December 17, 2013 by nooffensebut
Back in 1984, when I was a 4-year-old enjoying the single life and Strawberry Shortcake, a group in Ohio launched National Unmarried and Single Americans Week, which takes place next week. Eventually, it fell by the wayside (they probably all got married) and was resurrected within the last decade by the Glendale, Ca., organization Unmarried America. The organization is a nonprofit focusing on the interests of unmarried adults “as employees, consumers, taxpayers and voters,” according to the website.
The point of the week, and of the organization, is not to say single is better or to disparage marriage. Founder Thomas F. Coleman himself is married and said he believes in the viability of the institution. It’s simply to say that those who are unmarried, either by choice or by circumstance, should not be discriminated against.
This all snowballs into a lot of Big Issues including housing, health insurance, adoption, next-of-kin rights, etc.
There are social stigmas to not having or putting a ring on it as well, from “no bling, no bring” wedding date policies, to the charming and not uncommon exchange that goes a little something like this:
“Are you married?”
“Well, that’s ok, you have time. How old are you, honey?”
Yeah. Lovely. Thanks.
So in honor of the upcoming celebration, I decided to survey people to find out what they either like or miss about being single.
“I can do what I want, when I want, without having to accommodate a boyfriend’s/fiance’s/husband’s/or kid’s schedule,” one friend told me. “Not having to check in someone or share my finances with someone means I’m able to spend my time and my money the way I want, volunteer when I want, donate to the charities I want. Me. Me. Me. I. I. I. Not too shabby, if you ask me.”
No, ma’am, not too shabby at all.
Others mentioned sleeping in the middle of bed, having full control over the remote, not having to check in with anyone, being able to walk around unshowered on weekends, no need to justify alone time, being able to cook (or not cook) as you choose, leaving the toilet seat up, listening to music all the time, setting one’s own schedule, playing video games, and being able to hit the express line at the grocery store more often than not.
And yes, there are great benefits to being married or in a relationship as well. Once again, it’s not about one being better than the other. The whole point, Coleman said, of National Singles Week, is to remind a marriage-obsessed society as a whole that “single people are your neighbors, your coworkers, your family members, your community volunteers and so on. Think of us as equals, not as some poor group to be pitied,” Coleman said.
Interesting observation: Some peers who are either engaged or have been married for less than a decade were eager to defend the joys of partnership, as if to speak at all in favor of the single life would be to malign matrimony. One was such a Pollyanna that I kept hearing Hayley Mills’ voice in my head. (And Hayley Mills’ voice does not go with his face.)
On the other hand, acquaintances who have been married or partnered for longer periods of time, were comfortable admitting that yes, sometimes there are things to miss about being on ones own.
I particularly appreciated the honesty of one friend, married 20 years, when I asked if he missed anything about being single:
“Sex,” he said, with a shrug in his voice, “I don’t know.”
Originally published Sept. 17, 2010 in the Chattanooga Times Free Press