I’m a little late on this because it started on the 21st, but Happy National Singles Week everyone! I know that “happy” and “single” are words that stereotypically don’t belong together, but I think that’s hooey.
Since Birmingham and I split, I’ve been thinking a lot about the nature of being single or married and trying to figure out what it is exactly that I want. When we were together and things were going great, the subject of marriage kept rearing its pesky little head. I’ll be the first to admit that I was the one who invited it in, but those kinds of questions came at us from the outside, too. I wouldn’t characterize it as pressure, but there was a certain expectation that if a relationship is going well, then it’s only a matter of time before the marriage happens. And with that goes the prejudice that if marriage doesn’t happen quickly, then there’s something wrong.
And that’s what I think is bullshit, and I’m really glad to have this time to myself to realize that getting married is not something that I want to think of as a “goal.” Some people make marriage out to be a magical panacea that makes anything better and must be gained as soon as possible, and it makes you lose sight of the fact that life is what you’re living right now.
That being said, I know I joked that Birmingham and I broke up because he wouldn’t fucking propose already, but it was really more because he wasn’t as willing to commit to the future of our relationship in general, and unrelatedly, we had many fights revolved around the distance between us and scheduling time to get together.
Since we’ve been apart, it’s true that I missed his companionship, but I’ve also realized that I love being single. I do a lot of stuff, and when I’m busy, I have no time to feel lonely. Through doing all this stuff, I’ve met some great people, and those friendships also prevent loneliness. And when I come home, I’ve got my alone time where I don’t have to worry about pleasing anyone but myself (and some cats.) If I want to go out, I don’t have to tell anyone or get permission or check in. I just go.
The problem with being single, and the idea behind this national week, is that we don’t get a lot of respect. I first heard about it on Jezebel yesterday and they linked to an article by Bella DePaulo listing the 14 reasons why we need this week. The reason we need to be heard is that in America is that there are about 1,138 federal statutes that give benefits to married couples over single people. No wonder so many people get married just for the heath insurance, a move that I think devalues the institution of marriage even more than if two dudes want to shack up. As she says in the article:
We need it because the de-stigmatizing of single life does not undermine marriage, it strengthens it. When single people can live their lives with all of the same respect, benefits, protections, and opportunities as people who are married, then those who want to marry are free. They can pursue marriage for the right reasons – not to run away from the stigma of being single, but to embrace the attractions of being married.
One of the reasons there’s never been a strong single-person’s lobby is that it’s very easy for singles to become married, and very few people are honestly vowing to stay single forever. But while we are, it would be nice to get some damn tax breaks. I mean, many of us are paying our own rent or mortgages for goodness’ sakes.
After it ended with Birmingham, I finally started asking myself questions like “why do I want to get married?” “why do I want a boyfriend?” and eventually “do I want to get married?” and “do I want a boyfriend?” and I realized I don’t really know the answers for certain, so I might as well make the most of what I have instead of trying to get something I don’t have.
Another pitfall I worry about is that in this day and age of bridal craziness, many women spend more time planning their wedding than planning their marriage. But that was never really my problem since I’ve never been a fan of weddings, and I really don’t like diamonds. (Don’t even get me started on how the whole “two month’s salary” crap was actually a “tradition” stared by the diamond companies in recent years, who don’t exactly have the cleanest hands in the world when it comes to how they get those clear rocks that my untrained eye can’t differentiate from a piece of pretty glass.) I digress. My point here is that I don’t want to get into a lifetime commitment until I’ve thoroughly vetted my potential forever-roommate, and I suppose I’m not in any rush to do so, because I’m in a very happy place right now.
So single people, this is our week! And I must add I wish not to disparage the people who made the choice to join in a more perfect union. I probably would have done so myself had I had the opportunity. So you marrieds and couples out there, why not celebrate this week by going to the movies by yourself tonight? Or trying to figure out the best way to make a delicious meal for one? Or better yet, call up your single friend and she if he or she wants to come over for a glass of wine? If that friend doesn’t already have plans, you’ll get a great addition to your evening conversation. Especially when the topic turns to dating.