Whether you want a romantic relationship, partnership, marriage or none of the above–let your single flag fly unapologetically.
Think about your earliest ideas of being single–was your association negative? Did it carry undertones of loneliness, sadness or undesirability? By your definition, did singleness somehow equate emptiness or incompletion? If that was your understanding, you weren’t alone.
When I was a kid I remember hearing adult men associate singledom with heavy-set women (insert major side eye) who ate ravioli from the can with their bare hands, while crying over romance films and soaking their cats with their tears. The same men that shamed single women were not only single themselves, they were actually celebrated for it. I learned quickly that it was indeed a man’s world. I grew up believing that every man was a prince, and a woman needed approval from a prince to be considered a princess.
As young girls lead by the Disney dynasty, media never taught us to imagine our lives without a man at the helm. It was suggested that unless a prince became your savior, you were destined to be nothing more than a dusty damsel incapable of living a meaningful life. Cinderella’s slippers weren’t good enough; her worth was contingent upon her ability to fit into the slipper more palatable to the prince. Snow White’s prince made out with her and took consent-less ownership of her body while she was sleeping–but that was okay because he claimed her. I’m sure they lived happily ever after.
The truth of the matter is that women don’t need saving. We aren’t property and our lives belong to us. There is nothing shameful about being single. Single-shaming is a patriarchal tactic used to force women into submission. Society pathologizes women for not prioritizing relationships. Women are ridiculed, and sometimes even murdered, for refusing to make men masters over their lives. Women who choose to be single are not broken or defective. A woman’s worth shouldn’t be tied up in a man’s desire for her, despite the reality that she herself may not desire a man.
When a woman doesn’t conform to antiquated ideology that suggests she’s incomplete without a beau, she’s immediately labeled as angry, bitter, a lesbian, or slut. Even if any of those labels were accurate, (with pride, of course) she still wouldn’t be obligated to give a man her body, sex, time, attention, or life if she doesn’t want to.
Single shaming is really about ownership. Traditionally, dating or courting was a period in which a man would decide if he wanted to move forward with making a woman his wife. Once he decided the woman was to his liking, he asked her father for ownership of his daughter in exchange for money or goods. While dating and marriage have taken a different direction, the expectation for a woman to seek her worth through companionship has not.
Men are not the gatekeepers of love and esteem. We experience those from our family, our friends, children, our pets, and through the pastimes we’re passionate about. The most indispensable kind of love, is that which we give to ourselves. It took many years for me to fall in love with the black, trans, beautiful, full-figured woman I see in the mirror and I refuse to let an undeserving random disrupt that. Take all the time you need in the world to love on yourself. If you don’t learn how to love yourself, how are you going to know if another person is doing it right?
Perhaps you’re one of many women who have no desire of ever entering a romantic relationship. Lifelong singledom is a fulfilling choice–there is absolutely nothing wrong with that and you don’t need to justify your decision to anyone. Platonic relationships can be just as gratifying, if not more. Love is love no matter how you choose to receive it. You don’t have to go to a dry well seeking water when you know where the stream flows. Heteronormative influences lead us to believe that happiness comes in a one size fits all. You don’t have to limit your happiness to one person. It’s okay to outsource!
Women should be just as free to enjoy the amazing benefits of singledom as men are. Not feeling obligated to someone, full stewardship over your time, no fighting, arguments, drama, and unlimited sexual partners are all attractive selling points. What’s not to love? Being single is the time in which you get to explore the world without limits. The freedom of finding yourself is absolutely indescribable. Everyone deserves to take that journey–but you can only do it alone.
Relationships are a great deal of work, but when you find someone worth the effort it can be a beautiful experience. However, stop allowing outside influences to convince you that you’re worthless without a partner. There is nothing wrong with a woman challenging the expectation that she should roll out of diapers as a child and into a wedding gown as a wife, with no pit stops. There’s more to our esteem than how we are perceived through the male gaze.
Wanting a relationship or marriage is not a bad thing–but you owe it to yourself to be yourself, for yourself. Once you become the love of your own life, it becomes harder to share yourself with anyone else who isn’t worth your precious time. Whether you want a romantic relationship, partnership, marriage or none of the above–let your single flag fly unapologetically. You deserve nothing but the best.