How to be Single, starring Rebel Wilson and Dakota Johnson, starts off as a predictable romantic comedy about a 20-something woman who moves to New York to ‘find herself’ before settling down with her long-term boyfriend and befriends a similar 20-something woman at her workplace and they do what everyone in New York does: hang out at a bar. It quickly turns into something very different. The long-term boyfriend is a nice guy who ends up with someone else, the other guy is a thoroughly decent man who has issues of his own that he is dealing with.
It’s a sensible movie about sensible people making smart choices instead of grand, romantic ones. The more I watched, the more I realised why this movie would not work in the rom-com space and why millions of single women everywhere will absolutely NOT like the fact that the central female lead does something radical – she chooses friendship and self-love.
How To Be Single addresses a key issue that plagues so many people in their 20s and 30s.
What do relationships mean if the first relationship – the one with self – is not settled first?
We women are feminists who want to do everything that a man can and do it better while looking utterly fabulous. I am one of these women. I want to do EVERYTHING – work out, carve out a satisfying and successful career and have a personal life. Not to mention ‘hang out’ with my friends as much as I can. I also want to have a functional relationship with my family so I figure out some ‘fam time’ every day, willingly.
In all of this, there is hardly any time left over to prioritise romance… love. Flirting happens on WhatsApp. Dates are fixed on FB Messenger. And profiles are checked out on a dating app.
The truth is, there are days when the idea of making small talk and conversation that breaks down another person’s defences is exhausting. To do this and maintain your sanity is near impossible, really.
So what do I do?
I choose to be single.
I choose me. But not me, as defined by society – spinster, unmarriageable, on the shelf, or any variation thereof. Just me. Someone who likes to do the things she can while working about 70% of the time. Of course, this doesn’t mean I don’t want a decent man who understands what naptime is all about and who will sit and debate Captain America versus Iron Man and how that speaks to the underlying sexism plaguing society. Bonus points if he possesses a full head of hair and kisses me till my brains melt.
This is why I watch romantic comedies. I still have hope for good conversation and great, everyday romance.
This is also why I am still single. Not lonely. Alone.
Being alone is a grand thing. Not because you get to eat, drink, fart (yes, women fart too) sing, cry, scream and play video games whenever you want, if you so choose. Not because you can travel to Goa, or check into a day spa or whatever fancy strikes you.
But because the weight of expectations, of unfulfilled and unmet desires doesn’t exist. Your happiness is not co-dependent on someone else’s actions or reactions. Your sense of self-worth is not tied to the number of men (or women) who find you hot in bed or the number of dates they take you out on before you do decide to go to bed with them. Valentine’s Day is for eating chocolates and birthdays are for splurging on things you want really, really badly.
Your heart is yours. Unbroken. An unbroken heart gives a peace of mind that an agitated one never can.
Being by myself is this choice I am making every day to put myself, my SELF above all others. To be in a functional, happy relationship with number one so I can go out and conquer all these mountains I have yet to scale. But being by myself has led me to an astonishing realisation.
It’s not a question of learning how to be single. But of learning how to BE. JUST be. Be ok. Be in the moment. Be here with whoever I am with. Be in love, be not in love, just be.
I learn this.
I learn how to be.
And maybe, so could you.