Being Single Is the Default

Thinking that love can be found externally is a sign of a broken culture

Kelly Tatham

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Photos: Kelly Tatham

Amatonormativity: the widespread assumption that everyone is better off in an exclusive, romantic, long-term coupled relationship, and that everyone is seeking such a relationship.

I am many things, and perennially single is one of them. In my 15 or so “eligible” dating years, I have never once been in a long-term relationship. That’s right. Six weeks. Six weeks. Six weeks is usually about how long it lasts.

New Year’s rings in with kisses on the cheek. Valentine’s Day is spent drinking straight from the bottle with whatever sad excuse for a romantic film is playing that year. Dinner parties are exercises in quelling my jealousy over cuddling couples contributing one dish between the two of them—because, wait, I’m going to bed alone and I have to pay double on party expenses? Cool. Cool cool cool.

I show up to holidays and parties solo, feeling more or less fine about my status until it is brought to my attention that something is wrong. “Are you becoming a nun?” family members ask. “Don’t you get lonely?” friends inquire. I understand they’re not trying to make me feel bad, but what they don’t realize is that they force me to lie because social gatherings aren’t the place to fall to my knees crying, “I’m trying. I’m trying. I’m trying.”

I would just like us all to come to terms with the fact that we’re born alone and we die alone.

Have you noticed that our culture is so married to marriage that we have a body part named after it? An entire body part dictates that monogamous partnership is the default—that all humans possessing a neighbor to their left pinkie finger must be in want of a wedding ring.

Yet, marriage historically has been a tool of oppression. Gay? Marriage isn’t for you. Mixed-race couple? Dream on. Female? Ha. Welcome and good fucking luck.

Look, I get it: Modern marriage is different. Husbands are taking their wives’ names. Emotional labor is being discussed and (allegedly) split. The concept of the stay-at-home dad almost isn’t novel anymore. Who cares if marriage evolved out of business partners and…

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Kelly Tatham

Fugitive. Systemsthinker. Saving the world is easier than we think. There is no world // kellytatham.com