I’ve been single for pretty much my entire adult life. The total amount of time I’ve spent dating the handful of guys I have has totalled no more than six months as I get sick of them and crave my own time and space after about a month.
I’ve been very happily single for about four months. The chemistry I had with the last guy I dated fizzled out around then and I ain’t mad about it. I realised I’m probably not a relationship person and that I already have an awesome, lifelong relationship with myself. Being that I’m an introverted homebody who likes to spend as much time as possible alone I’m okay with it just being me for however long it takes to meet someone who I want to carve out time for and whose needs I want to put before my own, if that ever happens.
But it seems that other people have a really hard time accepting that a single woman can be happy with just herself. The amount of times I’ve been questioned with, “But don’t you want to find someone to have kids with and be with for the rest of your life?” are countless; the amount of times I’ve been asked if I’m gay even more so. Because a woman who’s unsuccessful with men must play for the other team, right?
I find this analogy laughable on so many levels. One, what makes you think I’d be any more successful with women if I did indeed swing that way? Secondly, as someone who takes a keen interest in feminism and social justice and has to school almost everyone I know in acceptance of the other, wouldn’t I already be out of the closet if there was one for me to come out of? (And I think I’ve hit the stereotype on the head there: feminist automatically means man-hating, hairy-legged lesbian. As of last night when I shaved my legs in preparation for an unseasonably warm Melbourne autumn day, only one of these was true.) Finally, it puts not subscribing to traditional, heteronormative, romantic pairings that include marriage and children and being gay in the same negative boat, implying not only that something’s wrong with both but that just because you aren’t one doesn’t mean you are the other, and vice versa.
Further to that, the latest accusation of my apparent sad, cat-loving (I actually prefer dogs) lesbianness came when I objected to the use of the word “gay” to describe something that was bad. Again, because you can’t be offended by minority slurs without being from that minority, right? Has anyone heard of being an ally?
And what if I never meet someone, get married and have kids? Is that to discount all the things I’ve done in the past 26 years—travelling overseas; being a published and paid writer, broadcaster and TV personality; being able to afford to live alone and fend for myself; having a university degree; completing internships and work experience with some of Australia’s most well-regarded publications; maintaining meaningful relationships that just so happen to not be romantic—and all the things I still want to and know I will do? Is marriage and babies the be all and end all?
Sometimes I wish I could wipe the slate clean of all the shitty people and their shitty ideas of how people and things should be and just start over surrounding myself with people who already share the same ideas as me. But it takes all kinds to make the world go around. I have to realise that their traditional notions of femininity are more about them than me: I and every other person who doesn’t fit these predetermined roles threaten what they have come to believe as right. It’d be great to go about my business as, oh I don’t know, an autonomous human being but I guess sometimes we just have to make peace with being relegated to setting examples for those too small minded to fathom that a single person can be a whole one.
Related: Celebrating the Single Life.