Why I’m happy being “self-partnered”
Nothing piques interest, or sparks debate, more than a chat about relationships. It’s up there with Brexit and choosing not to have children on my list of Things Not to Talk About with Extended Family Members.
So, it’s no surprise that when actress and activist Emma Watson coined a new term for singledom in a recent interview with British Vogue, people had a lot to say. Discussing turning 30 and not yet having children, Watson stated that, despite the enormous social pressure still faced by women, she felt comfortable with her single status, describing it as “being self-partnered”. (Whether you’re a fan of her terminology or not – I’m on the fence – it’s worth noting that it does make sense in the context of the interview.)
Even megastar, UN Women Goodwill Ambassador and university graduate Emma Watson has felt pressure to ‘meet the one’ and define her life by her romantic choices. Here’s a woman with an extraordinary list of accomplishments under her belt and even she, Hermoine-bloody-Grainger, can’t escape the bullshit narrative fed to single women.
Of course, GMB presenter Piers Morgan waded in with his usual guff (as is his way whenever the topic turns to a successful woman having done/said something) and suggested “self-partnering means you can’t get a bloke, right?” Charming.
Now 34, I have been single (on and off) for the best part of a decade. And while there are times I’ve struggled with this reality, it’s not because I’m concerned – to half quote a line from the famous singleton, Bridget Jones – that I’ll finally die alone and be found three weeks later half-eaten by Alsatians, but because I genuinely do think true love exists (I’m nothing if not a typical Libra). I just don’t believe that it’s my life’s sole purpose to find it, or that I am missing something because I’m unattached.
For me, relationships are like opting for extra guacamole on a burrito – a nice add-on, but not crucial.
My life is not short of love. I have wonderful, affectionate friends, a brilliant housemate and a great family. A romantic relationship, be it a partner or a marriage, would simply be the cherry on a cake that is in a bakery I designed and built my damn self.
So, for the likes of Piers Morgan to suggest that those who are happily single (and vocal about it) simply “can’t get a bloke” is frustrating, unnecessary and downright rude. I’m tired of being asked why I’m ‘still’ single like I’ve failed to catch up with my peers. I’m done with being reassured by well-meaning relatives insisting that the right man is just around the corner. I’m irritated that “you’re too great to be single” is still seen as a compliment when I should be applauded for not settling for something not meant for me.
And I say all this not because I’m masking some deep-rooted sadness that I’m on the shelf and putting a “positive spin” on a “negative” situation (the fact that Morgan sees this as a negative situation says way more about his self-esteem than it does about mine), but because I am genuinely happy with my single status. That doesn’t mean that I’m not open to a relationship (I’m actively dating) but I refuse to buy into a narrative that encourages me to feel lesser.
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In a new series for Northern Soul called The Gayby Has Landed, Hayley-Jane Sims writes about being pregnant in a pandemic, being a mum in local lockdown, and LGBT parenting. northernsoul.me.uk/the-gayby-… @HayleyJaneSims #PregnantWoman #LGBTQ @canalstmancs pic.twitter.com/pBufKztQWx
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We just discovered a local chippy that delivers. It is gloriously Northern - dishes include spam fritters, black pudding, Carrs pasties, chips/cheese/gravy (a single dish, that one), pineapple ring, rag pudding, chip muffin and, um, battered Mars Bar. What a time to be alive.