As a single girl, I’m no stranger to frequent discussions regarding my love life or lack thereof. If you have been single for any length of time then you will know what I mean.
These discussions are hardly ever instigated by myself but they more often than not end the same way – with me trying to justify why I am single, regardless of whether or not this information is anyone’s business.
Only recently I had one of these dreaded conversations with a girl friend of mine who, even after I had justified my situation with the usual explanations that now effortlessly roll off the tip of my tongue – The time is not right, and I guess I just like my own company. I can’t imagine myself in a relationship – stared at me with an expression I have come to know so well. That mixed look of perplexity, amusement and pity I get when I tell people of my relationship status only seems to become more and more caricatured and grotesque.
But the truth is that although I am alone, I don’t seem to be the only one. It is somehow comforting to know that I am not alone being alone. In a world where potential dates are determined by a simple swipe to the left or right, why is it that so many of us have remained alone?
My personal stint with online dating has been fairly brief, lasting around 8 or 9 months in total. I found building my own profile exhausting, trying somehow to create the perfect profile of the kind of woman someone would want to date. There seem to be so many rules regarding how to create the perfect profile: don’t post too many selfies unless you want to look narcissistic, don’t post nipple pics unless you want people to think you’re a slut, don’t send a message to someone after 10pm on a weekend unless you’re looking for an instant hook-up. When I deleted the profile, I felt relief and I think this was probably the same moment that I realised I enjoy being alone. Creating a profile was only a means of conforming to the perceived role of the modern single woman.
Popular culture is littered with societal perceptions of how the single female should behave. After all, if you’re not a Samantha from SATC, then you’re a Bridget Jones. If you’re neither then you’re probably more closely linked to Dickens’ lonely spinster Miss Havisham. Or so they would have you believe, because if you’re not promiscuous, desperate or lonely or a combination of all three, how can you really identify as a single woman? Such is the stigma attached to the lone female.
What if you don’t see yourself as any of these characters, as I’m sure most single women do not? What are the consequences you might face? Well, you’re probably no stranger to conversations similar to the ones I have already described.
I’m left wondering whether the pity I receive as a single woman would be quite so abundant if I were male.
I enjoy the company of my friends, who I believe are a far more important driving force in how happy I feel in my life, but I am not looking for what I’m told I should. The reality is that single women should not be encouraged to explore avenues they do not wish to pursue. Being single is an excellent opportunity to discover and become confident in the individual that you are. So, take your time, make haste slowly and focus on yourself. Above all, refuse to be shamed for your singleness.