I know you probably think you’re not guilty and that this post doesn’t relate to you, but unless you’re my mother, then you need to read this through to the end. Because unless you are the woman who raised me, cheering me on whether I was coming first or last, then you don’t have the right to comment on or question any aspect of my life. Least of all what I do in my personal time.
I hope I got your back up with that opener, because I want you to feel how I do every time we go out and the topic inevitably comes around to me and my ‘single’ status. I also want you to understand that there are times when before I have even put on my lipgloss and heels, I am prepping myself for the full frontal attack I know is coming. It’s even why, on occasion, I lead with a line about being single, to just get it over with.
Of course, I realise you don’t see it as an attack. You will present yourself as the caring friend, as wanting what’s best for me, wanting me to be happy. Which inevitably makes my defensive response seem petty, uncalled for and overly sensitive. I know, because you’ve told me as much. More than once. Which is why these days I often prefer to stay home alone with a good bottle of champagne, re-runs of Buffy The Vampire Slayer and down a bowl of popcorn, than meet you for a glass of wine.
So let me take this opportunity to break it down for you, so that you understand once and for all what single shaming looks like, in the hopes that you will start to recognise it and self-correct.
- Single shaming is you suggesting that I need to date ‘that’ guy and “give him a chance”. Single shaming is asking me if perhaps my standards are too high, suggesting that I’m being fussy, or reminding me that no one is perfect.
You didn’t settle (I hope) and so it wounds me that you think I should. It also annoys me to no end that you think I am a 15 year old hooked on romance novels, (still) believing that my white knight will charge in and rescue me… or that just because I am over 40 and single I no longer have the right to hope for this.
- Single shaming is when you tell me that you just want me to be happy. Single shaming is when you say that you are worried about me and don’t want to see me alone.
I know you won’t want to hear this but, my happiness is entirely independent of having a man in my life. I’m glad you’ve met someone, and (I hope) that you’re happy. But the two are not mutually inclusive. Your inference that I can’t be happy without a man in my life is both offensive and out-dated. The times they are a changing – with more women (and men) choosing to stay single. I don’t know if they’re all happy, but the point is that relationships are no longer the accepted norm and a man is certainly not the solution to happiness (sorry guys).
- Single shaming is when I break up with a guy and you question my judgement with comments such as, “but he was such a nice bloke”.
Whether he was a nice guy in your opinion, or not, is irrelevant. You weren’t the one dating him and therefore, the final decision is not yours to make. Your judgement, unasked for, is actually more about how you view me – as not nice enough in return or unable to make my own life decisions.
- Single shaming is you telling me I need to ‘get out more’ and then turning around and commenting on how lucky I am because I am able to go out without worrying about kids or curfews or budgets.
Your presumption that I need to ‘make myself more available’ and overcome ‘being single’, disregards the value of how I choose (key word) to spend my time. That you then denigrate my going out with snide comments about ‘the luxury of the single life’, as though no single person has responsibilities of their own, deserves a glass of wine in the face (were we still drinking friends). Is it possible that this world you have created for me is a fictional representative of your own desires?
- Single shaming is when you comment with disbelief that I am single. How can this be when I am so smart, so funny and pretty?! Any guy would want me! They must be lining up for me!
I.e. I need to go home and take a good, long look at myself and admit that I am doing it wrong. I am clearly being unapproachable, too demanding, not flirty enough (yes, you have said all those things). Or, alternatively, you could stop viewing my life as incomplete and somewhat sad just because I am single.
- Single shaming is when you tell me that men find my confidence and independence threatening. Single shaming is when you suggest that I need to make myself more vulnerable, that guys need to feel needed.
You should know that every time you say that I throw up in my mouth. Why would I want to be with a guy who is threatened by my confidence? Who wants me to be dependent on him? Why would I choose to be with any person, who suggests I should be less than who I am? This isn’t the 50’s, women aren’t second-class citizens needing to be rescued at every turn, kept safe and seen but not heard. And pretending to be someone I am not, will only serve to make both of us miserable in the long term.
- And lastly, single shaming is when you suggest at work that I can stay back because I don’t have a husband or kids to worry about.
How I invest my time is as valuable and important as the next person. Yes, my career is a priority for me and so I will often choose to stay and work those extra hours (when it matters), but making decisions about the life I have carved out for myself and about my schedule is my right.
You should also understand this, I quite like my single life. I’m not actually desperate to get married or hook up – if I was, I would be. But this isn’t to say I don’t want to get married. I’m hopeful that there will come a day when I meet a guy and we sweep each other off our feet. And I have no concerns that there will be room in my life. We make room for people we love all the time. Just like I make room for you.