In an episode from Season 4 of “Sex and the City,” Carrie Bradshaw is adjusting to living with her boyfriend, Aidan, and grappling with the loss of privacy and solitude she had while living alone. It also meant saying goodbye to some of the treasured rituals of her single days, which she refers to as her “secret single behaviors,” or SSBs, for short.
An SSB can be any weird little habit or indulgence people enjoy when they’re home by themselves — the kinds of things they would probably be too shy, uncomfortable or embarrassed to do in the presence of another human being, namely a significant other.
“I like to make a stack of saltines. I put grape jelly on them. I eat them standing up in the kitchen reading fashion magazines,” Carrie said. (To be honest, eating crackers with jam is something I could easily do in front of just about anyone without hesitation. But to each her own.)
My SSB requires a bit more privacy. I like to grab my tweezers and use the flashlight on my phone to scan my bikini line for any ingrown hairs (I know, I know, I’m not supposed to pluck those, but whatever). Then I bask in the overwhelming sense of satisfaction I get after I unearth one of those pesky little hairs. It’s euphoric.
Since I moved in with my boyfriend last summer, I’ve made an effort to take care of this business when he’s not home. But sometimes I just can’t resist the temptation, and I do it in while lying next to him in bed, much to his dismay.
We asked other women — some single, some coupled-up — to reveal their SSBs. Here’s what they told us:
You can have your cheesecake and eat it, too.
“I order an entire cheesecake from Eileen’s Special Cheesecake on Uber Eats for delivery and then eat the entire thing for dinner. I leave a suitcase of dirty clothes from my last vacation spilling out onto the floor, even though I returned from that trip a month ago. I wash my hair extensions in the sink and then leave them on the handle of the bathroom door or on the towel rack to air-dry.
“I leave my entire makeup kit on the floor in front of my full-length mirror and say a prayer before stepping over it (hoping that I don’t step on my favorite eyeshadow palette again and break it) instead of just picking it up. I see how long I can get one of my chin hairs to grow and then examine it thoroughly with both admiration and disgust when I finally pluck that bad boy.” — Devyn Simone, senior matchmaker for Three Day Rule in New York City
No bra? No problem.
“First and foremost, I’m braless, I belt out Sia songs and sound exactly like her, of course. I dip ALL things in ranch.” — June F.
Kitty cat chit-chat
“The second I’m home by myself, I start talking to the cat. Pets are the perfect vessel for externalizing your inner monologue. Usually our one-sided discussions are trivial, like debating if I need to take a shower or whether or not it is, in fact, her dinnertime. But I can find myself diving into my deepest existential concerns with her as well. The other day I found myself talking through my five-year plan with her, and she wasn’t even in the room: Basically, I use the cat as just the slimmest glimmer of an excuse to talk to myself.
“I also make up songs to sing to her, typically centered on the same theme of her being hungry and it not yet being time for her dinner. Classics include, ‘Oh, Ginny, please believe me, I’ll never feed you your food” (to the tune of ‘Oh! Darling’ by The Beatles). And also, ‘Hey! Ginny! Leave that plant alone!’ to the tune of Pink Floyd’s ‘Another Brick in the Wall,’ because it’s the plants that suffer the most from her campaign for kibble.” —Sarah Zucker, writer and artist at YoMeryl
“My SSB is pretending like I’m a model. While at home, I turn on either rap or trap music, get on my tiptoes (pretending I have heels on) and sashay my behind up and down my living room like it is a runway. I have never admitted that before, and it’s super embarrassing, but it actually feels liberating to say that it makes me feel pretty. And while it’s liberating, I will still only do it when no one is around to see!” — Valencia Morton, financial coach at Millionairess Mama
Everything but the kitchen sink
“Usually to pass the time I would binge Asian soap operas on my laptop, not even understanding the language half the time, and then just stuff my face with buns or other Asian junk food until I pass out, wake up 20 minutes later and start the cycle all over again. On nights when I didn’t have any takeout, I would take whatever food I had in my fridge and dump it all into my one pan. And these were not complementary ingredients we’re talking about here — Beans? Throw ’em in! Oatmeal? Adds volume! — making an awful food paste, and just mindlessly eat that.” — YaoYao Ma Van As, illustrator
Dance like nobody’s watching.
“I turn my favorite album on the highest volume and sing in the shower. I dance around (clothed or naked) like no one is watching. I binge on pizza AND ice cream just because I can. I watch my favorite tearjerkers with a box of tissues in hand because sometimes you just need a good cry! I have a date night with my favorite bottle of wine and binge on ‘Gossip Girl’ reruns.” — Brittney Smiejek, matchmaker for Three Day Rule in Chicago
It’s a tad nipply in here.
“Plucking away nipple hair in the bathroom post-shower.” — Amanda Oleander, artist
A soak and a snack
“I eat while soaking in the bathtub. Pizza pairs best with a bath, but macaroni and cheese is good too. Add a glass of wine and it’s the ultimate in relaxation!” — Marzi Wilson of Introvert Doodles
Cooking with heat
“When I’m home alone cooking, I keep it interesting by narrating my own adult cooking show, ‘Ursula Unwrapped.’ You’d be surprised how many engrossing things can be said about butter and cream.” — Ursula B., @3sunzzz on Twitter
“Snapped” and Snapchat filters
“First and foremost, I let dishes pile up in the sink. It doesn’t even matter what I’ve eaten. Then I’ll fire up a ‘Snapped’ marathon on the Oxygen channel. While the intro music plays, I’ll open up a bottle of white wine and head to the couch. By the end of the night, I’ll be trying on various shades of lipstick that I would never wear in public, something named like ‘City’ or ‘Meow,’ and using Snapchat to take selfies with huge doe eyes and fairies flying around my glittered hair. I honestly don’t know how to use Snapchat for anything else. I’ll fall asleep eating cookies in bed, which is normally strictly forbidden! It’s honestly the best vacation ever!” — Jennifer J.
Netflix dawn to dusk
“My favorite thing to do is binge-watch shows all weekend from dawn to falling asleep.” — Netta B.
Wearing the pants in this relationship
“As soon as I’m left alone, I like to try on all of my boyfriend’s pants and see how many I can get on at one time, just to compare our proportions. I’m also super-obsessed with these Hungarian choreographers and this dude that does these insane calisthenics on Instagram. So as soon as I’m in costume (many pairs of men’s jeans) I try to re-create the dances and handstands, which is an uber-challenge with how I’ve constricted the range of motion in my legs. I can never get the dances down, but my handstands have been on point. Just did a one-hander yesterday. Pretty sure the pants are holding me up, though!” — Mara Marek, comedian and host of “The Happy Never After Podcast”
“Being completely alone is not something I get to enjoy very often being a married mom of two. But when those wonderful moments come along, my SSB is to put on my flying pig onesie and watch Harry Potter movies in chronological order while reciting them (accents and all) from beginning to end. I am solid on movies one, two and three. Four through seven I don’t know word for word — yet! Usually all the while stuffing my face with my kids’ school lunch snacks, something I can’t get away with in their presence due to a strict no-eating-school-lunch-snacks-at-home rule!” — Jess Grogan, blogger