Our society puts people under huge pressure to meet someone and settle down, to the extent that those of us who are single are often left wondering if there’s something wrong with us. Why don’t we want the same thing as everyone else? We sometimes ask “can I be happy on my own?” In reality, the internal conflict may be rooted in self-worth or self-esteem.
Of course, plenty of single people are hoping to meet that special someone one of these days, and settle down with them—but there are also lots of singles out there who are doing just fine on their own.
The bottom line is that there is absolutely no imperative on anyone to form a relationship with a “significant other” if they don’t want to. Despite what the popular media might tell us, single people are often very happy the way they are—and as social norms change, some of the pragmatic reasons why people used to get married have gone away or diminished.
For instance, in the past it was very difficult for women to get employed in “the professions” and even women who did have careers were routinely paid much less than their male colleagues. While there’s still work to do in this area, today women don’t need a male partner for financial support, because they are working and earning in their own right.
Also, there was a massive stigma attached to single motherhood, and at the same time it was very difficult to access reliable contraception. Women who wanted children felt that they had no choice but to settle down—and women who didn’t have children often ended up pregnant, anyway. Rather than dealing with the huge social cost of having a child “out of wedlock”, woman tended to prefer to marry.
Having sex outside marriage used to be a big no-no. Of course, human nature being what it is, affairs always happened—but being sexual without a ring on your finger was considered very wrong, above all for women. Sad as it seems, in the past a lot of people got married because they felt it was the only way they could ever have sex.
Today, the social pressures we face have changed in many and dramatic ways—and while some pressures might be worse than before, mores around sex and relationships have loosened considerably. The single person is no longer consigned to life without sex (if they want sex), or seen as less valuable and important a member of society than his or her married peers.
It’s past time we stopped letting people and the media pressurise singles into relationships when they are perfectly happy the way they are, enjoying their friendships, their interests in life, their personal spaces and their uncompromised freedoms. We all get to make our own choices in life—including the choice to remain single, if that is where we find our happiness.
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