Almost four years ago, I was at a London pub with an acquaintance-friend, just hanging out. We were talking about relationships (both of us were single), and he asked me how many relationships I had been in before. I was 27 then.
“None,” I said earnestly.
His face paled. “…None?” he repeated. “Like you’ve never been in a relationship before?”
“Yep, been single my whole life,” I chirped, while ignoring the grave look on his face. I had been in a couple of short-term relationships up till then, but they were high-school trivialities that lasted no more than 1–2 weeks so they didn’t count. While I had been on dates and had been in budding romances before, none of them culminated to anything, so I regarded myself as always single.
The acquaintance paused. He took a sip from his drink, almost as if he needed to regain composure from what he just heard. Then he said, “You know, take it as a friend giving advice. When meeting guys next time, especially guys you like, don’t tell them what you just told me.”
“What do you mean?” I asked, trying not to look insulted and hurt. “Like don’t tell guys that I’ve always been single?”
“Yeah. Don’t say you’ve never been in a relationship. Give any number, one or two. Just not zero.”
I paused, trying to hide my incredulous look while cautiously piecing together a diplomatic response. “But I’m not going to lie and tell people that I’ve been in relationships when I haven’t.That’s not who I am.”
He shrugged. “Yeah, but if you tell guys that you’ve always been single, it’s not going to help. Trust me, I’m a guy. And I have many guy friends.”
The conversation quickly shifted to something else, but I remembered feeling slighted as a woman when we departed that evening. Lie about my singlehood? Why? Why should I have to hide my relationship history? Why should it be something to be ashamed about? It didn’t help that my acquaintance-friend was a presentable guy in his 30s, which left me wondering if there were really other guys who would think this way too.
Fast forward three years, and I’ve since met and married my soulmate. And no, I never had to lie or present a front, because I’ve always known that this isn’t the right way to attract real love. Games will only get you so far; real love is much grander than that.
Now, while I’m now married, I’ve always remained extremely passionate about helping singles to attract the love they deserve. That’s why I’m currently running a premium course Soulmate Journey to help singles to attract the love they deserve. If you’re a single, you’ve probably been subjected to scrutiny and negative judgment from others due to your singlehood–and I want you to know that I FEEL YOU! As liberal our society has become, there are still many stigmas against singles today I want to burst with a pitchfork. Some are backward; some are plain untrue. Here are seven common stigmas surrounding singles — can you relate to them?
Stigma #1: You are not eligible / undesirable
Have you ever felt that people lessen your worth just because you’re single? After all, everything in life comes in pairs. Our eyes, ears, lips, hands, legs, lungs, and kidneys. Being attached/married has always been seen as the de facto of life. To be single, not so much.
So when people see that you’re single, especially when you’re at or past marriageable age, some mentally discount your worth. Some assume you must be undesirable. Some wonder if there’s something wrong with you causing you to remain single even at your age.
But hey, is this true though? No, not really. Some singles may be single because they are choiceful about who to enter a relationship with. For example, I was single for so long because I didn’t want to get into a relationship with just any good guy, but someone I have a connection with. It took me 28 years to find my life’s true match, and as it turns out, this relationship is the only romantic relationship I need to be in.
For others, they may be prioritizing their careers or self-development currently. Then you have singles may just prefer to be single for now. Just because someone is single doesn’t mean he/she is undesirable; in fact, there are many very eligible singles out there, waiting to meet their “one”!
Stigma #2: You have issues
Here’s the thing, and this may be an unpopular opinion: it is true that some singles have inner blocks that prevent them from getting attached. I shared about my own blocks before in my soulmate series, which included feeling I wasn’t good enough and fear of being hurt. For other singles, their blocks can be past failed relationships causing them to lose faith in love, also feeling they’re not good enough, lack of self-confidence, negative self-image, negative childhood stories, or even their own skepticism about love.
This collective mix of blocks leads to what I call the “singlehood aura” — an invisible “shield” that blocks singles from finding real love. (More on the singlehood aura and how to bust it in Soulmate Journey.)
Now, the problem with this stigma is that it connotes that singles are broken, incomplete beings who need a relationship to be whole, and that they are failures for not being with someone. That ain’t true at all. Not true at all.
When I say “issues,” I’m referring to blocks that any human being — you, me, your mom, my mom, the president, Tony Robbins, Oprah Winfrey — has. All of us have issues to work through, but this doesn’t make us any less complete than others. Single people have issues, attached couples have issues, and so do married couples. Everyone has “stuff” to work through, no matter who you are. (When you consider that there are many married folks out there cheating on their other halves behind their backs, suddenly it’s clear that some couples probably have more “stuff” to deal with than some singles.)
Know that you are complete, and your singlehood isn’t a problem in itself. We are all in our individual paths and some of us attract love sooner while some later. While love will 100% elevate your life to the next level, it starts with you first recognizing you are a complete as yourself.
Stigma #3: Your expectations are too high
It’s good to have high expectations. But when you’re single and past marriageable age, some people, especially older adults, chide you for having overly high expectations. “Stop being so picky,” they say. “Lower your expectations and settle with a decent guy/girl, or you may not find anyone anymore.”
Do singles have overly high expectations? Actually yes, some do. Some have ridiculous ideologies about how their partner should be like, from knowing how to climb mountains, to being witty and able to make them laugh, to knowing how to cook, to loving dogs, to belonging a certain faith. Now individually these traits are sound, but when combined, suddenly it becomes near impossible to find anyone that matches anything on your list.
However, I’ve found that such singles with fairy-tale ideologies aren’t common. Instead, the problem I’ve found with most singles isn’t that they have high expectations, but that they have wrong expectations. What do I mean? Clue: What most people think is what they want usually isn’t what they really want. That’s why they keep having problems finding their ideal mate — because they aren’t even looking at the right place for the right things! Hence, it isn’t aboutlowering your expectations which will only make you miserable in the long run (because you’ll just be “settling” then and repressing your real wants), but clarifying your real wants. (I share more on how to deep-dive and identify your ideal partner in Soulmate Journey.)
Stigma #4: You are high-maintenance/clingy
In terms of relationships, high-maintenance means being emotionally needy and having a lot of expectations. This term is usually used to describe women. Some men seem to think that if a woman has always been single, she must be a crazy, clingy woman when attached. After all, she doesn’t have much relationship experience, so she’s going to be too *into* me after we become attached. It’s going to be difficult for me to break up with her later on. Better steer clear, is what some guys may think. Some may assume that since the woman is single, it’s probably because she is too demanding and hence hasn’t been able to get together with anyone.
Well, I can see truths here and there. Indeed, some longstanding singles can be very independent before a relationship, but suddenly turn the 180 degree and become very high-strung, sensitive, and possessive after getting together with someone. Some singles do have crazy expectations (see Stigma #3) which prevents them from being happy with anyone. Sometimes it’s just a path that one has to get through as he/she works out his/her relationship needs and the role of a relationship in his/her life.
Yet, “emotional neediness” can happen for girls and guys, including those who’ve been in many relationships before. For example, I knew a friend’s friend who would go psycho and tell his friends about how his girlfriend was cheating on him etc. when she didn’t reply to his calls/texts. (No, I’m not joking.) This would happen for each girlfriend he was with, though I don’t know if he has worked through this issue internally. (And he prides himself at being a pick-up artist and teaches men how to pick up women — go figure?)
Clearly, clinginess in a relationship is more dependent on the person than a person’s relationship history. Some singles remain extremely independent even after getting into a relationship, because they had so much space to come into their own prior to getting together with someone. I was never clingy or emotional needy after I got together with my boyfriend / now-husband (in fact I remained quite independent for a while before shifting to interdependence), and it’s the same for my longstanding single friends when they got together with their boyfriends / now-husbands. So, to each his/her own.
Stigma #5: You’re desperate
According to Dictionary.com, desperate means “having an urgent need, desire,” “actuated by a feeling of hopelessness.” In terms of dating, I see desperate as…
- Constantly obsessing to be in a relationship
- Being men/women hungry
- Constantly eyeing for men/women to hit on while you’re out, including when you’re at others’ weddings (and funerals)
- Hitting on multiple men/women (even if you don’t like them) just to increase your chances of getting attached
- Entering into a relationship with someone even when you don’t like him/her, just for the sake of being with someone
- Joining dating agencies, singles’ events, and online dating. These are simply avenues to date and meet people
- Being proactive in seeking your ideal partner
- Engaging a dating coach
- Joining a dating course
- Being open to be set up on dates
Some singles are desperate, yes. But many aren’t. Just because someone is single, and out there meeting singles and joining singles’ events, doesn’t mean he/she is desperate. There’s a difference between being proactive and desperate in love, and it’s time to toss outdated views out of the window including “love should happen naturally” and “I should leave love to fate (and not do anything about it).”
Stigma #6: You’ll be left on the shelf (for ladies)
Now I may be biased since I’m female, but I feel females tend to be more stigmatized for being single than males. It’s really true, especially in Asia.
For example, here females tend to be seen as most eligible when they’re in their 20s, because that’s when they are (a) most attractive (as defined by the society), and (b) more likely to bear children. As they enter their 30s, late 30s, and beyond, they tend to “depreciate” in their value as a mate. It’s why dating agencies in Singapore generally accept females up to their early 30s. (In fact joining *only* when you’re in your early 30s may even be too late because girls in their 20s are preferred due to the above reason.) Older than that and you’ll probably be rejected. It’s not that the agencies stigmatize these women, but that such women simply aren’t in demographics that their male clientele is looking for.
On the other hand, men tend to be seen as eligible even when they’re in their 30s, 40s, and beyond. Think George Clooney, who was constantly named as America’s most eligible bachelor up till he got married last year at the age of 53. There’s Leonardo Dicarprio who, despite being 40, shows no signs of settling down as he changes supermodel girlfriends more often than I drink coffee. And there’s Donald Trump, who married for the third time in 2005 at the age of 59, with Slovenian model Melania Knauss (who was 35 then)!
And should I mention Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy Enterprises, who recently re-married in 2012 at the age of 85? And his wife? She was 25 then, and 28 as of 2015. (She’s even younger than me.)
But, this whole “left on the shelf” thing? I think it’s baloney and should be thrown out of the window, because it’s an outdated view that only creates pressure on single women to marry quickly while young, leading to them being in relationships with someone they don’t love. This later leads to marital troubles, cheating, affairs, divorce, and what have you. (And that’s why you have services like Ashley Madison popping out of the woodwork.)
Yes sure, a woman’s fertility decreases in her early 30s and rapidly after 35. But there are women who have children in their late 30s. And not all couples need to have children; some already have children from previous relationships. And if you’re past the child-bearing age, there’s always adoption, and god knows how many orphaned kids there are out there who can do with a home. Lest you think adoption is only for women who can’t have babies, think again. We have Katherine Heigl, who has two beautiful adopted children with her husband. (She adopted them when she was 30 and 33.) We have Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, who have six children together — three adopted, three biological.
My take is that everyone has a different love journey. Some meet their mate in high school. Some meet him/her in their 20s. Some their 30s. Some meet their soulmate in their 40s, or even 50s and beyond. Just because a lady isn’t attached/married yet doesn’t mean she is doomed to be left on the shelf. There is a love story for every one of us, as long as we open ourselves and take the step to make it happen.
Stigma #7: You’re gay (for guys)
Now this may seem funny, but so many think this way. When you’re a guy and you’ve been single for a long time, people automatically assume you’re gay. In fact, whenever my friends and I meet a guy who’s eligible yet single, the first question that surfaces is, “Is he gay?” (And half the time it IS true!)
Now I’ve gay friends and they are awesome. There’s nothing wrong with being gay. While some gays do pretend to be single (despite having a partner) as a cover for their homosexuality, there are plenty of single men in their 30s, 40s, and older who are straight. Some of these men can be focusing on their careers, working on themselves, or simply haven’t found their “one” yet. So, just because a man is single doesn’t mean he’s gay! Stop harassing the single men and leave them alone!