All the Single Ladies (and Gents)
So, tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, which I’m sure you noticed since they started putting out pink and repurposed-from-Christmas-red hearts shortly after the new year. I know I’m not alone, but I don’t like what Valentine’s Day has become: a crazy mess of pressure to find the perfect gift/dinner/romance combination if you’re in a relationship, and a glaring reminder if you’re not. I miss the “everyone-gets-a-Valentine-from-everyone” sugary surge of my youth, when V-Day included everyone, when I could pretend that the cute guy in my class really liked me. See, he gave me a Valentine! And it says “Be my Friend” on it! I know he really meant “Girlfriend,” he just had to give me the generic one so other girls don’t feel bad. He likes me! And even if he didn’t, at the end of the day I could still binge on conversation hearts, Hershey’s kisses, and cherry-flavored suckers before shoving a giant wad of Big Red in my mouth. Bliss.
But since it’s a day of romance, I’d like to take this opportunity to give a little love to a group that often goes overlooked, not just on Valentine’s Day (although, this holiday pretty much completely excludes them in the adult world) but many days. There is no “Happy Singles’ Day” or “Merry Unmarrieds’ Eve” or even “Congratulations on Not Settling For Some Loser Week*.” I mean, even breast cancer gets a whole month for goodness sake. So here’s what I’d like to say to all you singletons out there and by that I mean, single single, not as in “I’ve-been-dating-my-partner-for-the-better-part-of-a-decade-and-we’re-practically-common-law-married” or “I-file-single-on-my-tax-return-but-really-I’m-in-a-committed-relationship” or even “The-government-of-the-state-I-live-in-doesn’t-recognize-me-as-married,-even-though-we-outlasted-Kim-Kardashian-100-times-over.” No, I mean people who are completely unattached at the moment, with no relationship on the horizon. Married/coupled/partnered people, I love you too, and I promise to return to my regularly-scheduled blogcast next week, but this shout-out is especially for the singles. As you go out with your sweetheart tomorrow, keep them in mind.
First of all, I want to recognize that it is hard being single. Not only do you not have your own recognition day, but you have a lower life expectancy. No one says to married people, “Still married, huh?” or “Haven’t gotten divorced yet? That’s too bad.” And we use the terms “still single” or “just you,” because obviously the desirable state is “paired” and you’re still walking around looking for your better half. Although many single people, myself included, are quite happy being single (I don’t have to fight anyone for the remote and I’m always in agreement with myself on what I want to do: karaoke? Yes please!), singles are often made to feel as though there is something wrong with them, as if they aren’t good enough just as they are, that finding a mate will somehow fix all of their problems and also, you know, solve world hunger. Single people, you are important. You are the sole breadwinners for your family, which is
just you. No one is contractually obligated to stick up for you. No one else takes out the trash or makes dinner if you don’t feel like it. You get comments such as “Why aren’t you married?” or “I know what your problem is…” and you may even be told that your life is worth less than the life of a married person or a parent because no one is dependent on you, so if you die it won’t matter. (Yes, these are actual comments single people, myself included, have heard.) If I die you’d miss this blog, right?
Would Mother Theresa have helped as many people as she did if she wasn’t single? Would Emily Dickinson have written her letter to the world that never wrote to her? Maybe. It’s possible. But probably not. Every single (ha!) occupation on the planet is held somewhere by a single person; a few even require singularity (nuns, priests, monks, etc.).
I want to recognize singles for:
-Filling in for coworkers when they have to stay home with a sick child or want to have a date night (because you have no plans, right?).
-Accommodating people during trips. I’ve witnessed many people ask solo travelers to switch seats because they want to sit together and the other person is traveling alone. While traveling alone doesn’t mean the traveler is single, the probability of that being the case is greater.
-Flexibility when planning. Since you don’t have to check with the spouse or get a sitter it’s easy for people to assume you can just drop everything to reschedule. Also, thank you for being willing to travel further when meeting up with non-singles or people with kids.
-Paying extra for things, like 1 BR apartments (versus a two-income couple) or tickets (in high school single tickets to a dance cost $5 while couples paid $8…until we nixed that) or transportation: I recently took a shuttle which cost $40 for one person or $50 for a couple–that seems pretty blatantly discriminatory, don’t you think? At least make it more like $60 or $70 and give the illusion that you care about single riders. Singles, you fuel the economy with your contribution to online dating services (a $1 billion industry) and dates to restaurants, bars, movies, museums, etc.
-Putting yourself out there over and over. It is really hard to remain hopeful and keep your heart open at each new date, but you manage to do it again and again.
-Letting other people live vicariously through you. I think there must be a marital amnesia that occurs because I can’t tell you how many times a happily-coupled person has told me how fantastically fun dating is, and I want to ask, If it was so great, why did you quit? They quit because the goal is finding someone so you can stop dating the wrong people. They quit because it isn’t fun all the time. They are just remembering how amazing it was when they found their person and started dating him or her. Thank you, singles, for reminding married people how lucky they are and for entertaining them with your stories.
And remember: Jesus was single. Hitler got married. Being married doesn’t make you a better person, it just makes you a spouse.
*So apparently there is a “Unmarrieds and Singles Week,” which I had never heard of and which doesn’t yet have a Hallmark following. But this website provides some interesting facts about singles.