How many times do your friends in relationships — bless their hearts — think that your singlehood is an automatic cry for help and an automatic opportunity for them to play out their matchmaker fantasies? It's one of the many misconceptions about single women who are not dating. It's typically more about them than you anyway, as it is often kind of controlling and uncomfortable behavior; it's aggressive "help" for a problem that doesn't exist. This happens more and more frequently as we get older too, since more people begin to settle down with a partner, so people start assuming that is the norm. But that's not the case for everybody. Why don't people understand that women who are single and not dating can be happy?
Individuals find fulfillment in endlessly different ways. But when it comes to women, society tries to present us with quite a limited view of what will make us happy in life. Usually, marrying a man is at the top of the accomplishments list. Not only is that heteronormative af — it's just wrong. Yes, a relationship or marriage will absolutely make some women happy, and that is a wonderful thing. But some women are at points in their lives when they want to put themselves first or they haven't met a great match yet.
And, of course, there are plenty of misconceptions about these single women. We are all familiar with the stereotypes of the spinster and the cat lady. People also view single women as too invested or too focused on other aspects of their life (career, education, travel, etc.). And since that's not a statement made toward single men, we know that really means that single women are too focused on incorrect roles for their gender, so they'll never be happy. But we know that's bullsh*t.
However, before we continue, I think it's important to acknowledge that even seemingly "positive" archetypes about single women that go beyond the spinster or the cat lady can still be problematic. The "Single & Fabulous" trope can remove a woman's complexity and vulnerability by reducing her to a one-dimensional "party girl" having fun 24/7. As Sara Eckel wrote in a 2014 Salon piece:
The single life isn’t a prison sentence nor is it a cocktail party. It is simply a life — a life with responsibilities and rewards, good days and bad ones, successes and failures. ...you gain strength when you learn to listen to your own voice and live life on your own terms. There is so much out there that tells single women there’s something wrong with them. But there is so much right with single women today.
Let's take a look at some of the misconceptions people have about you when you're single and not dating:
1. You Want To Get "Set Up"
Again, why do people think a) you need the help or b) that you want it? As Elizabeth Zimmerman writes for xoJane, "I am so happy for you in your relationships. Please be happy for me in my singlehood."
2. You Aren't Getting Any
So many avenues exist for a lady to have some no-strings-attached fun if she wants it, so don't you worry about her. For some, sex in committed relationships is more enjoyable due to the comfort and trust established between partners, but if a woman desires casual sex in her independent life, she'll get it.
3. You Don't Get Asked On Dates
It is possible to just not wanna date anybody, you know. People never really seem to consider the fact that a single woman might actually choose that lifestyle despite hella suitors because she prefers focusing on herself, at least for the time being.
4. You're Insecure
Lots of folks think that single women have the lowest self-esteem and are always in need of "confidence" boosters: You'll meet the right person soon. You're beautiful and someone is going to appreciate it. First of all, what if you're not even thinking about meeting anybody 'cause you're too busy killing it on your own? Also, this patriarchal society has tried to brainwash all of us into thinking that our beauty can only be validated if a man wants to be with us.
5. You're Lonely
As I said earlier, I think that the "Single & Fabulous" trope strips women of complexity and vulnerability. A single woman who is not dating anybody can still get lonely for a partner every once in a while. However, the misconception is that she is always lonely and only lonely. Those unpleasant feelings quickly pass when she remembers all of the other relationships in her life that provide emotional support and intimacy: friends, relatives, chosen family, etc. That loneliness also passes when she remembers what she is able to focus on and accomplish because she does not have to worry about the emotional energy required to be dating or in a relationship.
6. You're Too Picky
Now, a person can definitely be self-sabotaging when it comes to relationships, especially if they fear intimacy. That can mean subconsciously finding inconsequential or irrelevant "flaws" in potential partners as a way to prevent relationships from forming. However, this is a very specific, complex issue that goes beyond simple "pickiness."
When people tell single women that they're too picky, it's a way of blaming them for resisting gender roles. If a woman doesn't want to spend her time with someone who bores her, limits her, offends her, doesn't challenge her, or just doesn't make her as happy as she wants to be, that kind of self-confidence should be celebrated. Refusing to settle is not being "too picky" — it's self-respect. Many people stay in unfulfilling relationships for fear of being single, and people can spend years depressed and unhappy until they realize singlehood is the far better option. Perhaps "pickiness" should be more encouraged.
7. It's Easy To Meet People
Yes, thanks to dating apps and the like, there are plenty of new way to meet potential partners. However, that assumption does not take into account how difficult it can be to move a connection from an online chat to a real world date. Nor does it take into account that increasing the dating pool can often just mean increasing the number of sub-par people around you. Plus, the sheer number of dating apps and the number of people on them can overwhelm you into inaction.
8. You're Too Focused On Your Career
This is one of the most dangerous misconceptions about single women, especially because it leads to hurtful comments from friends and family who think that they are helping. And those comments can actually cause a woman to give up on or work less hard at her career dreams. Young women who want to take care of themselves and be fulfilled in multiple aspects of their lives do not need your help, and they do not need to slow down.
9. You Haven't Grown Up Yet
Why does finding a partner a mandatory aspect of growing up? Isn't it more mature to not date or enter a relationship until you have the energy, time, and desire required to do that sort of thing with a person(s)?
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