It’s a box to be checked on forms. It’s an indication of our lack of marital status. It’s individually wrapped cheese slices.
I often get asked if I’m single. The truth is, my single status isn’t up for debate, and it doesn’t mean that I’m interested or available. All it means is that I am unmarried, which is just a tiny part of my life. It doesn’t tell the whole story. It doesn’t indicate that I’ve been married and divorced or that I’m now in a committed relationship. It’s just a word that inadequately describes our marital state.
Sometimes, of course, we say we’re single when we’re simply not coupled. In cases like these, keep in mind that our single status is still not up for debate. Perhaps we’re not interested in dating or just haven’t met the right person. The whys don’t matter. But I guarantee you that if your status is “single” someone has weighed in with their “friendly” advice.
To recap: being single means we’re not married. It can also mean we’re not coupled.
But being single doesn’t mean:
That we’re desperate.
That we need you to set us up on dates.
That we need to be engaged and/or looking for marriage.
That we’re available or interested in anyone who is interested in us.
That we have commitment issues.
That we’re celibate.
That we’re sleeping around.
That we’re too selective or have unrealistic expectations.
That we need to work on ourselves (though we all should do that just to be better humans and not to obtain a partner).
That we’re doing something wrong.
That we need a man or woman.
That we’re unhappy.
That we’re open to dating and/or relationship advice.
That our life goals center around being coupled.
That we’re not worthy of love.
That we should try online dating.
That it’s catching (particularly in the case of divorce).
That we don’t love ourselves enough.
Maybe some of these apply to us. But, being single is our relationship status, not who we are as individuals. We can sit under heavy judgment or be treated to far too many unwanted advances in light of that status. It means that we get uncomfortable flirty messages from strangers or sent unrequested dick pics. It means someone will tell us how we’re dating wrong or the importance of loving ourselves before we can be loved by others.
There’s no end to the advice, but it’s important to remember that we’re valuable human beings not because someone else adores us. We have value and merit, regardless of what anyone else thinks. And we don’t have to explain why we’re single—whether it’s by choice, due to lack of options, or because we have chosen not to settle for anything less than what (and who) we truly want.
The truth is that I was happy being single. I was lonely sometimes, but mostly I was enjoying my life. And I committed to just that—enjoying my life regardless of my relationship status. Being coupled doesn’t automatically mean that we’re happy any more than being single means that we’re sad.
So there I was happily living my single life, finally content with exactly where I was and what I had, and I met someone who was also enjoying his single status. Now we’re coupled, and he adds value to my life. I don’t consider myself more valuable for being coupled, and I don’t look at single people as having less value. Instead, I acknowledge that I was happy on my own and happy in a positive, supportive, loving relationship as well.
But I still get asked if I’m single, and that one word seems to mean so much to so many people.
There’s still not a box to check for “Divorced But Now Coupled.” Or any of the other varieties of single that may better explain our lives. Like “Single Working Mom Too Tired to Date.” Or, “Single But Dating and Hating It.” Or, “Single and Not Looking.” Or, “Happily in a FWB Relationship.” Or, “Single and Far Too Fabulous to Settle for Less Than I Deserve.”
Maybe we should remove all the labels and remind ourselves that it’s only a descriptor of relationship status.
It’s not who we are at all.
Author: Crystal Jackson
Editor: Lieselle Davidson