The small world around me has started to feel...cuffed up. Although It’s definitely not my first time around the sun without a partner holding my hand, I can’t help but feel baffled that I am ending up empty-handed anyway.
But I know that feeling and experience of being single doesn't happen in a vacuum, and so I began to reach out and do some research. During my research, I realized how often discussions about dating, hook-ups, and future partners occupied my friend’s minds and how much space was left for the same important discussions in my own mind.
I left every conversation feeling ladened down with advice. The cookie-cutter answers so often didn’t show the whole picture, and the most interesting and important answers were to questions I felt weird asking. asking. Is it embarrassing to be single? Is it weird to be in a relationship when everyone isn’t? Are any of these questions important at all?
When I started this project, I assumed the friends I spoke to would have a variety of the same answers. But somewhere along the way, I realized that I wasn't hearing any of the same catchphrases or any of the same answers. Everyone’s journey up until now felt so different, and I witnessed this tremendous depth of accountability and acknowledgment of what they deserve and what people so far have failed to give them.
Some interview answers were fun and enjoyable and some answers I couldn’t help but think about how I felt the same way, which is why I felt like these answers were important to share. So much of what I read growing up and navigating this world felt like there were two options: single or taken. There were steps in becoming either or, but no one was talking about the steps in between.
I decided to interview three women with the same relationship status: single. This can be a harsh word to define yourself but each woman embraced it and had positive, unique, and creative reactions to my relationship questions.
April, 19 years old.
Current relationship status: “Single. Single and ready to mingle. *giggles*”
What’s the story behind where you are in your romantic life right now?
“The standpoint I'm at right now is that everything is in my control. Freshman year I was not entirely over what had transpired before I had left for college, having broken up with my high school boyfriend. I think that experience stunted my (romantic) growth at college and my relationship with myself. I think relationships are multifaceted because of covid, bc it's also impacted. I haven’t met as many people as I would like to in the normal college way. I've recognized that this is a time where I want to be independent for myself and really discover my independence. It's more of a choice than I thought it was before.”
What's the worst piece of relationship advice you’ve ever been given?
Get back together with him.
Sarah, 20 years old.
Current relationship status: “ I would define it as single and just looking to casually date.”
What’s the story behind where you’re at in your romantic life right now?
I was in a pretty long-term relationship with a guy from high school. I started dating him my junior year and we decided to do long-distance when I came to Elon. I just realized when I got into my sophomore year that long distance just wasn’t working anymore. I realized that although I loved him as a person, I was not in love with him. I wanted to learn to be more independent and be happy by myself.
Do you wish you were in a relationship?
I think it's hard to say. I think a lot of people want to be in a relationship but maybe shouldn't be in a relationship. For me, I'm not at a place where I can be in a relationship. Right now I want to experience dating and grow before I can add another person into the picture.
What’s the worst piece of relationship advice you’ve ever been given?
I’ve been told, “Why did you break up with him? He was such a nice guy.” Just because he’s nice doesn’t mean you have to be in a relationship with him and that is what I soon realized. Ever since breaking up with him, I became much happier in myself.
What’s a funny story about your romantic life?
Me and my friend have a joint hinge account where we are trying to go on double dates with guys and it's been a whole lot of fun. with Covid, it's been a challenge to actually meet up with guys but in the coming weeks, since we've both been vaccinated, we're excited to just have some fun adventures.
Charlotte, 19 years old.
Current relationship status: “Single AF”
Is it embarrassing to be single?
No, I don’t think so. I feel like it’s not embarrassing to have not found your person. When I’m around couples, I feel like I just internalize it. I’m just more aware of it.
Do you ever act unlike yourself around romantic interests?
When I'm around boys that I think are cute, I'm hyper-aware of everything that I do and say. I try to act a certain way- nothing specific, but I just try to be, or I try to act like, what I think they would want to be like.
What would be the most ideal thing someone could ever say to you?
I think if they notice things about me that only I notice. Like, if they just point out the things that they like that I’m self-conscious of or point out things that I think other people don’t notice.
Names have been changed for privacy.