (Value: immeasurable!) If some questions are not applicable to you, that’s OK. Just go to the end.

Be sure to sign up for my newsletter Sasha’s List to get the results.

Like this? Be sure to sign up for my mailing list and join me in Buenos Aires to learn about the quirkyalone approach to life and relationships through tango in the Quirky Tango Adventure.

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Posted in Uncategorized

International Quirkyalone Day 2015 Is Coming Up!

happyIQDcard

International Quirkyalone Day is coming up in just two weeks!

Save the date: Saturday, February 14. . .

International Quirkyalone Day just happens to fall on the same day as Valentine’s Day. That’s our story and we’re sticking to it!

I started International Quirkyalone Day back in 2003 and it’s an alternative holiday that has been celebrated in more than 40 cities around the world.

For those who are new to this holiday . . .

International Quirkyalone Day is a do-it-yourself celebration of romance, friendship, and independent spirit. It’s a celebration of all kinds of love: romantic, platonic, familial, and yes, self-love.

International Quirkyalone Day is not anti-Valentine’s Day.

It’s NOT a pity party for single people. It’s an alternative–a feel-good alternative to the marketing barrage of Valentine’s Day and an antidote to the silicone version of love presented in shows such as The Bachelor.

Above all, IQD is a celebration of romance, freedom and individuality. It celebrates true romance, independence, interdependence, creativity, friendship, and all kinds of love–including love for yourself.

IQD is a holiday you can celebrate whether you’re quirkyalone or quirkytogether.

Since this year I’m in Buenos Aires, I’m going to host a virtual IQD gathering on February 14 so everyone can come. I will be in touch with more details about the theme, when, where, etc. early this week.

But I want to alert you now because you may want to host your own celebration: solo, with friends, your partner, or the general public at a student center, cafe, bar, karaoke bar, whatever you want.

Here are some resources to get you going with your own grassroots celebration:

Quirkyalone Day Cards to share with friends, family–or with a quirkytogether partner (share this on social media or an invitation)

Nametags where guests can indicate if they are a quirkyalone, quirkytogether, quirkyslut, or in support of quirkyalones

Suggestions for what to do at your Quirkyalone Day party

Downloadable party pack of posters, nametags, etc.

So stay tuned for the information about this year’s virtual party.

In the meantime, let us know as a comment on this post if you are planning a party.

With love. . . and more soon on the virtual party I’ll be hosting. . .
Sasha

P.S. A thought! You could also celebrate Quirkyalone Day 2015 by coming to Buenos Aires to learn tango with other quirkyalones! There is just one more space in each trip February 21-28 and March 14-21. If that idea is calling to your quirky heart, go here!

P.P.S. I’m posting this here specially because Quirkyalone Day is coming up, but in general, I’m doing my blogging at sashacagen.com. . . so to check for the latest, be sure to check over here!

Like this? Be sure to sign up for my mailing list and join me in Buenos Aires to learn about the quirkyalone approach to life and relationships through tango in the Quirky Tango Adventure.

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Posted in Uncategorized

Here’s the First Quirky Community Chat . . . Sasha tells you about #quirkyalone and #tango

Skip to 2:30 for when the audio begins! And let me know what topics you would like to see covered in future Quirkyalone Community Chats!

Like this? Be sure to sign up for my mailing list and join me in Buenos Aires to learn about the quirkyalone approach to life and relationships through tango in the Quirky Tango Adventure.

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Posted in Single Life, Travel

Video: An intimate chat between two quirky ladies: Sasha of Quirkyalone and Christina of Living Quirky

I loved chatting with Christina Salerno of Living Quirky! Check out this chat and learn about:
–the origins of quirkyalone
–how I help people with quirkyalone dating and relationship coaching
–my tango trip to Buenos Aires, the Quirky-Sexy Tango Adventure (plus what a tangasm is and how you can have one!)

Like this? Be sure to sign up for my mailing list and join me in Buenos Aires to learn about the quirkyalone approach to life and relationships through tango in the Quirky Tango Adventure.

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Posted in Coaching, Personal Growth, Quirkytogether, Travel

Join me for a Quirky-Sexy Tango Adventure in Buenos Aires!

sasha_tango_qs_photo

I’ve blogged here and here about how I have fallen in love with tango. . . the dance, the music, the culture, and the metaphor. Tango has taught me so much about life and relationships. Tango will be a big theme in my upcoming book Wet. I’m organizing this Quirky-Sexy Tango Adventure in Buenos Aires in late May. Whether you are an experienced dancer or new to tango, you’re invited to join me in this intimate immersion. It’s going to be a great adventure! You can check all the details HERE.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask.

Can’t wait!

Like this? Be sure to sign up for my mailing list and join me in Buenos Aires to learn about the quirkyalone approach to life and relationships through tango in the Quirky Tango Adventure.

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Posted in Travel

Let’s get quirkyalone together

Sign up for Sasha's newsletter and get weekly inspiration, plus news about classes and adventures.You'll also get a free gift: handwritten artwork of Quirkyalones throughout History to brighten your day.

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What’s a quirkyalone?

You have landed on the online home of the quirkyalone movement!
A quirkyalone is a person who enjoys being single (or spending time alone) and so prefers to wait for the right person to come along rather than dating indiscriminately. Quirkyalones prefer to be single rather than settle.
Quirkyalones can also be married or in a committed relationship (quirkytogether). You can be a man or a woman, any age. Quirkyalone is ultimately a philosophy about finding happiness within yourself whether you’re single or in a relationship.

Discover your (quirky)self through tango in Buenos Aires with Sasha + like-minded ladies

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Quirkyalone Day

Watch this video to learn about Quirkyalone Day!

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