It’s February. This means you survived Christmas and New Year but here comes the big one for singletons, Valentine’s Day. I would hate for you to think my life is made up of being unconvincingly straight and railway-station-based break-ups. Usually I’m just plain single.
You will be impressed/unsurprised/nonplussed/indifferent to know that I have been single for almost three years now. That’s proper single, no dates, no intrigue, no nothing. Or rather… yes nothing, if you’re a stickler for grammar and sense.
When you are single people seem to worry you might not be able to conduct yourself as a normal person. Couples are put on edge by your solo presence at a table, as though you might at any point leap upon it and break into an Alanis Morrissette number now you don’t have someone to put their hand on your thigh and whisper a soothing “shhh, poopsie.” I promise you I would never do that (without being asked) but if I did I would totally sing this Alanis classic.
And quite frankly is it any wonder single people might be a little on edge. Every day is like Valentine’s Day. People who happened to meet their significant other (or other half, or honey, it’s been a while but as I understand it terms such as partner, boyfriend or husband are now, seemingly, forbidden) at yoga, suggest you join an online dating site.
A loved up pair, the nicest thing you could say about whom is that at least they’re not spoiling another couple, pity you. Out loud.
That’s fine, you might think, I shan’t be fettered by their narrow definition of what it is to be a successful and happy young woman. But AHA! This is where you’re wrong, you Bridget Jones clone. Everything is pitched to the paired up, and not just come February.
OK so the tax breaks for married couples are no longer go. But it still seems like everything else is tipped in favour of duos.
Unless you have a huge freezer, food shopping as a single person is daunting. The meat section of any supermarket is constantly blocked by single people staring at the bargainous 3 for 2 deals of family packs of chicken and trying to remember how much space they have in their one shelf freezer. Which is none, because it’s full of ice cream OBVIOUSLY.
Nobody seems to believe that not only can single people cook, but they also hold themselves in enough esteem to cook for themselves. The supermarkets would have you believe it is all single people can do to turn the microwave on for their ready meal for one without crying. Perhaps they think health and safety terms such as ‘Sell by date’ and ‘shelf life’ are a little too close to home.
According to recent statistics people who live alone make up 34% of the UK’s population. Yet every advert seems to be skewed towards couples. Advertisers' stabs at humour seem to focus on the heterosexual stereotype of nagging girlfriend with messy boyfriend.
If you can’t turn to someone on the settee and affectionately say: “that’s you, that is” as you nod to the dude on TV struggling to flush the toilet chain as his girlfriend indulgently shakes her head, then the message is that somehow, you’re the unlovable one. That dude can’t even flush the chain but at least his lady loves him. Even worse, you know as a single woman you are kind of supposed to point to the TV and say: “THAT, that is what I want!”
There’s a reason there is no celebrity perfume on the market called Unlovable, it’s not something people tend to aspire to. Unless of course they’re the crotchety old next door neighbour in a family film where they will learn the error of their ways and their icy heart is melted.
Beyonce didn’t call her perfumes 'Independent Woman' or 'Single Lady' because the stink of single (I don’t smell single, I smell of Thierry Mugler Angel, which no man likes) seems to settle alarmingly quickly and nobody’s buying it. Specially not for their beaux. That’s why there are so many his n’ hers perfumes.
I’m not bothered about being single on Valentine’s Day, because even if I were in a relationship I wouldn’t celebrate it. To me tokens of love should be spontaneous and personal. Little trinkets bought because they reminded your partner of you, not because it’s that day a red rose purchase is mandatory. I am not saying I wouldn’t accept a big gift on Valentine’s Day (specifically – just in case you were wondering – THESE) just that I’d mean it when I said “Oh, you shouldn’t have.”
I am bothered about being single all the time because it is treated as such a freakish social (or asocial) status. Advertising, shops and social networks encourage twosomes to be so relieved they aren’t alone that they should splurge on cards, flowers and chocolates.
How about instead of announcing your love to everyone else with big gestures, you just turn to them and say: “Dude, I love you, and not just when MoonPig.com tells me to, always”. I think that would make Valentine’s a lot more bearable for everyone.
Squeamish Kate likes red wine, oysters, long walks on the beach and old taxidermy. If this sounds appealing, you can tweet her at @SqueamishBikini