Wednesday, 26 September 2012

The Single Truth

If there's one thing I like to be in this blog, it's honest.  So that's what I'm going to do right now:

People, I was once single and desperate.

Seriously, add a Manics poster on the wall and that was me.  I am not proud.
There are many things people don't want to admit to and frankly, planning your wedding to the latest guy you've decided you are MADLY IN LOVE WITH in spite of never having had a proper conversation with is definitely amongst them.  In fact, it's right up there with practising your signature, using your celebrity crush's surname.  Oh and I did that, too.
What do you MEAN Jon Richardson isn't coming to the church?!  I'VE BOUGHT A DRESS OFF EBAY!!
 The fact is, the world seemed geared to couples.  Switch on the radio (GO ON, DO IT NOW!) and I bet you that within ten minutes, you'll hear a love song.  I don't know what the percentages are, but I'd say that the number of songs that say "yeah, I'm single and I happen to be okay with it" is pretty slim in comparison.  Watch the TV or open a magazine and notice how many adverts feature smiling couples.  It's hard to have all this drip-fed into you and not think: "I don't have that... Is there something wrong with me?!"
Add to this the fact that single people are bombarded with magazine articles with snappy titles, such as: "WAYS TO MAKE HIM WANT YOU!" Not to mention the many, many, many dating sites that have sprung up all over the place and you start to feel a little bit like being on your own might not really be an option. 
Social expectation also dictates that a person will eventually find someone whose face appeals enough to warrant wanting to get naked and breed.  If you are single, then damnit, HUMANITY WILL NOT SURVIVE.
Although... Humanity decided to turn these arseholes into instant celebrities, so...

 Now I've mentioned already that I try to make this blog as honest as possible, so let me be clear:  I want to find someone amazing some day.  I want to get married, I want babies... The whole shebang.  In fact, I was one of those kids who, when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, would often reply: "A mummy."
No, not like that. 
 So let me stress to you right now: I'm a soppy old romantic.  I love the idea of settling down with someone and populating the world with children who will inevitably have unmanageable hair.  It's my dream.
That said, I've reached a point in my life where I am perfectly okay to be by myself.  In fact, "I would rather sleep with my right hand" (oh come on, you expected me not to shoehorn a Graham Coxon lyric or reference into this blog?!) than start a relationship with someone just for the sake of not being alone (not that I have actually ever started anything for that reason).  I've grown to see enormous benefits to being single.  I've put myself first for a change and grown to rather like me.  I don't feel unsatisfied, lonely or envious of couples.  I am no longer the weepy, deranged, slightly bitter singleton I once was.  And man, has that opened up a whole new can of worms...
You see, an awful lot of people (predominantly happy couples, it has to be said), don't seem able to accept that a person can be entirely happy on their own.  What that means, is that if you casually mention being single (if invited somewhere and asked if you'd like to bring anyone, or if you're simply catching up with an old friend you've not spoken to in a while), some people have an immediate go-to response that is liable to piss off ANY person who is single and okay about it.  We're talking about the "oh, never mind, it'll happen for you" response.
What that response does is make an immediate assumption that simply by saying you're not in a relationship, what you actually meant to say was: "I AM SO HORRIBLY ALONE. WHY DOES NOBODY LOVE ME?!  WHY?!" 
This is the face I pull when people make those comments.  And also when I hear One Direction.
Some people don't even stop there, either.  You get suggestions of how you could meet someone.  Places you could go, clubs you could join, websites to sign up to...  And yes, before anyone thinks I'm being unnecessarily harsh, I appreciate that the majority of people telling you this stuff are doing so because they think they're being helpful and nice.  But when this kind of advice is given without you so much as saying "I'd like to meet somebody..." it can be ever so slightly irritating.  It's a bit like saying "I don't have any pets" and having someone hand you a list of RSPCA centres and pet stores in your local vicinity before you've had a chance to say whether you want a pet.
As it happens, I live with this little guy, so I'm just dandy on the pet front!
Far worse than the implication that, if  you're single, you simply must be desperately searching for "the one," rather than enjoying hogging the duvet, is the implied sympathy behind those "aw, he's out there somewhere!" comments.  Again, this does tend to come from people in couples, which just ties up the sympathy in a neat little ribbon of "I am so much happier than this poor cow."  And you know what?  That attitude is welcomed by a single person in much the same way as we welcome a date with a scary man who contacts us on a dating site with a message that simply says: "I've seen your picture and I know you're THE ONE."  Yes.  That actually happened to me.  No, I did not go on a date with the sender and I'm pretty convinced that's why I'm not currently lying in pieces in a broken chest freezer...
Implying that you feel sorry for someone because they're single does nothing but a) annoy the single person and b) plant a little worm in their brain that niggles away at them, saying: "See?  There IS something weird about you not having anyone in your life right now!  YOU ARE UNLOVABLE."  Suddenly the person who was previously fine without a partner is considering whether their singledom is something to be pitied and that's not something anyone wants.
Please, whether you're single or not, don't feel sorry for me for not being in a relationship.  I'm happy!  I have an amazing group of friends, I do a job I quite enjoy whilst trying to become a full time author in my spare time, I don't worry whether he really likes me and I'm free to lie under a duvet watching Blur/Manics videos all night, should I wish to.  And I frequently wish to.
I go out places, I have fun, I sometimes have a cheeky flirt without any guilt...  Really, I am FINE.  In fact, I'm better than fine.  Those of you who've read this blog for a while will probably have read the one I wrote about my last, horrendously abusive relationship.  You know what?  I'm much happier single than I ever was in that fucking sham.
Again, though, that doesn't mean that I don't think it would be lovely to have someone special in my life.  To share my duvet with, to introduce to my family and friends and to argue that no, I do not wish to stop perving at guitarists with...  It just means that I don't feel my life is lacking something enormous just because I don't have that special someone yet.  It means that I'd rather be on my own than waste my time on someone not right for me.  It means I don't feel sad when I go to sleep alone at night.
Bridget may have Mark Darcy now, but back then she had the duvet AND the ice cream all to herself.  It's win-win.
The other misconception about being single?  The idea that we're bitter towards couples.  Okay, yes I hate Valentine's Day with a fiery passion and yes OTT public displays of affection can make me retch, but in my defence... when I was with my ex, I still felt the same about those things.  But in our everyday waking lives, those of us who are single and okay with it don't look at couples and think: "Ugh, fuck them."  My best friend is happily married.  One of my other very closest friends is engaged.  There are few things I like more than hearing them chat about their husband/fiance and I am genuinely thrilled that they've both found men that make them feel happy and loved.  If they spent every moment of their time with me saying: "Oh my God, he is wonderful and amazing and brilliant and fantastic and I love him so much I might actually be sick" then we'd possibly need to have a conversation.  But they don't, because they aren't 14.  Do I hate them for being in solid, committed relationships, when I am single?  No, because I'm not 14.
What I suppose I'm trying to say here is: It's okay to be single.  It's even okay to be a bit fed up about it from time to time and to admit that you'd like to stop being single someday.  It's not okay to simply assume that your single friend is lying awake at night, weeping and wailing and sticking pins into her voodoo doll of you, her loved-up pal.  It's not okay to assume that a single person is automatically lonely, unhappy and deeply jealous of anyone in a relationship.  It's not okay to decide that if someone is single, you must immediately suggest ways of rectifying the situation before you've even ascertained that the person wants it rectified.
I mentioned at the start of this blog that I was once single and desperate.  I'm still single.  But now, I'm happy.  I'm content.  I have love in my life in other forms.  I'm not lonely.  More importantly, if and when someone does wander into my life, I have made a pact with myself to remember how I feel now, so that I don't assume any of my single friends might be super duper jealous of my wonderous new love affair and suddenly view them as bitter old crones, or tell anyone "there's someone out there for yoooouuuu" whilst patting them on the head and causing them to want to remove my face with a toothpick. 
If you're in a relationship and you're happy, I am happy for you.
If you are single and you're happy, I am happy for you.
If you're single and unhappy... Think about all the good things about being single.  Believe me, there are lots.  And if that doesn't help... I can still send you the "you're THE ONE" guy's details...
In summary: I'm single.  I'm fine with that.  I hope you are too.
Except you.  Call me. ;-)

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