I don’t think anyone should ever have to apologize for being single. No one should ever put you on the defensive because you are single. But they will try.
Here’s what you can do about that.
When people put you down because you are single, you should worry – about them. Why did they do such a mean and egregious thing? Are they insecure? Are they envious? Or just clueless? Maybe they really do think there’s something wrong with being single. But even if they do, why would they express that belief or concern by derogating you?
Also remember this: Other people are more unnerved by single people who choose to be single, than by single people who wish they were coupled. Believing that marriage or coupling makes you a happier person, maybe even a better person, is, for some, a matter of faith. It is a worldview in which they are deeply invested. If you are single and happy, you are shattering that belief system. That’s hard. It’s unsettling. They are taking it out on you.
Don’t let anyone shame you. Just don’t. Don’t let them shame you for being single. Don’t let them shame you or your children if you are raising kids as a single parent. Remember, by living single you are up against matrimania (the over-the-top hyping of marriage and weddings and coupling) and singlism (the stereotyping, stigmatizing, marginalizing, and discrimination against single people) and cherished worldviews. If you chose single life, you should be proud of yourself for doing so when so many forces are against you. You are the resilient one.
And if you didn’t choose single life, you still should not let anyone shame you. Live your days as a single person fully, joyfully, and unapologetically, for as long as that part of your life lasts.
For a long time, social scientists have aided and abetted the shaming of single people by the way they talk about the results of their research. It seems like there is always some new study claiming that single people are doing worse than married people in some way or another, and if only those single people would marry, they would live happier and healthier lives. I’m sorry to say that way too often, they have gotten it wrong about what those findings really mean.
The good news is that as research becomes more sophisticated, all those myths are coming tumbling down. Just in 2017, for example, three big, important studies showed that people who marry do not become any healthier than they were when they were single, and sometimes become less healthy.
Don’t feel disheartened by singles-bashing headlines supposedly based on science. More and more often, the very best studies are producing results that affirm the high quality of single life.
Are you feeling sad or lonely or any of the other emotions that are part of the stereotype and caricature of people who are single? Know that sadness and loneliness are not specific to single people or any other group of people. When people marry, they usually find that marriage is no cure for what ails them. If you are sometimes sad or lonely, it’s probably not because you are single but because you are human.
In your everyday life conversations, do you sometimes find that people seem interested in just one thing about you – whether you are “seeing anyone”? Or, if they know or think that you are, do they try to get you to entertain them with stories about your love life?
Don’t go along with those limiting conversational gambits. Instead, let them know what your life is really about. Talk about the people and pursuits that matter to you. Show them, by the way that you talk about your life, that there are all sorts of people who are important other than romantic partners and there are so many more fulfilling things to do than dating.
Celebrate your milestones and special events. Encourage others to join in. They should be just as enthusiastic and congratulatory about your life events as they are about other people’s weddings. That’s not the norm, but it should be.
Think about your strengths and accomplishments and values. Do that often. Focus on what you are good at, what fulfills you, and the values that define you.