No matter what you say or how clearly you try to say it, some people only hear what they want to hear, especially when it comes to the topic of being single.
I’m in the business of communication, so I try to do it effectively. But apparently I’m not doing it very well. Or maybe it’s just that some people — not all people — only hear what they want to hear and don’t grasp what I’m actually saying.
An example in point is the article I wrote about “The Great Love Debate.” I received lots of emails from people asking, “But are you really happy to be single?” They expressed doubt I could really believe that being single was something anyone could embrace in a positive way or consider as an opportunity for growth, or even crazier, actually enjoy.
Let me try, one more time, to be clear — just for the record.
I am an advocate of the apparently revolutionary concept that your relationship status should not define your character. I believe that having a spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend shouldn’t be used by other people to decide who you are before they’ve even met you. Your relationship status is just that: a box you check on your income tax return, or more broadly defined, an indicator that you might be open to exploring romantic relationship opportunities.
All the goofy negative stereotypes that are attached to people who are single, and even more so when they’re not “in a relationship,” are self-defeating for individuals and self-defeating to our society. It’s bogus B.S. that only exists in the perceptions that we, as a culture, have gleaned from movies, TV shows, self-help books, advertisements and our mother’s generation — perceptions that many of us don’t pause to question as valid. In fact, we can be so convinced these negative stereotypes are true that we pattern ourselves to be exactly so: unhappy, desperate, needy, odd, “set in our ways” and certain that “being single” is a problem.
How many Hollywood movies have we seen where the dorky or obnoxious single person finally turns into a likeable human being once they get coupled? It’s supposed to be a comedy, but how funny is propaganda that tries to convince us that there’s something wrong with a huge segment of the population? Get coupled/married, the movie suggests, and your dorkiness, sadness or promiscuous behavior will be resolved and you’ll live happily ever after — finally “normal.” The same message is repeated, ad infinitum, and too many of us are buying it as fact, not fiction.
I have nothing against romantic love. In fact, I enjoy romantic relationships. I have nothing against marriage. I’ve been married and I have no issue at all with getting married again. But what I do have a problem with is discrimination against people who are single. I’m appalled by the ridiculous stereotypes our society inflicts on people who are not “in a relationship,” and I particularly want single people themselves to realize they have a choice as to whether or not they are going to buy in to the negative singles baloney.
Bottom line: Your relationship status does not define who you are as a human being. You do — own it.
Copyright © Kim Calvert/2014 Singular Communications, LLC.