When you’ve been single for as long as I have, approximately twice to thrice a year you will marvel at how steeply the odds are stacked against you. Far from being elastic enough to stretch and accommodate the lifestyle of single women, our social structures struggle to simply comprehend her.
She will usually be slotted into one of three categories: the wild, promiscuous type, the workaholic (or the one who was so busy with her career that she missed the marriage bus), and the one who wanted to get married but never found the right person (this one, I’d say, is the worst because of the interminable pity it generates). Aside from the fact that for a single man these categories never serve to indict their singlehood (on the contrary, for men, all three would be points of celebration, the last a tribute to his unattainability), that the single woman experience can be as layered and subjective as the married experience, is something that eludes almost everyone.
With scattered and, more often than not, one-dimensional, misleading representation in film and TV, a few general tips sometimes come in handy:
Circling back to my own life, being single wasn’t something I planned. Like assorted personal experiences, it was something I discovered, unexpectedly. I don’t believe it’s necessarily a permanent state of being. The bar is high though, because singlehood in your 30s can be both isolating and incredibly liberating – I’ve learned more about myself, I love my own company, I haven’t languished in embarrassingly one-sided love affairs unlike in my 20s, my crushes are more for my own entertainment than for the benefit of the men I’m crushing on, dating is lighter, healthier and actually fun since there’s no pressure for it to lead to something bigger (equally, it’s fine if it does). I have – metaphorical and literal – rooms of my own.
Now imagine if our societies were less heteronormative, treated marriage with a certain amount of levity and didn’t seek to overrule the single female experience, instead giving it space to be. The order of things wouldn’t collapse. You’d only have a richer society.
This article was first written by Shuktara Lal for Bonobology.com.