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Single = Shame

by K. Ross 2 months ago in single / love / dating / advice
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Why are people OBSESSED with telling single women to get married? Is it related to 'single shaming'?

Single = Shame
Photo by Earl Wilcox on Unsplash

Perhaps you've been in a relationship in the past and whether it ended on good or bad terms you've decided to be single. Many people seem unable to escape the "shame" of being single, whether actively seeking a partner, waiting for the right person, or just existing. 

Although this problem isn't exclusive to straight women, it is an essential gateway to bringing attention to this issue. Therefore, today the focus will be on the shame surrounding singleness and the pressure placed specifically on heterosexual women to become wives.

Common phrases you may hear if you are a single woman are:

  • "Your standards are too high."
  • "Don't you want to settle down and have some kids?"
  • "If you wait too long it'll be too late."
  • "You must be so lonely."

Honestly, the list goes on and can get less and less subtle. Everyone has their reasons for being single and sometimes it's not that deep.

Relationships are exhausting

Before moving on you must acknowledge that all relationships - with family, friends, and romantic partners - are draining. Even when they're good, great, or perfect. It's tiring sharing a space, considering others' emotions, processing your own emotions, communicating, and thinking proactively, all while maintaining autonomy. 

Some may recognise that they want a relationship but understand they aren't ready, they could be focusing on their career, still healing from a past relationship or want to love themselves before loving someone else.

Being single offers a sense of escape from the chaos of romantic relationships and allows you to reflect on yourself as a human (especially if you've had bad experiences in the past). Nothing beats being able to fully stretch out in bed, going to sleep without worrying about saying "goodnight" to someone or reorganising your schedule in order to spend quality time with the one/s you love. These aren't negative aspects of relationships but some positive aspects of being single. 

What makes a relationship?

A relationship is described as a way in which two or more things are connected. And when it comes to forming relationships with people, people usually have a reason to create these connections. However, when building these connections it's important to consider:

Is this relationship going to make my life BETTER?

The answer to this is obviously going to be "yes" because why would you want to get into a relationship if it isn't going to make you happy? But what about those relationships that aren't so…great? The ones that disguise themselves in a veil of velvet, make you believe you've found a safe space and once that veil is removed the ugly truth can leave lifelong scars.

By Lysander Yuen on Unsplash

Why healthy relationships are important

People who have healthy relationships are more likely to feel happier and more satisfied with their lives. They are less likely to have negative physical and mental health issues. Strong relationships have been proven to lower rates of anxiety and depression, raise self-esteem and empathy, and create more trusting and cooperative relationships.

It is EXTREMELY important to find people who understand, accept you for your merit, and demerits, and of course people you can love and trust. When it comes to romantic and sexual partners a concerning amount of individuals still believe that a woman's value is determined by her ability to be a good wife and mother. It's not surprising that many women settle for less than ideal situations just to not be seen as "undesirable". According to the National Domestic Violence hotline US 

"On average, more than 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men in the US will experience rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner."

All relationships go through hard times. Having disagreements and feeling unhappy are things we all face at different stages. Sometimes it can be hard to know what is normal and what isn't. However, abuse is a repeating pattern of behaviour that makes you feel unsafe. It's important to understand that you should never feel unsafe in a loving relationship.

Healthy relationships are important as they remind us that we are valued and allow us to share the joys and challenges of life with others. You have the right to feel respected and safe in your relationships. 

A healthy relationship gives you the freedom to:

By Womanizer Toys on Unsplash

There isn't any shame in being single

Asking someone why they are 'still' single and assuring them that they'll 'find someone soon' may seem like a thoughtful gesture to reassure your single friends. However, these simple phrases contribute to what is known as 'single shaming.' 

Negative stereotypes about single people lead to 'single shaming'. Stereotypes like: they must be depressed and lonely, they are actively looking for a companion but haven't found anyone yet, and there must be something wrong with them if no one wants to date them. These are the results of the demands to live up to ingrained societal norms to be in a heterosexual relationship, share a home, have 2 kids, a dog, and BOOM you've got everything you need for a happy existence. However, life isn't that simple and this perceived idea of a "happy life" isn't made for everyone, it's just the social expectation.

"Singlehood was once considered a transitional period when people marked time until they were married or re-married," says Bella DePaulo, author of Singled Out: How Singles are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After.

Nowadays that's not so much the case. However, marriage is still an endgame for most relationships in adulthood. 

By Kate Bezzubets on Unsplash

Most people assume that everyone wants to find their ultimate soulmate, get married, and stay together forever. However, marriage isn't always right for everyone. Whether you simply don't think it's crucial to your happiness, don't want to spend the money, or don't believe in it, deciding not to get married is perfectly okay.

Of course, marriage isn't evil, that's not the point here. Those who want to get married should have the chance and those who want to wait or have no plans of getting married should also have that chance. The problem lies in pushing marriage expectations onto women that don't want it. Women don't need to be in a relationship in order to be valued and they don't need to get married in order to be fulfilled. One's own happiness doesn't depend on their relationship status, so don't let it define you. 

In the end, it comes down to the individual and what you believe is beneficial for you. Someone should not be shamed for being in a relationship or being single if that is what they want in life at that moment and are happy. 

Stay happy and stay safe.

Further readings:

singlelovedatingadvice

About the author

K. Ross

I write articles about human experiences with a keen interest in art, psychology and society. I post about once or twice a month.

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