I Haven’t Had A Boyfriend For A Decade. Here’s What I Learned. by R. Thompson
Before I paste in excerpts from the article (see farther below), I wanted to say, yes, it’s unfortunately common for family and friends to shame you about being single; it’s common for them to poke fun or ask questions about “why aren’t you married yet?” or “why don’t you have a boyfriend?,” and so forth.
Now, I’m not sure of the author’s (Thompson’s) age of this piece I am excerpting below, but if you are a single adult reading this, and you find yourself nodding along in empathy and solidarity, because you too know what it feels like to be pressured or shamed by friends and family for being single, I wanted to point out that this shaming, guilt tripping, mockery and so on, doesn’t last forever.
I am now in my late forties; most people will stop questioning you and mocking you about “why aren’t you married or dating anyone yet” at some stage of your life, probably in your mid-40s.
You will have to endure a lot of the annoying, at times hurtful, mocking, innuendo, shaming, teasing, pressure, and so on and so forth, in your younger years.
The mid 30s seem to be the height of this singles shaming and ridicule for most people (based on anecdotes I’ve seen from other single adults over the years).
There’s this heightened expectation that one’s 20s or 30s are the “right” time to marry, so a lot of people will harangue you over your single status at that time, and you no doubt will see most of your single friends married off by that time (which can be doubly painful and frustrating if you had hoped to marry but are still single).
By the time you’re mid 40s or older, though, a lot of the pressure is off, and I think for most singles, you won’t face as much shaming or scrutiny from family or friends (if at all) for being single.
As you get older, most of your inner circle will just accept the fact, or grow accustomed to, your single status, and they will stop pestering you about it.
[The author describes attending a family event where she kept being asked about her relationship status.] … That was the umpteenth time that day I’d had a comment about my absence of a partner. “Are you not married yet?” one relative asked me during the wake.
…This year, I’m celebrating 10 years of being single. A decade since I broke up with my last serious boyfriend and never looked back. This time has been an invaluable period of learning and personal growth.
…It’s hard to distill 10 years of being boyfriend-free into one article, but I thought I’d share some of the most meaningful lessons I’ve learned during this time.
Some people are uncomfortable around single-by-choice women
The moment at the family funeral is one of innumerable interactions I’ve had the displeasure of enduring.
In learning that my protracted singledom leaves some people scratching their heads, I also developed strategies for deflecting those comments and feeling decidedly unbothered by them.
Need I remind these people that they were the ones instructing me to “D-U-M-P” the last time I had a boyfriend. Like seriously, what do you want from me?
It’s not just my extended family. I’ve noticed friends attempting to explain my status as an unattached human, inserting their own narrative each time.
…why is my lack of boyfriend something that requires an explanation or excuse? When was the last time you heard a couple explaining why they’re not single?
[At this point of the essay, the author goes on to say she is fine with being single. The author goes on to state she hasn’t dated for years because since her teen years she has felt bad about her weight; she didn’t think men would want to date her unless she was thin.]
….Loving yourself is hard. But it’s the most important relationship any of us will ever have.
Alone time is a precious commodity
An older man once told me to make the most of my writing career while I’m young and child-free. “Because once you have kids, you won’t have time.” I wondered if he’d ever say that to a male journalist.
Speaking of gender and writing, a recent Guardian (Link): piece — entitled “A woman’s greatest enemy? A lack of time to herself” — really crystallised everything I’ve felt as a woman with a desire to write.
…When To Dump Him
[The author recounts her dating life in her 20s and discusses how some of them were emotionally abusive or selfish jerks. She conveys the one good thing about all this is that it’s taught her when to dump a guy much sooner]
These men all outstayed their welcomes in my love life. The one blessing is that I now know what I will and will not put up with. I know the red flags. I know the things to be wary of. And crucially, I know when to utter those delicious three words: “We are done.”
…Most important of all, this decade of being single has taught me to be kinder to myself.
Knowing when to silence the inner critic, how I deserve to be treated, that my value lies not in whether or not I have a partner, that alone time is precious.
(Link): Seven Truths About Marriage You Won’t Hear in Church by F. Powell