Hello world! I'm Shelby, and although I've now been in a long-term relationship for many years, I spent my life perpetually single up until my early 20s. This means I didn't date in high school and 75% of college. I also wasn't having sex* during this time.
*When I say sex, I mean P in the V intercourse. There are obviously many different types of sex, but as a straight woman this was the kind people really seemed to harp on the most while I was single.
Being single well into your 20s and 30s — or even longer — is perfectly normal, actually pretty common, and nothing to be ashamed of! Still, I spent most of my adolescence and early adulthood being treated like an alien, fielding endless inappropriate comments and questions. Here are some of my least favorite from that time in my life:
1."Your standards are too high/You're too picky."
This one came quite a bit, and the most upsetting part is that more often than not, it came from my close friends. I think what bothered me the most about these comments was that my standards WEREN'T that high! I was literally just looking for human decency and respect. And, apparently, no one was able to rise to that occasion until I turned 22.
No one should EVER be forced to lower their standards for the sake of companionship, and I truly feel like I saved myself a lot of wasted time pursuing things with people I knew wouldn't give me what I was looking for.
2."You're just shallow."
This was also a common one I got from my friends, normally after I mentioned that I didn't find a particular suitor they suggested attractive. Like, I'm sorry??? Let's not pretend that physical attraction isn't important for a lot of people. It mattered to me then, and it matters to me now. There's nothing wrong with that.
Mind you, my friends would tell me this and then in turn refuse to date someone shorter than them.
3."How are you still single???"
I legitimately never knew how to respond to this question. "Um...why don't you ask the people who rejected me?" I understand that this one often came from a good place and was generally meant as a compliment, but it always felt a little backhanded.
Plus, I always felt the need to explain that being single isn't a big deal!!! I loved the time I spent being single. I learned so much about myself and got to make decisions based on me and me alone. That often changes once you get into a relationship.
4.And the follow up to that question: "But you're so smart, pretty, etc."
Again, meant to be a compliment, but really just drags out the convo even further. Let's put it to bed.
5."Why don't you just give [insert random person] a chance?"
I truly got this one from all angles: Family, friends, coworkers, the list goes on. And it drove me absolutely bonkers. If I wanted to give the male coworker hitting on me in the break room a chance, I'd do it. Rest assured.
Plus, I don't think I've ever seen a straight man pressured into "giving her a chance" when it comes to a woman he's not interested in. Just saying.
6."You should just get into a relationship and get it over with."
This one kind of goes hand-in-hand with the statement above, and I always thought it was so weird that people started to view having a significant other as some hurdle I needed to get over in order to be a fully developed person.
7."You should just sleep with someone and get it over with."
I don't have a problem with casual sex. Never have and never will, so long as it's consensual and both parties feel safe.
But none of my own, personal situations happened to reach that criteria until my early 20s. Sue me.
8."You should lose your virginity at [random event]."
THIS ONE. I'll never forget when I was driving to a music festival in college with one of my childhood best friends, and she told me, "You should just find a random guy and bring him back to your tent so you can lose your virginity." She also said something similar when I was about to leave the country to study abroad.
First of all, "virginity's" not even real. Second, she'd known me long enough to know I wouldn't be into that. And third, why the weird obsession with me finally getting it in???
9."Once you're in a relationship, you'll understand."
I'll grant that my first relationship did allow me to access a level of empathy I previously hadn't reached. But, most of the time, this was a comeback to me calling out toxic behaviors and mistreatment I noticed in other people's relationships.
Regardless of me being single, Chad still shouldn't be treating you that way. Facts are facts!
10."Have you tried Tinder/Bumble/Hinge etc.?"
Obviously, yes. I (halfheartedly and sporadically) tried all off the apps while I was single. And although I now have multiple friends engaged to their Tinder loves, my experience wasn't quite so magical. Plus, even if I never used any apps while I was single, what would've been the problem? People don't need to constantly be on the hunt for a relationship every waking hour.
11."I can't believe you're X years old and still haven't dated anyone."
I always found this one so ridiculous, because in the end, I was still very young during this period. Was I supposed to be engaged with a dowry at 19 years old??? Sorry, not my journey.
12."You'd be less lonely if you had a partner."
I have WORDS for every person who decided to hit me with this in my tweens, teens, and early 20s. First and foremost, I was lonely for many reasons throughout my time as a singleton, but lack of a romantic partner was not one of them. My loneliness came from shitty support systems and unresolved trauma. Sorry to say, but no amount random boyfriends was ever going to fix that on its own.
13."Don't you want to find your person/your other half?"
I never understood the philosophy that I wasn't "whole" until I found a long-term partner. I was a whole person before getting into a relationship, I'm a whole person now, and I'll be a whole person should my current relationship ever come to an end. Period.
14.And finally, my absolute least favorite — and probably the most offensive — comment: "You just need to get laid."
The amount of times I heard this leave someone's lips during my single years was CRIMINAL. And it was always based in the idea that finally having sex would somehow "loosen me up" and make me more enjoyable to be around. Not only was this incredibly sexist, but also categorically false. It's not like some part of my personality would automatically deactivate the moment I had intercourse.
And guess what? I've had sex many times since then, and I'm still weird and anxious. Not quite sure what to tell you.