How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Being Single
National Singles Day is this weekend. I'll definitely be celebrating.
Photo by vestica, via Getty Images
This Saturday is National Singles Day. Don’t bother rushing to Target to buy yourself a card. They don’t make them. If they did, what would they say? “Don’t Feel Low For Being Solo!”? “Look on the Bright Side, The Toilet Seat is Never Left Up!”? Being single is not culturally viewed as something worth celebrating. Does giving us a “day” of our own help move things in that direction?
According to their official site, National Singles Day was started in West Hollywood as a response to Singles Awareness Day, which falls the day after Valentine's Day on February 15. Unlike Singles Awareness Day (S.A.D for short), this day is not intended to be one of spite and lament. This singles day is about positive acknowledgement and celebration.
I’ve been single nearly all of my 20s, minus a few stints of sort-of relationships here and there (none of which lasted longer than six months). The majority of my writing and comedy are about being single. Hell, I even have a podcast about it. It’s become a strong part of my identity, and has given me the opportunity to talk to a lot of different people who are also single and confused as to why the hell that is. Not to brag or anything, but I am sort of an expert in the field.
Throughout the years, I’ve constantly wavered between feeling miserable because I had no one, to feeling empowered because of it. I’ve equally wavered between self-blame and societal blame. I try to be as objective as I can in my quest to understand why I, and so many people like myself are single today and why that number is rising. Am I trash or are the shitty losers who ghost me trash? (Maybe I’m not totally objective). I have taken every aspect of casual sex, love, and dating, and thought about it to death. At this point, I can confidently say that the answer is clear: there is no clear answer. Relationships are a mess, and no matter how easy some people make them look, I can guarantee they’re struggling in a lot of ways too. So perhaps a designated day for singles to come together and kvetch is actually what’s needed.
There are, unfortunately, things about being single that are objectively bad. Personally, the lack of physical affection outside of sex is what gets me most. But according to science, singles are more likely to die younger than their married counterparts, owning a home is basically impossible in most major cities, and we’re less likely to survive after having major surgery. All bummers, yes. And people love to remind us single folk of these bad sides. However, it’s not all early deaths and money problems. Single people are healthier in a lot of beneficial ways. We have stronger friendships, more productive alone times, and are more likely to experience personal growth. Hell, we’re even less likely to develop PTSD after fighting in a war.
In my countless conversations with single people, the biggest issue I’ve encountered is the feeling that we’re being judged by friends and family. Which mostly manifests as a desire to have a “plus one” for family gatherings and formal events, like weddings. Having been raised by a traditional Jewish mother who prays on the daily that I marry and have children ASAP (preferably three years ago), I completely understand the outside pressure placed on singles to just find someone, anyone. As we get older and our friends become permanently boo’d up, that pressure worsens. Suddenly, we are the single friend invited to dinner parties, surrounded by people attached at the hip.
You feel more self-conscious in social gatherings because you’re uncoupled, but in these instances, does anything happen that confirms the fears you play out in your head? There is a difference between feeling like something is happening to you versus it actually happening. Are your friends really pitying you, or do you just assume that they must be? And even if they are, so what? Why care so much about what others think of you for being single? What they think doesn’t matter because it’s your life and you know what you’re doing. Even if you don’t, fuck them. What are they doing that’s so much better other than maybe having slightly more consistent sex?
Another big concern a lot of single people have raised with me is that there must be something wrong with them. I get it. I’m guilty of it too. So many of us turn to self-blame because in a lot of ways, that’s an easier pill to swallow. The logic being that you can fix yourself if this is the case. The good news is, there is a high possibility that there’s something wrong with you, just like there’s something wrong with literally everyone else on the planet—coupled or not.
After years of having a consistently unsatisfying love life, I decided to really put effort into understanding my dating patterns and the type of men I go for. What I found was that I was never equally desired by the men I determined that I wanted to seriously date. From there I eventually learned that these men were often either emotionally unavailable (and couldn’t date anyone), or they were too concerned with social anxiety over what it would say about them to date a fat girl. They never said the latter outright obviously, but strong evidence suggests it was the case for some of them (that evidence being that I’m not an idiot). As I got older and taught myself to become more aware of these men, I put greater effort into straying away from my patterns. I took it upon myself to grow more as a person, and learned to expect the same from men I’m trying to date.
After taking time to increase my self-awareness, better myself, and greater define exactly what it is I want from a romantic partnership, I’ve realized that being single all these years just might be the best thing to ever happen to me. I know what my standards are, and have learned how to be patient until I find that person who meets them (or don’t, which is fine). Being single is not for the weak, and you should be proud of yourself for being tough as fuck. Whether your intention is to be single for a short time, or for the rest of your life.
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