Is Self-Partnered The New Single?

As the holidays draw closer, many people begin to dread those family dinner conversations that somehow shift into a grilling about their dating life. And if you're currently single, this time of year can be even tougher as you admit that you're still alone. -- Well, Emma Watson has a remedy to avoid being that "single person," and she's calling it "self-partnered."

Glowing with confidence on the December 2019 issue of British Vogue, Watson, who rose to fame as Hermoine in the Harry Potter movies, opened up about revelations she had this year. -- Specifically highlighting the fact that she's single and turning 30.

"I was like, ‘why does everyone make such a big fuss about turning 30? This is not a big deal,’” Watson said. “Cut to 29, and I’m like, oh my God, I feel so stressed and anxious. And I realize, it’s because there is suddenly this bloody influx of subliminal messaging around."

"If you have not built a home, if you do not have a husband, if you do not have a baby, and you are turning 30, and you’re not in some incredibly secure, stable place in your career… There’s just an incredible amount of anxiety,” she continued.

"I never believed the whole 'I’m happy single' spiel. I was like, 'this is totally spiel,'" Watson added. "It took me a long time, but I’m very happy [being single]. I call it being self-partnered.”

As Carla Marie Manly, a clinical psychologist based in California, described it to CNN, "self-partnering focuses on the ideal of being happy and complete as a solo individual. A self-partnered person would feel whole and fulfilled within the self and does not feel compelled to seek fulfillment through having another person as a partner."

Manly noted that a self-partnered person isn't completely closed off to dating or marriage, they're just taking time to get to know themselves. "To be truly self-partnered, one must often invest a great deal of time and energy on personal development," she said. 

Oftentimes, as a person gets older, they begin to feel the pressure to build a family. Between their grandmother asking them why they don't have a boyfriend/girlfriend. And even married friends who they notice talk to them less and less. Being single becomes less attractive and exhilarating and instead becomes an obstacle that they feel they must overcome. And although labeling themselves as self-partnered allows them to change that narrative and make a point that they're enjoying life -- it also ultimately makes them claim their singleness. 

Like 36-year-old LA-based comedian Navaris Darson, who admitted to the New York Post that he was "miserable" being single in his 20s. “I’m still single, but my 30s have been much better... and I truly believe that one day when I’m in a relationship, it will be incredible,” he said. "But until that happens, I’m with Emma: I’m not going to wait for someone to realize how awesome I am. I’m going to be the partner that I deserve.”

However, being self-partnered is really just an alternative for being single. And as many people have embraced the Watson approved relationship trend, it has highlighted society's need to combat the pressures associated with being single by abandoning the natural dating stage altogether. In other words, like Refinery29 writer Vicky Spratt said, "what 'self-partnering' really does is distract us from what we're really feeling and why."

"Self-partnering is just more of the same – it's shiny semantics designed to make us feel better about something we shouldn't feel bad about in the first place," she continued.

For that reason, when Watson first introduced the term during her interview, not everyone hopped on board in support of it. Some felt that its concept contradicted itself and ended up promoting the opposite of its intended message. Including, Slate writer, Rachelle Hampton, who believes that declaring oneself as self-partnered is essentially agreeing that a partnership is a "necessary component to a fulfilling life."

"Self-partnering turns us even more into islands, suggesting that with the right mindset, we can all be self-sufficient," she said. "A [person's] singleness is not a situation to be corrected, transcended or rebranded."

Whether a person claims they're self-partnered or as Gwyneth Paltrow would call it "conscious uncoupling," it all leads back to just being single. So what do you think? Maybe it's time to get comfortable with the term that's been around for centuries.