Life without a significant other

Over the past 4 years or so there have been times when the question along the lines of “So any guys?” or “so Marita, do you have a boyfriend?” has made me quite upset, angry and depressed. 90% of the time I’m upset, angry or depressed NOT about my situation but by the question. It speaks volumes about someones values and opinion on being single.

I am single. Have been my whole life. Does it bother me? More or less for the last 3 years, no, but I definitely have moments. These moments come more frequent when I look at the world around me, listen to society and immerse myself in, as some may call it, female porn (romantic novels, chic flicks etc).

Now that might sound slightly controversial to some of you. Calling Romance Novels and Chic flicks, female porn. But think about it. As a generalisation, guys are visually stimulated, females are emotionally/relationally stimulated. But I’m not writing on my opinions about porn and it’s social and unsocial acceptability (especially in Christian circles). [And that was a little bit of a controversial comment to initiate thought, not to begin to get legalistic about it! Because there is nothing wrong with enjoying romantic novels or movies, it's more a question of what are you putting and allowing into your life and how does that change how we think and feel].

Seriously reading Pride and Prejudice (which I love and am not saying is a bad book, it is amongst my favourites) when I am feeling a little sorry for myself can completely make me feel fairly depressed. Even more so when I realise that Mr Darcy is a fictional character and I’m highly unlikely to find someone like him or Mr Tilney or Captin Wentworth or even Jim Halpert for that matter, that fit’s their literary perfection.

Now the reason I’m writing this is because it’s definitely not just me. What is it about today’s culture that makes me see, as I scroll down on my tumblr feed, the words of someone highly depressed and admitting to cutting or thoughts of suicide because they don’t have a boyfriend. Obsessed with the fact that she is single and so desperate that she is sharing it with hundreds of people she doesn’t know on a social networking site. Or even the fact that we have a relationship status information box that is essential to facebook and often one of the first things looked at when facebook stalking.

And why is it that often when I am asked, ‘do you have a boyfriend’ when I respond with ‘no’ I get a pitied look.

Just because I don’t have a boyfriend doesn’t mean that I am to be pitied. I am perfectly happy without a significant other and don’t feel that I should be depressed because of my singleness. Why is my life any less rich because I am not intimately sharing it with one person?

Now in this please don’t hear me say that singleness is something that we should be aiming for, or that marriage or a relationship is the ultimate either. I am saying that life is life. And we need to support one another in whatever stage, place or relationship or lack of relationship we are in.

So some of you might be thinking, yeah but if she remained single her whole life then she wouldn’t think the same. You know what, I would.

Why does marriage or a relationship have to my life’s goal? Just because society says so, because Christian circles show and tell me that it should be something I am running after, because clearly at 22 I am running out of time (sarcasm intended). (The amount of peer Christians that are married or have paired off in youth and young adult groups, sometimes makes me feel highly alienated in my singleness, especially in the Church).

Fairly certain as Christians we should be following Christ’s calling (which is abundantly clear in the Bible). Love God and love our neighbour (amongst loving the poor, oppressed, other Christians and supporting one another in our walks for the briefest overview). Fairly certain the Bible doesn’t say, look for a husband, look at every guy you see as a potential because your life is hollow without one. A little contrary from the Christian novels I grew up reading and so many books I see in Christian bookshops.

And as Christians I firmly believe we shouldn’t be following society in believing that relationships, money and possessions (ie. finish school, go to uni, get married, get an awesome job, buy a house, have children, retire and enjoy life) is what it is all about. All those things are good but if that is all it is, what are we really living for?

Now as I think of my grandparents and their constant questions of ‘do I have a boyfriend’ I have a slightly different understanding because of context. They have come from a generation where without a husband, ends were so much harder to meet, life for women was about getting married and having children. But as a woman in today’s society, educated, employed (well almost), financially independent and lets face it quite wealthy I think things have changed.

I don’t want to be pitied because I’m single. Don’t tell me I have to be depressed because this is where I am at. Being single isn’t about getting an unlucky hand, some of it is just the way it is, some is my decisions.

I choose not to look at every single guy I see as a potential husband. I am not hunting for a boyfriend. I am trying to treat my male counterparts as I would like them to treat me.

I am not a piece of meat or a sex object to be wolf whistled at. I am a human created in the image of an awesome God. In the same way, guys aren’t pieces of meat, potential husbands cos I just want to have kids, or someone I can dump my emotional bagage on, they are men created in the image of an awesome God.

So, I am not putting my life on hold for my significant other (if there ever is one). I’m not waiting with my life plans. I’m not going to sit on my couch waiting for a boyfriend whilst life passes me by. I am trying to follow God in my singleness and I have an abundance of freedom because of it. (I have way to many travel plans at the moment to let a guy interfere :-P).

And my question for the Church, in regards to feeling that the Church almost teaches (whether with words or without) that being single is like purgatory (an agonising place of waiting) is, isn’t our strength in our diversity? The diversity in age, race, singleness, marriedness, work and passions is what makes so many small parts become such a strong whole. As each of us can serve in different capacity’s and support and encourage one another in that.

As a single person I would like to be better supported in singleness. No more of these sermons on when your single don’t fall into temptation, don’t look at porn, don’t this and that. What about instead, in your singleness why if you are, are you craving a relationship? What is that underlying thing you feel is missing? Intimacy? Someone to come home to at the end of the day? kids?…. all of which I have heard as reasons for people I know wanting to enter into a relationship. It can so often not be about the guy but just meeting these needs. The teaching should instead be on how can we nurture and encourage one another in seeking ways in which we can have healthy intimacy amongst peers. How to develop community in which you do have someone (lots of people) to come home too. The different ways in which we can be a part of children’s lives and nurture children even if they are not our own.

And lets face it that doesn’t just need to happen for the people who are single. What about the people who are married and lonely in their marriages because they haven’t got many friends? Or the mothers who are feeling overwhelmed at their work load on top of looking after the kids? Or fathers in the same situation for that matter. What about the elderly who feel that they are useless and nobody wants to hear their stories or listen to them? Or what about the child who is neglected?

Support for each and every one of these feelings and situations can come if we work together, involve ourselves in each other’s lives. Have healthy relationships that encourage, uplift and support us in our situations. And as Christians I believe that we are called to this. Called to the people on the margins, socially, mentally and physically. *

So since we can solve so many of our problems by opening our hearts. Let me love you like a brother, not a lover, and you as my sister, not my competition and through our platonic love bring a little more of God’s Kingdom to earth.

*This doesn’t give the excuse though to blame the Church because these needs haven’t been met. That is not what I am saying. Rather let us begin to be that change.

About Marita

I am currently studying social work as well as living in community, trying to do my part in bringing God's Kingdom (a beautiful renewal of this messed up world), learning guitar, reading many books, drinking far too much tea, finding creative expressions to capture and share beauty, working out my values and how to live by them, trying to grow vegetables, listening to music, empathizing with the pain I constantly see around me and finding joy in the small and big things... just to say a little bit about myself anyway.
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14 Responses to Life without a significant other

  1. blackingoutthefiction says:

    The Church community definitely needs to redress the “single and sad” routine. It’s such a strong culture that is simply not shared in the same way anywhere else I’ve encountered. It made me want to despair when I was seventeen and single. I can laugh at it now but it had a powerful effect. I was incredibly depressed because my life was not conforming to the way in which the Church prescribed it ought to be. It was very damaging.

    I really like this; “As a single person I would like to be better supported in singleness.”
    I totally agree. I am far more happy and sure of myself as a single person than I was in a relationship, and I feel that there is no system of “rewarding” people who are single, ‘cos our culture is geared towards rewarding people who reproduce. So it’s all enagements, weddings, kids christenings, mothers and fathers day, blah. There should be an ‘international single people’s day’. YES!

    It’s kind of funny because marriage is not even an option for me, for multiple reasons. I am so happy to be in a community that treats single and non-single people the same. It’s not even an issue. And now I go to weddings and can actually be joyful for the people (with a healthy amount of cynicism) and be joyful for myself because I’m doing my own thing.

    I feel sorry that you have to put up with this pepetual nagging from your family and friends for you to fulfil a role that has been artifically constructed for you. I have struggled with this massively as well, although my audience has been less vocal. I’m glad that you’re strong enough to (tactfully) tell them where to go!
    I love you.

    PS: At some point though, I’m going to take you up on the whole “female porn” thing. Ha.

    • Marita says:

      Thanks for sharing Heather! and for your encouragement. And please do take me up on the female porn thing. I’m still working that one out myself so would love to chat about it. X

  2. blackingoutthefiction says:

    PPS. I love reading your blog. It’s like having a really good conversation with you, which we don’t have often enough.

  3. Anne says:

    Great article Marita. Life fits different patterns for each one of us, I am very happy with the life choices of my two children who are married, but equally happy for Mark as he waits for what God has in store. Yiur article made me think of a very different dilemma here without the choices for women. I know a lady without children through no choice of her own. I am frowned on for only having three! I cannot imagine the shame she is put through. I do think I am different because of being married because of so many rough edges being smoothed. However, marriage is not the only way this can happen but I do think people who remain single for a long time need to be intention in recognising this need, that is not 22 years old!
    Love reading your thoughts, hope you don’t mind it coming from an old lady! (50 is retirment age here)

  4. Peri Auburn says:

    I love this Marita, you have definatly hit the nail on the head with what you have written. I am always shocked when people act like there is some sort of, I guess ‘social stigma’ attached to being single.
    I have found this predominatly in Christian circles and coming from a small town the attitude was rife. The amount of times I cringed inside when asked if I had a boyfriend and when I replied ‘no’ had the reply of ‘poor you’ or ‘its okay…I am sure there is someone out there waiting for you’. Gah.

    I had this same epephany when I was about your age. I loved being single from then on and had no relationship plans (hence yes since then, I met someone fell head over heels and now fit all the steriotypical life catorgories you have mentioned) but I was quite happy being single with the knowledge that God plans all our lives and IF there is someone out there I will meat him in HIS time, but if there is not some one out there, I know God will have had a plan that there wasn’t and the main purpose of my life was to live to serve God and his purpose and in doing that I would find contentness.

  5. David says:

    So why should you, or anyone, ever get married? If all the ‘needs’ that are sought in romantic relationships can be addressed communally, is there no value in marriage at all?

    I do sort of agree with you, and my question is genuine. I don’t believe however that the concept of marriage would exist of there was no unique and inherent value to it.

    • Marita says:

      Firstly this blog wasn’t at all a commentary on marriage. It was more of a sociological and cultural observation from my experience of life on the issues and thoughts about being single. It’s a good question though and I’d encourage you to think through it. I’m still very much nutting out what I think about marriage and what that means. But I really think marriage is about a lot more than just meeting needs and therefore has a ton of value. If we just get married to tick some boxes, well lets just say if that is what it is, I don’t want it.

      The reality of this world, especially as a Christian is that statistically 50% of Christian women won’t get married. So for some of us (and I am not trying to say this is or isn’t me, I’m just quoting statistics) the reality is that marriage isn’t and won’t be a reality. What about those women? What about those Men who won’t get married?
      There has to be another option rather than the depressing, woe is me approach, and there is. Somehow though I don’t think this option is ever going to rival the current cultural obsession with relationships (because if history shows us anything, it won’t change).

      Now if your comment was more on the marriage vs partners debate, I’m not getting going to go into that. I’m one for preferring to initiate thought and engaging in discussion (which in my opinion the internet allows for more controversy and ranting than discussion. Therefore I am very aware that there is a delicate balance when writing things as I have in my blog and responding to comments and I try hard to keep it in a good balance).

  6. nice, love it. my opinion – yeah agree with it all and am rather happy for you. good place to be. I think ‘agape’ may describe ‘plutonic love’ better. Now to nail it to the doors of churches! hehe (-sim)

  7. Elke says:

    Hey Marita, I came across your blog somehow by chance ;) And I really love your article! Wooow, I haven`t thought about calling movies like “Pride and Predjudice” a kind of “female porn”, but I think it´s an awesome expression for what it does with us as women … I´m really struggling with those romantic-dream-movies and they aren´t helpful at all for singles I guess… Thank you for sharing it! In Germany it´s a kind of the same, although we normally don`t marry that early compared to Australia, I think! But at the age of 25-30 it become more difficult to meet an awesome christian guy who isn`t in a relationship. I´m with you Marita and I pray for a change in the society and the church!! Keep it strong my sister in Christ!! Lots of <3 Elke

  8. Radiance says:

    I don’t know you, but thank you for this entry. The pressures, both spoken and unspoken, got to me so much that I have purposefully avoided churches with people of my age group (20 somethings.) I don’t want to fellowship in groups where we are essentially encouraged to see each other as potential life mates. But, there is no escaping, even at my now mostly elderly church, each time a new somewhat young-ish single male walks in I feel obligated to think, “this might be the one” and it prevents me from freely forming a bond or friendship with that person because of the worry that I have that it may (or is supposed to) veer beyond the platonic and I will be forced to consider marriage and if I don’t, I am guilty. LoL, I know I sound very neurotic, but I can’t help it! And these fears end up plaguing me so much I cannot properly focus on the opportunities and goals I have as a single person let alone on church LoL! Oh and families with kids…I scolded myself for being bothered by that too because of the “model” they set up at church, and right when I was getting over that: the lady with children said “we’ve got to find a godly husband for you.” AHH!!!

    • Marita says:

      I don’t know you but thank you for commenting! It’s really encouraging for me. I hope you can stay strong in finding happiness in your singleness and find people around you who understand that. And if you can’t find those people, then maybe that you’ll have the strength to gently share and encourage the people who already are around you to attempt to understand and support you.

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