single is not the social stigma it used to be.
I teach a university class which looks at what it means to
be single in our society, and the first point I make is that we
who are single must not let society label us as misfits, undesirables
There is a general perception
that unattached men and women, particularly those who have never
married, must have something wrong with them. 'But why haven't
you ever married?' is the question they're constantly asked.
The usual assumptions are that they're gay, weird or unattractive.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The students
in my class are vibrant, intelligent, good-looking, all ages and
both sexes. Sure, there's some bitterness about broken relationships
and lost friends, where that applies, but that's to be expected.
Not all of them want
to be attached. That's another common myth that all
single people must be dying to get married, or meet someone special.
Marriage is no stroll in the park, as those of us who have been
there can attest to. There is a lot to be said for running
your own life and looking after yourself. Men in our society
can have marriage and fully pursue their careers, but women are
still somewhat disadvantaged when it comes to professional freedom,
especially after they become mothers.
When I ask my students
what are the advantages and disadvantages are of being single, the
main advantages quoted are freedom and variety, and the main disadvantages
are loneliness and not having someone to share the good and bad
times. Sexual deprivation too, is regarded as a major drawback
but I always remind them that sexual satisfaction is a personal
responsibility. If single people are willing to get out and
meet each other and possibly form casual liaisons, that's one way
to go; if not, then they must look after themselves sexually.
Keeping in mind that
sexuality is a general human impulse, there are other ways for it
to be expressed besides intercourse and/or orgasm. Sexual energy
can be rechannelled into creative pursuits, spirituality, music,
art and positive work. 'Frustration' only features when we
focus on what we're not getting in life, and very often, people
who continually complain of sexual frustration are those who are
not in harmony with themselves. If orgasm is desirable, then
sex aids are readily available, or there's the choice of using a
Celibacy is not only
for nuns and monks these days. Many are opting for it as a
way of life because of AIDS and the breakdown of relationships.
Staying single, and seeing that as a positive state and remaining
celibate, is an attractive package for many who don't want to risk
their physical and emotional health. I'm all for people making
their own choices and doing what feels right. One note of
caution don't stay single and celibate just because you're
afraid of being hurt. Taking risks of all kinds is what keeps
us alive. When we're crippled by fear, we're already dead
even if we're still breathing. There is no security outside
ourselves and only by giving up the false attempt to control our
lives can we find true security and peace.