Wow. I was just looking for an image in Pexel for this post and I typed in the search bar ‘single.’ The related searches suggested; ‘woman’, ‘alone’, ‘lonely’.
I think this is a big problem with the way society looks at people being single. No, let me correct that statement; the way society views women who are single. Notice that the related searches did not have a suggestion labelled ‘men’. The double standard between men and woman in regards to relationships, sex and/ or the lack thereof is striking. Even the words that are associated with a single life for each sex differ considerably. When a man is single he is known as a bachelor, a word that is associated with men such as George Cloney. It is a sexy word that sparks images of independent men who live alone, wear suits and live a work hard/play hard lifestyle #BruceWayne. Single women, on the other hand, are known as Spinsters. This word conjures up a different image, one of old lonely women who live with their cats #CrazyCatLady (and not in a sexy Selina Kyle kind of way).
It doesn’t seem fair that we put this pressure on women, especially since the world has changed so much in the last 100 years and women no longer need men to look after them. So why is the stigma still there?
Becca Reynoso, a writer for The Odyssey Online writes; ‘Women are still fed the idea that it is better to have a man want to be with us (in spite of being in a potentially abusive situation) rather than being alone.’ (Article here). And this is so true! I have family members who ask me EVERY TIME they see me whether I have a boyfriend yet. And a lot of people think that there are certain things that I am just not capable of obtaining; such as moving out or having a life of my own. But, they will happily discuss with my little sister how she is going to accomplish these things. What is the difference? She is in a relationship. It is alarming how many people seem to think a woman is helpless without a man.
I have only ever been in 2 relationships that lasted longer than 3 months, (one of them was with a woman, but same difference). Throughout the majority of my adult life, I have been single. I have had a few dates and flings that lasted a few months but nothing that you could definitively call a relationship. I just couldn’t make anything stick. And it took me a while to work out what was wrong. Because clearly, something must be wrong with me if we are to believe what society tells us, right?
So why am I still single? Simple. I choose to be. And here are the top five reasons for why I choose to be single. Let me know if you relate to any of them!
#5 – Confusion – For the longest time I had a lot of confusion going on inside of me. I think it pretty much stemmed from my early childhood. Even back when I was 6-7, it was cool on the playground to have a boyfriend and I had one. It was actually kind of cute, we would go to each other’s houses and play sims on the PlayStation (PlayStation 1, yes I am a 90’s child). But I remember even back then, there was a feeling of ‘this is wrong.’ And at the time I told myself it was because I wasn’t ready for a boyfriend – clearly, I was a deep thinking 7-year-old. But those feelings came back every time I was in a ‘relationship’, all the way until I had my first ‘girlfriend’ in high school. She was a secret girlfriend, since being gay was not nearly as accepted back then as it is now. We gave each other male names to use when we were talking about the other in front of people. That was the first relationship I had ever had that I honestly felt comfortable in. Looking back it was obvious we were dating, but at the time we were just doing what felt right and despite not realising it was a relationship, she still managed to break my heart. I moved on and dated a guy, but he had his own issues and so that ended after a few years. And that was the last proper relationship I was in.
It wasn’t until I went to university that I realised where my confusion was stemming from. My housemate was extremely open about sex. But she helped me realise that I wasn’t completely straight. I still haven’t completely figured it out, but these days I am pretty comfortable with who I am even if it’s hard to explain exactly what I want to people. I’m willing to wait for something that feels right.
#4 – I like to be alone – This might not make a lot of sense to some people. I know it makes no sense to my sister. But I like my own company. A lot. I am a creative writer and my mind is always working a mile a minute. I can sit for long periods of time having a two-way conversation with myself. To most, I look insane. But what I am actually doing is going through a discussion I want to put in one of my stories, hearing it out loud really helps make the words sound natural. But this is something better done when you are alone. Otherwise, people start to get concerned about your sanity. But even when I am not writing, I enjoy spending time alone because it means I can do whatever I want and not have to particularly worry about how it is going to affect someone else. Coming from a large family and growing up having to consider my siblings, it’s nice to just worry about myself. After spending so much time alone, I am pretty set in my ways. I am incredibly independent and I hate it when people try to ‘take care of me.’
Even when I was a little kid I was able to sit for hours and play with my toys by myself. People often ask me whether I get lonely and I can honestly say, not really. Imagination is like a muscle, and like any muscle the more you use it the stronger it gets. I have been working my imagination for close to twenty years, so I find it pretty easy to keep myself entertained in my own head. So I don’t need to be with someone just to ‘not be lonely.’
#3 – I’m an Introvert – Not only do I enjoy being alone, I actually need it. Like a lot of introverts, spending time in the company of other people is draining. For example, I love my mother, my brother and my best friend but even being around the people I love the most for too long drives me crazy and I know that I need time to recharge. I have never been able to understand couples who spend every waking moment together. The idea of not having a moment to myself, let alone a couple of hours I generally need alone every day…it gives me the shivers. I’m not saying that having that kind of relationship is wrong, not at all (please see my previous article on how there is no right or wrong) but I know I will never be able to be one of those kinds of people.
Being a creative person, I also have a lot of anxiety (it seems the two go hand in hand a lot of the time). To manage my anxiety I have set routines, and having these routines allows me to function at my best. I’m currently in the middle of writing my first novel and trying to follow a career as a writer, I need to be functioning at a high standard and I’m not ready to allow someone to disrupt that. Plus, no one should be around me in the morning when I’ve had 3 hours of sleep and no coffee.
#2 – Ambition – Which brings me to my next point. I am extremely ambitious and driven. I live by the phrase ‘you have to want to succeed as badly as you need to breathe.’ But nothing worth fighting for comes without sacrifice and there are two main things I tend to sacrifice; sleep and socialising. When I was at university I spent my first year partying and sleeping in, which led to me ending the year barely scraping a 2:1. By the third year, I was sleeping an average of 3 hours a night and rarely left the house (thank goodness for my housemate reminding me to eat!) I was so determined to succeed that I honestly didn’t even realise how dangerous my lifestyle became. But I left Uni with the highest grade possible. These days I am still heading towards a goal but I’m also trying to keep my lifestyle healthy enough that I don’t worry my mother (Sorry mum). Between my daily 4 hour commute (2 hours each way), my management position and my writing, I am kept very busy and my determination to complete my novel keeps me up long into the night some days.
This is all well and good, but it makes it very difficult to a) meet people and b) keep up decent relationships. I have a few people in my life who understand my ambition and support it, which means they are completely understanding and almost expect me to drop off the map every so often. They know that I need to get my head down and work hard to chase my dreams and they know I will eventually appear again. (Thank you Yahya!) But for many people, this trait is not ideal and my ambition seems ridiculous or even intimidating to them. This often has them either cutting ties with me or getting angry with me. Which is understandable. But in all my relationships in life; whether that be family, friends or lovers the key to success lies in the understanding that I have worked very hard to be where I am, and I am nowhere near done so don’t expect me to stop.
#1 – I like being single – At the end of the day, the main reason why I am not in a relationship is that I enjoy my single lifestyle. I’m not saying there aren’t times when I wish I was with someone, but 85% of the time I am more than happy to be alone. A lot of people often tell me I have set my standards too high when it comes to potential partners and I say, hell yes! I love my life, so if I am going to let someone disrupt it then they better as hell be worth it! I refuse to settle with just anyone because society tells me I need to be with someone. I respect myself too much to do that. A partner is not just for Christmas ladies and gents, make sure you are with someone who brings more to your life, not someone that requires you to sacrifice what you want most in life.
So those are the top reasons why I personally choose to be single. Can you relate to any of them? Let me know in the comments below!
With Valentine’s Day coming around fast, take a day to either pamper yourself or have a day with your friends, because love is not just reserved for lovers.