I wish there was a solution, an easy fix, a polite way to explain to people that this question is rude and annoying as hell. A way to get people to understand that this question, rather than coming off as courteous small talk, is actually coming off more as “So what is wrong with you? What is the exact, specific answer as to why you are single? To be your age and not be in a settled, committed relationship means something is weird about you, and I’d like to know what it is.”
People think they’re being complimentary. “I can’t believe no one has snatched you up yet!” Nice, right? But what it feels like is: “It’s crazy that you’re alone, and rather than it simply being a result of a series of events that occurred in your life that just so happened to not include finding a mate, it must actually be a result of some characteristic about you that makes you undesirable to those looking for a life partner.”
Why can’t you just be single because that’s just the way it fucking is right now?
Why does there have to be a reason, an explanation, a piece of information that suddenly makes it all make sense? What are they honestly expecting you to say? Do they want every single part of your life story so that they can have some small hope of possibly processing the distressful fact that you are in your twenties and are still – dear God – alone?!
No one wants the real, true reason why you’re single. They don’t want: “Well, I was in a relationship for two years and we thought maybe this was it but in the end it just didn’t work out and they moved to the other side of the country and we wanted different things and I cried for months and was depressed as hell and now I’m here and I’m open to meeting someone but it just hasn’t happened yet.”
Or “Well, I’m on Tinder and OK Cupid and Hinge and every other app you can think of and once you actually sort through all the dudes who are just sending dick pics and asking if you are looking for something ‘casual,’ there’s not a huge selection left or any guarantee that you’ll find someone in that selection that you truly connect with.”
Or even just “I’m not sure yet exactly what I’m looking for when it comes to my love life or if I’m interested in having a love life at all right now, so I’m just focusing on other things and will deal with that part of my life when I feel like it.”
No, subconsciously, they don’t want nor are they prepared for those answers. They’re expecting something simpler, like, “I’m focusing on my job” so that they can give you an easy solution like “Work isn’t everything.” Or, “It’s just hard to meet people” so that they can say “Just put yourself out there more!”
Most of the time, these people don’t have bad intentions. Either they just really do want to see you happy with someone, or they’re just nosy. But innocently-intentioned or not, it’s still tiring, tedious, and intrusive as fuck.
It’s not going to go away, unfortunately. It’s an age-old question that starts popping up the minute a woman is around 22-years-old. Because although society has progressed quite a lot when it comes to women, we still have a long way to go. Sure, women are succeeding in the workplace and in politics and in entertainment and all sorts of areas. But we’re not even close to being there yet. We do not think of women and men as the same. As far as we’ve come, people today are still confused if a woman is not married and beginning to start her family during her peak fertility years. We think we should be worried about her, and her life choices, and her happiness. We think we need a very specific answer as to why she is still by herself and how that could possibly be a good idea. Sure, women can work and have careers but only if they are also mothers and wives, too.
You’re probably never going to be able to stop these questions, or to find an easy solution for avoiding these conversations and these people altogether. But what you can do is remember that you don’t owe a damn explanation to anyone. There’s nothing wrong with you, there’s nothing weird about you, and there’s certainly no obligation for you to put someone else at ease about your situation.
You’re no different from your married friend or your engaged friend or your friend in a committed relationship. They just happened to meet a specific person in a specific place at a specific time and their odds worked out. And yours haven’t – yet. Maybe you will meet someone, maybe you won’t. But in the meantime, keep being “still single” and don’t ever feel the need to apologize for it.