We live in a society in which coupledom is not only the norm but the expectation. However, there are a lot of us that don’t fit into the neat and tidy boxes that the world expects. Just because someone isn’t your standard cis-gendered heterosexual monogamist vanilla-sex married with kids kind of person doesn’t mean they’re any less valid. Unfortunately, though, it seems like there are far too many people who do see it as problematic.
As a cis-gendered heterosexual white single girl I acknowledge that I have a lot of privilege in this world, but it astonishes me how many people have difficulty grasping the fact that I’m single, and deem me as somehow less-than as a result. Sometimes it feels like I’m being judged, while other times people seem to be truly confused. When I travel internationally, it seems particularly hard for people to understand why I’d be travelling as a solo female. During my recent beach vacation, staff would sometimes look at me like I’d grown an extra head when I asked for a table for one, and then I’d get crappy service while the serving staff fawned over the various couples around me. There is a clear judgement inherent in these kinds of reactions. Why was I some sort of circus freak just because I didn’t have a man standing at my side?
I’ve spent a lot of my life single. I’ve only had 2 long-ish term boyfriends, the first for 4 years, the second for 3 years. There were a number of brief flings/hookups tossed in there while I was younger, but they’re unimportant. My circle of friends always included strong, independent women, and being unattached was considered to be just fine. We might wish to find the perfect guy, but until he came along, there was no need to settle.
I broke up with my last boyfriend in 2010. Since then, I haven’t been on a single date. I briefly signed up on an online dating site, mostly because various people in my life were telling me that I “should“. However, I wasn’t impressed on many levels and never did end up going on a date. At this point in my life, I think I would only be willing to get into a relationship if it was something that just developed organically rather than starting with an awkward first date meeting with some random sketchy dude from the internet. The very idea of going on a first date with a stranger gives me the heebie-jeebies.
I’m okay with being single. I have always been fiercely independent, which drove my parents crazy when I was younger. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten more comfortable doing things alone, even when it’s not necessarily socially acceptable. Going out for lunch solo seems to be ok, but dinner feels like I stick out like a sore thumb. As I’ve grown into more of a hermit, it’s become less of an issue because I don’t go out in social settings very often, and having pushed my friends away I don’t find myself in a social group setting where I’m the only single one.
I don’t feel like I’m less of a person because I’m romantically unattached. Not everyone seems to see it that way, though. Some people have suggested that my depression has been related to my lack of romantic partner, which is a complete load of crap. Yet in the social hierarchy, as a 39-year-old single girl, I’m somehow lesser than my coupled-up counterpart. This has improved, to some degree, since back in my parents’ day for example, but there’s still a ways to go.
Unless I find someone who’s willing to accept me, illness and all, I’m going to remain single. And if people don’t like it they can kiss my privileged white cis-gendered heterosexual mentally ill single girl ass. Just try saying that ten times fast.
Embrace Acceptance: A Guided Journal draws on concepts from acceptance and commitment therapy to help you move towards a place of greater acceptance. It’s available free from the MH@H Download Centre.