How to be single, with Rebel Wilson and Dakota Johnson, begins as a predictable romantic comedy about a 20-year-old woman who moves to New York to “ find herself ” before settling with her long-term boyfriend and bonding befriend a similar 20 something woman at work 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 completely decent man who has his own problems with which he deals.
It is a sensible film about sensible people who make smart choices instead of big romantic choices. The more I watched, the more I realized why this film wouldn’t work in the rom-com space and why millions of single women all over the world would absolutely NOT like the fact that the central director did something radical – she chooses friendship and self-esteem.
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 a man can do and do it better while having looked absolutely fabulous. I am one of those women. I want EVERYTHING – work, 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 a relationship with my family so I figure out some ‘family time’ every day, willingly.
In all of this, there is hardly any time left over to prioritize 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 defenses 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 the one, as defined by society – spinster, unmarriageable, on the shelf, or any variation thereof. Just me. Someone who will do the things according to her, 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 a 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.
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. But being by myself has led me to an astonishing realization.
It’s not a matter of the 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.