One of my guilty weekend pleasures is blowing off homework, curling up with a bowl of let’s-pretend-it’s-not-Ramen noodles, and watching reruns of the HBO classic, Sex & the City. When Sarah Jessica Parker flounces across the screen as the stunning, Salvatore Ferragamo-toting Carrie Bradshaw, I swoon—not because she tilts my orientation on the Kinsey continuum but because she arouses my “I am woman, hear me roar” complex. She is at once chiseled, charming, Coco Chanel—oh wait, that’s just her shoes. FABULOUS!
Yet the narrative implies that she is somehow incomplete—and it’s no secret in what area that is. Bradshaw’s whole existence—down to the minute details, like—I don’t know—her CAREER—are all inextricable from her unremitting quest for love. This presents an interesting dichotomy. While Sex & the City glamorizes the lifestyles of these single gal pals, the series balances the glitz with the stark reality of their own “eggs-dying-over-here” exigency for veritable companionship.
This is a struggle that I feel a lot of college women can relate to. According to recent Census data on enrollments in USA Today, “women made up more than 56% of the college population in 2009.” With a disproportionate ratio of women to men, women are fishing from a smaller pool of potential beaus. For those who don’t manage to hook a guy, there is oftentimes a wee bit of bitterness.
Nobody likes the bitter single friend. This hybrid between woman and Godzilla is always breathing fire on and swatting at other people’s relationships. You can catch her tweeting her disgust for VDA (virtual displays of affection) and then licking her wounds on Tumblr—blogging at 3am about how she’s “forever alone.”
We all know that girl. If you don’t, tune into the next seven sayings that typify the bitter single friend. You might even discover that it’s you—yikes.
1. “F%ck their love!”
Probably the most obvious sign that you’re the bitter single friend: you cannot be happy for other people. I’m not saying that you have to swoon over every happy couple that you come into contact with. I’m not saying that you even have to acknowledge them, but to blatantly denounce their relationship out of your own closet envy? That’s spiteful.
2. “I wouldn’t let MY boyfriend…”
This is the ubiquitous preamble for every single girlfriend after your friend has revealed some foible in her boyfriend’s character. Granted, she probably walked into this one but it still doesn’t mean that you have to go there. While you can speculate on the situation and carp about what is and is not acceptable—you have no emotional attachment or interior grasp of the relationship. Moreover, all couples fight and most women vent. Your barrage of criticisms on his character should be kept at bay and your indictments, reserved for situations wherein your friend’s partner is clearly being abusive. Outside of those circumstances, you should do your best to refrain from telling your friend why she should leave this boyfriend. And if you simply can’t or don’t want to hear about it (because, let’s be honest, we also all have that one girlfriend who never shuts up about her relationship problems), be honest but don’t slam the relationship.
3. “Why are you with him?!”
This statement harbors an implicit assumption: that your friend shouldn’t be with him, that there is some fundamental flaw in his character or his hair or the way he chews gum or blinks (you see where I’m going with this?) that simply renders him “undateable”, and that you wouldn’t DEIGN to be with him. But here’s the thing: you’re not with him. So, why are you consumed with your friend’s choice in partners? Is it because her standards and preferences don’t coincide with yours or is it because you want her to be alone so the two of you can live out your own rendition of Destiny’s Child’s Independent Women?
Twitter has become a playground for self-expression….and for single ladies, that expression sometimes comprises declarations of singlehood. Although witty at first, these comments are best reserved for joking conversations with a group of girlfriends rather than on social networks.
5. “No one ever takes me out on a date…”
We wish they did—honestly. But these things don’t happen on our time. So, please, spare us this awkward reminder that you’re single.
6. “I wish I had someone to cuddle with”
Two words: body pillows *winks*.
7. “Guys only want me for my body”
For some jerks, this may be true. But I’m confident that there is someone out there who wants the whole package, not just a piece of it.
So, there you have it, ladies: the seven tell-tale phrases. But I don’t want to leave off there. This is not about discounting your pain or invalidating your desire to be in a relationship. It’s about uncovering what makes you so anxious for one.
To unpack this reasoning, I return to Sex & the City and offer the antithesis of the “single bitter friend”: Samantha Jones.
A feminist movement in her own right, Samantha makes no apologies about her illicit escapades and nymphomaniac tendencies. Whereas the other ladies subscribe to the idea of being someone’s “one and only,” Samantha subscribes to one-night stands. Yet her character, as shallow as the bulk of her relationships are, is not vapid. It is not that she is a Venus flytrap of a man-eater, some black widow who bites their lover’s head off after copulation – although I’m sure she is into similar kink. No, Samantha is quite capable of love actually. In fact, she makes a lifelong commitment—to herself and herself alone. The last true single gal on the show, Samantha is her own woman.
That is why she is perfectly fine with her friends’ relationships. She is whole on her own. And that is what every single woman must achieve before she can hope to have a successful relationship. Even examining the other three women, the same holds true: each had to reconcile with their pasts, their own hang-ups, and conflicting interests (ex. Miranda and her career) before they could maintain lasting relationships with others.
You must do the same. So, instead of bashing your friends’ and strangers’ relationships or complaining about your relationship status, examine yourself thoroughly. Ask yourself if you are happy, if you are complete, on your own. If the answer is no, you might want to consider that that is the reason why you are unable to connect with another person on a mature, meaningful level. Remember, you cannot bring brokenness into a relationship and expect that the relationship is going to heal you (that is the stuff of Hollywood). Conversely, if the answer is yes, consider that perhaps it’s not your time. Remember, “all things in their due season.”