ANLERIE DE WET
Single people are known as the third wheels, the best friend or the brother or sister. They dread being asked about their supposed love lives at family gatherings and sometimes respond with a tilt of the head or an “ag, shame” when they hear about the problems of others in committed relationships.
As humans we have all ended up in the singles boat at some stage or another. While there are people who wish to be alone, there are others who dwell on their loneliness. Ruan Henning, a first-year BHCS (Heritage and Cultural Tourism) student, sometimes feels that there is something wrong with him because girls only see him as a “good friend” or a “brother”. “What am I doing wrong?” he asks.
According to SinglesHelp.org, some people let their single status control them. The website’s self-help guide, Living the Single Life: Becoming a Successful Single, emphasises that “when you focus on what you lack rather than what you have”, you are being controlled by your single status.
SinglesHelp.org adds that there are small details which can make you preoccupied with your single status. Perdeby spoke to Elsje Gouws, a second-year BA Law student, who is currently in a relationship. Gouws said that, when she was single, she would be the odd one out when she went out with her friends who were all in a relationship and this made her feel lonely. She further mentions that the chick-flick cliché where the guy gives his jacket to the girl he is with can make one feel really uncomfortable.
The following question arises: why do some young single adults believe that relationships will make them happy? Michelle Toglia, a journalist for Seventeen magazine, argues that society is influenced by romantic novels and films which lead people to believe that they won’t be happy until they have found “the one”. Toglia states that “we’ve forgotten what being single is all about” and adds that being single is a time to get to know yourself and embrace who you are.
Sometimes, pressure from our older generation could also result in singles wanting to be in a relationship. Second-year BA Languages student Cecile Döman commented that her family sometimes pressures her to find someone. “My parents were already married at 20, so it is a strange concept for them that I’m not in a relationship at this age,” she says.
Colleen Burke-Sivers, a writer for GoodTherapy.org, opposes the belief that only single people get lonely. In her article “Single and satisfied: living life in or out of a relationship”, Burke-Sivers states that there “is nothing inherently wrong with being single, and there is nothing inherently good with being in a relationship.” She also argues that everyone, both singles and people in relationships, experiences “existential loneliness”. This means that there will be times that even your partner won’t understand how you are feeling and dealing with a situation and being in a relationship won’t necessarily make the loneliness disappear. Burke-Sivers adds that it is possible to be happy and single.
An EnzineArticles.com relationship expert, Megan Lambert, believes that, in order to love being single, we need to understand and appreciate the advantages of this status. According to Lambert, the main advantage of being single is the freedom one has. She says that when in a committed relationship, you have to take your partner with you everywhere and when you don’t, you have to explain where you’ve been, just like you would have to if you were still living with parents. Burke-Sivers agrees that single people have the liberty to do what they wish and see whom they wish without jealousy or aggression from their partner.
Lambert further argues that in a relationship you have to “compromise to satisfy your partner”, so your time and space is not your own anymore. On the other hand, single people are not liable to anyone. Toglia says that being single allows one more time to meet new people, to do well at university and to strengthen relationships with friends and family. She also urges single people to go and “explore and learn [because] there’s nothing holding you back”.
Despite all this, some people still feel lonely and unwanted. Although there are pressures to find your other half and although you sometimes feel alone, rest assured that you are not the only one.
Image: Gloria Mbogoma