The Greatest Misconception About Being Single

Last weekend, I went to a birthday party for my cousin’s one year old son. As the only single person in a sea of married kin and their kids, I found myself experiencing the greatest misconception about being unattached.

It happened during a conversation with a married relative who also happens to be a new mom. We hadn’t seen each other in more than a year, so I excitedly filled her in on my two Dating Blitzes and landing a literary agent to represent my book chronicling the experience. Her response?

“Are you seeing anyone?”

The implication, of course, being that my relationship status is what matters more than anything else.

“Are you going out tonight?” she continued.

Assumption number two — that because it’s Saturday and I’m single, I must be heading out on the town.

What irked me about both questions is the underlying presumption that if you’re single, your primary preoccupation is to find a way not to be, that you can’t possibly be living a full, happy life without a significant other.

A good friend of mine made the valid point that, when you blog about your dating life, it inevitably invites questions on the subject. Understood. But I still maintain this line of interrogation is all too common from married or partnered up people — as though they can no longer appreciate what it means to be single and content.

Would I like to meet someone and a start a family? Of course. Do I spend my days dwelling on it or structuring my existence solely to make it happen? Absolutely not. I’m thankful for the many wonderful people and pursuits that enrich my life, for the adventures and opportunities flying solo affords me.

Those who’ve left singlehood behind would do well to remember that.

Category: being single in your thirties, singlehood versus marriage, singles versus marrieds 11 comments »

11 Responses to “The Greatest Misconception About Being Single”

  1. Beth

    Glad that you shined a light on this one! Man, oh man, do I get tired of encountering this routine. I actually overheard a man on the phone outside of Whole Foods this morning saying, very definitively, “At a certain point, if you’re not in a relationship, you’ve got some issues, or you’re a workaholic.” I kind of wanted to tap him on the shoulder and poke him in the eye. :)

  2. Emily

    Amen!!!!

  3. yael

    If someone told me they were writing a book about their dating experiences and that they traveled across two continents on a dating “blitz” then id assume that their goal was to find someone. You also write a blog about dating. The obvious assumption someone would make is that you’re looking for a relationship. If you want people to believe you have a happy and full life alone then write about something else. I don’t understand you bloggers who get so flustered and confused whenever someone asks a simple question like are you seeing someone. Why would people ask such a question? Because you write about dating. if questions like that are so invasive and offensive to you write about something else.

  4. Melissa

    I can’t speak for other bloggers, but I can tell you that just because I happen to write about my dating life doesn’t mean it’s the only thing I can or want to talk about. My blog is a perfect illustration of this, since I write about much more than just dating. And in the context of the conversation I described, what happened is not something exclusive to those of us who are bloggers. My relationship status was considered the bottom line regardless of what else is going on in my life, and that’s a predjudice many partnered up people tend to make. Also, wanting a relationship and leading a happy solo life are not mutually exclusive things. You can be content with where you are and still look forward to the next step in your journey.

    Beth, I would’ve joined you on poking Mr. Whole Foods eyes out, LOL. :)

  5. Dana

    I usually don’t comment, but I couldn’t resist responding to this one! =)
    This is not just an issue for single community, this comes up across the board.

    If you are dating, “When are you going to get engaged?”
    If you are engaged, “When’s the big day?”
    If you are married, “When are you planning to get pregnant?”
    If you have one child (my personal fav lately) “Are you planning to have more?”

    I have decided that people do this for one of three reasons:

    1. They made unfortunate decisions for themselves and are jealous of your circumstances.
    2. If they know you really well, they know you would be happy having the married with children life. They truly just want the best for you and they don’t know how to express it.
    3. They love their married with multiple children life and they believe that you and everyone else would genuinely be happier if you had that same life. Again, without the ability to express it properly.

    I try to believe in #2 and #3 whenever possible. I try to ignore the words and look for the deeper intention of genuine interest. Life is too short to dwell on these things!

    In addition, we live in a world where everything is just “out there” – be it on the web, TV – whatever – everyone knows everything about everyone and manners have been lost. No one feels like they have to show respect or restraint. This is probably only going to get worse and it’s too bad IMHO.

    That being said, the next time someone asks you if you are dating someone just say “No, but did you see my latest recipe on my other blog? It’s really good – maybe you could cook it for your husband and kids on Saturday night.” Talk about reversing the assumptions!

  6. Melissa

    Dana — Your insights here make so much sense. I think you’re absolutely right about the reasons people ask these kinds of questions, that one of them is we live an era of no boundaries when it comes to personal matters. Love, love, love your suggestion about mentioning my food blog next time the relationship status question comes up. And love you, my friend, for chiming in here with your wisdom!!

  7. Shelli Trung

    Amen to that! Single status is not a state in transition! Nor is couple hood the epitome of happiness.

  8. Arlene

    I hear ya! Even thought I am no longer single, I was for so long and suffered those very rude questions for such a long time, I totally get what you are saying. People don’ t realize how personal a question that really is. It would be like asking them (the married folk) If they had had sex recently, or were going to tonight….
    Getting couple up, takes you across an invisible line, and you leave behind a whole lot of things that occupied you when you were single, even more so when you have a family. Thing is, it really shouldn’t obliterate your memory to the extent that it seems to. Don’t they remember the despairs of dating? The fun of being able to read a book from cover to cover in one sitting if you so chose, or the freedom of just getting up and traveling on a whim?
    I think you can enjoy being single and still be looking for a relationship at the same time. They are not mutually exclusive.

  9. CLEgal @ Why CLE?

    I couldn’t agree more, especially with Dana’s point that people always focus on the “what’s next.” Now that we’re engaged, everyone is asking us about the honeymoon and babies. Um, can we get married first? Or even just enjoy being engaged?

    Regardless of single or not, our relationships seem to be the main thing people like to talk about. And a lot of times, it’s people you would not necessarily share those kinds of details with. I still haven’t mastered the artful dodge in this situation, but I definitely share your frustration!

  10. oh ya!! « a 30-something life…

    […] The Greatest Misconception About Being Single […]

  11. Lennie Ross

    They’re just jealous and living vicariously through you, because their lives are boring, so make up some fabulous stories…


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