The consensus out there in couple-land seems to be that if you are single, then you must surely be looking for a partner. If you say that you are not, then you don't really mean it. And if you SAY you really don't mean it, well, someone's protesting a bit much, aren't they?
Newflash. I'm single, I'm happy and I'm not looking for a boyfriend any time soon. I feel perfectly complete all by myself, which is why I'm not searching for my 'other half'. In fact, I'm loving the joy of pleasingly-selfish, no-kids-thanks, singledom. I do what I want and go where I want. I take great pleasure in eating what I want (cheese plate dinners and roasted poussin lunches this week). No compromise. No argument. It's great! I'm blessed with a fabulous circle of friends and I truly couldn't be happier.
Seriously - is this the face of a miserable lonely woman?
My friend Clare - a successful business woman, who's happily single and has one of the fullest lives of anyone I know - still has friends who don't seem to "get" that she's happy. Her advice? "Being in any relationship, family/friends/OH doesn't define or complete you. You need to be comfortable within yourself."
Irene agrees, "I am a single, 30 year old professional female. I own my own flat, I put together my Ikea furniture on my own with a pound store screwdriver and you know what's on my bucket list? It's not getting a ring on my finger before I hit 30, or moving to the suburbs to pop out children. It's climbing Machu Picchu, going to Australia and spending more time with my beautiful nieces.But I still get my married girlfriends telling me that they can't imagine being single or they tip toe around the subject as if it's a sore topic!"
I wonder what it is about being married that makes some people feel you have to pity the poor singleton or worry about hurting her feelings if you (whisper it) talk about marriage and children. My friend Tabitha says that her couple friends even shut her out of social events, "If it's a couples-thing, I never get invited as I make the numbers odd. It's almost as if they find me being happy and single unsettling. Me being single and happy baffles them."
Irene's parent are mostly supportive, "Being traditional Chinese parents, it's not quite the reaction I would have thought from them. That being said, my mother just offered to pay for a membership to an online dating website!" Tabitha on the other hand has been through the mill, "My parents were the worst. I remember my dad saying to me a few years before he died that he wanted more grandchildren. Didn't give a damn that I didn't want to settle down."
I've never had family pressure over children or marriage, I think for me it's that "Ah, I bet she's just not found anyone" look in people's eyes when you explain you're not looking. Oh, and that you feel you HAVE to explain. The world doesn't feel set up for single, happy women yet. I wonder whether it ever will be...