I don’t know about you, but as a single woman in my mid-twenties, this is a question I get asked all the bloody time.
Whenever I see family or friends who I haven’t seen for a while, the topic of conversation almost always tends to go this way – “how’s work?”, “how’s the dog?”, “how are your migraines?”, oh and… “have you got a boyfriend yet?”
I know that this almost always comes from a place of care, but honestly? It’s starting to grind my gears.
It’s almost as if your life is perceived as “incomplete” if you aren’t in a relationship and to constantly have that message shoved down your throat hurts a bit, even if it’s done subconsciously. I know that a lot of it is just genuine curiosity and that’s fine, but I’m a bit bored of the opinion that if you’re single, you’re missing something.
I frequently get comments along the lines of “but you’re so lovely!”, “you deserve a great man!”, “what is wrong with them all!?” and, on the surface, those things are lovely to hear. But actually, over time, questions like that start to make you think there could be something wrong with you. It really isn’t as much of a compliment as you’d think.
Maybe the person you’re asking has recently been friendzoned by someone they really like, maybe they’re being messed around behind the scenes by a toxic ex, maybe they’re just genuinely happy to be single, doing their own thing. The honest truth is that you never know, meaning that you never know how your question is going to be received. I think that people automatically assume that the default desire of a single woman is to be in love. And, don’t get me wrong, whilst that would be nice, it’s really not the be all and end all for me – and in my humble opinion absolutely shouldn’t be what we’re all striving for. Netflix and chill can be just as fun on your own, right?
I used to really shy away from the question and squirm in my seat whenever I was asked. You don’t want to lie, but a straight up “nope” can make it pretty uncomfortable for the person who’s just asked. So I’m trying a new tactic now. Instead of letting the chat dry up as soon as we enter that territory, I answer with a positive and push it back onto the person who’s asked – “nope, but I had a really exciting trip recently!”, “not at the moment, no, work is really busy!” etc etc. Pointing out the things that we do have, rather than dwelling on what people perceive us to be lacking, is the best way to steer through that awkward conversation, and is what I think we should be focusing on.
Since Noah created the ark, the animals have been going in two by two, and it’s become the ‘norm’. Therefore, to admit that you’re riding solo has come to elicit a response of sympathy. We all know the look – slightly furrowed brow and downturned corners of the mouth. However, over the past 3 or so years that I’ve been single, I’ve come to realise that having a boy/girlfriend and being happy are not mutually dependent. You can have one without the other, you can have both, or you can have neither! I genuinely believe that it is so important to be happy in yourself, otherwise you end up looking to your partner for that validation and, from my experience, that dooms a relationship to fail, even before it’s begun. If you don’t know your own value, how can you expect anybody else to – after all, the only thing lonelier than being alone, is being with the wrong person.
When I was writing this post, a quick Google proved to me just how many other people are thinking about this. The results included witty Buzzfeed articles about how to respond to the ‘why are you single?’ question with quirky remarks, deep psychological think pieces about what it is that makes us crave companionship and even some quizzes to help you figure it out for yourself.
In the interest of research (of course…) I obviously took one. It’s always good to be self aware, right? 😂
Here are my results:
If you’re interested in finding out why you, too, are single, you can take the quiz here. I’m pretty sure it’s a legit scientific study, I mean look at that spelling….
All jokes aside though – perhaps I am a little bossy, maybe sometimes I am a bit too direct with my feelings or opinions. But, should I change myself to fit someone else’s mould? Hell no. It’s far better to be authentically you, and happy, than make yourself into someone’s idealised version of you.
I guess the main thing to take away here is just to think before you speak. You never know what someone is feeling, or where they’re at in their personal journey, so be mindful of that before you ask the question.
Lastly, it’s cool to be alone. Take solace in the fact that there are bloody loads of us that are floating through life in the same boat – even if we didn’t go in ‘two by two’.