Oh you have to love this question. Almost as good as the other one-asked first: “Are you single?” The two questions everyone wants to ask. (If you’re not single, the next question is “Do you live with your partner/ when are you going to get married?” And if you’re married “Do you have children?” The questions never end!)
Anyway one question at a time. The “How long have you been single?” question… As it is not an open question it is quite hard to find the way out of answering. However this is what I say: “It’s all relative isn’t it?” And here is how I explain it…
Firstly you have to ask; what do you think being single means? Really? Once, a guy told me that he had been “single” for 3 years. I then asked him (as I severely doubted his statement) if he had been single for 3 years in the same way like I was single- properly and without any sexual interaction from another. Without a date? He was far too good looking to be alone for 3 years. Shallow but true. I then asked him: “Are you telling me you haven’t been out with anyone for 3 years?!”
He smiled and then a few seconds later he corrected himself: “Okay I haven’t been in a relationship for a year”. I kept smiling and told him that I have two brothers. Being direct I made it obvious that I didn’t believe he hadn’t slept with anyone for a year. I know I am naïve and have a lot to learn but I am not THAT naïve. Guys have their needs. So then finally he said: “Okay, I haven’t slept with anyone for 3 months…”
Exactly! And in truth it was probably last week (as they do say you should divide these things up anyway). This guy’s version of being single was that he hadn’t had a meaningful relationship in approx. 3 years. In my world, his relationship last year (and subsequent sexual relationships) meant he couldn’t claim to have been properly single. For him though it meant something different. And I guess that is fair enough. We all have our own versions of being single. For some it means being totally alone. For others it can mean going without sex. Maybe being single to you means you are dating but not committed or maybe being involved in a relationship you’re not fully into. It is subjective to the person answering.
Another issue I have is when I hear people reply “I have been happily single for a while.” We have to put in that we are happy as if to justify being single. It’s so sad that we can’t be a little more truthful, that we are okay but would love to love and be loved again. That we do not particularly enjoy being alone.
I guess if you are single or not, my issue should lie with the fact that we as a society feel the need to so casually ask people such intrusive questions. Remember though, if you do feel the need to ask someone if they are single… it depends on who you are asking.
(Author: An, edited by my lovely friend Sarah)
Next: Who am I now?