Minus the City: Single (and Ready to Mingle?)

I think we’re having a little trouble with the definition of the word “single,” and it could be time to return to the original etymology. No longer does the word single mean to truly be on one’s own; it has become the definition of a carefree lifestyle, a way to define having multiple partners and little responsibility. Now, let’s make one thing clear: I think having multiple partners and little responsibility sounds like a pretty sweet deal, and for those that can achieve that with no emotional or physical repercussions, I salute you. However, I have been seeing that mentality do much more harm than good, all in the name of singledom.

The word single has evolved so drastically that it now comes with its own set of expectations. It’s like getting a prize in a cereal box. The cereal box is you being single, and the decoder ring reads the fine print that says “You’re on your own, but please don’t actually be alone – that’s lame. Start fooling around frequently and immediately.” And you’re thinking, Wow, what an awful prize, but my decoder ring is right, it would be weird for me to be truly alone. Why is it that if someone is single, they are expected to consistently be looking for someone new even if it’s just someone new for the night? Why is it that being truly single, as in being truly alone, has become a pariahed state of being?

The problem with being single in a hookup environment is that you aren’t single at all. You’re single, but you have partners. Partners who are fulfilling some part of yourself that you could be dealing with truly on your own instead. Emotionally, finding someone for the evening is gratifying. It makes you feel hot, wanted and (this is the twisted part) confident that you possess qualities that will someday make you no longer single. Because let’s face it, who was the last person to get excited about being wanted for a couple hours? That would mean you’re disposable, and nobody wants to feel that way. Everyone wants to have appeal with longevity. Physically, finding someone for the evening is gratifying because you get touched, which is nice. Someone takes care of your body for you, and you nurse the need to take care of someone else. You also completely avoid getting to know your own body again. It is endlessly important to be comfortable with your body and your sexuality, on your own.

Maybe I’m an old-fashioned girl, but I like the original definition of single. I like the idea of being completely, romantically alone. I like the idea of getting to know yourself again, as an individual. Not getting to know

yourself in the sit-around-and-brood-and-read-a-lot-of-T.S.-Eliot way, but getting to know yourself in the how-do-I-feel-sexy-when-I’m-not-having-sex-way and the whole where-is-my-worth-if-not-in-the-eyes-of

-my-partner thing.

It’s important. It’s important to be truly alone, even if it’s just for a little while. And it’s not important in the way your aunt thinks it is. It is not important because “you will only find someone when you’re not looking,” or because “nothing is more appealing than a person with confidence.” If you’re alone to attract a partner, you’re missing the point. Be alone to make yourself better. And yeah, get some if it makes you happy. Get a lot. Do it for you and your happiness though, because your relationship with yourself is going to be a long one. 

Contact Caroline Hurwitz at [email protected].