Stop SingleShaming me!
When did the worst thing about going solo become people who make you feel
bad about it? hey, auntie kathy, it’s cool. and you too, Mom and Dad. you guys can’t be blamed for asking me if i’m dating someone when i’m home for the holidays. it’s just what you do.
But, heyyy, friend-of-afriend at the bar who dropped a major shame bomb on me the other night. not. Cool. We were chatting in a group when i revealed i was a tinder-less single person. “What?” she squeed. “But how do you meet guys? you’re just notdating?” Bartender, pour me another!
usually, singles are left to defend themselves while passing the carbs at family dinners, but my bar encounter was more biting: i was singleshamed by a peer. “even today, there’s truth to the idea that women get validation by being in a relationship,” says Rachel hills, author of thesexmyth. “if you’re single, it’s seen as a problem to be fixed.”
after that, i began to notice it everywhere. My exclusion from couples-only dinners. a married-with-kids friend implying that a second glass of vino was a wild night for her but for me every night was a drinkfest. invites to weddings arriving without “and Guest” next to my name. Because i’m single, i’m made to feel bad about it.
But why? “Single-shaming comes from the thinking that if you follow the prescribed path and get married, you’ll be happier,” says Bella Depaulo, PHD, author of Singledout. “But if half the population is single, how can you say the only way to be happy is to be
FEBRUARY 2016 married?” She has a point. in fact, a new study from the university of auckland found that people in relationships may be more susceptible to hurt and conflict, something many singles “often avoid.”
except when we’re shamed. Because here’s what the shamers are really saying: i’m judging you for being frivolous, for living your life outside what society expects. We singles aren’t slackers with endless free time to devote to binge drinking and bar makeouts. We’re not collecting tears in our Mansur Gavriel bucket bags. and it’s not that we’re not “trying hard enough.” i’ve even heard of a boss who didn’t hire an unmarried candidate because she “didn’t have a stable foundation for a stressful job.” these assumptions are unfair…and total BS.
the trick is to deflect the haters. Steer the conversation to your job or your travels. Or say, like i do, that you simply won’t date someone dull just so you’re not alone.
and when a shamer starts in with “i just want you to be happy...,” think about how happy you already are. i love my quirky friends, my fun job, my cozy apartment, my a.m. cycling class. and when i add a boyfriend to that list, he’ll share space with the rest of my happy life. there’s no shame in that. ■