Hands up who’s been with family over Christmas? And hands up who’s had to have the obligatory conversation with relatives about why you’re still single? Well, If I weren’t typing I’d be waving my hands frantically in the air, then using them to smash things in frustration about people’s unnecessary interference in my life.
Why does anyone think it is OK to ask me when I’m going to get a boyfriend? If you confide in someone that you’re lonely and they offer you dating advice, they’re responding to a specific request. But it’s a hell of a leap to assume that you can quiz your single friends/family members on their relationship status, and then hint to them that they should be working harder to ensure that they’re soon safely ensconced in a loving couple which, by the way, should really get on and pop out some babies soon.
I’m single because I like it
I think I might get this printed on a t-shirt that I can wear to the next family gathering so that I don’t need to waste my breath saying it over and over again.
Being single is brilliant. I can see people I like, avoid people I don’t, fill my diary with dinners and dates and drinking. If I’m in the pub and having a bad time I can go home, safe in the knowledge that I haven’t “thrown a strop” and dragged a partner home with me. If I’m bored of an evening, I can flip through my black book and see who wants to come over.
I can love people, fuck people, get drunk and be sick in the gutter and moan with hungover shame in a pile on the sofa the next day – and none of this will be of significance to anyone other than me.
Don’t assume that ‘alone’ means ‘lonely’
The question ‘when are you going to get a boyfriend?’ rests on the gargantuan assumption that the life I lead is incomplete. I think some family members imagine that I sit at home every night crying into a romance novel, lamenting the gaping, boyfriend-shaped hole in my lonely, miserable heart. I say “I don’t want a boyfriend.” They hear “I can’t get a boyfriend.”
This implies that no one in the history of the world has ever or could ever make an active choice to be alone, because being alone is a Bad Thing.
But of course, those of us who are alone know that it’s not. Being alone is a joyful, wonderful thing. We get to go out when we like, stay in when we like, spend time doing crap DIY, writing blogs or committing ourselves to whimsical projects. We get to drink all the gin in the cupboard, eat whatever food we’ve scraped from the back of the fridge, and then have a victorious wank right in the middle of the lounge.
My biological clock is of no importance
At 27 years old I am now officially ‘pushing 30’, which apparently means that I should be clawing my way into the heart of any available gentleman in the desperate hope that he fertilises my rapidly-dwindling stash of eggs so I can spit out a child or two to give my parents something to coo over.
This isn’t going to happen. Perhaps, years into the future, I’ll change my mind. But for now, the thought of getting pregnant brings me out in a cold, terrified sweat and makes me want to hug close to me all the things I love – my independence, my freedom, my time alone, my beautiful flat with all the things in it that aren’t covered in sick and dribble, and – perhaps most of all – my goddamn money.
I don’t care if time’s running out. Time’s also running out for me to retrain as a barrister or shag John McCririck. I’m not going to rush to do either of these things – they are undesirable things to do, and they aren’t going to become any more desirable just because there’s a limited time in which to do them.
My final and perhaps most important reason for staying single: love hurts. A relationship is the all-or-nothing option. You give everything you have to someone who has the power to destroy the lot on a whim.
If you’re in a relationship, then I’m impressed. You’re willing to lay your heart out on the chopping-block of their affections and trust them not to pound it into a miserable, bloody slab of pain.
At least when I’m single I know that my misery is my own. If I’m wretched it’s because I’ve made myself so, and I’m probably in a reasonable position to fix whatever’s wrong. But in a relationship it’s possible for someone else to make a decision that brings your whole world crashing down around you.
When I wake up in the morning I feel safe knowing that the only person with the power to destroy me is me.