I’ve now seen the movie ‘How To Be Single’ twice. I love it, for many reasons. The costumes are gorgeous – Alice’s style in the movie is on point -, Dakota Johnson is delightful and her fellow cast members are hilarious, the soundtrack is great, and the message of the movie is exactly what so many of us need to hear.
Both times that I’ve come out of watching it, I’ve just felt happy and secure in being single. So often, it’s easy feel like being single is bad. Like it’s not just “being single” it’s “being single while you’re looking for a relationship”. Society tells us, especially young women, that we need relationships. That without them, we aren’t full, rich, happy people. Screw that!
My flatmate said something really insightful in the car ride home from my second viewing of the movie. She said how she hates having to say she’s single, in fact she avoids it, because she doesn’t agree with the idea that her relationship status should be such a huge identifier. And I completely agree. Being single or in a relationship is only part of who you are. We talked about how simply saying that you are single seems to automatically imply that you are ready to mingle. What if you’re just on standby or something? Happy on you’re own, open to something, not searching though? Why does ‘single’ have to mean ‘waiting for a relationship’, why can’t it just mean ‘rocking being on my own because I’m independent and don’t need a relationship to feel validated as a person’?
I looked up single to check out some different definitions. Here’s what the internet has to say about this:
Urban Dictionary: When you are currently not in a relationship with a significant other.
Dictionary.com: 4. 5.
I know that yes, that is the technical definition of single, but I hate all the baggage that comes with it! Single-shaming is a thing, guys. Think of it in movies: In Bridesmaids, Annie gets major pity from everyone she meets at Lillian’s engagement party when she says she’s there solo. Why? Why is being single something to be pitied? Fun story: I work at an after school care, hanging with kids aged 5-12, so I have had loads of hilarious “kids say the funniest things” moments. When I first started working there at age 19, I made friends with a 7 year old girl. She asked me if I was married (I think to kids people are split into two age brackets = children, and adults, so to her, I was like her parents) and I giggled and said that no, I wasn’t. She patted my arm sympathetically and said that that was okay. WHAT. Then, for a good few months after that, every few weeks she’d ask me if I was in a relationship yet. Every time I said no and every time, she’d reply with a sympathetic/pitiful (it’s hard to see which it was) pat on the arm and say “You’ll get there”. I was being single shamed by a SEVEN YEAR OLD. It goes to show just how widespread the idea is that we should all be playing Noah’s Ark by the time we hit 20.
The worst part is the reaction people have when you say that you are genuinely happy on your own. Saying “I’m happy alone” tends to be met with grimaces and flinches because apparently the law dictates that I can not enjoy any aspect of my life unless I have someone to share it with. I think people expect all single people to feel a little Bridget Jones-y, sitting around singing ‘All By Myself’ by Celine Dion or rocking out to ‘On My Own’ from Les Mis. NO! On the contrary, I’m rocking out to ‘Love Myself’ by Hailee Steinfeld.
We all know that we shouldn’t let ourselves get consumed by relationships, or let them define us. So why do we let our single-ness do that? Can’t we just be, simple as that? Just enjoy being how we are at this moment in time, and learn who we are, without constantly being in or out of a relationship? Single isn’t a stopover on a long haul flight of relationships. There are so many wonderful things on offer in life, relationships are just one of them. Don’t dismiss them, but don’t forget about the other things. Don’t let who you are in relation to someone else define you.
I no longer feel like I need some sort of validation, someone to give me the seal of approval, as if to say ‘you’re okay on your own for now’. I’m just me, not single, not coupled, just me. It’s a damn good feeling.
P.S. If any of this mildly incoherent babbling resonates with you, let me know in the comments. And, if you too like ‘How To Be Single’, let’s be friends. xxx