Something I've noticed lately, that I hadn't taken that much notice of before, is the stigma attached to being ‘single’. Whether it be the look of pity that comes over someone’s eyes as they find out you’re without a partner or whether it’s expectation that if you’re on your own your partner must have come to the party on your own. No, I came on my own, and I’m proud to admit it. I’m not an invalid, and I don’t need to be taken places.
Over the past few months, since I came home, I’ve been to several family gatherings, which means getting to see family members I haven’t seen in quite some time. And of course I get the inevitable questions: how are you? Good health? How is Leeds? How is work? And then onto the question I don’t care for: so you’re still single then? And, don’t you have a girlfriend then?
“No...no girlfriend.” I reply.
And the look of pity crosses their faces. I should say that it’s my choice to be single and that I enjoy the lifestyle I lead, but on the other hand I shouldn’t have to defend myself, or justify the decisions I decide to make. If they want to pity me let them do it. At the end of the day, they can’t go out any night of the week and party like the best of them.
The look of pity I receive so often comes from, in my opinion, people assuming that your choice to be single is the only choice you have. No one wants you. When in fact, I could be in a relationship right now, but when it came to choosing, I found myself not ready to give up the liberties you have when you’re single. I love the single life, and I’m not afraid to admit it. I love that I don’t have to fight with anyone about what DVD we’re going to watch. I love walking around the city on my own, admiring the sites. I love not having to discuss my plans with anyone in case it clashes with their plans. I love being an ‘I’ and not a ‘we’. I love ‘table for one’ dinner parties...OK, not so much with the last one, but I think you get my point.
At another of the said family gatherings my uncle, who is a twice married, twice divorced Rod Stewart wannabe, invited my cousins (who all have girlfriends) to a dinner party he was having for his girlfriend (can people over 40 still refer to their partners as girlfriend/boyfriend?) and even though I was in the room, sitting next to one of my cousins, he failed to invite me and left the room. In the wake of this, I realised several things. The first being that, apart from my one year old cousin, I am the only single family member left. The second is that because I’m single I’m apparently not very good company and not eligible to dinner parties thrown by the serial dater that is my uncle. Are single people considered lepers? Overreaction, I know. But still, it was obviously the reason why I wasn’t included...but that’s not to say I would have gone anyway. It’s the principle people.