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Saturday, 15 October 2011

They know where they can stick their stereotypes!

I've been doing a lot of reading lately, in the name of  'Research' shall we say. I have trawled the internet, read magazine articles, watched a little bit of  TV, rented movies and even spent many an evening engrossed in Sex And The City whist drinking copious amounts of wine. And why? You ask. I have done this to learn more about my fellow single people and the stereotypes that are thrust upon us. It has also been a search on my behalf to ensure me that I am not part of a dying breed (I am not, I am happy to say)

In my findings, I am pleased to note, I have learned that there has been some real positive attitudes to women who are alone and live in a single household. Be they single parents or childless. Within some articles it has been celebrated as a life choice made by women, or, yes, as a circumstance which may have been forced upon them, but which they have coped with with an admirable amount of courage and dignity. In some cases, when these women were given opportunities to change, they decided that they were perfectly happy as they were, and didn't want to change a thing, and I think this can be commendable. If you are happy as you are, why change?
But I did find some other articles which held less favourable attitudes to the single person. One in particular that made me almost laugh with its 'views'.
This article claimed that people who lived alone never took out the trash. They were easy to spot in the supermarket with their beers and TV dinners in their baskets. They had piles of laundry, but rather than do the washing they just bought more clothes. They grew to like their singular status after awhile but their life revolved around work, they were lonely and rarely had visitors and they mainly used TV and Internet as their form of entertainment.
I personally would love to invite the writer of this article round to my flat for dinner. I would cook them some of my homemade veggie lasagne and then offer a glass of wine. I would invite them to have a good look around at my little pad, and they will find that, no, they do not have to step over the mountains of mess. That, nope there isn't an overflowing bin in the corner. That, what a surprise, they don't have to hold their nose to hide the smell of the laundry that is growing by the day. And lo and behold, there isnt a tv dinner (or ready meal as we call it in Blighty) in sight. They would notice a clean, tidy, relitively well decorated flat that has the things I love in it, which is colour co-ordinated and a reflection of myself. Yes they would have to eat their freshly cooked dinner on my futon or armchair, as I don't have a dining table. They will also notice that my bed is in this room. This is because I live in a studio flat, and that is due to the inflation of costs which makes me unable to afford anything bigger. It is not because I am a lazy sod who cannot be bothered to move from room to room. Yes I live alone, but not because I am an anti-sociable freak, my diary will prove that, but because I was damned lucky to find an affordable studio which meant I didn't have to enter into a houseshare with a bunch of strangers. My fridge and freezer are well stocked with a wide variety of things. That yes, ok, I own a TV, and a computer, but my life in no way revolves around them. They would no doubt note that I don't own a washing machine, as we are not allowed them in our flats. But this in no way hinders my ability to get the washing done. He or she may try to strike a conversation about what has been on TV, and I would  have to tell them that I never watch soaps so couldn't even begin to say what was going on in Eastenders, that I have no clue who is in X-Factor, that I have never watched The Only Way Is Essex, and that I don't throw a hissy fit if I miss Location, Location, Location. I will most probably also be forced to appologise as my phone goes off. I do recieve texts, and more than the odd phonecall. It is actually probable that I had to put off a family member, or a friend, from coming round to enable the writer of the article to visit in the first place.

 I would be honest with this person and tell them that I found their article amusing, but also a little offensive, and I would be curious to where they got their inspiration from anyway. In my personal experience, and by drawing on that what I have found from people around me, be it friends, colleagues, whatever, this publication is such an inaccurate image of the single person today.
Ok there may be a weekend where us singles don't see a soul, but often this is a rarity, and it is craved as it has been a busy week at work, there have been full-on weekends before this, with seeing family and friends, social events and/or company coming in and out throughout the duration. The phone may be constantly bleeping or ringing, emails need reading, the overdue catch up with someone close is playing heavily on your mind. It can cause the old head to spin! A bit of solitude from time to time can be refreshing.

In my searches I also found the misconception that we are looking for love and in frantic search of our soulmate, whoever that may be. I stumbled across a blog where a man had written about his search for love and the trials and errors on the way. He had gone on to find someone who made him happy and  whom he said completed him as an individual. It was so sweet, but I found this a little sad.
Wow, that is one heck of a responsibility to place on another's shoulders? "Make me happy and complete me."
Surely you should be happy initially, and you already are a complete person yes?
 No?! Oh silly me! I'm obviously having a blonde moment again. Whoops, please forgive me eh?
I have always believed that you need those tools in your arsenal before you even begin to think of sharing your life with another person. Surely you need to be happy within yourself before you can give someone else happiness? You have to accept yourself, warts and all, before you accept another individual with all their flaws and foibles.
In my own experience, and in that of those I have found in my research, single does not equate desperate. Whilst one is in their singular status, they are not sat at home wallowing in grief and seaching through the Lonely Hearts Column in the local paper. Us singletons are not confined to weekends of TV dinners for one whilst talking to our cat (I personally don't have a cat, or any pet FYI). We are able to meet our own needs successfully (well most of the time) and although, yes, it is darned difficult when you watch all your peers pair off, get married, have babies etc whilst you have no-one to call out "Honey I'm home" to when you get in from a stressful day at work (especially when you have come out of an unsuccessful and painful relationship yourself) you can take comfort that you are capable, self sufficient and independant.  Even if this article was a tongue in cheek joke from start to finish, it wasn't really that funny. And the mere suggestion that we are contemplating jumping off the window ledge like as suggested at the end of of said article that inspired this post in the first place? Oh please?! As If!! That was the only part of the 'joke' that was so laughable I honestly almost wet my knickers!

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