For many people, "single" is some what of a dirty word. They hope that it's a temporary thing, that soon they'll bump into the love of their life and finally, they won't be the dreaded single anymore, they'll be half of a duo, cloaked in the security of a relationship. While there is nothing wrong with falling in love, there is also nothing wrong with being single.
It's a period of your life, which my married friends reassure me will be gone far too quickly! So, unlike most singletons, rather than rushing to ditch my single status, I've set to work making the most of it. Because when I finally reach the 'other side of single', I don't want to have any regrets!
I'm 59, the eldest of four siblings, but have no partner and no children. A sense of inadequacy grows: what can I leave my nephews and nieces, and their children? I don't mean memories; I mean, what that is tangible and lasting, that I can equitably share among them? It's like feeling a phantom limb, a shadowy disconnect with future generations that I so ache to put right.
The first date gets a lot of attention, doesn't it? A slew of blog posts and articles devoted to date #1 pop up on the internet nearly everyday. When the first date is over, and you've kissed goodnight and made plans to see each other again over the weekend... now what? Here are six foolproof second date tips!
So what is being single like? It is a time when you assume that having a boyfriend would improve life. An assumption that every non-single person you know is probably doing something better than you. A time when you are envious of all the things you assume you would be doing if you had a boyfriend...
As a singleton in 2014, Facebook is a key social hurdle to navigate in the early stages of a relationship. Do you really want someone you're getting to know to have access to details of the last ten years of your life? Should you see photos of his parents, friends and siblings before you actually meet them?
In the late 20th century the most common way men and women met was through friends or through work. There were many benefits to this; when meeting through friends, you know something about their history and background as well as being more likely to have shared values and interest. In the last 15 years this has started to change with the event of online dating.
But beyond the polarity of 'proud to be single' vs 'smug married' is more human uncertainty than any other sphere of life. People are unreliable and relationships a gamble, bodies don't work as required when babies are meticulously planned. Being single may be gloriously liberating one day, bleakly lonely the next. This is life.
I'm not saying it isn't a wonderful happy ending: falling passionately in love with someone for the rest of your life, someone who'll forever support you and of whom you'll never tire. But it's the journey which appeals to our imagination, not the destination. The fact 39 per cent of marriages end in divorce provides further evidence for that.
I should celebrate being single as a mature, happy life preference, and yet here I am, nearly 60, still explaining myself; so my subconscious clearly isn't celebrating, is it? And why? Because too many experiences in my life, like that smear test, exacerbate my self-image of social misfit: of being somehow lesser, if not outright forgotten.