The Single “Stigma”

woman on focus photography

by Marianne Clyde

When women find themselves single, by divorce, by death, or by choice, it seems like society feels it needs to step in and “fix” things for her.

We need to find her a husband. We need to figure out what went wrong. Or we find ourselves wondering what might be wrong with her.

I just want to say, knock it off.

It’s not that I don’t appreciate your concern. But it may be that she is ok with being single. It may be that she LIKES being single. Or *gasp* if might be that she PREFERS being single.

I’m not even saying that you shouldn’t ask her how she’s doing. As a matter of fact, THAT she would probably appreciate. She really needs to know you care. Pretty much everyone would appreciate knowing that you care. However, not everyone feels that they are broken and need to be fixed.

Spend some time having some real conversations with her. Ask her to out for lunch or dinner or a drink or for a walk. Ask a question perhaps if she wants to start dating again, before you assume she’s lonely.

More and more women these days are choosing single. They like the freedom. They like their space. They want to make their own decisions.

Most women don’t want to be in a relationship just to make society happy. Or to relieve someone else’s discomfort.

There are lots of advantages to being single. Women sometimes choose to stay in relationships for various reasons. They might stay because they are afraid to leave. Perhaps they don’t want to deal with the talk that goes with a separation or the pity that goes with death. Perhaps it’s the money or the insurance or the family. Or if they choose to be single, they might not want to accommodate a partner’s unhealthy lifestyle or poor relationship skills.

Marriage is a partnership; and if the partnership is broken or no longer mutual or not helping both people live a productive, joyful life, perhaps it’s time to consider your options. If the partnership somehow has benefits that make her want to stay, even if there’s plenty that’s not working, that’s her choice as well. Nothing is perfect. Life is full of choices. Let’s learn to respect everyone’s freedom to make those choices.

Being married because it’s tradition, or a religious expectation, or makes the community more comfortable if everyone has a partner feels forced to me. Does it feel forced to you? I don’t like the thought of women feeling pressured to conform. I actually don’t like the feeling of anyone feeling forced to conform.

When a young couple feels pressured to have kids; when a woman is criticized when she chooses to stay home; when a woman feels criticized when she chooses to work outside the home; when a husband chooses to be a stay-at-home parent and people label him as weird. Whether or not you choose to nurse your child; whether or not you choose to “co-sleep;” whether you home school or send your kid to private school. Why should anyone care?

If your choices give others pause, good. Maybe it will cause them to be more conscious about their choices too. Because “it is expected” is not a great reason in my opinion.

You are given life and a brain and skills and talents and that special quirkiness that is just yours and yours alone, don’t give that up to make others happy. As a matter of fact, OWN your quirkiness. Be who you were created to be. And others just might win their freedom because of your example.

When women tell me that they choose to be single, but feel that society doesn’t approve it gives me pause. When someone else’s boyfriend asks me why would his [over 50] girlfriend not be married, I sense a problem. The answer could very well be, maybe that’s what she WANTS.

And that’s ok.

Action step: If you have a single girl friend and you feel compelled to find her a date, check with her first and see if she WANTS a date, and if not, let it go.

Post tags: Empowerment | single | Women

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