Thursday 25 April 2019 / London, UK

Why We Need To Stop Demonising Being Single

Forget Regina George, I want to see a show of hands for anyone who has ever been personally victimised by an interfering Auntie or outspoken colleague for being single. I’m talking about that family friend who you’re forced to visit every Christmas who has an unnatural obsession with needing to know the relationship status of every single person outside of her 34 year marriage to Alan, who can’t seem to survive one canapĂ© without asking everybody that steps in the room if they have a partner. If you're single like myself, then this annual ritual will come as no surprise and is no doubt a re-occuring event you mentally (and emotionally) have the pleasure of preparing yourself for weeks in advance.

Said obsesser goes around the room, schmoozing her guests, attempting to suck as much information out of them as possible whilst handing out the voul au vonts, throwing out some over the top oohs and aahs, nodding along when she’s greeted with the socially acceptable replies of “yeah I’m engaged now” or "me and my partner have been together 4 years" or "we've just bought a house together"...

And then BAM, all of a sudden an anomaly like myself comes along and shakes up her judgemental world, responding confidently with “no, I’m single actually”. Once she’s recovered from her shock, she switches her tone to an award winning patronising one, touches your arm (for that extra dose of patronising), lowers her voice and responds with “aww don’t worry love, you’ll find somebody soon, there’s plenty of fish in the sea”. *Insert major eye roll* 

I mean we can't blame poor ol' Sharon (let's call her Sharon), she was raised in a generation where the most socially acceptable aspiration of choice was to marry a successful man and live that comfortable, countryside lifestyle raising 2 kids and a dog...not quit your job and take your single self off backpacking around Australia for 2 years. Society has a part to play in this demonisation of being single too, let's be real. From adverts to films to TV shows, 'finding the one' is continuously rammed down our throats, leading us to believe if you're not with somebody, then you're not doing this whole 'life' thing right. Two words: Bridget Jones.

Believe it or not Sharon, women weren't just put on this earth to marry and reproduce. Newsflash, but women were put on this earth to do far more than spend their lifetime searching for love.

Because maybe just maybe Sharon, not every young girl out there’s aspiration in life is to find a partner, marry young and spend her 50s bitterly tutting under her breath every time her husband does something to annoy her. (like breathe).

Now let's have some fun and play a little single bingo. A point for every time you've been at the receiving end of one of the below phrases:

  • "There's plenty of fish in the sea, you'll find someone"
  • "But I don't understand why you're single"
  • "Somebody will come along when you least expect it" 
  • "Do you not want to meet anyone?"
  • "Have you tried the online thing?" 
  • "I just don't understand what you're doing wrong"
  • "Are you a lesbian?"
  • "My friend told me about this really good new dating App called Hinge, you should try it"
  • "There's somebody out there for you, don't worry"

Shall I go on?

This whole patronising “aww don’t worry, there’s plenty of fish in the sea, you’ll find someone” has brainwashed society for far too long now and does nothing but alienate those that are single and make us feel like we'll only ever be able to score an 8/10 on the 'adulting test' because we're not legally bound to another human just yet. Being single is not a failure and it's not something to pity someone for. Period.

Being single is a choice. Now let's not forget that. I'll say it again for the people in the back. Being single is a choice. Just like being in a relationship is a choice, so is not being in a relationship. So why does society, films, songs, TV shows and annoying parents and Grandparents alike make us feel like if you're not in a relationship then you've done it all horribly wrong and that the only possible happy ending in life is a couple-shaped one. NEWSFLASH: It isn't. (Not that the Disney books about Prince Charming coming to save the woeful spinster we're read while we're put to bed at aged 5 do much to challenge this discourse.) 

I can't even tell you the amount of times I've been in a scenario where I'm meeting a group of new people and one by one everyone gets asked the dreaded question of "do you have a boyfriend?". I used to feel my hands sweating as I would internally panic and mentally rehearse my falsely confident single answer in my head, whilst inside screaming "what the hell is wrong with me? why does everybody else here have a partner apart from me?". This constant obsession with everyone being coupled up has been so embedded in society, it means single people now have to spend every waking moment of their single years being subject to patronisation, judgement and pity that they haven't found their 'other half'. I wish I'd made a note of every single patronising response I've ever received about being single, as my god, it would make for one funny book.

Sometimes I think there's something wrong with me because I genuinely love being single. While it seems everybody else around me detests it and spends every living moment single actively trying to find someone, I embrace it. Perhaps it's because I've been single for most of my life I'm not ready to sacrifice the good that comes with being single, or perhaps there's some underlying Daddy issue embedded deep within me which was managed to convince me that I'm better off alone. Either way, I can confidently say I have embraced being single throughout my teens and the majority of my twenties with only a handful of "will I ever find anyone?" breakdowns, despite society doing everything in its power to make me feel like an anomaly.

Instead of fearing being single, how about we start celebrating it? Why does everybody only ever talk about the lonely nights, the soulless world of online dating and third wheeling? Why does nobody talk about the blissful freedom that being single brings? Why does nobody talk about the privilege of having the ability to be completely and utterly selfish with your time and not have anybody else to answer to but yourself? The spontaneity of being single is one of the most beautifully underrated things in life. Dedicating 100% of your time to discovering your true self and learning to be comfortable in your body and your mind, whilst learning to love yourself is an incomparable privilege that being in a relationship does not provide. Being single goes hand in hand with spontaneity, which I can confidently say has led to many a great life decisions throughout my twenties. Impromptu 5am night out grinding with fit hipsters in Shoreditch creating golden group chat banter for a solid week? Check. Spontaneous last minute to Ibiza with my single bestie which turned out to be one of the best holidays off my life? Check. Spontaneous weekends away when life in North London gets a little boring? Check. Being single means you can be unapologetically selfish with your time.

Sure, spooning (and forking) is great and all, but so is starfishing in a double bed. Date nights with your partner in crime are fun, but so are date nights with your best friends. Shall I go on? Instead of spending your single years entering a dangerous downward spiral of dating like it's a job, being emotionally haunted with ghosting after ghosting and wasting your weekends waiting for some fuckboy to text back, try to see the good in being single. Instead of dedicating and investing every spare moment into finding our 'other half' that society tells us we should be so desperately searching for, spend time discovering yourself as a whole. There I said it, there's no such thing as an 'other half', sorry. You're a whole. You didn't come out the womb with one leg, one arm and one eye did you? I'll say it again. You. Are. A. Whole and single doesn't = lonely.

Over half of Brits aged 25-44 are now single. Sorry society, but the days of Bridget Jones the spinster are over. Times have changed and the moment society plays catch-up and stops demonising being single, is the day women can truly begin to celebrate being single, not fear it, because there are a lot of bad things in this world, but being single is definitely not one of them...

1 comment

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