Is being single a curse? Or is it a gift?
With cuffing season in full swing, being single feels increasingly isolating. Society places too much weight on my relationship status – it sometimes feels like strangers care about it more than I do. Pop culture pushes the idea that you are not whole without a partner, that without, you are merely wasting away, unable to live a fulfilling life. With that logic, I might as well flee all modern society to become a hermit, with only woodland animals to keep me company.
As a child, I spent hours listening to iconic 2000s love ballads and obsessively watching rom-coms, dreaming of the day I would find my own Harry Burns (still waiting for that New Year’s profession of love … cough, cough). As I grew older, my experiences with relationships and romance fell short of the world-shattering, all-consuming connections I had dreamt of. And it made me feel rubbish. What was I doing wrong? Was I the problem?
When planning this article I found myself going back to my favourite Youtuber from my teen years – Bestdressed – and found a video on precisely this topic, how to like being single. Growing up I saw her videos as gospel, she was the big sister I’d never had. Rewatching her videos now, her points hit closer to home. I was no longer watching my big sister live a life just out of reach, but instead I was catching up with an old friend who felt like a mirror of myself. A lot of the things she discussed stuck out to me, but it was her analysis of gender within relationships that made me really question society’s understanding of what a relationship is, and why these high expectations can only ever fall short.
Stereotypically, girls are expected to always be in a relationship, and if they are not, then they must be constantly sought after. Of course, they also must always be independent and strong, not needing a partner for any reason whatsoever. Conversely, men must be players, with countless partners, but god forbid they ever become emotionally involved with a single one of them. This is whilst simultaneously finding the ‘one’, and becoming completely devoted to them, placing their needs above their own…Juxtaposition is a word that springs to mind.
I actually quite like being single. A cardinal sin I know. It doesn’t mean I never want to be in a relationship, or that I never get jealous of an insanely and sickeningly sweet couple. I just like spending time with myself, and I want to develop that relationship instead. Although it’s stereotypical to proclaim to be learning to love myself more, I do think that it is an ideology to live by. You cannot love anyone else without loving yourself first.
Also, speaking of stereotypes, I want to enjoy being young. Being at University provides many with an opportunity to find their own footing in life, as they learn to nurture themselves and pick themselves back up. Why not make the most of it?
For now, I just want to enjoy taking myself on little coffee shop dates, practice as much self-care as possible, and spend my time with the people I love, not spending it all fantasising over a relationship that doesn’t even exist. Being single isn’t an illness, it’s just a label. (At least until Harry Burns makes an appearance.)