Rising above the Dating Stigma</b></font>
“Alex, you have to come out with us tonight! This guy Josh will be there….” I know the rest: he’s “hot, funny, and totally your type.” My only response to this statement is a roll of the eyes, a sigh, and the ever-familiar question, “What is so wrong with not being in a relationship?” Am I really in a category that could be titled, “The few, the isolated, the single”? Apparently so because I seem to be surrounded by people who feel that being 18 and single is a death sentence. However, the only problem I see in being single resides in dodging set-ups and comments. Luckily, or perhaps unfortunately, I’ve had so much experience in this department that I’ve gotten the process of avoiding set-ups and comments down to some helpful steps.
First, that old saying “you have to love yourself before you can love another” can easily apply to single-hood. My friend Julie repeatedly points out the lack of a male hanging on my arm. Hearing her single me out constantly began to weigh on my confidence, making me feel as if not being in a relationship meant big, fat failure. Wake up call! I am only 18! Dating does not make the world go ‘round nor is being single a death sentence. Everyone deserves a relationship, but everyone also deserves the right to single-hood. Realize that there is nothing wrong with being perfectly happy ogling the latest Hollywood hunk/hunkerette or meeting several different people without feeling an intense need to give or receive a number. Though Julie still pesters me about finding a gentleman caller, I now understand that my lack of a relationship doesn’t mean that I lack personality. Getting over Julie’s comments no longer remains a challenge.
Second, understand that saying no to the set-up/blind date is perfectly acceptable. Yeah, Tony’s sister’s cousin’s dog sitter’s nephew may have straight teeth and nice hair, but so does my cat. Let’s face it; more often than not these situations do not result in anything other than hours of your life you can never have back. Smiling politely as your date explains just how he managed to lift a car off the ground and save a baby from a fire simply isn’t a good time. You know yourself better than anyone else. Instead of taking a chance on your best friend’s idea of Mr./Ms. Wonderful, politely tell your friend to mind his/her own business. Explain that if you wanted help in finding a potential partner, you’d ask. And never settle for “perfects”. You know, “he/she’s so perfect for you!” When it comes down to it, no one is perfect and that whole stigma of fitting together like a puzzle piece immediately after you meet each other is, well, just a stigma.
Third, allow yourself to make excuses. I repeatedly uttered, and sometimes even hollered, the word “no” to Julie’s requests in me to meet potential suitors, but she still insisted. Sometimes people simply don’t understand the following words: “I am perfectly happy being single.” Pulling the old, “I can’t go out tonight because I have to wash my hair and feed the cat” is a perfectly dignified means of protecting yourself from a concerned friend who feels the need to have you married before you can say “divorce.” I learned that if making up an excuse meant saving myself from another embarrassing night of Mr. So & So, telling a little white lie would create more good than harm.
Lastly if you really do want a relationship, don’t put your peers, friends, colleagues, and family’s opinions above your own. As stated earlier, I am only 18. Thus, I feel that everyone’s obsession with my being single is ridiculous and darn annoying. I used to think that if most of the people I knew constantly felt I needed a relationship then they had to be right. Eventually, I realized that I’m happy being young and single even if the people in my life aren’t. Besides, my opinion of an agreeable date is definitely not the same as my friends’ opinions. You own your life, not your co-worker constantly nagging, “Trust me! She will knock your socks off.”
In conclusion, have fun with being “un-attached.” While it is nice to know that others are looking out for your happiness, the constant threat of another blind date can be demeaning. Embrace the chance to be a bachelor/bachelorette, and remain confident in your needs because you are the only one who knows what those are.
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