There's still a stigma to being single

A new study says that there's no shame in being single. Tell that to the couples, says Periwinkle Jones

By Periwinkle Jones 30/08/2012 11:17

Woman talking

New research from Solos Holidays, a travel firm for singles, has revealed that there’s no longer any stigma attached to being single (well, to be fair, they would say that. They’re hardly going to sell more holidays by proclaiming “it’s rubbish being single – find someone, anyone, but just get married today, before you wake up alone covered in cat hair smelling faintly of mothballs and urine”).


I’m not sure if they’re right. While there is certainly less stigma about being single – you’re no longer considered a dried up spinster husk, but it’s certainly there. As anyone who has been the token single at any social gathering will attest.


Now, I’ve been in relationships and I’ve had stretches of being single (the desert years as my mother likes to call them) and while on balance I prefer being single, it seems that other people do often have a problem with it.


Like it or not, society is skewed towards couples – married folk get tax breaks, they’re more likely to be granted a mortgage (two female friends of mine were advised by a mortgage broker to pretend to be a lesbian couple to get funding for a flat) and they get to avoid probing questions about their love lives at dinner parties.


Your tales of dating woes are regarded as a bit of comic relief - imagine if you asked a couple to tell you about their last argument and roared with laughter


For some reason being single makes you public property – you’re asked questions that no one would dare ask married* folk (tip: the most appropriate response when asked when the last time you had sex is to reply then ask them the same, it’s only polite). Your tales of dating woes are regarded as a bit of comic relief  - imagine if you asked a couple to tell you about their last argument and roared with laughter as they recalled going to bed, seething with anger, over a row about who left the milk out of the fridge.


It’s not just couples that like to single-shame, it’s other singles. I’ve lost count of the amount of ‘eligible’ bachelors who have feigned disbelief at my single status. “But you’re funny, pretty and nice,” I was told only yesterday. “What’s the catch?” he asked, half expecting me to reveal a bionic limb, history of mental illness or Doherty-like drug habit (tip: the least appropriate response, so I found, was to reel of a list of reasons… “I’m messy, obnoxious, get bored easily, misanthropic…”).


Like it or not, there is still a prejudice towards single folk


It doesn’t matter how confident or happy you are in yourself, other people will view you as a ‘lesser’ person if you’re single. Something they’ll try to remedy by trying to partner you up as quickly as possible. Take my mother for instance (no, really, please): I received the following email from her only last week:


“A new man has started in my office. He is single. Do you want his phone number?”


A single man, eh? Well, I suppose now I’m nearing thirty I can’t afford to be picky and focus on things such as looks, age, personality and compatibility.  As long as he is male and single, I’ll take what I can get.


Like it or not, there is still a prejudice towards single folk. Maybe we could hold some sort of telethon and spend the money on mothballs and Pinot?


*For the record, I’m not couple-ist, some of my best friends are couples.


Periwinkle Jones has written for big name brands such as Cosmopolitan, Men's Health and Company both sides of the screen. Picked by Huffington Post as one of Twitter's funniest women she can most often be found there under the moniker @peachesanscream.

Follow Periwinkle Jones on Twitter @peachesanscream

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