All those falling leaves may be beautiful, but — for single people — autumn and winter are some of the worst seasons of the year.
As the summer sun becomes more and more elusive, the ads for online dating sites go into overdrive. Meanwhile, for others, summer romances turn into longer-term coupling, and the pressure increases for single people to quickly find a mate to keep them warm during the colder months.
Some call it "cuffing season" and, to be frank, the idea is a bit ridiculous. Although being single can be refreshing, liberating and positive, it's still viewed by many as a condition that needs a cure. For proof, look no further than the many typical remarks that infiltrate discussions about dating on social media, reality television, in pop music and even in dating profiles:
"If you're single, it's really because there's something wrong with you."
"Life is meaningless and purposeless without a special someone."
"Once you reach 30, it's already too late because all the good ones are gone."
"Single people are desperately lonely."
It's about time that everyone understand that there's nothing wrong with being single, dating around, having multiple partners or having no interest in romantic relationships whatsoever. We should celebrate singledom, not stigmatize it, and the first step to doing so is by cutting out these 11 statements from convos with amazing single friends:
1. Why are you still single?
This is the worst question anyone can ask a single person. More often than not, no one knows the answer (unless, that is, they've made a conscious choice to remain single). But this question also implies that everyone wants to be in a relationship, and that not having such an aspiration indicates something's off about the person. That's not only insulting, it's also not true.
In fact, single people comprise more than 50% of the U.S. population, and as many as 5% of Americans engage in consensual non-monogamous arrangements. Keep that in mind before assuming that most people want to be coupled up.
2. Maybe you'd be happier if you were in a relationship.
As the American divorce rate is only getting higher, it's evident that being married or being in a long-term relationship doesn't correlate with happiness. One's happiness doesn't depend on another person, per se, but on how the nature of that person's relationship with others. Enjoying the company of colleagues, friends and family is deeply fulfilling, and doesn't involve intense romantic entanglements.
3. Your job won't keep you warm at night.
Neither would being in a relationship just for the sake of it.
When people say this, they're likely expressing that it's important to have a healthy balance between one's professional and personal life. But not everyone is single because they're spending endless hours at the office. Perhaps that person finds both fulfillment and happiness in their career, and it's not a bad thing for them to enjoy what they're doing — even if it means dating isn't at the top of their current priorities.
4. Have you ever tried downloading one of those dating apps?
OKCupid. eHarmony. Match. Tinder. Grindr. Dattch. Scruff. The list goes on and on.
More often than not, this question comes off as patronizing. Ask any single person and they've heard of at least a few — they weren't born under a rock. Chances are they're on those sites and haven't yet found what they're looking for. Or they gave it a good sporting chance and decided to just enjoy being single. There's nothing wrong with that.
5. Perhaps you should lower your standards.
This would be a different conversation if someone had a very specific combination of hair, eye, weight, racial/ethnic or income preferences that disqualified all but a very select few, and often for all the wrong reasons.
Although the intention behind this statement might be that someone should expand their horizons for an ideal partner, one shouldn't assume that a single person hasn't given considerable thought to their shortlist of essential qualities in a potential mate.
6. Do you think you come off as too intimidating?
Most people don't walk around stone-faced all the time, unable to crack a single smile or carry on a polite conversation. Sometimes it's not even about attitude: Some singles get remarks about their career success, money, beauty, talents or other qualities possibly being too much for others to handle, and that they should consider downplaying them.
No one should ever be told to diminish who they are just to make others more comfortable.
7. Maybe you should stop trying so hard — just let it happen.
It's perhaps one of the biggest platitudes about dating. Much of what happens in life doesn't just occur out of sheer dumb luck, but when opportunity and preparation are also part of the equation. No one can really "prepare" to date (if that's what they even want to do). For the most part, it's about individuals just showing up to each moment being exactly who they are and positioning themselves in environments where they could meet other new people.
8. Special occasions and holidays aren't the same when you're single.
Although romantic relationships can offer support, love and affirmation, being coupled up isn't essential to enjoying special occasions. No wonder we've internalized that message, though: Cue every single love song that cries out some form of "I can't live without you," especially as it relates to birthdays, Valentine's Day and even Christmas.
The most recent example comes by way of Kelly Clarkson's "Underneath the Tree." She sings, "I was lost before you. Christmas was cold and grey, another holiday alone to celebrate." But everything suddenly changes once a special someone comes into the picture.
There's nothing wrong with expressing complicated emotions of vulnerability and desire, but people can still be happy during any time of the year while being single.
9. You'd be more confident if you got a makeover or lost more weight.
Going shopping for new clothes and shoes, getting a new haircut, putting on makeup and trying out some useful style tips can be fun and even liberating for many people. But to suggest a makeover, regardless of whether or not the suggestion is unfounded, usually implies that a single person's issue is that they just don't appear beautiful and dateable to other people.
If someone's going to modify their appearance, ideally it would be for expressing their creativity and individuality, mirroring their best self to the world around them. But it can be self-defeating and a huge put-down to tell someone they should change just so other can like them more. There's quite possibly nothing wrong with them in the first place.
10. Maybe you should just be yourself.
Who said the single person isn't?
There's a logic at play in this statement that suggests all single people are shrinking violets who don't believe they're interesting enough for anyone to date, let alone befriend. If the person is more of an introvert, they may just feel more comfortable having conversations or sharing parts of themselves in settings optimal for their personality.
What's more, even some people in relationships have self-esteem issues or present a false self to attract the person they're with. It's a much better idea to accept people as they are.
11. How could anyone not want a romantic relationship?
Not everyone wants be coupled up. Maybe now just isn't the right time, especially if a single person is undergoing major life transitions, has ended another relationship on a bad note, or simply wants to enjoy singledom. Perhaps the person is asexual and feels just fine with the support of trusted friends and family. Or they could be non-monogamous and enjoy casually seeing multiple people.
Everyone has their reasons, whether they want to find one mate or not. Whatever they are, respect that person's individual choice. And only intervene or offer advice on their terms.