Dear Singles.


Because of the way society is assembled to celebrate couples and commiserat­e singles, nobody will ever give you a card congratula­ting you on managing two years of singledom, or arrange a troop of your best mates to go to a cabin in the woods, or buy you a set of Le Creuset pans for getting hitched to a new housemate, or shower you with spa vouchers and miniature clothes whenever you get a puppy.

All of the parades are saved for people doing weddings and babies. Sorry honeys. I know, it’s not fair. Your promotion, or first mortgage, or bravery in walking away from a mean marriage goes mostly unacclaime­d, overlooked, while others are thrown parties for getting pregnant. Getting pregnant is utterly joyous, yes, but so is all the stuff the singles do.

When I moved in with my best mate, there wasn’t so much as a ‘New Home!’ card, but when I moved in with Ralph, I was showered with housewarmi­ng gifts. Ralph and I enjoyed the special status awarded to couples, whereas Alice and I didn’t.

When I got my first book deal, it was the most incredible peak of my life, and while I was indeed besieged by congrats comments, texts and phonecalls (thank you lovelies), I got a total of two gifts and two greeting cards saying ‘Congrats! I’m so proud of you’. And I didn’t even expect those, so I was bloody delighted.

But given a friend was getting married in the same period, and received hundreds of presents, the parallel was not lost on me. It made me stop and go – hang on. Why is my book deal not as celebrated as her wedding?

I’m not saying I should get presents, honestly, I’m not about to direct you to a department store gift list, but there is something wonky about all of this. Think about it. An unattached person buying their first home single-handedly will not get the same plaudits, the same social attention, as one getting engaged.

If I sound bitter, I’m honestly not. I’m more puzzled than bitter. I love a wedding, I’ll happily play ‘sniff the nappy’ at a baby shower, and I enjoy buying gifts for both. It’s just that we’ve forgotten how freaky all of this is. How skewiff. How one-sided. How exalted nuptials and birth are, above all other life wins. How it not-so-subtly teaches us that in society’s eyes, the pinnacle of our life experience is to locate a partner and procreate.

I really want Charlie Brooker to write a Black Mirror depicting a society where singledom is fanfared in the way that coupledom is. That would be a belter. This societal ‘And then there were two!’ whoopdeedo­o not only makes singles feel blue; it also places an invisible cage around the coupled-up, making them fear the big, bad world beyond: singledom. But, no matter. Society is how it is. Let it get on with it. Now I’ll arrive at my point.

I’m rambling at you in this letter to tell you that you’re doing an incredible job. Being single is like Advanced Adulting. It’s bizarre when society infantilis­es singles as overgrown adolescent­s, or when married people behave like they’re somehow on a higher Adulting tier than you, because the fact is, when you’re single, you’re doing the whole shebang.

The entire kaboodle. Lock, stock and barrel. If anyone should get an Advanced Adulting award, it’s the single. As for single mothers? They should get one of those lifetime achievemen­t trophies, a film reel showing their best bits and a standing ovation.

‘Single people develop mastery,’ says psychologi­st Bella DePaulo. ‘Y’know that thing married people do where they split up all the tasks; you deal with the car and the money, I’ll handle the meals and the relatives. Well, single people figure out how to do all of it.’

You deserve whoops and cards and applause. Give them to yourself. Give them to your single friends. And accept them from me.

I see you. I see that you’re a badass.

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