Bless your heart.
Something weird happened. Maybe not weird. Maybe…innocent? Well-intentioned? But to my brain, which at this point is just a small, charming rodent doing its best to pedal a penny-farthing, it felt weird. A listener of mine let me know that she shared my podcast with a friend of hers, but that the friend wouldn’t listen to it. The reason she gave? “I don’t plan to be single that long.” Honey.
I find this phrase heartbreaking. “I don’t plan to be single that long.” It implies so many shameful, scared feelings and forced optimism that’s being used to will oneself into a state of being saved. Saved from the unacceptable life state of being single. There’s so much fear and shame packed into this statement that the person who made it can’t even accept what she is for an hour of entertainment. And who could blame her? Every societal message we receive (apart from, ahem, my podcast), tells us both directly (urgency messaging from friends and family) and passively (every book, blog post, Instagram account about being single that is actually about DATING, an entirely different thing but because they’re always *married* together we absorb the message that if we’re single, we have to try to fix it, and that’s before we’ve even touched on the projectile stream of praise lauded upon those who get engaged/married) that we’re wrong. If all we know of singlehood is that it’s wrong, of course we’re not planning to stick around in it one second longer than we have to.
This statement doesn’t make me sad because I assume that this person actually will be single into infinity, or that I assume she’s lying to herself. I think neither. It makes me sad because I think about the state of mind she must be in to give this as a reason for choosing not to waste her AirPod battery on a podcast about the validity of single life. It’s clear to me that she thinks being single is a low form of living.
I don’t need to defend my beliefs as to why being single is a completely wonderful state of living, but if you need the support, I’ve already done so. What I’d like to focus on instead is the mindset behind this statement, to help anyone who feels similarly reframe the way they think and feel about their own singlehood.
A lot of this is just logic, wrapped up in my own unique store brand of frustration and anger toward society. The thing with logic though, is that you have to be willing to see it, your mind has to expand its aperture past the pinhole that Tinder wants you to look through so that it can keep serving you ads for the rest of your life because as a business model it has absolutely no interest in you finding your partner, quite the opposite. ANYWAY.
- Singleness doesn’t care about your plans. It really doesn’t. Singleness would be happy to go about its business and not cause you any emotional harm, it’s dating that wants to turn your desired timeline into the Upside Down. Dating is one, and maybe the only, area of life where effort doesn’t necessarily match reward. You’re no more likely to meet your partner on your 4th attempt than on your 400th. Not being single anymore isn’t something that can be predicted or planned for, because you have no idea how or when you’re going to meet your partner. You don’t even know if you already have. Plans are pointless here. All they serve to do is set you up for disappointment, one more shitty feeling to pile on top of the fact that you already obviously hate being single. Maybe just stop planning, and start accepting that your life doesn’t have to change for you to love it.
- You can look directly at singlehood, it won’t bite. Accepting your single status, and even loving your single life, does not have anything to do with how long you’re going to be single. Again, singleness and partnership aren’t things that can be planned for like calendar items. They’re up to luck and fate and the universe and so on. It isn’t actually possible to “scare away” your future partner, whoever they are, by something as simple as…you know, being happy. I get very annoyed with single people who think that by refusing to accept or enjoy this time in our lives, they’re somehow setting themselves up for success. First of all, partnership isn’t “success,” you haven’t accomplished anything, you just met someone you don’t mind sharing a bathroom with, and second, does it even feel good? To focus so intently and fiercely on “finding someone?” Is that fun for you? I deleted my dating apps two years ago but if memory serves, they’re a shitpile. It’s okay to acknowledge, accept, and enjoy your time as a single person. It is literally impossible for that change in mindset to somehow communicate to the ether that you don’t want a boyfriend. That is ridiculous. Think about it: Someone who hates being single so much that they anxiously, desperately, constantly seek out partnership by any means is communicating…what exactly? Exactly.
- Singlehood isn’t unfortunate. I want to leave singlehood better than how I found it, and how I found it was that it’s considered a lower state of living. One in need of rectification by one solution only: partnership. Singlehood isn’t something that requires you to find a “way out.” You’re not stuck, or lost, or leftover. You are valid and real and worthy of living the full human life you’re already in possession of. If you do need a “way out,” I hope you take comfort in knowing you already have it, you already have your own mind, and the way you think about being single is entirely up to you. When I do partner, I’d rather leave behind a happy singlehood, because if I do, I won’t be afraid to return to it should I find myself in a relationship that has run its course. I won’t be scared to be alone, I won’t be ashamed of myself. Instead, I’ll be proud of myself for only being in relationships that are right for me. I really hope, before you’re partnered, that you learn to see all the good in singlehood that’s hiding behind your own fear and shame. Fear and shame that were given to you by a society that isn’t even living your life. Do me this favor: Sleep in the middle of the bed. Sit in the middle of the couch. Listen to music that only you love and burn your toast to your desired degree. Soak it up, your singlehood, because you won’t always have it, and I’m scared you’ll miss it when it’s gone. Live it, and love it, before it’s gone.
- Listening to a (highly rated) podcast designed to uplift single women via positive discussions about single life that involve more than just dating won’t make you single for longer. There is literally no scientific correlation between listening to a positive podcast about single life and the length of time for which you yourself will be single. Look, I want to be magic, but not that kind. Accepting your singlehood isn’t a sentence, it’s pure freedom. The absence of fear and shame make so much space for good to come in. Being ashamed of being single, and being afraid of staying single are wastes of time, energy, and emotional space. My podcast is a tool to help you shed that fear and shame. And it’s there for you whenever you’re ready.
To leave you on an optimistic note, something rather Everest-like in its goals given the current year, I thought I might offer a list of things you can plan for as a single woman. It is by no means exhaustive. I want you to get comfortable identifying positives of your own, and also I need to go fold my laundry before it wrinkles.
- Your next vacation, to the completely compromise-free destination of your choice.
- You plans for the weekend, including projects around the house, to-do list items that make you feel ready for the week ahead, meals with friends where possible, culinary experiments if you’re me, relaxy time, hobbies and personal development, etc., all without accommodating the plans and desires of anyone else.
- Your financial future. You can set up autopay bills to alleviate stress, as well as automatic deposits into savings and investment accounts, building up your financial confidence and freedom over time. With these decisions, you don’t have to “run them by” anyone at all. They’re yours.
- The takeout you’ll order this evening, without once uttering the phrase, “what are you in the mood for” to anyone other than yourself.
- Professional and personal goals, such as asking for a promotion or pursuing a new skill. Maybe you’d like to adopt a pet. Maybe you’d like to move to a different place, maybe you’re craving a career change. You can make plans for that.
- Whatever fabulously indulgent series you’ve been meaning to get into on Netflix without first needing to present a court case worth of facts and supporting arguments in order to get someone else’s buy-in. Just turn on your fucking television, and press play.
Refusing to accept, acknowledge the validity of, or enjoy your single life will not make you single for less time. Accepting, enjoying, and shedding fear and same associated with single life only have the effect of making you happier for more time. Plan for whatever you want. But if you find that your plan isn’t working, if you find that singlehood feels disappointing, sad, lonely, frustrating, and unfair, know that you can make different plans, and that new ways of seeing and experiencing singlehood cannot and will not keep you single. That’s Tinder’s job.
Shani Silver is a humor essayist and podcaster based in Brooklyn who writes on Medium, frequently. For a more positive take on singlehood than the one you’re probably familiar with, check out A Single Serving Podcast.