Singlehood – ‘I wish it was simple to detach from monogamous programming’
I saw a poll on Instagram recently, asking: ‘is it ok for your boyfriend to like a girl’s photo who they’re not friends with?’ 70% voted ‘no’.
By Nicola Hewett
I wish it were simple to detach from monogamous programming. The rules and regulations are just too much for me.
I saw a poll on Instagram recently, asking: ‘is it ok for your boyfriend to like a girl’s photo who they’re not friends with?’ 70% voted ‘no’. Great, I thought, another thing that I should be regulating – my man’s Instagram activity. In the realms of social media, most of these ‘rules’ are not black and white, and, considering how relatively new social media is, we’re basically just making them up as we go along. Nowhere in the original marriage act does it mention the rights and wrongs of reacting with a flame to another human’s story on Instagram.
Through these seemingly endless lists of rules and regulations – and the ideas of building long-lasting relationships – I find myself intending to get into relationships for, well, forever. This, in turn, means I tend to stay in them longer than I should, and I put up with more than I said I would when I was single.
As a single person, I was certain I’d never been in a relationship where I was overlooked, controlled, or taken for granted; where I didn’t feel loved or cared about, or where I experienced any other behavior that would make me doubt my self-worth. However, the longer I’m in a relationship, the more it seems that I tolerate. Is this just so that I can stay away from singledom? Do I think that I’m a failure if my relationship were to end? It sure seems that way.
Before my current relationship, I was single for more than two years…
…and I’m aware how much that was seen as unusual. My parents would often ask me if I’d met anyone. They’d worry about me being ‘alone’, especially on Valentine’s Day. They’d worry that I was lonely. I wasn’t particularly worried about finding someone, but when they mentioned it I started to think… should I be?
I was used to turning up to family events surrounded by couples: some newly together, some newly married, some with children. And then there’d be single (but happy) me. I was the odd one out. At these events, you inevitably end up being asked if you’re seeing someone and, when you respond in the negative, your conversational partner naturally assumes that you’re actively searching and striving to find a human of your own. The phrases ‘you’ll find someone’, ‘just keep looking’, ‘you’ve got to put yourself out there’ or (my personal favourite), ‘you’d best get a move on or all the good ones will be gone’ start to become old hat. And what’s most bizarre is that it’s almost taboo to reply: ‘well, actually, I’m not looking for anyone.’
Why do we judge single people as if there’s something wrong with them?
There’s a part in F.R.I.E.N.Ds where Rachel says to Ross’ new girlfriend, Mona: ‘You’ve obviously got baggage, too; why else would you be single?’ But (and we feel like we’re stating the obvious here), just because someone is single doesn’t mean that they’re unlovable, or that they’re a ‘psycho’, that they can’t commit or that they have ‘baggage’.
This is especially true for those who are deemed ‘attractive’ and/or over a ‘certain age’. Instantly, the comments, ‘how are you still single?’, ‘how haven’t you been snapped up yet?’ and ‘you need to stop being so selfish, you’re stuck in your own ways’ spring to mind. Some think that people who have been single for a prolonged period are now unable/unwilling to compromise their lifestyles enough to allow a new partner in.
Possibly, this is true. Then again, why should we compromise? If we’re happy with how our life looks and are spending our time doing the things we enjoy – and if we don’t want to have to give any of that up to give time to a partner – then we shouldn’t. After all, some of us thrive over not having to make joint decisions. Some of us want to be our own top priority. Some of us don’t want to miss out on days/nights out/family get-togethers/catch-ups with friends because it could potentially change the dynamics of our relationship. And that’s ok.
Maybe you don’t want to make sacrifices with your choice of lifestyle. Take moving abroad for an example – that’s going to be a lot easier if you don’t need to try and convince someone to pack up their lives and come with you. Or buying a house – buy your own and you never have to worry about who gets it in the event of a divorce. At the end of the day, we would almost never consider how any of these decisions would impact any of our friends’ feelings, so why must we for a romantic partner?
‘But what if you end up “alone” for your whole life and have to grow old with no one to take care of you?’
Ending up single is seen as a fate worse than death. You’ll be alone, aka lonely, aka incomplete forever. It’s inevitable and unavoidable.
But that idea of us being ‘incomplete’ if we’re single is dangerous. After all, we don’t come into this world as halves, so why do we feel like, during the course of life, we need another person to ‘complete’ us?
Singles can do whatever they want when they want. And, if they surround themselves with self-love and loving friendships, they won’t be alone and/or lonely – not in this ‘terminal’ sense anyway. Yes we, as humans, feel lonely and sometimes alone, but this can be the case no matter what style of relationship you’re in – or aren’t in. It’s a human emotion. And, as humans, we crave a community – not just one connection – it’s in our nature. Search for a community, not a mate.