Questions and comments couples will never hear:
“So why are you in a relationship?”
“Has it just been too easy finding someone who shares your interests?”
“You know, I have some friends who are in a couple who I think you’d really get on with; I should get the four of you together.”
“Perhaps you’re just not very picky, that’s why you’re in a relationship. It’s just how you are I guess.”
No one ever utters these sentences to couples, unless they’re really, really terrible friends. But become a single person and suddenly everyone wants to weigh in on your life choices. Perhaps this is one of many reasons why I am not giving up my single status without a fight (and definitely not without first giving Tom Welling as Clark Kent his fair shot at my hand. Yes, I know that he’s married in real life and yes I know Clark Kent is a fictional character. Glad we cleared that up).
The other day I was doing my usual scroll through Twitter when I saw that the hashtag Single Because was trending. I excitedly clicked through to see what people were saying about it and was pretty disappointed with what I found. There were no empowering statements about being your own person, being proud of being single and selective with your partners, or even celebrating some of the fun that comes with being single. Instead, there were tweets about unrequited love and heartbreak, people saying that no one wants them, and general melancholy from people who were sad they were in the “Single” category at all. I wasn’t outraged, but it bugged me.
I can say with some certainty that many of my close friends are in long term relationships. And more often than not, I am not. About 80 per cent of the time, this doesn’t bother me, but the other 20 percent of the time; I wonder if it should bother me more. My friends are not generally of the preachy kind, and are rarely trying to sell me on the benefits of being in a relationship; they seem to accept me as I am which is nice. I wouldn’t want them to be any other way, but I think my decision to remain single is not necessarily a choice.
I’m pretty sure that if I met an Idris Elba lookalike tomorrow, who had a big heart, loved books, loved conversation and wanted to spend the rest of his life trying to make little old me happy, I would not only hand over my single status in a heartbeat, I would toss it aside with energy and say goodbye to that chapter in my life. However, I do not foresee this happening in the near future, but that’s mostly because people are more complicated than that and my Idris Elba lookalike would probably have some issue with commitment or something (past experience has made me the cynical being that appears before you, I’m sorry) and who needs that mess. So by that logic, yes, I am choosing to remain single until someone worth choosing something else for, comes along. My standards really are not as high as I am making out, but exaggeration is the name of my game – you should know this by now Reader.
Equally, I don’t think being single is something to sniff at. I mean, I get to have my bed all to myself for one thing, which means I can sleep upside down and diagonally if I want to without fear of putting my foot in someone’s face. I can spend entire weekends doing whatever I want, without having to worry about spending some allotted time with a particular person. And I don’t have to worry about accidentally getting pregnant. You know it’s true.
I jest, because it’s fun, but being single is sometimes a choice, and sometimes it’s not. When it’s a choice, you get to know yourself a bit better, and figure out the things that make you loveable, likeable, and also annoying. And then you get to think about what or who it would take to move out of being single for a while.
When it’s not a choice because you’ve gone through some heartbreak, it can be harder to get back on the saddle than ever before, because now you have baggage and trust issues and vivid memories of emotional pain. Suddenly you’re thinking “I felt insane when I was in love, but trying to do that again just seems downright stupid!” So you stay single a little longer, and a little more, and before you know it you’re sleeping diagonally and dreaming about Clark Kent.
Of course I want to meet “someone special” (in a less vomit-inducing way), but that doesn’t mean I should just take the first “someone” that comes along, right? I mean, I’ve been there and done that and well, I’m still single so it was not as successful as you might think. It also doesn’t mean that I should be sad about being single because I kind of feel like we all came into the world as single people, not as part of a couple (unless you’re a twin, in which case this analogy might not work for you, although maybe it should, assuming that you don’t view your sibling as a partner. Ew, this got weird, sorry), so as single people we are merely just remaining in our original state until things change. And when they do change and you get back on that relationship merry-go-round, you might find that you’re a bit smarter for being single for a while, and you know what horse to pick and when to get off the merry-go-round when you start feeling sick (I think this analogy is spent, but you get it, hopefully).
Being single could be a stage in this life, or it could be forever, and that’s OK too. As long as you’re doing what you want to do – be that looking for a relationship or casually dating people or neither – that should be the most important thing, even though sometimes it doesn’t feel that way.
Perhaps that’s why I was so bothered by the comments from the Single Because hashtag; because none of them seemed to speak of the benefits, the learning, and positive choice of it all. So I of course weighed in and tweeted “I’m #SingleBecause it’s the 21st century and I have the choice to be and wait for something worth losing that status for.”
I know; I’m such a self-righteous idiot. It’s brilliantly misleading. Anyway, if none of that sways you to accept that singledom is just a part of life, a good friend of mine reminded me that every person you know who is in their second, third or fourth plus relationship, has at least one failed relationship behind them. So remaining single also means you remain a successful person. It’s loose logic but I’m sticking with it.
Image credit: Beyonce by Ruben Vh from the Noun Project