This past week, many Americans celebrated Valentine’s Day, an annual event designed to sell lots of pink and red cards and flowers and make single people feel left out. My, but it’s festive. Having been single most of my life (until Mrs. Curmudgeon made the bafflingly masochistic decision to marry me), I know all too well the grating annoyance of this dreaded date. I also know the wave of relief that many single people experience when, after weeks of being assaulted by ads for all kinds of dumb, allegedly romantic gifts (as well as descriptions of coupled-up friends’ romantic Valentine’s Day plans), that blessed day—February 15th—arrives, and everyone finally shuts up about the whole thing.
Some single people relish their unspoken-for states. Some do not. Some are ambivalent. But I would hazard a confident guess that no single person enjoys the stupid things that non-single people say to them—the advice, the “encouragement,” the theories, the platitudes, and especially those ridiculous statements that seem to suggest that people with mates are somehow more evolved than those who are without. And usually, these are offered completely unprompted. Here are some of the helpful insights I endured throughout my many, many years as a single person.
“Don’t worry. You’ll meet someone.”
There is no scientific basis to this idiotic prediction. There is, however, proof of the contrary—many folks never manage to find mates. Now, some people would call that a negative statement. And grammatically speaking, those people would be right. But it is also an accurate statement. (If one is opposed to statements of negative truths, one will have a great deal of difficulty with instructions on parking signs.) The point is, sans proven psychic powers, no one should ever make such a reckless promise to someone who is alone.
“There’s someone out there for everyone.”
Please, for God’s sake, see above.
“It’ll happen when you’re ready.”
Let’s examine this one. What does “ready” mean in this context? Does it mean one has “found” oneself? Reached a higher level of understanding? Does it mean that, prior to finding a mate, the single person simply has too much to learn, and is therefore rightly denied the elevated status of having a romantic partner? Well, jeepers, that’s a bit haughty, isn’t it? That suggests that those who have found mates possess a superior level of self-awareness, or spiritual enlightenment, or cosmic excellence . . . or some such.
I pose for you the following puzzle: What of those who find mates, then separate from them, thereby finding themselves single once again? Were they ready, and then . . . not ready? What exactly is the math on this one? Oh, I can guess: “They weren’t really ready. That’s why it didn’t work out.” I see. And what about those who are widowed? Did their spouses die because the surviving partner wasn’t ready for a real relationship? You see how nonsensical this theory is, and how insulting?
“It’ll happen when you’re not looking for it.” Again we have another desperate attempt to construct a false sense of universal order where none exists. The Curmudgeon has personally met several couples who met through dating sites. Were they on those sites not looking? I’ve also known people who stopped looking . . . and still didn’t meet anyone. So, come on now. Let’s use our brains, may we?
“You have to put yourself out there.”
You people can duke it out with the “It’ll happen when you’re not looking for it” idiots.
“You have to love yourself first.”
Here’s another convenient crock of malarkey. Oh, how very pithy: “You have to love yourself before you can love someone else.” People who crave mindlessly simple explanations just can’t resist the rhythmic appeal of this old saw, with its parallel use of the word “love.” The only thing missing is accuracy. If you believe for one blessed second that everyone with a loving mate has a healthy sense of self-love, then . . . well, for one thing, you’ve never met an artist. But they’re not the only ones; plenty of attached people still wrestle with not loving themselves, while many of the unattached love themselves just fine.
“Maybe you’re meant to be alone right now.”
This one may be the worst. What a terrible, thoughtless thing to say to a single person. I guess it stands to reason, then, that poor people are “meant to be poor,” the unemployed are “meant to be unemployed,” and those with abusive bosses are right where they need to be. I don’t often resort to crassness in these blog entries, but under the circumstances, it’s called for. So to anyone who’s telling their single friends that they’re meant to be alone . . . go fuck yourself.
I understand why people say such things. They’re uncomfortable, and want to wrap up their friends’ potentially complex feelings about being single in neat little adages to make themselves feel better. But these hackneyed fairy tales do very little to comfort, support, or encourage the unattached, who can only take from them a sinking feeling that their solo status is some sort of failure or shortcoming.
Fortunately for those who’ve patiently tolerated such misguided and unsolicited counsel, another Valentine’s Day has now come and gone and we’re on to today’s holiday, Presidents Day.
Where does one begin?