But Wait! What’s Wrong with Being Single by Choice??
When I decided I wanted to stay out of the dating world for a while, I was met with a variety of reactions. From “Don’t worry, you’ll find someone,” to “Sure, you want to be single now, but wouldn’t it be great if you met the right guy?”, it was clear that few people supported the decision.
I chose to stay single because I was so extraordinarily happy with the people and work in my life and didn’t want to rearrange any of it to make room for a significant other. But as soon as I dropped dating from my priorities list, a lot of people seemed determined to put it back. The advocacies for online dating, the offers to set me up, and the insistences that I’d change my mind, if only I found the right guy, were endless.
My feminist side was miffed. Here I was, young and unbearably happy and surrounded by people trying to convince me that my life was imperfect because it didn’t include a guy. Even though we say we’re past the idea that a woman needs a man to be complete, in practice it seems we’re not.
What kind of message are we sending when we encourage our girlfriends to find a man, even when she’s professed a desire to remain single for a while? Romance is wonderful, but it’s hardly the only thing worth living for. If a woman chooses to focus on her career, her friends, or something as simple as having the entire mattress to herself, why can’t we support that?
Despite the progress feminism has made, it seems we still see an unmarried woman as a failure. I have known so many successful, happy single women who are pitied and looked down upon –as if something is fundamentally wrong with them because they aren’t married– a phenomenon much rarer for single men.
It’s important to learn how to create happiness from within, rather than looking to the external world for personal fulfillment. Everyone should to take some time alone to understand the difference between alone and lonely. To enjoy time with friends, and develop individuality and independence. We should encourage young women to enjoy singledom as a time of personal and professional growth and realization. Instead, we share dating advice.
Despite all this, the benefits of single life are starting to gain popularity. More people live alone now than ever before. 15 million people in the US between the ages of 35 and 64 choose to remain single. They’ve escaped the pressure to commit to a relationship and opted to enjoy single life instead. This often gives them more opportunities to be social, and to build their career, than married life would. So why can’t we encourage that choice—or at least respect it?
It all ties back to the traditional family values we cling to. For those who do choose to date, more expectations aren’t far behind: When are you going to get married? Are you going to have kids? How are you going to raise them? From the dolls we played house with, to politicians who give commencement speeches telling us to get married and have kids, we’ve been schooled on what we should want. Apparently, we should want to see women married and raising 2.5 kids behind white picket fences. But in this time of change and reevaluation of marriage, can’t we allow people to dispense with these notions all together?
Women exist outside marriage and motherhood, a concept that we all should’ve internalized a long time ago. Instead of shoving girls into relationships, we should encourage each other to take time for ourselves. Enjoy singledom while you have it. That’s not to say we should all give up on love and marriage; both are beautiful, valuable things. But being single is as well, and it’s time we acknowledged that.
Have you ever chosen to remain single for a while? Share your singledom stories in the comments!