The actress Emma Watson brought attention to singledom, not simply by saying that she is happily single but by naming herself as “self-partnered.” I have to tell you, the fact that I’m a dating coach aside, I love this. It acknowledges the fact that being single can be a choice — and a valid one at that.
Too often, society puts undue pressure on people — particularly women — to find a partner. Anything short of that seems incomplete. I beg to differ. While most of my clients come to me wanting a partner, I truly believe that you need to be a complete person on your own first. Rarely do people take the time to explore that side of themselves … the side that has to occupy their own time, find the things that truly make them happy, and live a life not of yearning but of content. This is what Emma Watson is showing us, and I’m glad.
Another now-famous person who is embracing her singledom is none other than the Bachelorette herself, Hannah Brown. In all of her recent interviews, when asked how her dating life is going (Is she dating Tyler Cameron, the runner-up on her season? How about Alan Bersten, her “Dancing with the Stars” partner? Maybe even Nick Viall, the Bachelor old-timer himself?), she responds that she’s focusing on herself right now… as she should.
Whether the best term is “self-partnered,” “happily single,” “in a relationship with myself,” or just plain “happy with myself,” I’m glad stars are shedding light on the fact that it’s not just OK to be without a partner, but you can thrive that way.
Does what I’m saying go against my daily job of helping clients partner up? I don’t think so. I think everyone should experience some alone time in life, whether between relationships or just when the time comes, not because they can’t find someone but because they want to live their life for themselves for a bit and know that they are enough. You don’t need another person’s love to validate you, and you certainly don’t need someone else to show you how much you’re worth. We all have value — single or in a relationship. The more important piece is whether you’re happy with where you are in life.
I get asked daily, partially because I’m a 38-year-old woman and partially because I’m a dating coach, “Are you married yet?” or “Are you still single?” There are so many assumptions wrapped up in these questions, especially the use of the words “yet” and “still.” These two seemingly innocuous words imply that there is a one-size-fits-all way to live, and that is to find a long-term partner.
But as we’re seeing with millennials and younger generations, that assumption is getting flipped on its head. There is no straight path. In fact, it’s that path — or the mere pressure to be on that path from family, friends and strangers alike — that often leads people to be miserable or lonely, even when they’ve found “the one.”
So, good job, Emma. Despite the cheeky hashtags and memes that now exist about being “self-partnered,” I’m glad you’ve shown people that living and loving a single life is not something to hide. It’s something to embrace and honor.
Erika Ettin is the founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps others navigate the often intimidating world of online dating. Want to connect with Erika? Join her newsletter, eepurl.com/dpHcH for updates and tips.