#bumble | #tinder | #pof Stop shaming single women in isolation

When you’re single it’s as if your life is one big soap opera (Picture: Jackie Adedeji)

‘I am living vicariously through you.’

If you’re single, you know these famous words all too well.

Another favourite is ‘Only you!’ when friends hear about your dating disasters.

It’s as if your life is one big soap opera.

Everybody’s watching for their weekly entertainment – practically with popcorn and nachos in hand – waiting for the next instalment of your dating escapades.

One minute it’s the episode with Steve, the cute one with the nice hands, who kind of forgot to tell you he’s been single one week and still living with his ex.

The next it’s Chris, the Bumble date from east London and the latest guest lead – until he’s rude to the waitress at the bar and abruptly killed off. Cue: duff duffs.

You can count on me to come to your house with a bottle of pink Cava under my arm, a crazy dating story, brimming with tales of spontaneous outings – and, to be honest, I enjoy that it’s never a dull day with my dating life.

It’s stories to tell the grandkids, or an Uber driver.

However, ever since we’ve been in lockdown the reception to my single status has taken a dive and all I’ve received is pity.

I was queueing at my local supermarket when a lady I was talking to said, simply, ‘I feel extremely sorry for anyone single right now – especially women. I couldn’t cope.

‘I’m so lucky to have my partner. We are doing so many workouts together and I feel closer to him than ever.’

I assumed she was joking; I genuinely couldn’t think of anything worse than dripping in sweat in my living room. (However, if she had said ‘we’ve both been learning The Pussycat Dolls’ Buttons routine, then I would have been fuming, as that is something to be jealous about.)

But she wasn’t being funny, she was serious.

The thought of being indoors before isolation sounded like a nightmare (Picture: Jerry Syder)

As the realisation hit, I couldn’t believe she was single shaming women at a time when, technically, you shouldn’t be next to anyone – well, unless you’re two metres apart.

I abruptly interrupted her to say that I was single, happy and actually really enjoying the time to myself. To which, she blithely replied: ‘yeah I guess there’s that’.

There was so much I wanted to challenge, but after a polite internal scream in the middle of the queue, I felt it was just a core reminder of how exhausting being a single woman can be.

As if, here I was again, having to explain the benefits of my choice to be alone (something, any single person will tell you, you have to do a lot – lockdown or not).

Self-isolating is rubbish for everyone, not just single women and even in the midst of a pandemic, I’m happy to not be in a relationship.

I feel more connected to myself for the first time ever. Usually I’m always on the move, always in Shoreditch dancing the night away, bonding with the lollipop lady in the loo.

The thought of being indoors before isolation sounded like a nightmare – but here I am, present and sitting in one place, reading and writing, soaking up the rays.

I’ve had the mental space and time to do this at my own pace, and when this all blows over I’ll be able to welcome even more beautiful experiences like writing poetry, and cooking for friends and family.

It’s why I so surprised when people can’t understand the huge benefits of being single and why I’m utterly fed up of people shaming women for being unattached.

I have had serious relationships in the past, so it isn’t like I’m incapable of being with someone, but after one ends you need that time to yourself again to simply just recover, because relationships change us, some for better and some for worse.

There is absolutely no rush. I enjoy being single, and I’m currently working on building a healthy relationship with myself – the most important relationship we’ll ever have.

The relationship you have with yourself sets the tone for every other relationship you have (Picture: Jackie Adedeji)

Even so, there’s rarely any positive narrative about women who dedicate time to self-care, development and enjoying their own company. Instead, single women are pigeonholed and people assume our relationship status is due to something being wrong with us. It’s like we’ve failed.

The word ‘spinster’ dates back to the 14th century, which only goes to show how accustomed we are to seeing unmarried women without children as a burden to society.

Women have been conditioned to accept this internalised misogyny; that our value and worth comes from being in a relationship.

Single heterosexual men are called ‘bachelors’, or ‘playboys’. ‘Bachelorette’ is not a thing, just a television show. Thank you, next.

Sometimes your family and friends can accidentally single shame you. You know they mean well, but they make comments like, ‘If only you did this, you would be able to meet someone’.

It’s here where I have an issue. What if I just continued to be unapologetically myself, where I see myself as a miracle to discover and not a problem to fix – how about that?

Instead of criticising women like myself, we should be celebrating those who refuse to settle because society tells us to do so. 

People may pity us and say that single women are missing the human connection; the ability to touch and close to our loved ones.

But so is everyone right now. We miss our friends, our parents and our colleagues. No partner can make up for all of that.

If I had someone by my side right now I wouldn’t have the time to reflect, work on unlearning bad habits and focussing how to love myself without anyone’s validation.

I’ve also taught myself to bake. Mary Berry has nothing on me right now.

More: Coronavirus

The relationship you have with yourself sets the tone for every other relationship you have, so any woman actively staying single to work on herself should be championed.

I believe that if more of us took the time out to self-analyse, we could make smarter choices for the next time we meet someone.

Less of the the modern-day Bridget Jones rhetoric of a single woman crying into her microwavable spaghetti carbonara because she’s spending yet another Friday night alone, and more of the young woman who has that self-care routine on smash.

Mind you, a spag carbonara with a glass of wine, a charcoal mask, and a Richard and Judy Bookclub recommended novel isn’t that bad is it?

Do you have a story you’d like to share? Get in touch by emailing jess.austin@metro.co.uk

Share your views in the comments below.

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