wellness

Emma Watson and the ridiculousness of referring to yourself as "self-partnered".

Emma Watson is 29, single, and “very happy” about it.

In fact, she’s come up with a new term for it. She calls it “being self-partnered”.

In her latest interview with British Vogue, Watson admits that on the cusp of her 30th birthday, she feels panicked about not being in a relationship.

“Cut to 29, and I’m like, ‘Oh my God, I feel so stressed and anxious. And I realise it’s because there is suddenly this bloody influx of subliminal messaging around. If you have not built a home, if you do not have a husband, if you do not have a baby, and you are turning 30, and you’re not in some incredibly secure, stable place in your career, or you’re still figuring things out… There’s just this incredible amount of anxiety,” she tells interviewer and prominent trans-activist, Paris Lees.

“I never believed the whole ‘I’m happy single’ spiel.

“I was like, ‘This is totally spiel.’ It took me a long time, but I’m very happy [being single]. I call it being self-partnered.”

Emma Watson shares her thoughts on ‘being single’ with British Vogue. Post continues below.

Video by British Vogue

Now, I say this as someone who is single, a feminist and a passionate Emma Watson fan: reading those words, I felt a slight twinge of irritation.

And the more I thought about it, the stronger it got.

Because Watson – an incredibly accomplished actress, UN ambassador, activist, Brown and Oxford graduate, and demi-god to an entire generation – is right. There is an incredibly loud societal pressure for women to be married, or at least partnered before they’re 30.

And with that pressure comes the uncomfortable experience of feeling like you must explain why you are single.

When well-meaning friends and relatives ask if you’re seeing anyone at the moment, you can reply with, “nah, I’m single,” or as Watson says – “happily single” – but in the milliseconds that follow, there’s the duress to add a little justifying statement.

Maybe it’s “I’m dating, but haven’t really met anyone,” or maybe it’s “I’m focusing on my career just now.”

Mamamia’s daily entertainment podcast, The Spill, discuss Emma Watson’s new interview with British Vogue. Post continues below.

It might even be “Tinder is a literal trash fire, now let me tell you about the time I sat through a two-hour conversation on coffee production, and got low-key coerced into picking up the $84 bar tab.” (True story.)

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But to say nothing? Well, that would leave you looking defeatist, and maybe a little bit sad, because being single is still largely framed by what it isn’t: a relationship. It’s still viewed by so many as a transitory life stage one should want to move on from.

And if it’s not viewed that way, then it’s conflated with being a statement in and of itself. On film and television, it’s either portrayed as a workaholic, power suit lifestyle, or a raging sex life, full of fun and messy nights. Think: Broad CityGirls, or The Bold Type.

However, neither trope acknowledges the other shades of nuance which pepper the experience.

True, nothing feels as empowering as being able to live life on your own terms, and Uber Eats will never taste as good as when enjoyed alone in your bed, while watching your seventh episode of Queer Eye. But being single can also be punctuated by periods of fleeting loneliness as you watch friends couple off, leaving you with Brian from Hinge, who still uses the wrong you’re / your in texts.

 

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So instead – with no shade whatsoever to Emma Watson – I’d like to simply say that I am single.

I’m not self-partnered.

I’m not choosing my career over the prospect of a relationship.

I don’t owe an explanation, or a positive verb, to anyone.

Because, as most will agree, whether you’re riding solo, partnered, or in-between, sometimes it’s great and other times it’s not.

And most of the time, it just is what it is.

For me, that feels empowering to admit.

What do you think of the term ‘self-partnered’? Tell us in a comment below.

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