“In a world that treats a forty-one-year-old single woman like a teenager who didn’t get asked to prom, I think it’s extremely important to recognize the unique wisdom of a solitary life—a wisdom that develops slowly over many years, that is fundamentally different from that of, say, the person who was between boyfriends for a year when she was twenty-six.” ~Sara Eckel
I was twenty-three and had just told a woman I was casually dating that I’d never been in a long-term committed relationship.
Her response was this: “Wow, really? I mean, you’re attractive, so why haven’t you?”
Having spent more of my life single than coupled, I’ve become accustomed to questions and comments like these. And although I am currently at a place of contentment and acceptance with my singleness, I wasn’t always. Shame often attaches itself to people (women especially) who remain un-partnered for long patches of time, particularly as we get older.
As author Sara Eckel put it: “In polite society, there’s an understanding that inquiring about the reason two people marry is completely inappropriate. Singles are not afforded this privacy. Instead, the rude inquiries are wrapped in compliments about how attractive and together you are.”
“For many of us, living alone in a society that is so rigorously constructed around couples and nuclear families is hard on the soul,” she wrote.
Look to sites like Quora and Reddit, and you’ll find a plethora of questions posted by the worriedly un-partnered—from “What’s wrong with me? I’ve been single for seven years” to “Do you become undateable after being single for over ten years?”
There are many negative messages and annoying presumptions about singleness percolating through society that I wish would stop.
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