March 26, 2017

‘Single’ doesn’t mean ‘waiting for a relationship’

The value of a young woman’s accomplishments is too easily overshadowed by the concept of an empty space that only a significant other can fill. 

While people acknowledge I have the right to make my own choices, they often struggle to believe me when I put them into words. I can say that I’m happy being single but this is often interpreted as “I’m lying to myself about how unfulfilled I feel.” My resolve is seen as impermanent and my singlehood a problem to be fixed.

The idea of marrying and having children has never appealed to me, nevertheless, I’m told constantly by my family members that’ll change when I “meet the right guy.” After 21 years with no hint of domesticity on the horizon, the “right guy” is going to have quite a job ahead of him in changing my whole worldview.

In my experience, people are often asked to defend their life choices, particularly in the relationship area, with the expectation that the right person is needed to put you on the typical life path. 

But that implies that our current lives are somehow atypical or strange if we aren’t in a conventional relationship heading towards the altar. 

Women especially are expected to organize their careers, their aspirations and their life goals around finding someone, getting married and having children. 

Realistically, this isn’t the central priority of many young women navigating adulthood, and while those who do choose to pursue these routes should be respected, the same respect should be afforded to women who don’t. We’re constantly surrounded by media that tell us women don’t know what’s best for them. 

Almost every romantic movie is based on this assumption — the cold businesswoman simply doesn’t know what she’s missing or the perpetually single friend who’s often thrown a bone in the form of a supporting character at the end of the movie. Lines like, “I forgot what it felt like to have people love you,” can make watching movies like The Proposal and How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days exhausting.

These depictions aren’t realistic. Women aren’t a monolith and want different things out of their relationships and lives. Not believing them when they make these decisions can cause doubt and low self-esteem — it can push us to make choices for their lives that aren’t right for them.

The comfortably single person shouldn’t be viewed a subject of pity, but as a person — a person who’s capable of going in their own direction and loving themself first, before anyone else. 

Julia is The Journal’s Assistant Photos Editor. She’s a third-year English major.

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