Michelle Atagana
Michelle Atagana

Why the hell are you single?

If you’re young, independent, bright and single you’ve probably been asked the question: “why the hell are you single?” For the unattached average 20-something this is a question that plagues your existence. For some it is a constant reminder that you are indeed without a significant other, for others who consciously chose the single life it’s an irritation and for those who have very busy schedules the question is a waste of time and an inconvenience.

A recently divorced colleague of mine asked me the other day where I go to meet guys; my response shocked her because I burst into fits of laughter than actually answering the question. Where are the right places to meet people? A club? Really? Is the height of inebriation the best quality one wishes to examine when picking a potential partner? Or do you attempt to deduce if that person is worth a pursuit after painstakingly deciphering every third word they say because the music allows for very little conversation? Perhaps physicality is your first port of call so you judge based on the amount chemistry between you as your bodies gyrate on the immensely packed dance floor? Maybe a shopping mall then, while you are picking out perfume or lettuce your eyes meet and the rest as they say is history. Does that sort stuff actually happen to real people who have not been carefully created a storyteller’s pen? How does the saying go? People worth meeting or is it of good breeding don’t meet in bars they are introduced? I can’t remember but if the dating relies solely on introductions then we have some problems on our hands. So where do you as a young, independent, working class, single 20-something go to meet people? Truth is I haven’t the foggiest hence my laughter at the question, I fall into the third category of people, I have to pencil in ‘Eat Something’ in my day planner so I will take a moment to eat. I am a grateful insomniac because it helps me keep up with my work. The closest thing I have to “being on the prowl” is the gym and let’s face it’s not an ideal setting for romance.

If you are too busy to meet people, friends and family will decide to set you up because that’s the only way they can get you interested in the dating game. Have noticed how attached people have this burning desire to set up their unattached friends? You get constantly badgered about ‘Mike’ who is successful and intelligent and so your type. So how does one decide on this type thing? We check lists and tick things like: lives at home, doesn’t have job, doesn’t have a degree, laughs funny, bad breath, shifty eyes, never watched Lord of the Rings, doesn’t know what a book is, and doesn’t tweet. Granted some of the things on our lists are somewhat valid, but others are just plain preposterous. We have come up with ridiculous standards that we expect people to meet; when sometimes we ourselves can barely cut it. Yes we should never settle and we should hold out for the best thing but the best thing might come with shifty eyes. Society has groomed us to have these standards and we are far too set in our ways to compromise.

If you by some miracle find someone who checks all the right boxes on your list, hooray for you but then you face the minefield that is dating etiquette. Who calls first? How many days should you wait to call back? Who gets the bill on your first date? Do you go dutch? Assert your independence? I feel so bad for guys trying to navigate the politics of bill-paying; where are the lines between being a gentleman and a chauvinist? Do you offer and let her decline or accept or do you wait to see what she does? How many dates till the first kiss? How many dates till sex? How many dates till you’re in a bonifide relationship where you are responsible for each other’s feelings? There are so many questions that the entire process is a Q & A. There are too many rules and far too much pressure to follow them. I mean who made up these rules anyway? Who decided on the right dating etiquette? Is it the guys who write the dating books? Because I want to know who died and made them the authority on the matter.

In answering the question: “why the hell are you single?” because people are far too busy, their standards are ridiculously high, they got lost in the minefield of dating etiquette and society really has left them no choice.