A mere sixty years ago society’s attitude towards a woman being single read like a paraphrase of a Jane Austen novel. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single woman in possession of half a brain, must be in want of a boyfriend. To be happily alone was incomprehensible and women felt pressured to settle down and get married as soon as possible, fearful of becoming too old to be desired and becoming a spinster.
Luckily, being single isn’t as stigmatised as it used to be. Young celebrities are openly talking about choosing to be on their own. In a recent interview with Vogue, Emma Watson said she’s happy not being with someone, describing herself as “self-partnered.” Viral stories are posted regularly on social media about women marrying themselves and people staging engagement photos with food instead of partners. There is even Singles’ Day on the 11th of November, an annual holiday championing the idea of being alone and being happy about it.
But, it still isn’t the norm. Every day, women are put under absurd amounts of pressure in regards to finding a partner. It’s as if all single people are unhappy and being in a relationship automatically changes this. However, given how many strong, powerful women live fulfilling single lives and how many settle into unsatisfying relationships, it’s clear that this simply isn’t the case.
There are, in fact, many great things about being single. It gives you time to learn about yourself and other people, with more free time spent enjoying friendships instead of a relationship. You can discover your passions and work on being the best version of yourself. There’s also less drama surrounding exes and the emotional baggage that comes along with it, meaning that when the right person comes along, you’re in the best possible place to commit to them.
Such ideas are particularly beneficial whilst at university. For most students, it’s our first taste of being independent and an opportunity to discover who we truly are. Our early twenties are a time to invest in our ambitions, work our arses off, explore the world, make mistakes, and learn from them. We shouldn’t be deterred from these things by the pressure to find and nurture a relationship.
On being alone, Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw once said: “Being single used to mean that nobody wanted you. Now it means you’re pretty sexy and you’re taking your time deciding how you want your life to be and who you want to spend it with.” And it’s true. We’re not waiting for a man. We’re choosing ourselves.
So, while you may not find greetings cards reading “congratulations for being true to yourself” or “well done for only committing to people that make you truly happy” there’s no reason not to celebrate. Crack open a bottle of wine and revel in the fact that you don’t have to share it with a significant other.