"What is so bad about being single?"
Someone was asking me this the other day- and she was asking with a degree of shame and embarrassment. Which in itself is a shame because, the reality is that there is nothing at all wrong with being single. Many single people are perfectly content, and their lives are rewarding just as they are. Yet there are others too, through no fault of their own, feel that that their state of singleness brands them as having failed. Where do damaging messages of this nature come from?
We are ''shaped up'' this way- we are nudged towards partnering from very early on in our lives. No, I'm not meaning that we are expected to partner up as two year olds. However we are surrounded by couple relationships from our first days of awareness, so that the need to pair up as adults soon becomes our map. And maybe there is some innate drive in us, embedded in our DNA, that compels us to to mate for life, so that the future of the species is a sure thing. So we feel compelled to be someone's partner. And women in particular, by virtue of their gender, and the way they have been socialised are more likely to feel they have failed, if they are not in a relationship.
But we know, that despite this primitive programming, many of us are not in relationships, and perhaps never will be. And it seems so wrong, if single people feel inadequate or different because of the choices they have made, or because things may not have unfolded for them, in the way that we have all been led to believe they should.
Other relationships are equally important - yet it's the relationships with life partners which seem to take center stage, and the rest seem to pale in significance, and somehow we believe they are less important. But what of our relationships with our friends, our kids, our parents, our workmates, our extended family? These can be just as important and just as rewarding, depending on how we choose to prioritise them. And, yes, there are also people whose primary relationship is with their work - they throw themselves into it, they live it and breathe it, in ways that others will never grasp, yet for all their efforts, they are likely to wind up being labelled as workaholics. People can be just as immersed in sports, or artistic pursuits.
Is it so bad for someone to develop high levels of knowledge and expertise in a particular field, knowing they can only give this their all, if they don't need to be bothered with the distractions of a partner? The reality is, that we need people like that- (I know this is an extreme example, but who wants to receive brain surgery from a neurosurgeon who doesn't keep up with developments in the field, and doesn't like his job very much....) and the personal rewards they receive, are probably similar to those experienced by people in satisfying relationships.
Let's keep the whole relationship thing in perspective. If you have one that's good and works for you, great. Value it, work at it and it will be rewarding. But if you do not have a life partner, that's OK too, you are not inadequate, despite what you have been led to believe. Life is made of stuff other than couple relationships. There are important connections with other people, and other things. There are other relationships in life that can be equally rewarding. There are things that we can do, passions that we can follow which are not to be undervalued and which should not be considered as second class in comparison to a relationship.
"Some occasional thoughts about families, relationships, and other things that distract us...."