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What’s Wrong With Wanting to be Unsingle? October 22, 2009

Posted by Onely in Dating, Food for Thought.
Tags: , ,

At the moment, I don’t want to be in a couple. I have weighed the pros and cons of being single as they relate to my current economic, geolocational, social, personal, and physical situations, and I’ve decided that (my perceived) pros of being single outweigh the cons. So I don’t particularly care to pursue a committed romantic ever-after partnership (CREAP) right now.

My friend doesn’t want to be single. She has weighed the pros and cons of being single as they relate to her current situation, and she has decided that (her perceived) cons of being single outweigh the pros. Does this mean that she “can’t be alone” and ought to cultivate that ability? If so, then wouldn’t it be equally (in)accurate to say that *I* “can’t be in a couple” and ought to cultivate that ability?

Should we respect people who *don’t want to* be single–even if they bounce from bad relationship to bad relationship? Isn’t it their choice? Aren’t they choosing what, to them, is the less painful path? To me, being in a bad or so-so relationship is worse than being single, but to them, being single may be worse than being in a bad relationship. Can we categorically say that one choice is better than the other?

In this day, age, and world, being unsingle or “seeking” to become unsingle is the status quo, the accepted denominator, the commonly understood goal, praised as an accomplishment–all in all, it’s probably the easy road (until your wife starts beating you or your husband cheats). Maybe we tend to disrespect people who “want someone” (ie., don’t want to be single) because it seems as if they’re taking the easy way out. But do we really understand their reasons for trying to change their status, in the same way that they often don’t seem to understand our reasons for being satisfied singles?

If someone wants to become unsingle (and they haven’t met someone in particular), I think it’s important for them to articulate to themselves *why* they want a (unspecified) partner. Because it seems easier? Because they think they’ll feel more fulfilled? Less bored? Safer? More able to provide for their children? Or because it seems “the thing to do”?

And even if their reasons seem stupid to us, can we say with moral impugnity that they’re misguided? I’m sure my reasons for currently preferring singlehood–I like to sleep with the light on; I don’t want people around when I’m sick; my hobbies take up all my time–seem stupid to some people.

Also, I have a certain idea in my head about what hang gliding is like. I’ve seen movies of hanggliding, and it looks exhilarating and silent and swooshy.  (Bear with me; I’m getting to a point here.) I want to go hang gliding because–because it seems as if it would add something to my life, give me some good memories, and make me feel good.  Realistically, it might also break my bank account and every bone in my body, but I’m not thinking about that–I still want to go hang gliding.

Is this how my unhappily single friend’s yearning for a CREAP similar to my yearning for hang gliding? If so, who’s to say which one is better?

Copious Readers, do your friends have good, specific, or interesting reasons for wanting to become unsingle? Should we judge them? (Oh yes, it’s fun to judge them, but should we?)


Note: In this post I’m talking specifically about pursuing a CREAP  for the sake of having a CREAP. If I or my friend were to stumble across Mr. Apparently Perfectly Right, then we would probably at the very least have to reevaluate our pros and cons. Also, I know that the acronym seems somewhat charged to the negative, but it’s a handy acronym, and also I think a little negative charging in this couple-crazed world won’t hurt anything.

P.S. Thanks to The Truth About Mating for getting me thinking about this topic.


1. Jenn - October 22, 2009

I love this post! The world needs a lot more people, both single and unsingle, to think about these questions in a non-judge-y way! I have to say that for me, I tend to be more judgey about people who want to a relationship just to be in a relationship because I think that often, it DOES mean they need to “cultivate the ability” to be alone. But it usually ISN’T the case that happy singles need to “cultivate the ability” to be coupled. That is, it seems to me that people who are happily single are more likely to have been happily coupled in their past, but a lot of people who are trying to be unsingle have NOT been happily single in their past. If someone has seen both sides – i.e., been happily single AND happily coupled – then I tend to be less judgey about whatever they end up preferring.

Onely - October 23, 2009

“If someone has seen both sides – i.e., been happily single AND happily coupled – then I tend to be less judgey about whatever they end up preferring.” Yes, because it seems as if they’ve made more educated guess, somehow

2. Lauri - October 23, 2009

I don’t see the point of wanting to be unsingle, because it doesn’t really matter, you can’t control it. It’s not like wanting a pumpkin muffin from Dunkin Donuts (my current state). I can get out of this chair, walk down the street, hand the nice man my money, and receive what I want, a pumpkin muffin from Dunkin Donuts.

But if I wanted to be unsingle? What difference does it make that that’s what I want? I can’t make myself meet someone, I can’t make myself like him, and I can’t make him like me. Anyone who wants to be unsingle is wasting their time and sanity. I *want* to win the lottery, but it’s pretty much the same deal. Becoming unsingle is pretty much just luck. Yeah you can join an online dating site or something, but you can also buy a lottery ticket.

Onely - October 23, 2009

But you could go online and meet someone “adequate” and pair with them. . . maybe you know they’re ony “adequate”, or maybe you convince yourself that they’re a catch for you. Sort of like convincing yourself that the reeses peanut butter cup you’re craving (my current state) won’t really cause your blood sugar to wack out. . .

Lauri - October 26, 2009

well for a lot of people, it might be difficult to even meet someone adequate. And you’d also have to find someone who is looking for someone adequate.

But I understand what you are saying. And yes, I think there’s something wrong with that. If you want to be in a relationship and don’t care who with, I think you are a seriously needy person who can’t take care of themselves.

Onely - October 27, 2009

Tell it like it is!
= ) CC

3. Rachel - October 23, 2009

I think the last two relationships I’ve been in happened out of my belief that I should be in a relationship. I didn’t realize that I could just be single – that I could make that choice. Maybe those people bouncing from relationship to relationship are in that boat. Or they might have this big myth about being single in their mind and are running away from that. So, I think it’s important for us singles to say, “hey, you don’t have to be in an intimate relationship and, yes, you can be happy being single.” If after that they still prefer a bad relationship over none, then that’s their choice but as long as they don’t see the alternative (or see it through singlism), I don’t think they are making a real choice. They’re just following the social bandwagon.

4. Rekha - October 23, 2009

I did do a ‘research’ on ‘Why do women get married??'(in my mother tongue) and asked my married gal pals what made them get married or choose that path… being Indians they all answered in one straight answer.. “IT WAS BECAUSE OF PARENTAL PRESSURE”.. nothing else… but they are all happy… atleast it seems that way…
It is a sad thing though… they are not given a choice… they just have to do it.. for the family and the society… lucky for me… I haven’t fallen into that hell hole….
People accept your decision..if you want to get married and ‘settle down’..but if you chose to be single and at the sametime happy… that seems to be something impossible for them…
You can be unhappily married and happily single.. either way..it is you who decide which mental state you prefer.. it doesn’t matter which relationship status column you tick..
There is nothing wrong with wanting to be unsingle.. although I just don’t understand why would anyone want that …. but it should become an acceptable norm for one to choose to be single…

Onely - October 27, 2009

Are the happy marriages the ones arranged by the parents, or are they marriages where people chose their own mates but panicked and said “ok this person will have to do”, or are they marriages where the two people were actually (apparently) in love? I have heard that arranged marriages often work out quite well, because they are not blown out of proportion in the beginning like a lot of romantic-matches are. ??


5. Onadrought - October 27, 2009

Hi Christina, thanks for mentioning my blog and I too have been thinking about this topic since you commented on that post, as I hadn’t thought about it in those terms before.

Would write more, but it’s my birthday and I’ve had a couple of champagnes.


Onely - October 27, 2009

Happy birthday! It’s not my birthday, but I had franks and beans. Way too many. Enjoy the champagne!

6. Singletude: A Positive Blog for Singles - October 27, 2009

CREAP! Hah! I love it!

I’ve thought about this a lot. A LOT. Ever since I consciously decided to be single, I’ve had to guard myself against applying my standards for my own life to other people. Obviously, if I’ve decided to be single, there are reasons I believe it’s a preferable state, and sometimes I feel the urge to introduce other people to that state because I think they would like it a lot better than their current unhappily single or unhappily coupled state if they gave it a chance. But of course that’s not true. Some people wouldn’t like it better due to their own personality makeup, history, beliefs, values, etc.

As singles by choice, I think some of us have a tendency to look down on couples because we believe that we’re roughing it in a sense, going against the grain and suffering for it due to all the discrimination we face. I have to remember that there’s a difference between publicizing injustice and making a martyr of myself! The grass is always greener on the other side, and couples have their own problems, some of the very problems I’ve chosen to avoid by remaining single.

However, as much as anyone can be objective about mental health, I think we can say that there may be something unhealthy about some aspects of contemporary intensive coupling. When friends say they’re happy while we watch them lose their sense of identity or independence, sacrifice their dreams, or endure constant fights and roller coaster emotions, it’s hard NOT to label those relationships “unhealthy.” To use an extreme parallel, a schizophrenic might be very happy in his delusions, but you wouldn’t say, “Oh, he’s happy, so it’s fine.”

We all make judgments all the time. We can’t NOT make judgments. The brain processes information and spits out a conclusion, whether we like it or not. But we can learn not to voice those judgments at times when it’s not appropriate or in ways that are counterproductive. We may not believe someone is making healthy choices, but we have to respect their right to make those choices and not shove our beliefs on people who don’t want to hear them. That’s the challenge for me and one that I hope I’m learning to meet more and more each day.

Onely - October 27, 2009

I like your “extreme” parallel. I don’t think it’s that extreme, actually!!

7. Simone Grant - October 29, 2009

Wow, I so needed to read this today. First let me echo Jenn’s thank you for writing this. I think it’s so important that we can have smart, rational conversations on this topic.

I’m single and I see that as a choice. When I look back at my dating life I know there were a couple of relationships that I could have worked at made work. I chose not to. To not make the compromises to make those relationships work because having a partner/husband wasn’t that important to me. And I’m happy with that decision and happy to stay single.

And yet, there are many people who will not recognize that as a legitimate decision. They see me as a failure.

Anyway, just as I’m entitled to make whatever choices I want, I’d hope for the same for every woman. Feminism is about choices, not having others choose for us. Some women will probably choose to pursue marriage. For them I wish nothing but happiness, if that’s what they want and it’s not out of fear or pressure or duty.

8. Singlutionary - November 9, 2009

I just wrote a post on this wonderful topic. Is it possible to be a satisfied single and still open to a relationship? I think that is what I am and have always been. I am more open to a relationship at this very moment because I have an excellent prospect. Otherwise, I think I would be more excited about further fulfilling my single life!

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