(I’ve been pretty active on Twitter lately, and one of my favourite feminist website, Magdalene, been discussing a lot about single shaming. So, here’s my take on it)
I’m 24, and I have never been in any kind of relationship. Yup, you read that right, any kind of relationship, including casual ones. I’ve never even been close to someone. I’ve never held hands romantically, I’ve never kissed anyone, I’ve never been intimate with anyone. Never. And no, I’m not aromantic or asexual.
When people ask me about my love life, I usually just shrug and say “It’s nonexistent” and most of them would react by saying “Huh? What do you mean? Did you just break up with someone?” as if having a nonexistent relationship is not normal. Sometimes they even try to dig my past by asking about my puppy love or the one that got away whatsoever, and my answer would remain the same: it’s nonexistent!
I remember having a dinner with a bunch of colleagues, and as the night grew darker and the alcohol grew stronger, we started to talk about sex and relationship. I was just there in the corner trying to relate to the conversation by laughing at my friends’ stories, and trying to get them to talk more to avoid them questioning me. I almost got away with it until one of them noticed that I’ve been quiet the whole time. One of my friends asked, “What about you, Fien? You haven’t said anything”, I almost shrugged like I usually do, but this time I hesitated. Why? Because one of them actually said that they think that someone must be extremely prude and naïve if they’ve never done anything or been in any kind of relationships. So, I just said “I don’t know, I like to keep it to myself”
Another time was when I went out with another group of friend, and they brought up similar topic. I told them that I’ve never been in a relationship, so, there’s no use of interrogating me. One of them asked me “But you’ve at least kissed someone, right?”, and I swear, at that moment I was lost. My heart said no, but my mouth said “Of course I have”. I used to always feel pressured to say yes to their questions. To the point where I lied back in school about having relationships with someone outside my school. Yes, single shaming happened to teenagers too.
I think it has something to do with how our society perceives relationship as an obligation. If you’re not in one, then you’ve failed in life. You’re not wanted. You need to grow your hair. You need to wear more make up. You need to shave your body hair. You need to groom yourself to look more appealing. In my experience, almost nobody gave me a normal nod when I told them that I’ve never been involved in any kind of relationships. I wish to have a normal reaction the next time I tell people that I’m 24, never been close to anyone in a romantic way, never held hands, and never been in a relationship. It’s not my time yet.