Colette Sheridan: Self-partnered or a martyr to lurve and wedding bells?

English actor Emma Watson recently described herself as 'self-partnered'. Here Colette Sheridan reflects on single life.
Colette Sheridan: Self-partnered or a martyr to lurve and wedding bells?

SINGLE AND SATISFIED: Actress Emma Watson has described herself as ‘self-partnered’. Picture: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

IT used to be the case that the ultimate goal in your average gal’s life was to snag a guy, have a traditional wedding and procreate.

But thankfully, we have choices now. We don’t need a man to help navigate us through life. And having children, for many, is a lifestyle choice. It takes a celebrity, ‘though, to put a gloss on being single. While I (a committed singleton) don’t see the state as being a social failing and I would never ruefully moan about ‘being on the shelf,’ there are women who feel they have to put a positive spin on singlehood.

There’s the English actress, Emma Watson, who has described herself as ‘self-partnered’ which means single and satisfied with that status. Remember Gwyneth Paltrow announcing her split from Chris Martin as ‘conscious uncoupling?’ It’s like these celebs must always look like active agents in their lives, never admitting to being a victim or an unfortunate. Which is grand, but a little tedious.

Here in non-celeb land, the usual narrative is that we get dumped or we can’t find The One. It’s about time women looked on the bright side of being sole operators. That we are vindicated by the likes of Emma Watson, even if she does use an awkward sounding term, is a plus, if you need that kind of affirmation. But some of us have always known that not having rows and sulks when partners disappoint or misbehave is one of the great things we’re avoiding by being on our own. There is no bickering about who’s doing what household tasks, there is a complete absence of fretting about in-laws and how to get through ‘the Christmas’ with them. Heck, you can spend Christmas on your own. (I must be getting anti-social because I could envisage spending the big fraudulent day on my own without any bother. As long as I had lots of lovely food in, I could happily watch the queen’s speech — even though the doughty monarch will hardly mention her disgraceful ‘honourable’ son — and catch up with telly and books that I’ve been meaning to read.)

And now, there is research to show that being single makes your wealthier. Yes, being in a relationship can set you back £3,600. The research, carried out by Lloyds Bank in the UK, claims to have ‘debunked’ the myth of the so-called ‘single’s tax.’ It found that more than 60% of single adults have chosen the single lifestyle with more women (66%) embracing it than men (53%).

It isn’t saving money that makes people choose singledom. It is independence and not having to deal with relationship woes. But the dosh saved from not being hooked is worth looking at. There’s the large number of single people in their fifties and sixties, many of whom have paid off their mortgage and have lower outgoings.

Also, single people are better off because they’re not under pressure to spend big money on presents for Christmas, birthdays and anniversaries — not to mention Valentine’s Day expensive gestures. However, on the downside, single people save less, according to the survey. It’s possibly because we don’t have someone to confide in about our spending and saving habits.

The research also showed that Christmas is one of the times of year that people find it hard to be single. But that’s just because of the way Christmas is built up and portrayed in advertising as being all about snuggling up to one’s partner. It’s a complete con job.

Every year, the media features articles about domestic violence being on the upsurge during the festive season. It’s a time of pressure, pressure to be perfect and pressure to spend money you don’t have. No wonder it can result in rows and in some tragic cases, violence.

Living ‘happily ever after,’ is a myth. It was created about 400 years ago when lifespan was less than forty and people had few choices in life. Now, we have plenty of choice. People can have several meaningful romantic relationships and a number of marriages — if they’re that optimistic.

When it comes to love, many people are suckers. The Lloyds Bank survey found that just under half of all singles aren’t content. They want to be in a relationship. Oh yeah? Lots of heartache generally follows and you don’t get to eat all the caramel sweets from the tin of Cadbury’s Roses. It’s a no-brainer, really. Unless you’re lucky enough to have a harmonious relationship, you’re setting yourself up for much strife in the land of coupledom.

No man is an island, granted. But there’s a lot to be said for navigating life with friends, family and your own company as opposed to constant compromising for one’s partner. Let 2020 be the year of conscious singledom!

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