HAVE YOU BEEN SINGLE-SHAMED? YOU'RE NOT ALONE
Couple's dating experts debunk the top five stigmas of singlehood
Huddle up friends, because today we’re talking about a “retro” social custom that regrettably is still alive and well in 2023: single shaming. Yes, ye olde delightful practice of stigmatizing single folks for having the audacity to live partnerless is somehow still a thing, and we here at Couple are thoroughly over it.
And sure ... we admit that as a dating platform we’re in the business of helping single people couple-up, but that certainly doesn’t mean we subscribe to the idea that couplehood is superior to singlehood. We fancy ourselves more Vibe-ish than Victorian, ya know?
That’s why we’re dedicating today’s blog post to debunking the five most common stigmas that get stamped on single adults. While women are particularly vulnerable to this practice – consider the implication of the word “spinster” versus “bachelor” – no single adult is immune. So let’s dive in and get debunking, because it’s high time we strip the shame from singlehood and celebrate it instead.
SINGLEHOOD STIGMA 1: We’re always lonely and miserable
If we Vibe-ers earned a nickel for every one of our single friends who is lonely and miserable, we’d have precisely $0 to our names. Yep, nada. Of our respective friends, there are sixteen of us who currently are single ... and thriving.
Here’s a good reminder for us all: just because a person doesn’t have an exclusive partner doesn’t mean that they don’t have any fulfilling relationships. It doesn’t mean they don’t date. It doesn’t mean they can’t experience sexual intimacy. It doesn’t mean they’re in a torturous holding pattern until they meet “the one.” (Hot tip: some single folks don’t subscribe to the notion of “the one,” others seek a relationship with more than one (or with no one), and some would like to meet “the one” but don’t consider it their main purpose in life.)
Are there moments where single people might feel lonely and desire a committed relationship? Sure. We’re not saying that single folks never feel that way. But it's insulting when people assume that because a person has been single for a while, they must be an emotionally bereft cast-off who lives in solitude. Most single people feel pretty complete just as they are, and their lives far transcend their relationship status.
SINGLEHOOD STIGMA 2: We’re fundamentally flawed
The second unfortunate assumption people make about people who are single long-term is that we’re fundamentally flawed. There must be something wrong with us that nobody has picked us as their person yet, right? Perhaps we’re too needy? Too picky? Too unattractive? Too [insert your adjective of choice here]?
This perspective is not only unnecessarily judgmental, but it also strips single people of their agency. There are hundreds of reasons someone might be partnerless (including by design), and so to assume broadly that singles are flawed because they’re flying solo is super reductive and offensive. People aren’t items on a shelf to be shopped for. They don’t lose their value the longer they’ve been “on the market.” We’re all active participants in creating our own fates, and it would be wonderful if societal perspectives would shift to reflect that fact.
SINGLEHOOD STIGMA 3: We’re immature commitment-phobes
Another gem of a singlehood stigma is the assumption that if we aren’t in a serious relationship, we’re immature and afraid of committing to anything besides our own hedonistic whims. “Bachelor” men get saddled with this characterization frequently, often with a mix of bemusement and disdain.
Look, plenty of people date for a long time before they feel ready for commitment, some whole-heartedly know that long-term love is not for them, and, yes, others truly fear taking the leap. Whatever the scenario, the choice is personal and shouldn’t be judged as immature or pathetic or laughable. In fact, forcing yourself into a situation you aren’t prepared for is way more immature than being honest with yourself! Let people come to things – or not – on their own terms.
SINGLEHOOD STIGMA 4: We’re super prude ... or super promiscuous
Some people also assume that if we’re without a serious partner, we’re either a prudish virgin or a promiscuous prowler ... and both assessments get judged harshly by different communities. This sex-obsessed stigma sticks to women in particular, which is all kinds of complicated.
Though we’ll leave the dissecting of sexism and purity culture to another forum, we will say this: tying someone’s worth to their sexual experience (or lack thereof) is just as unfair and icky as tying it to their relationship status. When it comes to our single brethren, the only thing we should care about is if they’re happy and feel empowered to make their own decisions about their personal lives. It feels invasive and infantile to assign arbitrary meaning to whether they’re celibate or enjoying consensual sex with other adults, and we’d like to see this stigma stripped from the books for good.
SINGLEHOOD STIGMA 5: We’ve given up on finding love
And finally, people often assume that long-term single people have totally given up on love and relationships altogether, which is ... weird? Perhaps some people tire of the game or don’t enter it to begin with, but we and most single people we know – of all ages, we might add – still date and hope to find meaningful love. Dating apps and events-based platforms like Couple would be out of business if all single people decided to hang it up after going a few months or years between partners, and clearly that’s not happening.
Don’t assume that single people aren’t open to possibilities, even if their past doesn’t exactly follow the traditional arc of dating-love-marriage-babies. It’s high time we see beyond that path, don’t you think?