Why singlehood is underrated
It’s all about figuring out what makes you happiest.
Chinese singles in Singapore may have dodged a bullet this year with the new restrictions on Chinese New Year visits.
Without it, there probably would have been a double-whammy of an otherwise usual extended barrage of questions about relationships from relatives and the self-loathing from spending Valentine’s Day alone.
Even without societal pressures, almost everything under the sun — Instagram, Korean dramas, pop songs — glorifies being in love and how life isn’t complete without a significant other.
The fear of missing out only gets worse as we get older, where marriage is the key to significant parts of life such as getting your own flat (before 35). Those looking to start a family might start seeing themselves on a timer while scrolling through post after post on social media of their former classmate’s child.
There’s no sugar-coating it. Singlehood can be painful. I should know, I’ve been single for the past eight years (thanks ex!).
Yet, at the risk of sounding like a hokey self-help book, I realised over the years that how much being single sucks depends on how much we accept it as a conscious choice. It boils down to whether we are happy with where we are in life — and that is definitely easier said than done to achieve.
It gets easier to accept singlehood as a choice when it is seen as underrated. Once there is the freedom to choose, being single or attached might not matter as much anymore because of how liberating it is to be able to make decisions.
So as a fellow single probably spending Valentine’s Day on Netflix, here are three reasons why being single is underrated and how they can play a part in developing self-happiness.
1. It’s easier to make independent decisions (like spending Valentine’s Day on Netflix)
Singaporeans tend to be conflict-averse. Dissatisfaction tends to be expressed through passive-aggression rather than direct confrontations.
From where to eat, to where to spend a Saturday, every decision can be scrutinised by the significant other and by ourselves. It’s a problem that couples can work on… or it can be a problem that can be avoided altogether.
That is not to say that singles should just be listless with their decisions. Everyone has responsibilities to family, friends and, most importantly, themselves. However, that does not mean there shouldn’t be room for more idyllic activities from time to time. Some of these would probably be difficult to have within a relationship, such as a weekend (or three) playing video games or gorging down The Office for the sixteenth time.
Even the tiny independent decisions are underrated. Last-minute meetings with friends are possible. Last-minute requirements to work overtime don’t have to be haggled and justified. You could go out on casual dates with anyone, oftentimes meeting people that are completely out of your social circle.
Perhaps most importantly, you could eat anywhere you want, even if it’s the same nasi padang store again and again.
2. Constant room and reason to improve yourself
Attached or not, there will always be a need to improve. However, it’s not too uncommon to see friends start gaining weight or quit their hobbies after they get attached either. Having a significant other can feel “complete” and sometimes that gets too comfortable.
Sure, happiness can come from being attached but it’s often inexorably linked between the pair; you’re happy if they are happy. Being single presents a unique opportunity to truly discover what self-happiness means, while having more than enough time alone to work it all out.
For those adamant about chaining their happiness to being attached, self-improvement often improves the odds of eventually being in a relationship too. Yet, there might be much more satisfaction in knowing that any improvement made is for ourselves and ourselves only.
It is this constant quest of self-improvement that will make it easier to be happier no matter the relationship status.
3. Being single in Singapore can feel like being outside of the system
A lot of stock is put into pushing Singaporeans into marriage. The earlier, the better; hopefully it’ll solve our population issues someday.
There’s nothing wrong with remaining in a relationship but not getting hitched. However, that would mean losing out on all the tax advantages and subsidised prices for flats. Singapore may become the world’s most expensive country to break up in for couples who have applied for a flat.
Maybe it’s just my cynicism speaking but the idea of being married in Singapore feels cold, mechanical and necessary — like having to complete 10 years of compulsory education and two years of National Service.
Couples in love will kill two birds with one stone with the clear pragmatic advantages of marriage here. However, for other couples, it also leaves room for confusion between pragmatism and actual connection. The divorce rates in Singapore have seen a steady increase over the past few years.
Singlehood isn’t easy in Singapore. Eateries hardly have individual seats. Promotions and activities often come in pairs. To live life having to navigate societal pressures and couples determined to take up every escalator and walkway.
Yet, I wouldn’t have things any other way.
There’s little room for rebellion in Singapore and, frankly, I think remaining single is one of the few remaining (petty) ways to do so.