Let me set a scene for you.
I’m sitting at a table with 12 family members (Well, technically only 10 because I’m not related by blood to either my sister’s boyfriend or my uncle’s partner, but for all intents and purposes, they’re family). And my grandmother, whose birthday we were celebrating along with my grandfather’s, proceeds to point out that of the 13 people at the table, I was the only one not “coupled” in some way. By that she meant that I was neither married nor engaged nor civilly united nor in any sort of romantic relationship and the others all were.
And then she proceeds to repeatedly call me the “odd one out” because of the aforementioned lack of romantic attachment.
My father and sister, both of whom were sitting to my right, stopped me before I could tell Grandma to piss right the fuck off (which was probably for the best; making a scene at a nice family dinner is not usually worth the hassle). I spent the rest of the night not saying much of anything to anyone.
On my way home, I started thinking about my grandma’s belief that being unattached romantically at age 28 made one “weird” or “odd”. And I realized that it’s not just her attitude. There is still a collective belief in our society that those without romantic partners are inherently worse off than people who have them. And that, for lack of any gentle way of putting it, is just plain wrong.
Before I go on, I need to give you a bit of info about me. I’m not against having romantic partners. Quite the contrary. I’ve had them. I’ve enjoyed having them. I go out on dates and would be happy to have some sort of romantic partner again.
But what I resent is being told that I *MUST* have some sort of romantic partner or my life is not worth living. I resent the implication that my current lack of romantic attachment makes me less happy than those who are romantically attached to someone. My life, while hardly perfect or ideal, is pretty damn good and while a romantic partner would make it that much better, I’m still pretty damn happy with it.
And most single people I know – of both the male and female persuasions – will say the same thing.
Yet society-at-large still believes it’s ok to imply that the lives of the single people in their mid to late 20s cannot be as happy as the lives of people in romantic relationships. Society-at-large still believes it’s ok to constantly tell singles things like, “You’ll never find anyone if you keep being so picky” or “You need to find a nice guy/girl to settle down with. You’ll be so much happier.” And there is still a belief that it is ok to badger single people into being ashamed of their singledom, even if it’s by choice.
And frankly, the single-shaming needs to stop.
Like I said, it’s not that I’m against romantic relationships. What I’m against is the idea that anyone other than me knows better than I do what will make me happy. There are a lot of really damn happy single people out there. For some, a romantic relationship would add to that happiness. For others, it wouldn’t.
What it comes down to is this: Happiness is subjective. Each person has their own idea of happiness toward which they are striving. For some, that includes a romantic partner or partners. For others, it doesn’t.
Let’s stop the single-shaming and just let people be happy.