Acting like you’re married when you’re not doesn’t change the fact that society, the government and your mother still think you’re single.
I wish people would realize that being single means much more than whether or not you have a regular date on Saturday night. Of course, if you’re at a cocktail party and you tell a cute guy you’re single, it means you’re open to flirtation. But when it comes to everyday life, “single” compared to “in a relationship” means one thing: you’re single.
Single means you are responsible for paying your rent, your car payment and your grocery bills. Only one person signs your checks: you. There’s one signature on your income tax return: yours. The beneficiary on your 401k is not likely the guy/girl you’re exclusively dating — it’s your kids, your sister or your favorite cause. If you have health insurance, it’s because you get it through your job or have navigated the quagmire of Obamacare. You can’t get on your boyfriend’s gold-plated plan. As far as Blue Cross is concerned, you’re single.
You might have “in a relationship” on your Facebook page, but your boss still thinks you can work overtime because in terms of your employment you are single and there’s an assumption you don’t have a life. Even when you put in that overtime, you may be passed over for promotions because your married co-workers are seen as more stable and mature.
And even though you’re in a relationship, when you die, all that money that’s been sucked out of your paycheck for Social Security stays in the hands of the government. It doesn’t go to a beneficiary of your choosing — you won’t even get so much as a funeral benefit as you would if you were survived by a spouse.
You can put your hands over your ears and stomp your feet, yelling, “I’m in a relationship!” But the fact is, if you’re not married, you’re still single, and you will be single for most of your adult life — that’s a statistical fact.
This discrimination against singles is ingrained so deeply that it flies under most people’s radar — single or not. It’s only recently that single people have started standing up to say, “I’m not going to accept this anymore! My relationship status doesn’t define who I am,” just like women less than 100 years ago finally stood up for themselves and refused to be denied the right to vote because of their gender.
The institutionalized prejudice about being single drives many of us to be in a relationship with the wrong person for the wrong reason — and can lead many to take that big step into what traditional society says will finally make us successful adults: marriage. Despite the fact that single people are one of the fastest-growing demographics in the world, the old idea lives on: if you’re single, you lose ― if you’re married, you win.
That’s why being single means so much more than if you’re dating someone or not. If the old, false ideas about being single are ever going to change, it’s important for us to self-identify as “single” ― not hide it, run away from it or deny it by giving ourselves “in a relationship” status. We need to stand together as a constituency and demand the respect and consideration we deserve.
As single people, we have the opportunity to enjoy the independence and freedom that our married friends often envy. We can choose where we want to live, what kind of car we want to drive, what job to take, how we want to spend our hard-earned money, while they wonder what their lives might have been like if they had the courage and faith in themselves to be the sole proprietor of their lives.
Don’t you think it’s about time we got real about what being single really means ― in its full context, not just in terms of whether or not we’re dating someone exclusively? Being single is so much more than that, but unless we are willing to stop trying so hard to shed our “single” status, the old ideas will continue, the divorce rates will keep climbing, and many of us will miss living up to our fullest potential.
You might have a boyfriend or girlfriend, you might not. But if you’re not married, you are single. The good news is that it’s OK. Understand it and accept it because it’s time, past time, for us to stand together and demand the respect and the rights we deserve.
Copyright © Kim Calvert / 2014 Singular Communications, LLC.