Columns

Nice To Meet You, I’m A Slut!: How To Be Single (And Happy)

For too long, being both single and a woman has been equated with being “lonely” and “just waiting for the right man”, or it evokes the idea that there must be something wrong – because what sane woman would choose to be single? Times are changing rapidly though, and these days, being a single woman carries connotations of empowerment, independence, and strength of character. The image of the sad spinster who inevitably descends into a crazy cat lady has given way to the sexually liberated career woman who “don’t need no man”.

After centuries of conditioning to be codependent on our male counterparts (be they fathers or husbands), to live in an age when women are no longer expected to get married, when we can be financially independent and still thrive – despite the pay gap – is a privilege not afforded to many of our predecessors. I’m not trying to politicise ‘being single’ as a radical choice, but I do think that the fact that it is an option is pretty rad.

So, how do we make the most of this new age? How can we be single and happy in a world that finally permits the coexistence of these two things? 

For me, the first step has been relishing the thrill of being emotionally responsible for no one. I can go where I want, see who I want, and do what I want without having to factor in the feelings of a significant other. Much as a healthy relationship should never be so consuming that you spend more time considering your partner’s feelings than your own, there is always at least some emotional responsibility which can present a limiting factor in your life. Having been in monogamous relationships throughout secondary school and sixth form, I understand the appeal of having someone and the security that’s supposed to come with that. However, I’ve been single for nearly two years and I’ve never felt more secure and more sure of who I am and what I want. When you don’t have to factor another person into your decisions, into your life as a whole, it leaves a lot of space for self-exploration.

Granted, in some cases this space can resemble more a void than an opportunity for soul-searching. Life can feel empty without someone to devote your time, energy and affection to. To transform this downside into an upside, I’m going to use a cliché as old as singledom itself; ‘focus on yourself’. Actively being single (that means no dating, no ‘seeing anybody’) is to redirect all that energy away from your partner and into yourself. Some, instead of ‘focus on yourself’, use the cliché ‘focus on your career’ and if your work is something that gives you a sense of fulfilment, then great! If not, then it is time to focus on yourself, to find something that isn’t another person that fulfils you – emotionally, physically, spiritually, or sexually. It doesn’t necessarily mean taking up a new hobby, or doing anything practical per say.

Again, I will resort to another cliché and say that it’s about ‘learning to be with yourself’. But what does that even mean? Is it eating alone at a restaurant, enjoying a night in to indulge in some self-care (and possibly some solo sex), or travelling on your lonesome? I think it can mean all of these things and more; it’s not simply doing the things but it’s allowing yourself to enjoy them. The more we normalise being single, the less embarrassed we will feel when we ask for a table for one. I want that for the future; a world where we can exist as individuals as opposed to in pairs. I want to remove the term ‘other half’ – and the implication that we’re never whole when we’re alone – from our vocabulary. I want relationships to become a delightfully fortuitous rather than a norm or the end goal.

Beyond all the cliches and pithy statements, being single (and happy) is whatever you choose to make it. That’s the whole point; it’s down to you and you only. THAT is what’s so remarkable about it – it’s self-sufficiency bordering on a kind of outrageous (but harmless) selfishness. It becomes a radical choice once you’re faced with older relatives and their loaded questions like ‘Have you got a boyfriend/girlfriend?’, followed by a disdainful sigh after you answer in the negative. I take their disappointment in my stride as a reminder from the older generation about how far we’ve come. As much as we still get excited about our friends getting into relationships, I find that we can sometimes get as excited about them becoming single. Because there are so many opportunities for fun; we urge our newly single friends to download dating apps, to have a one-night-stand, to let loose and embrace life as a singleton.

There’s no shame in being alone anymore. Loving singledom no longer corresponds with callousness, sadness, or chronic loneliness. So, I urge every young woman to give it a go – to dare to be single and happy. I don’t mean dump your current partner right away (or do I?). I mean seize the opportunity at some point in your long life to be with yourself. 

And if you’re already single, but not so happy, I hope what I’ve written  – cliches aside – leaves you feeling a little more content in braving the big bad world without a significant other. 

                   Oh, and I don’t know who needs to here this but 

                                                                                                        dump  

                                                                                                                him.

By the way, I’m starting a new “agony aunt” style column to feature throughout the term – you can ask pretty much anything sex & love related (anonymous or not) and I’ll try my best to come back at you with some killer advice. I guess it’s kind of like Oxfess but a little more pink and hopefully a lot less passive aggressive.

If you’ve got a q you want answered, fill out this form here, and I’ll answer your question in a future article!

Alice Garnett

Alice is our resident sex columnist whose interests include pints, pink, and all things love-related. When she's not evangelising Singledom she's busy hyping up her East Midlands home town, demystifying bisexuality, and writing for other publications such as Lithium Magazine and Adolescent Content.