The single experience isn’t one size fits all
I have been thinking a lot lately about where to take this newsletter and how to make it better. To that end, I had a rocking Saturday night last night reading early issues of the newsletter and making a mind map of all the topics covered. I got pretty into it and so only ended up analysing about five of them in detail. I can’t believe how much has changed. I can really see the newsletter develop before my eyes, mainly in terms of my writing and confidence.
I covered quite a lot of the realities of being single such as what it’s like to wake up alone on your 35th birthday, personal finance and managing a household budget solo, annoying things people say to single people, being the only single one in my friendship group, going to the cinema alone and whether or not I’m a career obsessive. I also, of course, covered Emma Watson’s comments on self-partnering.
I noticed bigger themes as well; single positivity and whether you can be happy being single and still want a partner someday, the feelings of shame and failure that come with not hitting the traditional life milestones, the feeling of liberation that comes with learning to stand on your own two feet, the frustration at the patronising or sexist things people say to single women, the feelings of total apathy I have about dating, the realisation that I’m so much comfortable being single now because I feel much more secure in my life than I did before, and of course the occasional piercing pain that comes with wondering why I find something so difficult that other people seem to find so easy and whether I’ll be “on the shelf” for the rest of my life. I also noticed how much connection and personal relationships are at the heart of what I write about even though those relationships aren’t romantic, which society still views as the most important one.
Some of those things feel like a total contradiction. How can I both find it painful to be single and at the same time be positive about it and find it liberating? How can I want to find a partner but are unable to find the motivation to try and date? How I can feel more secure in my life when at the same time I still feel shame and like I’m a failure? I think what this newsletter has proven is that the single experience isn’t one size fits all. There is so much nuance and feelings are always going to ebb and flow. Sometimes I wonder what right I have to write about the single experience when it all seems so muddled in my own head. But then as a good friend helped me realise the other day, maybe it’s OK that I am willing to sit in the discomfort of these contradictions.
Anyway, I want to know what you all think. To that end, I’ve decided to launch a survey so I can find out more about who is actually reading The Single Supplement, what you like and what you want to see more of. Now I know that filling in surveys is boring and time-consuming so I have decided to do a prize draw for those who take the time to do me this favour. As well as my own prizes, I have collaborated members of The Coven, an online community of female founders and freelancers that I’m a part of to bring you two more lovely prizes. Winners will be announced next week.
The first prize is an Essential Oil Candle Making Kit worth £32 from Somewhere of London. It’s described as the perfect activity and you’re encouraged to take a moment out of your day to learn a new skill and craft something you can be proud of. (Only for UK winners)
The second prize is a month’s trial of Onloan, a fashion rental subscription service worth £69. Borrow incredible clothes from designers like Shrimps, Alexa Chung, and Mother of Pearl - keep them for a whole month or more, and then swap for something new. No late fees, no damage fees, cleaning & shipping all included. It's the new fun, sustainable way to get your regular fashion fix. (Only for UK winners)
I’m also going to give away three paid subscriptions to The Single Supplement so you can enjoy the exclusive subscriber content for one year. (Available to all)
Anyway, I can’t wait to hear what you have to say. There is a free-form box at the end that you can add any thoughts you have. Again I know how tedious filling in surveys can be but I would be so grateful.
What caught my attention
This is a really interesting long read into dating apps, algorithms and bias. I think technology definitely has a lot to answer for but I also agree with the points made in this paragraph: “Technology has a transformative power to connect people and be a source of learning to expand horizons. But it is also often a reflection of some of the worst parts of human behaviour. “Apps can play a role within society" says Prof Swami. But in order for there to be real progress racism needs to also be tackled outside these spaces. We tend to treat technology as a vacuum. As long as racism exists in society it will exist online.”
This is a bit of a different article. It’s all about loneliness versus solitude and how different people react to being alone. I found this paragraph absolutely fascinating: “Liveable solitude is underpinned by care. The classic account of this comes from the British psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott. In 1958 Winnicott described the capacity to tolerate solitude, or even to enjoy it, as a developmental achievement of early childhood, acquired through the experience of receiving care from a parental figure, usually the mother. As a small child matures, this caring figure is internalised to serve as an inner presence, a self-companion, when the child is alone.”
Quite a few people on the Facebook group have brought up this issue and this article by Almara Abgarian has some useful tips for those who are worried. “We are referring to lockdown dating anxiety – where a potential touch or kiss makes you think of the possibility of contracting coronavirus, or worse – dying from contracting coronavirus. It’s an understandable fear; after all, hundreds of thousands of people have tragically died as a result of coronavirus across the globe. Or perhaps it’s not about physical contact but rather that your mind is too preoccupied with dealing with the alarming situation at hand, and therefore you don’t want to explore emotional intimacy with others.”
I was interviewed for this Tortoise article about kissing after coronavirus. If you click on the read more section in the How to corona-date block, you’ll find a mention of The Single Supplement.
Huge thanks to the readers of The Supp who attended the writing class I put on with Tiffany Philippou. We couldn’t believe it when we sold out and I’m excited to say we are planning further masterclasses.
If you have emailed me in recent months and not received a reply, I have just come across a bunch of emails I missed. Please accept my apologies. I am working my way through the backlog.
This week’s hang out will be on Tuesday at 7pm BST. Here’s the Zoom link and the password is 841799. I will also create a Facebook event later today.
Tonight at 8:30pm I will hopefully be interviewing the amazing Tahmina Begum on Instagram Live on The Single Supplement Instagram page so do pop in and enjoy the chat.
I haven’t had time to finish my anti-racism pledge as I wanted to attend an event on the power of allyship first. I went to the event on Thursday night and will work on the policy this week. Thanks for your patience.
Don’t forget to fill out the survey! I will be so grateful!
For those who don’t know, I’m Nicola Slawson, a freelance journalist who lives in Shropshire, UK. If you would like to support what I do, please consider subscribing to be a paid supporter of The Single Supplement. Follow me on Instagram and Twitter.
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