Truth - The world we live in is different than it has ever been at any other point in history. The people who live now are existing in a unique time and space. Our beliefs, practices, and cultural rituals have changed over time as well. Things that used to be the norm have now fallen by the wayside. Even the ways that we talk about some phenomena has changed. In this day and age what does it mean to be single, and what does that status say about you?

"My alone feels so good, I’ll only have you if you’re sweeter than my solitude" Warsan Shire

There's nothing like succumbing to a trend and getting on board with what seems to be a majority of your peers. Dating apps and the medium of social media as matchmakers - what a world to live in. What are you looking for? It seems like such a simple question, complete with pre-made responses for you to select but maybe it's not that easy. Am I on this romanticized twenties/thirties long journey to find my soul-mate, my perfect match, or my other half? Am I looking for something casual - friends with benefits, Netflix and chill cuddle buddies, or hooking up? Am I looking for platonic friends, like-minded young people to bond with, or special interest pals to pursue a hobby? I don't know and yet I really do. I'm not looking at all. I'm not in search of anything or anyone other than myself. I'm not in the market to get hitched, jump the broom, or tie the knot. I think I want love but on my own terms, of my own production, and the kind that can be always be with me - not taken away at a moment's notice. I want safety, security, and comfort that comes from me. I want to love me. Maybe I'm not doing this whole single thing right?

What does it mean to be single? The media portrays us as, according to heteronormative ideals, as hunters on the prowl in search of a mate either for the moment, for a while, or for life. Men are the hunters and women are the hunted - yeah no, that sounds uncomfortably like the disturbing ways in which rape culture, entitlement, and sexism are perpetuated. Queer that binary a bit and apparently it gets even more sexual. Queer folx are portrayed as hypersexualized beings seeking and willing to get NSFW hot and heavy with anyone with a pulse. That's not right either - that continual demonizing and marginalization is both dangerously limiting of narrative and not representative of every experience. Does being single mean constantly clinging to apps like Tinder, OkCupid, Bumble, or Grindr? Is it perpetually looking for the next best thing in an endless pursuit of "the one" while simultaneously disregarding what/who you might already have with you? Is it a quest for perfection or rather an egotistical game to be played with people, their feelings, and their lives? Is being single necessarily a bad thing? The pressures of others around us coupling up, incessant familial inquiries, and a media bombardment of #relationshipgoals, OTPs, and "ships" give us unrealistic expectations of what we should be doing with our single selves. What happens if we turn off all the noise and listen to not our hearts but our minds and bodies?

Does being single equate to being unwanted, undesirable, hell - even unlovable? Are we just damaged goods pushed to the back of the shelf? Are we the leftovers when everything and everyone worthwhile has already been taken? I refuse to believe any of that. Being single can be both my choice and by circumstance. I wish sometimes people spent more time with themselves than with others. Serial dating, constantly going from relationship to relationship, and relying on others for self-worth and self-esteem are not healthy habits. Being single means knowing yourself and clarifying your values before committing to anyone or anything else. It's making sure you still get to be you regardless of who you're with or for how long. It's holding on to you. It's having a fulfilling love affair with yourself - in spite of what may come and go. It's a status not a curse or something deserving sympathy. I came into this world single and was content with that for so long - I'm sure I can do it so long as a I need to lest another comes along to change that.

Some people want stability and a long-term relationship, some people want spontaneity and the post-coitus euphoria of sex, and some people are happy and whole all by themselves. What is terrifying about a person who wants to choose themselves, whether for now or forever? Why do we think there's something wrong with them? What does that say about us as people, and as a society? Why are you so obsessed with me with love and what anyone else does with it? I think we might be in love with the idea of love and may not actually care about where or who it comes from, whether it's healthy and benevolent, or its reality. It's the love story, the great romance, and going to the ends of the Earth for ... love - not a person, their heart, or their soul, but this feeling, this amorphous thing, this ... this ... love. It's an addiction. It's a perversion. It's unreal. I think knowing our intentions, what we want, and what we need are all very different things. Are we chasing down love just for love, or are we looking for someone for us to genuinely love, and for them to authentically love us? Are we in love with the idea of someone and are disappointed when they turn out to be realer than we ever imagined them to be? Are we infatuated with lust, the chase, and sex?

We are socialized to think we have to want certain things and if we don't that there is something wrong with us. We try to be what society and others expect us to be. We are dragged into a narrative we never asked to be part of. The reality is everyone's story is different. We have to choose what is right for us. What makes us happy. What makes us better, more whole, and content. Marriage is not an achievement - sustaining a relationship is. It takes some reproductive fluids and not much else to have a child but parenthood is providing for and raising a person to reach their full potential. If we are going to praise people for institutionalizing their relationships then we also must give the same respect to those who choose not to. We have to recognize and value people whose story does not include a nuclear family of 2.5 children and a white picket fence in the suburbs. We have to give space for normal to be individualized. We are whole whether we're partnered, divorced, adopted, fostered, half/step siblings, single, and everything else in between. Let's allow people to tell their own story and to accept it as valid, whether it's similar to ours or not. Focusing on ourselves, living for what we want/need, and letting others do the same would give us the freedom and flexibility to truly live in our lives not what anyone else wants for us. X


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