Lighten Up, Single People!
Yes, being single and getting grief because we’re unmarried is annoying, but being so prickly about it doesn’t help matters.
Photo by Valeria Maslova
One thing I’ve noticed about us single people is that we can get a little touchy about our relationship status. I certainly understand why. After all, we live in a world where, despite being a significant segment of the population (44 to 49 percent, depending on how you slice the statistics), being single is still seen as the wrong choice. How many times have you been on the receiving end of those “I’m sorry” looks and questions like, “Why on earth is a nice girl/guy like you still single?”
I know I’ve been overly sensitive to those well-meaning comments from friends and family ― from rolling eyes to hopping mad ― when they suggest my life must be so sad because I haven’t found “the one.” It even motivated me to launch Singular magazine and SingularCity, so singles in Los Angeles would have their own publication that would defy the old stereotypes and provide an alternative to the traditional singles industry that says we need to get un-single, post-haste.
Still, that said, some of us do need to lighten up instead of getting our knickers in a twist every time we hear a comment or read an article that can be construed as an attack on our singular status. For example, I have a good friend, Steve Silon, a 65-year-old Conservative Jew, who says he married his bashert (soul mate). I used to get so annoyed when Steve would ask me, “When are you going find a husband?” He believes being married is simply the right way to live. Since his value system is deeply rooted in the idea that being single is contrary to God’s will, he sincerely believes I should stop being so picky and just get married already.
I finally realized I had to let go of trying to explain to Steve what it means to be singular ― a person who enjoys a social lifestyle but wants to be the “sole proprietor” of their life. Now I just smile and say, “Steve, some people aren’t as lucky as you. You’re so blessed,” and then move on to another topic of conversation. I’m even learning to have a sense a humor about being single ― maybe because leading with my defiantly singular chin often ends up in anger, frustration and other negative emotions.
Yes, the tide is changing about how singles are perceived. Attitudes are evolving. But we’re still a long way from the day when being single is simply a box to check on our income tax returns, not an indictment of our characters. Still, I don’t think throwing a brick through the “being married is better” window is a solution ― even though it can provide some immediate satisfaction!
The same goes for developing a sense of humor about our single status. Back in the day when gay people weren’t accepted by mainstream society, surprising breakthroughs came via television comedies such as “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” (2001), Will, and Grace (1998).
At the time these shows first aired, it was unheard of to see openly gay people and gay characters in prime time TV. But the context on these programs was humorous, people laughed and something happened: America found itself actually identifying with and accepting gay people as just people. The stigma started to slip away, empathy developed and those ridiculous negative stereotypes began to disappear. (Not to say it didn’t take a lot of other actions and activists to create that change, nor that there isn’t still a fair distance to go.)
I’ve yet to see the same kind of progress when it comes to how the mainstream perceives single people. But maybe, if we all could develop a sense of humor about being single, learn to laugh a bit about it, not be quite so indignant at perceived affronts and even indulge in just a bit of self-deprecating humor (just a bit mind you!), life would be a bit easier for all of us.
Copyright © Kim Calvert /2012 Singular Communications, LLC.
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