Once or twice a month, I meet up with some of my old friends to catch up with each other and with the going-ons of our lives. Among our chats complaining about tough professors and gushing about the new eateries we’ve discovered, our conversation inevitably turns to our relationship status and the juicy details of our potential love interests.
As always, my gal pals already have succinct and condensed stories of their romantic conquests they are giddy to indulge me with, while I’m happy to listen. Most, if not all of the times I’ve met up with them, I don’t have any stories or updates about my love life, simply answering with “Oh, I’m still single,” or “I’m trying to focus on myself rather than looking for a relationship” (both of which are true).
Usually, I’m met with looks of sympathy as if my lack of love life and single status are something to commiserate over. Other times I’ve been greeted by their occasional nods of ‘understanding’ when I give my true reasoning for being single as if they were feeble excuses or attempts at comforting myself.
I’m so tired of being met with a look of pity and a ‘comforting’ squeeze on my shoulder every time I affirm my single status. And I’m especially tired of the looks of confusion among my gal pals as I reiterate that I’m not pursuing or interested in anybody at that current moment.
I understand that my gal pals mean no harm, but their reactions opened the floodgates for the many questions I have about the societal perceptions of singleness. Such as why must being single be something to be looked down upon? Or why do we, as a society, even care so much about this?
Being single isn’t a starting point or a transitional period in life, and it especially doesn’t mean that you’re missing one-half of yourself when you are without a romantic partner. I heavily dislike and disagree with the popularized narrative of a person being an unfinished puzzle who must search for a romantic partner to ‘complete’ them. I’ve seen so many relationships fall apart because one of the individuals involved went into that relationship looking for validation and happiness exclusively from having a romantic partner, rather than from other external sources. We are whole and complete without a romantic partner in our lives. I’d suggest that romantic relationships are things that complement our whole selves, rather than something that ‘completes’ us.
Now I might be coming off as a stingy future spinster that’s waving her broom and hexing those in happy and fulfilling relationships, but I promise that’s not me (I don’t mess with witchcraft and I only have a Swiffer). What I’m trying to say is that this idea of singleness as a temporary state that should ideally be passed by a certain age is absurd. This idea places finding love as a prerequisite for achieving true happiness and satisfaction in life when that’s ultimately neither true nor accurate.
Perhaps if we placed much less emphasis and importance on one’s relationship status, these feelings of sympathy and pity would shift towards something more neutral and less charged in our romance-dominated society.
As this Valentine’s day comes to a close I find myself perfectly okay with being single, or as Emma Watson calls it, being “self-partnered” in her much-buzzed-about British Vogue feature. Although I’m not entirely opposed to having a partner in the future, I’m having far too much fun being single and living vicariously through my gal pals’ romantic tales as is, and that’s perfectly fine by me.