~Word by: Naomi Retman
We’ve all been there. A party, a park walk, even just being at work, when you bump into someone you know and the only question they can formulate after a nice ‘hi, how are you?’, is the old faithful ‘so are you seeing anyone?’. It can be appreciated that to most people, this truly is just meant in passing but for those that are thriving living their single life, my god, PLEASE STOP!
As if it wasn’t enough to have relationship content flying at us in our news feeds and ‘for you’ pages daily, the societal ‘necessity’ of partnership has now actualised itself as the new ‘small talk’, when it is anything but.
Look, since 2021, we’ve all been going through some shit, but do we not have more substance? Is there nothing else we’re interested in? Is this what is being classified as the most important signifier of success today? Unfortunately, this line of questioning has impacts beyond the unveiling of potential partners. For those that time and time again deliver their ‘no’ response, this repeated intrusion holds the ability to bring about feelings of shame, guilt, and longing; unintentionally leaving people to question if they are in fact ‘lacking’.
*Just to clarify. No one is lacking. Some are just yet to realise it. *
The inevitably sympathetic response that leaves the quizmasters lips after hearing the word ‘no’ is also not what we signed up for, especially all the melodic responses. Are you familiar with the oh so popular ‘ohhhh reallyyyyyyy’? Or the ever optimistic ‘I’m sure you’ll find someone soon; they’ll pop up when you least expect it’. That’s sweet, thank you, but also, not really any of your business, and frankly we’re a bit over all the unsolicited commentary.
You can literally ask me about any other aspect of my life, ANY, and I would love to tell you!
We probably haven’t seen each other for the longest time and that’s all you can muster? God, my parents see me all the time and I expect the conversation to go along these bland lines, but me and you, we literally haven’t seen each other for months.
If you’re in a bind, here are some alternative subjects you can make use of: work, uni, pets, family, online purchases, Love Island. The opportunities and topics are endless. Please use them.
Don’t you think that if someone had something to tell you, they would? Or it would be on their socials? You know, the ones whose stories you still watch, even though you have nothing to do with each other except for the fact that you did one group assignment together in first year?
Are we even close enough that I would tell you if I was seeing someone? Am I supposed to tell you about every single talking stage? Welcome to 21st-century dating, where everyone comes with a probation period. If I had a dollar for every talking stage that fizzled or ghosted, well, I’d still be shopping from McDonald’s, but I’ve graduated from the dollar menu.
Also, the whole ‘I can’t believe no one has snatched you up yet’ doesn’t make us feel any better either. The only redeeming feature of that sentence is that you recognise that we’re amazing and deserve good things. So, thanks for that.
Most online dating conversations feel like pulling teeth and no, most of us are not interested in becoming a dental hygienist. What’s tricky is that a relationship of any kind takes a minimum of two to tango. So, when faced with the question of if you’re seeing someone and your answer is no, and this isn’t the first, let alone the last time you will be asked this, it does make you question yourself.
It’s as though society wouldn’t assume we can thrive in singledom, let alone choose it. If no one is elevating your life, why would you allocate your already limited time to add yet another name to the list of people that you need to message. Someone that adds
nothing more to your life than an alternative
answer to the most daunting question.
Happiness is your own responsibility and there is no need to allocate your time to a relationship that you aren’t wholeheartedly invested in, just so you can flip your answer in time for the next family reunion. Time is valuable and can be spent elsewhere. This is not to say that this happiness cannot be achieved in tandem with another person, just remember that your happiness is your responsibility first and foremost. And whilst another person may enrich your life, your happiness is not dependent on them.
It should also be said that there is absolutely nothing wrong with actively seeking a relationship or partnership. So long as your reasons for doing so do not solely stem from the intention or opportunity of providing an alternative response to life’s nosey questions.
There are countless reasons for seeking partnership, companionship, and all other relationship forms, but check in with yourself about what you are seeking and why. These decisions should always be made with yourself in mind as the highest priority.
For you and no one else.
No one is forcing introspection when these questions pop up. We simply need to be more aware of what we’re asking and consider if it’s any of our business in the first place, because what is it really adding to your life other than some tea?
What it all boils down to, is that we are people before we are our partners or
our relationship status. Our lives are so multifaceted and enriched in such a variety of ways, this can’t be the be-all and end-all of the conversation starters. If you’re guilty of asking this question, ask yourself what purpose it serves or if it just seems like the easiest route.
For those that are constantly served this question and their melodic responses, remember that you’re whole on your own. There is no need to settle or strive to tick the ‘yes’ box. It’s perfectly fine to hold satisfaction in singledom and work on yourself.
Someone’s plus one does not mean their life is more fulfilled than anyone else’s.
We can be happy and thrilled for everyone in every stage of their life, single, seeing someone, locked in for life; we’re all just on different paths and that’s what makes life interesting.
This is just a reminder to ask people about themselves before anything or anyone else. They’re probably thriving.