Dr. Karin Anderson Abrell
Single Shaming: 3 Reasons Why It's a Much Bigger Problem Than You Think
Think single shaming's no big deal? Think again…
If you've flown solo for any portion of your adult life, you've experienced it—the raised eyebrows, invasive questions, and not-so-subtle insinuations that there must be something wrong with you. Because otherwise, you'd be coupled up like everyone else.
And now we know what to call it—"single shaming."
Single shaming affects us more deeply than we might think. Read on to see the profound and pervasive influence of single shaming.
1. Dependency. For some, single shaming leads to an overwhelming sense of dependency. Buying into the fallacy that we're "nobody without somebody, " we feel inadequate and incomplete without a significant other. We evaluate our self-worth based whether or not we're in a relationship, thereby handing over an enormous amount of power to another. If he/she loves and accepts us, we're okay. If not, we better find someone who wants us—STAT! How disempowering and sad! But hey, at least no one's shaming us for being single!
2. Fear Based Decision-Making. Single shaming also clouds our judgment. We dismiss our instincts and lose sense of who we are and what we truly want from a relationship in efforts to sidestep the stigma of being single. We stay stuck in mediocre—or even downright cruddy or abusive—relationships just to have someone around. We take back cheating exes and close our eyes to repeated indiscretions because we're so afraid of being alone. We marry the wrong person. We have affairs. We get divorced but rush into another marriage with the same screwed up dynamics—all to avoid single shaming.
3. Settling. Some of us get so weary of single shaming we finally cave to the pressure. We figure, "My expectations are probably unrealistic. Let me just find a decent person and make it work." And sure, maybe you're okay foregoing the fireworks and resigning yourself to a "good enough" marriage. But what about your partner? How cruel is it to walk down the aisle and declare vows to someone who thinks you're head-over-heels in love, when in reality you're settling? Here's where we see an insidious ripple effect of single shaming. It coaxes you to live a lie—but at least you know it—whereas your partner remains in the dark.
Single shaming may not seem like such a big deal until you dig deeper and examine the dependency, fear, and settling which results from those raised eyebrows, invasive questions, and not-so-subtle insinuations. From this angle, single shaming looks pretty darn serious.
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