In our relationship obsessed society singledom gets a terrible rap. Particularly in January, the single person faces a lot of scrutiny. You’ve just dealt with the holiday season, bringing with it a barrage of relatives asking prying questions about your relationship status over family dinners. Romcoms everywhere insist that if you didn’t bring in the New Year kissing that ‘special someone’ at midnight, you did it all wrong. Then, of course, there is that looming annual pest, Valentine’s Day, the less said about which the better.
We are taught that being single is just a stepping-stone in between this relationship and the next. It is a stop along the way but never the desired destination. Women in particular are told that we should want to be in a relationship at all times. If we’re not, there must be something wrong with us. Women who engage in casual sex instead of entering monogamous relationships are often said to be ‘missing’ something, engaging in random sexual encounters to fill the void of their supposed unhappiness. The phallocentric implications of this school of thought are staggering and disturbing.
Television shows like Sex and the City, which allegedly portray the lives of successful, independent modern women, are entirely concerned with the pursuit of men. They may have their fun throughout the series but, in the end, all four main characters are settled in committed relationships in typical happy-ending style. Even the polygamous Samantha is shown to abandon her lifestyle of carefree, casual sex to settle down with aspiring actor Smith Jerrod, choosing to dedicate her life to the promotion of his career.
Now, am I professing myself an enemy to relationships and condemning all those who enter them? Absolutely not. Relationships can be great, but they’re not the be all and end all. It is the concept that they are life’s end goal and the only way to be truly happy that I take issue with. Not being in a relationship can have its perks too. There’s absolutely no reason that being single should be viewed negatively when, in fact, it can be a fantastic opportunity to explore your personal freedom and learn about yourself and life. Here are some reasons why.
1. Being single = Ultimate freedom
You have no ‘other half’ to consider, your time is entirely your own to do with as you wish and it feels pretty good. This is not to insinuate that relationships are some kind of prison, but having one less person to consider does make doing what you want that little bit easier. You don’t have to take into account another person’s feelings before you do something, so wear what you want, go where you like, eat what you like, see who you like. You get the picture. Explore new things you’ve always wanted to try, spend more time on hobbies, become better friends with yourself. You are the most important person in your life, so embrace it. You’re pretty great too, y’know.
2. Being single doesn’t have to mean being ‘alone’
Just because you don’t have a significant other, doesn’t mean you’re going to be totally alone. Chances are you have some wonderful friends, or even family members, and being single means you have more time to spend with them. If you’ve previously fallen into that trap of seeing your friends less when you’re in a relationship, being newly single is an opportunity to make up for lost time.
Show some love to the people who care about you, because platonic relationships are just as important as romantic ones. Or, if you’ve grown apart from your friendship group or feel unhappy with them, find new friends! Yes, this can seem really frightening but remember that you are an interesting, wonderful person that plenty of people would love to be friends with. They just don’t know it yet. Plus, they’re likely to be just as anxious about branching out and talking to new people as you may be. It’s not so difficult, especially if you’re still at university where there are a plethora of clubs, societies and alcoholic soirées for you to join and meet new, like-minded people.
3. Unless you want to be alone, and that’s cool too
There should be absolutely no qualms about being alone and doing things on your own, if that’s what you want to do. So many people are afraid of being seen to do things on their own. But there’s nothing wrong with taking yourself on a date to the cinema or to get some food. We all have to eat, and you only sit in silence once the film starts playing anyway. Make time for yourself, self-care is important too.
4. It also doesn’t have to mean being celibate
For a lot of people, a major concern about single life is, understandably, whether this means a long, unwanted stint of celibacy. It doesn’t have to if you don’t want it to. Obviously casual sex, as with relationships, doesn’t suit everyone. However, if you want to, there is no reason why you should not use being single as an opportunity to explore new avenues of your sexuality, as long as everything is safe and consensual. Go out and kiss who you want to kiss, have fun, try new things, all without the need for emotional attachments or commitments. If you’ve found yourself in a series of monogamous relationships in the past and have become disenchanted, or even if you consider yourself not a naturally monogamous person, being single is a chance to get out there and explore your sexuality in a way that you had perhaps never considered before.
Being single doesn’t have to mean being unhappy. It’s an opportunity to get to know yourself better, have a lot of fun, and there is no need to view it as the end of the world. Many people, including myself, think being single is great. Am I saying that I would never be in a relationship? No, but I’m also not waiting around for if and when I enter one. Enjoy being single, even if you do eventually end up in a relationship. It is in no way a bad thing to not be romantically involved with someone at a given point in your life, so don’t let it get you down.