So, I've just read this book Singled out: how singles are stereotyped, stigmatized, and ignored, and still live happily ever after by Bella DePaulo.
I'm single. I live alone. I don't have children. I don't want to have children. I don't want to be part of a couple.
The book made me think about my life as a single. Whether I am actually happy and content in my life, or is it all self-deception.
It also made me think about whether I've encountered instances of 'singlism'...
This morning I heard one on the radio! About singles and buying apartments in the city... with the implication being that singles only need small apartments. I don't. My two-bedroom place is 90m2 – and I'm growing out of it. Yeah, I really do need to sort that out at some point.
The most prevalent myth is the completeness one... or the just-need-to-find-the-right... one. That really annoys me.
I've never suffered from 'matrimania' - except as a teenager, when there is huge pressure to couple-up. I wish that I hadn't succumbed to it then. But, I got a great friend out of the deal - one of the most important people in my life. He's just not my partner. He - and his partner - are my friends. And I'm rocking the honorary-aunt status with his kids. He, and his family, are also vital to my family as a whole - they are part of us. I just wish that we stopped trying to work as a couple a lot sooner, to lessen the hurt. I don't work in a couple. To my last breath, I will regret the hurt I caused those young guys I tried to be normal for and with. All I can do is be grateful that the two I still know are happy in their lives. Oh yeah, and both are coupled with children. And, good on them.
The author discusses 10 myths about singles - so... do I fit? Do I agree?
Myth #1: The Wonder of Couples: Marrieds know best.
Do my coupled friends treat me like a child? Do I get included in parties / events, even though everyone else are couples?
Maybe I'm lucky with my friends and family... there are a lot of singles in my social / familial grouping - and it doesn't seem to make any difference in how we're treated.
Myth #2: Singled-Minded: You are interested in just one thing - getting coupled.
You know what - I'm really not. And no, it's not in a lady-doth-protest-too-much way. It's in a I'm-much-happier-without-having-to-put-up-with-someone-else way... Yep, I've had this one a few times. The whole you-just-haven't-found-the-right-man-yet attitude. Get this: there is no right man. (Or woman - just in case you thought I was gay). I don't want a partner.
Myth #3: The Dark Aura of Singlehood: You are miserable and lonely and your life is tragic.
Not so much. I'm happy. I am loved by my family and friends. I love them back. I'm not lonely - I am alone. And I like it that way. Too much people contact does my head in, and I want to scream and throw things at them.
Myth #4: It Is All About You: Like a child, you are self-centred and immature and your time isn't worth anything since you have nothing to do but play.
I'll admit to being selfish with my time and energy. I spend most of my time at work. I value my time alone. I spend most Sunday mornings breakfasting with my mother. I spend time with my oldest sister more days of the week than not (we often commute together in the mornings). I do volunteer work, and work for charities. Most nights I'm creating and crafting presents for family and friends.
Is that playing? Well, sometimes it's fun and enjoyable. Is any of that worthwhile? Yes. It is.
Myth #5: Attention, Single Women: You work won't love you back and your eggs will dry up. Also, you don't get any and you're promiscuous.
My work doesn't love me back - I know that. But, my workmates do. And, the customers I help are grateful I was there. Selfishly, most of the time I feel fulfilled in my work.
How do I know the people who work with me care? Because, if I'm not on top form, they ask questions. Not, why isn't she working as hard as should be?, but - is everything ok?
My eggs drying up? Please do. I didn't really want them in the first place. 28 years of pain each month... with more years to come.
I don't get any and/or are promiscuous. So? What has that got to do with anyone other than me? How many couples get any? Isn't that one of the myths of couplehood... sex is on tap?
Myth #6: Attention, Single Men: You are horny, slovenly and irresponsible, and you are the scary criminal. Or, you are sexy, fastidious, frivolous and gay.
Not being a man, I can't say much about this... but... I don't believe this myth, either.
Myth #7: Attention, Single Parents: Your kids are doomed.
I'm not a parent, single or otherwise. My dad was, for a time. So, for a couple of years I was raised by a single parent. Which is a complete lie. My parents didn't live in the same house (sometimes not the same city). But I had two parents. I also had older siblings, and aunts and uncles, and grandparents. And parental friends... I had a community around me to love and care for me. And, so do most kids - with sole parents or not. I'm part of those communities now, as an adult. What matters is the quality of love, attention, and care children receive - not how many parents they have around.
Myth #8: Too Bad You're Incomplete: You don't have anyone and you don't have a life.
I don't have anyone. YAY! I don't have a life? Maybe not to an outsider's perspective. But, it is my life - I've chosen it. And I love it. Just the right balance between sociability and solitude. God. The thought of having to put up with someone else's issues and crap and stuff in my life... Urgh. And, I am complete. I am me. Complete with attitude, ups and downs, issues, joys and successes.
Myth #9: Poor Soul: You will grown old alone and you will die in a room by yourself where no one will find you for weeks.
I am a daughter, sister, aunt, niece, cousin, great-aunt, friend. I love my family and friends. They love me back. I will be missed when I die. People will cry and mourn me. People will notice I'm not around. You won't be finding my body in weeks, and no one realised I'd died. Worse-case-scenario... would be from 11am(ish) Sunday morning through to 8am(ish) Tuesday... that's the longest period I go without contact with the outside world.
Incidentally, just because you have a partner and/or children, doesn't mean that you will be with any of them when you die.
Myth #10: Family Values: Let's give all the perks, benefits, gifts, and cash to couples and call it family values.
I read this chapter and thought - thank GOD I don't live in America. The benefits/taxes here aren't that weighted toward couples.
However - it would be nice to go on holiday alone, and not be penalised. Until that happens, I'm pretty sure I could drag along a single friend/family member... And have a whale of a time.
Maybe I've lucked out and my family and friends are so great nothing's made of my singlehood. Or, maybe things are a bit different here - and now... The book was published in 2006, and is based on the situation in America.