Single-Shaming Is NOT (And Never Will Be) Okay
“Why don’t you already have a boyfriend/girlfriend?”
“Aren’t you worried you’ll be alone forever?”
“When are you going to get married?”
“Your biological clock is ticking! Better find that someone soon.”
We often hear these comments made around our single friends. They’re usually said by well-meaning relatives or those who just want to see their loved one find their true love. Sometimes, we may even be the ones making those comments to others. But just because these come from a good place doesn’t mean that it’s okay. More often than we think and realize, these statements pressure a person into being in a relationship. They can also make the receiver feel like they’re failing at life because they haven’t found that special someone. Worse, these comments may make a person feel that they have no other choice but to settle.
There are many perfectly valid reasons for someone to be single and to choose to be single, and we should respect them. For one, maybe they just came from a very damaging relationship. They just aren’t ready yet to commit to someone else because of how hurt they were. Being pushy and trying to get them to date someone new might actually be harmful to their mental health. They need time to heal and get to know themselves again before they’re ready to date, and by pressuring them into another relationship we could be guiding them to disaster. They could have picked up bad habits from their previous relationship such as jealousy or insecurity that will then poison their relationship with their new beau or belle. They could even just use this new person as a crutch, someone to make them feel good and happy while they ignore their deeper issues that they developed in their previous relationship.
"There are many perfectly valid reasons for someone to be single and to choose to be single, and we should respect them."
"Romance isn’t the only way to a happy ending. There are other ways to find fulfillment."
Or maybe they have other priorities. They simply don’t have the time for a relationship right now because of their projects and plans. Relationships are a huge commitment after all. You need to spend time and energy in order to make a relationship work out. They could be happy focusing their efforts on their career or their hobbies instead. It’s possible they find more joy climbing the corporate ladder than dating other people. When we single shame them, whether we intend to or not, we tell them they’re wasting their efforts on these other activities since a love life is more important. Who are we to judge them based on their love life when they could be achieving so much more in other areas of their lives? Who are we to say what their priorities should be? Romance isn’t the only way to a happy ending. There are other ways to find fulfillment.
There is also the problem of finding the right person. Maybe they want to take extra time to find someone and we could be pressuring them to rush into a relationship. This could ruin any chance of a real romance. Instead of taking the time to know each other and organically developing feelings for one another, they instead get into one simply because they feel like they have to. Later on in the relationship, they will discover that their feelings just aren’t deep enough to really maintain a relationship and they’ll break it off. Not only that, starting a relationship with just anyone is a terrible idea. They could be completely incompatible. One of them could be extremely religious, while the other could be an atheist. When these two antithetical views come to light, there’s a high chance they’ll leave each other and maybe even hurt each other in the process.
"Starting a relationship with just anyone is a terrible idea."
"Each person is unique and we should understand that there really are people for whom romantic love isn’t a reality. There’s nothing wrong with them and we shouldn’t make them feel as though there is."
Maybe they don’t want a relationship at all. Maybe they don’t believe in romance or dating and just want to be #foreversingle. They find that platonic love is the only love they can experience. They have never and will never feel that romantic kind of love. When we insist that they’ll eventually find someone else, we invalidate their experiences and tell them that they are wrong. We don’t respect their understanding of themselves. We overlook their journey to self discovery and claim to know something that they don’t. But just because we experience romantic love doesn’t mean they do. Each person is unique and we should understand that there really are people for whom romantic love isn’t a reality. There’s nothing wrong with them and we shouldn’t make them feel as though there is.
Not all of us want to end up with someone. Some of us aren’t ready for a romantic love. Some of us are too busy for love. Some of us haven’t found the right kind of love. Some of us just want a more platonic kind of love. Whatever the situation is, shaming one’s preferences is a form of disrespect, and that is NOT okay.