Opinion: The Math of Being Single

Crystal Jackson

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We have a society that seems to be pretty abysmal at math. Hey, I’m not one to talk. I hate math. I was never good at it, although I improved considerably when dollar signs were added to equations. But there seems to be this unspoken math in our society when it comes to relationships, or the lack thereof.

If we don’t have a plus-one to accompany us to events, we are made to feel like a big, fat zero- as if our own selves alone don’t count for much. Apparently, we have to walk the world in twos, or we don’t really count at all. It doesn’t matter if the one we’re paired with is a big minus, taking from us and contributing little.

Somehow, a relationship gets valued more than a single person. For instance, longevity in relationships or marriages is equated to success as if quantity were a more important measure than quality when it comes to our most intimate relationships.

Does anyone else feel that this just doesn’t add up?

Being single doesn’t actually say anything about us other than we don’t have a significant other. That one fact doesn’t tell us whether or not the single person is single by choice or by lack of options. It doesn’t tell us whether or not the person is happy or fulfilled. It’s not a measure of love or loneliness. It doesn’t even tell us anything about their lives. It’s a statistic that means little, and yet we count it to mean so much.

Since my divorce, I’ve been encouraged so many times that I will find someone--as if that is the only focus of my life. I’ve gotten assumptions directed at me that I’m too selective or too bitter, too feminist or too outspoken, or just plain too something to be in a relationship.

Then there are those who assure me that they will relieve me of this burden as if the fact that I’m single means that I want to be paired with anyone who will have me. I even get tips from people in relationships who would be better served to focus on the quality of their own relationships than worrying about the lack they see in mine.

Recently, a former lover called to say he’s just fine. I was flummoxed by the call, as it was unexpected. I was also tired, recovering from a late night out the evening before with friends. I wasn’t up for chit-chat with someone who has shown little consideration for my feelings to this point. Anyway, the point of the conversation was to tell me just how much he’s thriving, and he seemed to assume that I, by contrast, am miserable and struggling in these months since I ended our relationship. While I didn’t disabuse him of the notion, I did hang up the phone at the end of the call puzzled at the assumption.

I enjoy being single. There are many benefits, which I could enumerate here but won’t. Simply put, I’m deeply enjoying my life. There are times when I miss certain people or certain parts of being in a relationship, but I feel that I’m happy more often than not. I certainly don’t feel less valid for being on my own. I find it odd that others have this worldview.

The math of being single in this society is just wrong. Our culture has written the rules, and they are adding up one and one as two, which is correct. But they’re adding up one and zero as zero, which isn’t. We are simply one. Single. On our own. This statistic says nothing about us, and yet others are drawing so many conclusions from data that is inconclusive.

We don’t need a plus-one to matter. We don’t need to be paired to count. We matter. Our perfect single selves count.

Originally published on Medium

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Crystal Jackson is a former therapist turned writer. She is the author of the Heart of Madison series and a volume of poetry entitled My Words Are Whiskey. Her work has been featured on Medium, Elite Daily, Thought Catalog, The Good Men Project, and Elephant Journal. When she's not writing, you can find her traveling, paddle boarding, cycling, throwing axes badly but with terrifying enthusiasm, hiking, or curled up with her nose in a book in Madison, Georgia, where she lives with one puppy and two wild and wonderful children. Crystal writes about relationships, mental health, parenting, social justice, and more. Never miss an update. Subscribe to emails: https://crystaljacksonwriter.substack.com/

Madison, GA

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