What do you call a single guy? A bachelor, right?
How about a single girl? Pathetic? Desperate? Spinster? Loser?
In her new book, Single Girl Problems: Why Being Single Isn’t a Problem to be Solved, author and co-host of CBC’s daytime talk show The Goods, Andrea Bain, celebrates the single gal and everything she offers to the world (with or without a rotating rolodex of men in her life).
I feel like this book couldn’t have found me at a better time in my life. Trying to date after being in a long-term relationship is something I never thought I’d have to do. I’ve had lots of conversations with women who told me it’s better it happened now then at 40 or 50, because the reality is it does get more difficult to find a meaningful relationship when your looks have faded and you’re not the spring chicken you used to be.
Bain starts off her book with an excellent comparison – Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran. Both write about loves gone awry, but only one gets crucified in the press for “penning songs about her ex-boyfriends…(and) as soon as the press gets wind that she is dating someone new, radio DJs start joking about whether the guy will end up on her next album.” I can only imagine the trepidation Ms. Swift has about dating, because any guy that doesn’t live under a rock will probably worry his inadequacies will be turned into clever rhymes blasted on radio stations around the world if the relationship doesn’t work out.
That’s not to say “woe, Ms. Swift,” but there’s a lot of pressure on both ends- for the guys and for the girls, but women just seem to be the ones portrayed in the less flattering light.
The whole point of this book is to start a discussion and to change the narrative about single women. If you’re approaching or at 30 and still haven’t found “the one,” (which, for the record I think is absolute bs…you can build a relationship with someone over time and create shared interests and romance), pause and take note of how freaking awesome you are.
Tobias Greitmeyer conducted a study in Germany that implied “single people were judge to be less satisfied with their lives, to have lower self-esteem, to be less attractive, to have fewer social sills, and to be more neurotic.”
I, and Ms. Bain are here to say none of that is accurate. As an (albeit recently) single gal, I am not less satisfied with my life. My academic accomplishments and personal relationships I’ve fostered are entirely through my own efforts. I’m so damn proud of how hard I’ve worked and being in a relationship or not, no man has paved the path I’m going.
I don’t have lower self-esteem. I might’ve done (definitely did) a few weeks ago post-breakup, but that’s normal. Self-esteem is an ebb/flow kind of thing that we have to work on every day, and it’s okay to not be okay for periods of time.
I don’t think I’m less attractive because I’m single. If anything, I’m more attractive because studies have found people in relationships gain more weight than single people (read: all that Netflix and chill bs with snacks on snacks will catch up with you). Post-breakup I lost SO MUCH WEIGHT (not that I needed to, but being a hot mess equated in a natural appetite suppressant). Not being in a relationship has opened up so much more time to get back to the gym and regular workouts (something I had been putting off for years because the guy I was with never wanted to workout together, despite repeated requests to do so).
As a single girl, I don’t think I have fewer social skills. In fact, I haven’t been this socially-active since college. I’ve had date nights with friends almost every night of the week, made plans last weekend with a guy I had one date with to travel cross-country with, the list goes on and on. Being single has forced me to put myself out there to stay busy and to keep going.
Yes, I did heavily mope when I got dumped, but then I bounced back like one of those little bouncy balls in claw machines.
As far as being neurotic, I think that’s an inherent characteristic, in or out of a relationship. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m pretty type-A, but working on being more relaxed about things that don’t really matter in the long-run (like when food at a drive-through takes 20 minutes or my dog runs through the yard and gets mud all over himself). Big-picture, not a big deal.
One of the biggest truths Bain talks about is the idea that not all married people are happy. From the outside looking in, sure that diamond ring and shared mortgage looks like security, but there are the separate bedrooms, infidelity, and years of sex-less love that no one talks about.
Another truth I found particularly interesting is the notion that dating is dead. If you’ve been on a dating app recently (or however people do it these days), you’ll know half the messages that trickle in are inappropriate, lacking in intelligence (which for me is a MAJOR turn-off), or just devoid of any effort (sending an emoji in lieu of reading my 250 character bio just means you like my face, which is great if you’re looking for a quick fuck, shitty if you want something more).
I’m not saying short-term relations (they aren’t even long enough to get the “ship,” because that part has sailed…haha, get it?) are bad, but in your later 20’s, early 30’s, I imagine many women are looking to settle down and not keep chasing an elusive party boy who takes two weeks to text them back and unexpectedly cancels dates last-minute without explanation (I dated that when I was younger and was constantly in a fluxing state of frustration and infatuation…not healthy, at all).
Throughout the book there are lots of “dating horror stories,” which if anything, should reassure you that bad dates happen, but they’re not the end of the world. Bain’s advice has reaffirmed what I’ve always believed (but not necessarily have found in past relationships), that it is a partnership that should compliment you and challenge you. A relationship should never be a state of “settling,” because that breeds insecurity and instability over time.
There is so much good advice in the book, but one of my favorite ones is probably the “relationship profit-and-loss statement.” It’s like a pro/con list, but about the person you’re dating. I did a lot of this in MBA classes, but it’s so applicable to dating. You measure how much certain factors are important to you (the profits) and how much other factors detract from that (the losses). Then you balance them out (balance sheets, anyone?) and you’ll get a rough picture of the relationship’s “value,” if you will.
If you’re analytical like me, you’ll appreciate the black and white value in this; if you’re not, not to worry. Sometimes relationships aren’t so black and white (saying that from experience), so maybe you can’t put a value on a certain characteristic your partner has and that’s okay. This is just one of many, many tools in the book about how to know your worth and put your own happiness above everything else.
It’s easy to get comfortable in a relationship, even the bad ones. I’ve been in ones where physical abuse was explained away because of alcohol, stressful situations, you name it. I’ve been in emotionally abusive ones where the gas-lighting was intoxicating and everyone saw how much it hurt me except myself (it took YEARS for me to acknowledge it was that bad). I’ve also been in relationships that were nothing but good, but for whatever reason, our interests no longer aligned and I was the one putting in more effort than my partner and that imbalance wasn’t sustainable.
You don’t have to have been in any or all of these boats to realize you’re worth it. Chapter 22 is probably my favorite one in the whole book. I won’t spoil it, but it’s such a candid summary of all the reasons why relationships may not work out and why that’s okay. You are more than your previous relationships. You are more than your future relationships. Once you realize your worth and your ability to be a secure, confident, independent partner, I think you’ll be able to be more satisfied in a relationship.
At least I know I am after reading this and I’m still single, but definitely in a better place because I know “men today are not princes but real people with flaws” and being single is NOT a problem.
I received this book complimentary on behalf of the publisher, but all thoughts and opinions in this post are my own. All photography featured in this post is my own unless noted otherwise; please seek permission before copying or reproducing the images.
Purchase this title — Single Girl Problems: Why Being Single Isn’t a Problem to Be Solved
Score Card: Cover Art 4/5 | Content 5/5 | Ease of Read 5/5
Book Stats: Single Girl Problems: Why Being Single Isn’t a Problem to be Solved by Andrea Bain
Page Count- 176
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I'm a twenty-something year old recent law and business school grad living with a chronic health condition. Follow along on my shenanigans.