How to persuade people I am genuinely happy with being single my whole life/how to know if ‘called’.
The prospect of lifelong singleness evokes any number of feelings depending on any number of factors. Those feelings can vary minute-to-minute, fluctuate more gently, or maybe we feel lots of things simultaneously. All that to say, whether you find this question zero percent relatable or 100% relatable, you’re in good company.
When I got this question, the phrasing struck me, particularly the word “persuade.” I think it’s probably an apt word, but it also feels very effortful. Maybe I’m bringing too much of my own baggage to the question, but it brings to mind words like “justify” and “convince.” Being single long-term in a culture obsessed with romance and marriage will seem weird to some people. We might be single long-term by choice and happy despite the challenges. We might be single long-term by circumstance and deeply unhappy despite the joys. Each part of the spectrum has its own perception issues. If we’re unhappy, we might get pity from others or competing advice that is basically the opposite of whatever we happen to be doing. If we’re happy, our friends might not understand how that can be.
When it comes to persuading people that we are happy, I have two questions. The first is about context. Who are you trying to persuade? Are they close friends or dumbfounded acquaintances? The second is about effort. How much energy do you want to devote to this? The answers to those two questions will determine how to approach the situation.
Let’s say the person who doesn’t believe you are happy is a good friend. Perhaps they keep nudging you to date when you don’t want to. Mayhaps they keep bringing it up like it’s something you need to fix. You might choose to push back with some questions of your own, such as, “Why are you so insistent that I need a romantic partner?” You might choose to sit down with them and explain the impact of their actions on you. If they continually dismiss your boundaries on this, then perhaps it’s time to examine the relationship.
I’m not sure how the people in your life treat your singleness, nor am I sure how you feel about your relationship status. I know that when we are in relationships where we feel the need to justify ourselves constantly, there’s something worth getting curious about. Do we over-explain ourselves when it isn’t necessary? Where might that come from? Is the person giving push back doing so with compassion and openness, or are they refusing to see things from our perspective? Do we feel safe in this relationship, or do we feel judged?
As someone who has done a lot of work in therapy to examine my own reflex to over-explain and justify, it’s a really hard habit to break. But there are a ton of benefits to breaking it, not least of which is the mental energy required to come up with explanations for everything we do.
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