I’ve been single off and on for the past 4 years. Sometimes, single men ask me (in a chat up sort of way), “So … why are you still single?”
To me, that question is absurd. It comes from a worldview that sees people as needing a reason for being single. And that makes no sense to me. I am my own person, and perfectly capable of managing my own needs, you know, like a GROWN UP. I don’t need to be part of a couple, and I only want to be in a relationship if we love each other. I know that sounds pretty obvious, but if we unpick what that means, it’s a bit tougher than it sounds. Because love is something that is freely given. And if I’m in a relationship because I need that person to somehow fulfil my needs, then I’m no longer in a position to freely give love. Because I’m dependent on them. That’s not love. That’s dependency.
So it’s really important to me that my default “okay” position is on my own, as a single person. Because it’s only out of that strength that I’ll be able to freely offer love to someone, with no strings attached.
So anyway, this assumption that somehow I have to be in a relationship otherwise there must be some extenuating circumstance or reason for my not being so, seems pretty weird to me. Actually, that question, “Why are you still single?” is pretty useful as a filter. Because if someone asks me that, I know straight away that I’m not interested in him. Not romantically, anyway.
I find that on the dating scene, whether that’s with people I’ve met in person, or online, I get a lot of questions like this: questions that usually indicate that the person asking them is not really a great match for me. Not that I’m super judgemental, passing out judgements (BAM!) on people who ask the wrong questions. It’s just that I’ve learned from experience that it really helps in a relationship to have some degree of ability to communicate with each other. And we all make so many assumptions that affect our point of view and the way we communicate. It really helps to be able to recognise those assumptions and own them as opposed to saying that’s just the way it is. And over the years, I’ve found that not a lot of people are able to do that … myself included at times, of course!
One thing I encounter a lot, in the UK, is a certain type of awkward searching for common ground, by men who when they see me, are obviously disconcerted by my ethnicity.
For example, last week, I was at my favourite spa (the Harrogate Turkish Baths), all on my own and there was a man there who after a couple of hours of passing by my vicinity, mustered up the guts to say “hello”. And he had seemed perfectly interesting until he started talking to me. And all he could talk about was a production of Miss Saigon that he’d seen, which featured a Thai lady in the lead role. He kept giving me meaningful looks as he mentioned that she was Thai (several times), and spoke of how much he’d admired her. Hmm. So he somehow thought talking about this Thai lady was a good way to connect with me. It was like he was speaking some alien language. I didn’t give him any encouragement, and I politely moved a good distance away from him after that.
So this kind of thing happens to me a lot. And I know what you’re thinking. You’re probably wondering how on earth I can resist the charms of these clearly worldly men who are highly attuned to the fact that I’m not white.
The thing is, this isn’t just about men who are awkward about human beings having a different skin colour to them. It’s men who are utterly unaware of the culture they’ve completely bought into, the culture that objectifies people, especially women. And this culture is pervasive and insidious.
A couple of days ago, I took a small hyper ninja turtle to the cinema to see The Lego Movie. I had heard nothing but good things about it. “It’s really good!” That’s what everybody who’d seen it said to me.
There were some things I really loved about the movie. The artistry was undeniable. The acting was great. The script was funny. I loved the overall message, that everyone is SPECIAL, no matter what others think. And that it’s important for each person to believe they’re special and to believe others are special too. Love that! And the whole “anything is possible” sort of awesome big dreaming thing that kids’ movies do so well.
But it chilled me right down to the depths of my being, that the Lego world which supposedly championed how special everyone is, had 90% male characters. (That’s not a precise figure. It just seemed like everyone was male. The only real main female was Wyldstyle, or Lucy, as we come to know her later on.) So Lucy, the only main female character was pretty badass, and she ends up being part of the “prize” of the main super dorky male character, Emmett. Not that I have anything against dorky guys. But I do have a problem with the function that Lucy’s character serves in the movie.
The way women are portrayed in The Lego Movie is just so fucked up. And over 93K people have given this movie an average rating of 8.1 (out of 10) on IMDB. I skimmed through the first hundred reviews and didn’t see a single comment even acknowledging that it’s not normal, it’s not a normal representation of the world around us to have all the heroes being men, or anyone commenting on the fact that the female lead is super hot, and is “won” or “earned” by the seemingly unspecial Emmett at the end of the film. Lucy is essentially, a trophy.
So judging from the reactions to the Lego Movie that I’ve heard in person from people, or seen online, it seems to me that the world that I live in is one where for many, it’s absolutely fine to portray women as either insignificant or as trophies. That is normality. No-one even notices.
And I’m not happy to accept that as normal or healthy. And I don’t want to be with a man who doesn’t even notice that the world around him has this totally fucked up attitude towards women.
So is it really that surprising that I’m single at the moment? To be fair, I’m often not single. So I’m not saying that my being single is an inevitable result of how fucked up the world is. But I AM saying that the state of the world makes it really easy to spot men who have got really fucked up attitudes towards other people and towards women. Because there’s a culture of that, and it takes an exceptional level of self-awareness and open mindedness to recognise, and step outside of, that.
In my experience, those men are rare. And of those men, if you narrow down the numbers to those who are single, and then narrow down the numbers again to those who are somehow likely to encounter me in my limited sphere of existence and get to know me, we’re talking about some pretty tiny numbers. And that’s before we even start considering if there’s any romantic chemistry there.
Really, the amazing thing isn’t that I’m single at the moment, but that I’ve known and been in relationships with anyone at all up to now!
So if you want to know why I am still single … well there’s the tip of the iceberg 🙂
So blessings to you, whatever you may be doing, wherever you’re at in your journey, whether you’re single, or whether you’re not single. May you find what you’re looking for!