When you’re single, it can get a little tiresome having your relationship status constantly framed as a problem. Sure, some may have issues that they’re unaware of that are keeping them out of the relationship they want, but, on the other hand many of us are just fine where we are.
I recently spoke with writer, experienced dater and all-around-bad-ass Rachel Khona about the misconceptions that many people have about the unattached masses.
“Single women are often portrayed as marriage/baby hungry predators who are just looking to sink their claws into a man. Single men are often seen as non-committal and only out for [sex]. The reality is there are men and women on both sides of the spectrum and in-between,” Khona says. “These days more women are interested in having a good time and I actually find a lot of men who do want commitment. I think people have a few bad experiences and they start to stereotype the opposite sex, but that’s just kookoo for cocoa puffs.”
These misconceptions often affect the way that singles view themselves, too. They come to believe that their relationship status reflects poorly on them: They must be too desperate, too immature, or just too screwed up for relationships.
Take heart. You might be single for perfectly good reasons. Here are 5:
1. You’re not just looking for any relationship. You’re looking for the right one.
There are those people who get married right out of college and are 100 percent sure of that choice and live happily ever after. The rest of us might need to figure out what we’re really looking for before taking that next step. What you actually want may be very different from what you imagine, and it helps to know what’s really out there. According to Khona, casual dating is an excellent way to learn about your needs, desires and deal-breakers:
“You might think you’re OK dating a starving artist until you realize you’re tired of hanging out with someone who’s broke. Or you may start dating someone who’s really amazing personality-wise, but sucks in bed — and realize that bad bedroom skills is a deal-breaker. Or you may realize you no longer want to date a guy who doesn’t share the same political views as you. Dating is a learning experience. You trip, you fall, you make mistakes, and you learn from them. Once you learn a lesson, your point of view shifts, and you start attracting different people.”
2. You’re totally traumatized by your last relationship
In which case, OWN that. It’s really important that you don’t jump into anything you’re not ready for before you’ve put in some real time processing that loss. If you can keep one foot in the dating game, have some fun and build up your confidence? Power to you.
Related: 15 Perks To Being Single and Dating
3. You’re enjoying dating multiple people
Absolutely nothing wrong with that. It’s better to be upfront about it, but if that’s what’s working for you and no one else has a problem with it, why not?
4. You’re busy
Relationships are time consuming and you’ve got stuff to do. Maybe you’re focusing on your career, or your art, or school, or you’re a detective who’s this close to cracking that big case. Sure, it’s worth it for the right relationship, but if you’re someone who has a hard time balancing your work life, your love life and your social life (which is pretty much everyone, right?) then casual dating might just work better for you until you’re on more solid ground career-wise. Just be aware that if a relationship is something you want in your life, at some point you’ll have to put some energy into that.
5. You have things to learn from being single
Often, you’ll hear single folk say that they’re “taking a break from relationships to work on themselves.” It’s become something of a cliche, but there is a lot of truth to it. I asked Khona for her take on what can be learned from being single that can’t be learned from a relationship:
“How to be independent. How to take care of yourself. It’s nice because you know that when you meet someone, it’s because you want to be with them and not because you need to be with them. Personally, I feel like I can be my own person rather than swaying to the will of a guy. Kind of like an oak tree, instead of a palm tree.”
Agreed. If you’re using your single time to get solid in yourself, you’re just going to be that much more solid in a relationship when the time is right.
Whether it’s a means to an end, a phase, or a lifestyle choice, being single should never be a source of shame. Dating can be enjoyed for what it is, whether you’re actively seeking a relationship, or not.
Rachel Khona is a writer, performer and real-deal dating expert living in Brooklyn. She is currently working on her memoir about growing up wild-at-heart in a conservative Indian family, Tales of a Dot Head. You can keep up with her on Twitter and Facebook.