I love being single, but sometimes - let me tell you - it’s not easy. Not because I don’t have a partner with whom I can share thoughts and dreams, or because I spend my Sundays with a bottle of withe wine and some ice-cream watching Netflix instead of having a romantic date with a boyfriend. I don’t care about all that. Being single is not easy because society makes it that way.
Although we live in a time in which many taboos about family and couples have been dispelled, curiously, many clichés still persist about single people. In our society, being single is still heavily stigmatised, especially for women or more generally people with a vagina. Having a partner and being in a relationship seems to be a social obligation to be achieved at all costs and within a certain age. On the opposite, not having one is often perceived as something out of the norm, something wrong. For this reason, singles, despite feeling good about themselves and their choices, are affected by social discrimination that can make them feel guilty, excluded and strange. Being single turns out to be an oddity or even a personal failure.
Do you remember when, in the first Bridget Jones movie, Bridget was at a dinner party, surrounded by couples talking about how happy they are in marital bliss and then one of the guests asked her, ‘Why is it there are so many unmarried women in their 30s these days Bridget?’ and she responds ‘Well, I don’t know, I suppose it doesn’t help that underneath our clothes our entire bodies are covered in scales’. Bridget, like many of us, was a victim of single-shaming.
The definition of single-shaming isn’t black or withe, it has different nuances and it could even be difficult to recognise. But if friends, family or colleagues are continuously questioning the idea of you being on your own, with questions like “Have you found a boyfriend? Not yet? Why is that?”, “How long has it been since your last relationship now?”, “Don’t worry, you will find someone someday”, then you’ve been single-shamed.
Match’s dating expert, Hayley Quinn, speaking to Cosmopolitan said: “Single-shaming may be expressed as a well-meaning (albeit misjudged) compliment to a downright rude comment. Whether it comes from a nosy relative or a smug coupled-up friend, these comments can imply that there's something inherently strange about being a woman who is single by choice."
It’s a phenomenon that makes you feel lesser than for not having a partner, it’s a distorted belief that reflects an equally distorted yet persistent cultural norm, that seems to be on the rise. With Covid-19 and lockdown narrowing down the possibility to meet new people and finding a partner, the number of victims of single-shaming went up. As reported by the Metro, according to a survey for Match, over half of the 1,000 people asked said they had experienced single-shaming in the past year, and 37% of people said this had increased since the start of the pandemic.
If you are a victim of single-shaming, I can assure you, you are not alone. According to the latest data, the proportion of the population who are single (never married or in a civil partnership) has shown a steady increase in the past years. In 2019, an estimated 35.0% of the population were single, especially in the younger generation, where 90.5% of those aged 16 to 19 were single.
Always remember that there is absolutely nothing wrong in being single. Not having a partner will help you strengthen the relationship you have with yourself, that is the most intimate relationship you will ever experience in your life. Do not succumb to society’s shallow misconceptions, and keep in mind that these comments are never a reflection on you or on your value. If you are single and you are happy you just don't have to care about anything else.
Written by Paige Trimbly