What irks Bollywood actor Salman Khan the most is the question, “When are you getting married?”
No matter who the person is—celebrity or non-celebrity; a stranger or a friend—people can’t stand other people being single.
Singlehood is seen as a sorry condition and single people are often victims of singlism—a term coined by Bella DePaulo, American social psychologist and author of Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After.
Individuals who have made this decision by choice have done so because they have found a way to love themselves without having to depend on anyone. There is nothing negative about being without a partner; it is as wonderful to be alone as it is to be with people.
Singles are desperate to get hooked up
Everybody and their uncles are desperate for singles to get married because they feel that that’s what singles want more than anything in the world. Well, they are wrong.
“Not every single person is so because the circumstances have forced him. Like me, there are many people who are single by choice. We are not dying to get married. In fact, I don’t want to ever get married,” says Kiran Mistry, a sales professional based in Mumbai.
Singles are incomplete
They are considered incomplete people who need someone to complete them. This belief stems from another belief about marriage. It’s assumed that marriage completes a person or makes him/her whole as it is a union of two people.
Does that mean that those who get married have been living as half individuals till then? Singles are complete in themselves.
Singles are less happy than married people
“I am happy, in fact, more than my married friends,” says Kiran. It’s like what American actress Renee Jones has said: “Being single isn’t the cause of loneliness, and marriage is not necessarily the cure. There are many lonely married people as well”.
One’s happiness levels have nothing to do with one’s marital status. We all have our basic happiness point called the ‘set point of happiness’, which we return to irrespective of the circumstances around us.
This means that if you are a happy person by nature, you will be happy in general whether you are married or not. And if you are basically a sad person, marriage will not necessarily make that huge a difference [according a study of 24000 individuals by University of Illinois].
Singles are miserable
This is partly true, says Bella, and not because they are lonely or unmarried but because they are targets of stereotyping and discrimination.
The thing about singlehood is that it is lonely and depressing only if it is forced. Singlehood by choice is, in fact, liberating. “Many experience life fully and are neither disappointed nor miserable.
Even if they were to be less than satisfied, their dissatisfaction is no different from those who are married,” writes Anthony Yeo in Partners in Life. Yeo is considered Singapore’s father of counselling.
Singles are self-centred
Singles don’t have to make compromises to accommodate another and can try out new things. They can concentrate on their careers, health and fitness. They can actually spend time with themselves and get to know themselves better.
“Singleness beseeches us to take care of our inner needs, to pay more attention to our centre, to love our very own self,” writes Judy Ford in Singles: The Art of Being Satisfied, Fulfilled, and Independent.
But here’s the thing, this is often misconstrued as being self-absorbed and self-indulgent. It’s just that single people are more clued into themselves and hence take care of themselves more than others.
Besides, when you’re in a relationship, you don’t get to do all these things for yourself. If given a chance to do what their heart’s desire, even married people would jump at it.
Singles have no life
Karin Anderson, assistant professor of psychology at Concordia University Chicago, who did a research on single women, has an answer to that. “Singles are not by definition hiding out in their closets curled up in the foetal position all day,” she says.
“Most are likely working, meeting friends for dinner and events and working out.” Or they are just reading a nice book splayed on the bed and being a slob. If that’s not having a life, what is?
DePaulo guesses that most people pass such judgements about singles because they are miffed by singles that are not whining about their status or pining for a partner. They are jealous.
Singles have no family
“From knowing nothing more about you than your status as a single person, other people sometimes think they already know all about your family: You don’t have one,” says DePaulo. That’s mean.
Single people haven’t fallen from the sky. They have mothers, brothers, sisters, colleagues and a large network of friends. Instead of their attention on just one person, they have more people that are important to them.
They have a grand variety when it comes to relationships—from flirting to dating, from friends to living together, from casual to committed.
Singlehood = irresponsible behaviour
Forced into being single after a break-up, Samrat is now enjoying the freedom of living on his own terms. “I realised after my girlfriend moved out that I really like being on my own. What I love the most about it is the freedom to take my own decisions about my life without having to explain them or getting them endorsed by anyone else.”
This freedom is often dubbed by people as the free ticket to escape responsibility and behaving as one pleases [which often means adulterous behaviour, late nights, parties, substance abuse].
That’s just a stereotype. Just like a married person, a single person has to pay the bills, reach office on time and meet deadlines.
Funny side up
Top 9 advantages of being single…
- You can party all night and not have to get scared about being allowed into the house.
- You can have the TV remote, shower, bed and the couch all to yourself.
- It doesn’t matter how the bathroom smells after you use it.
- You don’t have to tolerate snoring all night [unless it’s yours, and then it doesn’t matter!]
- You can do nothing and not feel guilty about not doing something worthwhile [like cleaning the house].
- You don’t have to worry about being nice to your in-laws.
- You can lick the ice-cream off the spoon, keep the spoon back in the carton, then back in the fridge and no one cares.
- You can wake up in the morning with ‘dog breath’ and no one will faint when you yawn with your mouth open.
- The entire credit limit on the card is yours, yours and only yours.