November 20, 2019
The “S” Word and Why the Term “Self-Partnered” is a Bad Idea

We can’t control what’s out there, but we do have a say in what we tell ourselves internally and it’s not by merely replacing one word with another.

by Binky Bee
Issues // Relationship
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If you don’t live under a giant rock, you’ve probably seen or read about the Emma Watson Vogue interview, in which she stated that she’s happily single. She’s so happy in fact, that she coined a new term for being single, “self-partnered.”

So the internet reacted the way it has always reacted whenever a celebrity says or does something remotely worthy to talk about: they argue about it on Twitter, as well as the comment section of Instagram and YouTube. The haters came out of the woodworks and started spewing vitriol against the Harry Potter actress, which prompted her supporters to overly defend her, saying that she inspired them to be happier about their singleness because they’re not really single, are they now? They’re “self-partnered”.

I’m sorry – I have nothing against Emma Watson, but as someone who is 40 and single, can I just say how stupid the term “self-partnered” sounds? Seriously. Think about it for a second here. First of all, since when is “single” considered a bad word? I never got the memo. I have been single for over a decade, and I have never had a problem with that word. And think about it for a second. If you say there’s nothing wrong with being single, yet you refuse to call yourself single, doesn’t that mean you think there’s something wrong with it?

What is so wrong about admitting you’re single anyway? I’d much rather state that I’m single than use the term “self-partnered.” Single really only means you’re not married or not in any serious relationship. How is that a bad thing? There’s no law against that. Not being married or in a relationship does not automatically make you a bad person.

Self-partnered however, in my opinion, has this connotation of being a tad selfish – because a partnership should involve at least another individual. Saying that you’re self-partnered implies that you don’t need anyone and you can do everything yourself, and that you live only for yourself. On the surface, it sounds like empowerment, but, if you really think about it, it’s downright self-absorbed.

Yes, you don’t need anyone to make you feel happy but you should want to live for others too. We are social beings and we should want to contribute to our society. We do not grow in isolation, after all, we grow in community. As the saying goes, “no man is an island.” When you partner with only yourself, you are of no use to anyone else. You are a world of one, and the thing about being in a world of one is that you have very limited vision, and you become small-minded.

The first few years of my singlehood, I was “self-partnered.” I was so absorbed with myself, with what I want, what I require, what I desire that I became an angry, petulant, selfish, and ignorant child, always demanding to get her way and unable to see things from a different perspective.

Also read: Dear Men, Stop Persisting: We’re not Interested

That’s not the way to be single if you ask me, because it will only leave you lonely and empty. And then you blame the stigma around the word “single”, so you decide to adopt a different term just to make yourself feel better.

Here’s an idea: instead of changing the word “single,” which doesn’t really have a negative connotation if you don’t look at it negatively, why not change your perspective of the single life? Being single does not and should not mean that it’s just you alone in the universe. Your spouse isn’t and shouldn’t be the only person worth spending and investing your life in. Nor does being single means you’re just busy swiping right to finally find that perfect someone to spend the rest of your life with.

What it means is that you can spend and invest your life in so many things, especially because you don’t have that spouse who demands your time and attention. Stop waiting for a spouse to finally free you from your miserable single existence, and instead start using this season to do something amazing with your life.

Write a book, learn a new language, start a business, whatever you want to do you actually have time to do it. Or, you can just chill, read a book, binge-watch the many, many, new shows premiering on Netflix or HBO Go or Amazon Prime. Or, you can travel the world. Or get 8-hour sleep. Or be involved in a cause you’re passionate about. Volunteer in an organization of your choice. Build safe houses for abused children in remote parts of Indonesia.

It’s all a matter of perspective. How do you see being single? As a season of loneliness and desperation, or as a season of opportunities, where you get to make a real difference in the world?

The danger of calling yourself “self-partnered” is that you may fall into the trap of only thinking about yourself. When you do, you start blaming everyone for putting unnecessary pressures on you, and you end up hating yourself and the world around you.

I’m not saying that society doesn’t have its share of the blame. It definitely is hard out there for us single people, always having to dodge questions and explain our status. Not to mention the look of pity people give us, as if being single is the worst thing that can happen to a person.

We can’t control what’s out there, but we do have a say in what we tell ourselves internally. And it’s not by replacing one word with another that doesn’t even make sense, it’s by changing the way we look at that word. “Single” is not a negative word. It’s just a word.

You’re single. So what?

Binky Bee is an author, freelance copywriter and a self-professed TV junkie. When she's not working, writing or watching TV, she's usually taking care of her four cats and (now) one dog, or stealthily creeping on celebrities on Instagram. Binky Bee lives in Jakarta, Indonesia but dreams of moving to Montreal soon so she can get universal healthcare.