Actress Emma Watson does not like the term “single.” Talking about the pressures of turning 30 and the idea that if you aren’t shacked up by then with a kid or two, she recently told British Vogue. “I never believed the whole ‘I’m happy single’ spiel...It took me a long time, but I’m very happy [being single]. I call it being self-partnered.”
I get this, in theory. The universe continually bends to sexism and forces weird ideas about partnership and marriage onto women, no matter your age, and so suddenly there’s this impulse, if you’re single, to shout from the roof tops about how happy you are being single. It’s cool when women, celebrities or not, realize that coupling up with someone for eternity, especially a man, isn’t a necessity or necessarily even realistic.
But what’s wrong with just saying you’re single? “Self-partnered” conjures images of women who appear in Daily Mail articles about elaborately marrying themselves. It’s a fun gesture, in a performance art way, but it also further stigmatizes the idea that a woman could be alone forever and be okay with it, possibly be okay without constantly making proclamations about how okay with it she is.
“Self-partnered” strikes me as something the kind of people who can’t eat alone in restaurants say. Do you ever meet those people? They can’t sit alone in a restaurant and eat a plate of pasta at a table for one because, dear god, what if strangers in the establishment are staring at them, whispering “how sad, a woman alone...”
Single calls a spade a spade: you’re not dating someone, you’re not married, and that’s okay. Self-partnership still frames your romantic standing in terms of being coupled and works overtime to prove that your single self can exist happily within those terms even without a ring on your finger. But fuck the terms! You don’t have to reiterate your “partnership” to yourself like a nun pledging allegiance to God, to reframe singledom as something extraordinary. Ride out into the sunset like a Marlboro cowboy all by your lonesome and, seriously, just say that you’re single, because there’s nothing wrong with it.