real life

Let's get this clear: The question 'Why are you still single?' is not a compliment.

Let me clear something up. The question “Why are you still single?” is not the compliment all you well intentioned people think it is.

If I give you the benefit of the doubt, I imagine that what you’re trying to say is “You’re beautiful, kind, intelligent, generous, fun to be around, a good cook, plus you hold down a stable job! Surely those qualities make you worthy to be someone’s wife. How is it possible that you have been left on the shelf? The men must be mad!”

Are you hoping to make us blush and be coy, modestly accepting the fact that you consider us to be a prized heifer? In the past, that’s the reaction you would have received from me. I would then have coupled it with a comment like “Oh, if only it was that easy to keep a man”. (Yes, I hang my head in shame that those words actually came out of my mouth.)

Yes, single people are asked questions like this when hanging out with Smug Married Couples. Post continues below. 

Video via Miramax

I’ve heard it on TV, it’s been said to my face and recently I saw it hashtagged in the comments section of a photo of a very aesthetically pleasing trifle my female friend made for Christmas. The comment read: #cantbelieveyourestillsingle.

Whilst I was impressed by the male poster’s correct usage of you’re (albeit without the apostrophe, my major complaint around hashtags… but I digress) it was NOT received as the flattering remark he was perhaps looking for… And it hung there like a fart in an elevator, unliked for days.

Julia Hern

Now, despite the heteronormative tone and gender stereotyping in my article thus far, I have it on good authority from the single male and gay/lesbian friends in my own demographic (late 30s, early 40s) that they hear that question just as frequently as we single ladies.

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Here’s the real answer, I’m single because, at the moment, I want to be. Until a person comes along who presents a preferable option. Of course I am aware that I have some great attributes which would be marvellous assets to bring to a relationship. But ask one of the divorced or separated people you know if it’s that easy to make a relationship work. Ask one of the people who are living as strangers with their partner, or in the trenches fighting to save their marriage if it takes more than being a kind, sexy person who can bake a mean apple pie to be a perfect spouse.

Julia adventures

I’m single because it takes more than that! I’m single because my expectations are high and my criteria for choosing a companion are unique. I’m not ticking boxes on a standard form that society created. I have history and experience and I have some significant deal breakers that eliminate the vast majority of potential partners to a slow trickle in my already shallow dating pool.

The question I’m raging against also indicates that being single is like a disease that needs to be cured with rapidity. It’s just not! Being a sole operator means that I am truly behind the wheel of my life. There is no negotiation or compromise if I want to take a new job, rearrange the furniture in my house or adopt an animal. I don’t have to justify the money I spend on myself, or time I spend with my friends. I have sex if and when I want to, in the way I want to, with the consenting adult(s) of my choosing. I can spend an entire day reading a book out on my daybed, dozing with my felines without feeling a shred of guilt that I should be helping with housework, gardening, shopping or having Sunday lunch with my partner’s ornery family.

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Julia pub sundays

Good relationships are worth their weight in gold. I have had the extreme pleasure over the years of being in them myself. It’s beautiful to have an ever-present beloved to share your fortunes and fears, and hold you in good times and bad. But, even the good relationships have their occasional challenges, and when I choose a partner, I want to be certain that they are equal to that challenge.

In my early 30s I made the choice that I didn’t want to bear children (probably as a coping mechanism… but we’ll leave that as a fun game to play with my therapist). That decision removes all pressure to find a suitable sperm owner and breed while my eggs are still good. With the luxury of time, I can be discerning. I have the flexibility to hang with “Mr Awesome But Not Quite Right For Me” without the fear that I am wasting my good child bearing years. I can invest as little and as much time in whomever I deem compatible.

My journey is fluid, fresh and free. I am available to any and all opportunities that come my way for consideration. I’m single because it’s a relationship status makes me happy 95% percent of the time, and I like those stats.

Does that answer your question?

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