I went to a party recently, and almost everyone I met assumed that I was either already dating, had my sights on a particular person, or was looking for someone. It was always an interesting exchange to navigate with someone I had just met in a dark, stuffy room where we had to yell and over-articulate to catch what the other person was saying.
The five stages of realization:
- “ARE YOU SINGLE?” “Yes.”
- “Oh. Are you interested in someone?” “What?” “ARE YOU INTERESTED IN SOMEONE?” (you’ve gotten the gist of it, I’ll stop the all-caps) “Um no, not really.”
- They give me an entendu glance, thinking they understand what I’m getting at. The next step is they either offer to be a one-night stand/hookup/no strings attached whatever, or they insist on introducing me to a friend who “would be perfect” for me.
- “I’m not looking for anyone or anything, I’m just here to enjoy myself.”
- “What do you mean you’re not looking for anyone or anything?” Incredulity, insistence that I do not know what I want, attempts to prove me wrong or claims that I’m hiding something (yes really) generally ensue.
Of course, not everyone is like this. But more often than not, particularly at parties, this is how things go. I’m still trying to understand Stanford’s relationship/hookup culture. I still haven’t figured out why it’s almost always assumed that I am either in a relationship, still reeling from a breakup, or looking for either a no-strings attached situation or a partner. “Single” seems to be understood as “looking to mingle” or “hurt and bitter and wary of everyone.”
What if I’m single because I choose to be? Not by default or because I’m still recovering from a bad breakup or prioritizing academics (though these are all very valid reasons) but because I just prefer to be? There are so many reasons I could give to explain why I’m single and am not looking for anyone or anything without being dead-set against relationships or hookups in general. But the thing is, I shouldn’t have to list them. I shouldn’t have to justify my personal life being the way it is – if hookups, relationships, one-night stands, ambiguous somethings are accepted without a second thought, why is my single status prodded, questioned and doubted?
I hope this mentality will change. I, for one, might start asking more interesting questions at parties. Someone’s opinion on pizza with pineapple, whether they can quote any poems and the weirdest thing they’ve ever been asked is much more interesting to know than their relationship status and the reasons for it.
Contact Axelle Marcantetti at axellem ‘at’ stanford.edu.