But not for the reasons you might think.

Rachel Nash
Aug 22 · 4 min read
Anthony Tran from Unsplash

Most of us are aware of the stigma that surrounds single women — we’re sad, lonely, and depressed. We’re failures and inherently defective and thus fair game for patronising and insulting remarks with regard to why we haven’t been “snapped up” yet.

The pervasive perception is that single women are to be pitied for the sad, lonely singletons we are. Because single women are bound to be miserable, right? If you’re single people seem to feel compelled to offer their condolences, as though some kind of tragedy has befallen you.

Women are conditioned to think that finding “Mr. Right” is the holy grail — the only path to happiness. We must pursue a life partner, because should we not succeed in snaring one, then we are destined to a lifetime of solitude and misery.

It beggars belief that people still think like this, but I’ve been subjected to countless people’s scrutiny about being single more times than I care to remember.

For me, by far the worst thing about being single is having to perpetually endure people’s judgment.

Life is enough of a battle without having to listen to a constant barrage of unwelcome remarks from people who should quite frankly mind their own business. These people fall over themselves to speculate about what might be wrong with me. Because there must be something wrong with me, mustn’t there?

It is as though a single woman is offensive to society; someone to be mocked and derided. From having to listen to other people’s ill-thought out and illogical remarks (“ooh, she’s an attractive girl, I can’t believe she’s single. There must be something wrong with her,”) to faux sympathy (“don’t worry, you’ve got lots to offer, you’ll find someone soon”), the patronising, lazy assumptions abound. “You’ll find someone once you’re happy with yourself” (I am happy with myself!), “You must be trying too hard/not hard enough”, “work on yourself”, “it’ll happen if you stop looking/start looking”, “your time will come”.

Blah blah blah.

It all comes back to me.

It must be me!

But it’s not.

It’s you and your judgement.

Some of these comments are well-meaning and are intended to reassure, some, not so much. Some people say things in a thinly-veiled attempt to feel superior to me, based on the fact that they’re married and I’m not.

It’s so tedious. Making an issue out of my single status is creating a problem out of nothing. Perhaps I shouldn’t internalise this nonsense, perhaps I should take no notice, but it’s difficult to ignore when it’s everywhere. Being relentlessly treated like some putrid leftover takes its toll eventually.

“Why are you single?” is a question I’m sure every single female has been asked several times.

No one bats an eye, despite it being a deeply intrusive question.

It’s not acceptable to say, “Why are you in a relationship?” because that would be considered rude. But as usual, single people are fair game.

I’m not anti-relationships, I’m anti judgement of relationship statuses. No one really knows anyone’s reasons for being single. Perhaps it’s a choice, perhaps it’s not. People have their reasons, from wanting to heal from previous relationship trauma, to wanting to play the field, to not having met anyone suitable. There could be any number of reasons why someone is single. It’s no-one else’s business.

Being single is great, but it’s also not so great. Being in a relationship is the same. There are highs and lows to both, not just the former. And we need to stop pretending otherwise.

Women are not property

Society still perpetuates the myth that the only happily ever after that exists consists of getting married and having children. A childless single woman is almost a double affront to society; she has the audacity to fail to achieve the two things that society has decided she must have — children and a husband.

Single women are weighed down by societal and cultural expectations: to be single is to fail. But time has moved on and marriage isn’t a necessity anymore to ensure financial security. Even the concept of getting married and taking the male’s surname is mired in misogyny. Changing your surname to that of your husband in itself implies that women are the property of men.

Marriage is a bizarre societal legacy. Women now have equal rights (mostly!) so why do we so desperately seek society’s acceptance?

No woman should feel as though she should be ensconced in the “security” of marriage (or any relationship, for that matter) to be regarded a success. Seeking society’s approval should never supersede our own needs and happiness. Is our fear of being alone and desire to fit in so enduring that we feel compelled to enter a relationship that we neither want nor need?

Research has shown that the fear of being single often compels women to stay in unhappy relationships that they might otherwise leave. Evidence, if ever I saw any, of the strange world we live in.

All I want is to enjoy being single without thoughtless people unleashing insensitive and intrusive remarks about how I live my life.

I think it’s the least any single woman deserves.

Fearless She Wrote

This is a space to empower differences, tell our stories, and share our lives together. We will not be silenced. We will be fearless. And we will write.

Rachel Nash

Written by

Freelance journalist, ghostwriter, content creator.

Fearless She Wrote

This is a space to empower differences, tell our stories, and share our lives together. We will not be silenced. We will be fearless. And we will write.

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