Relationships: Single and not ready to mingle

According to StatsSA only 54% of men between the ages 20 – 34 years in Ethekwini are single. Therefore if you are one of the individuals who are ready to go out on the dating scene, you’re in luck. For those of us who aren’t ready to be in a relationship this is for you.

Since I was in high school the biggest question on peoples lips weren’t “what are you going to study” or “what do you want to be” it was always “do you have a boyfriend”, like it was the most important thing in the world. I quickly realised that having a romantic relationship was a must. What seemed like an inconvenience to me was the norm for the people around me.

Unfortunately I was born a cynic and believe at this point of my life relationships are a fleeting thing. Being in the age of social media and online dating I realised that my friends were rushing into the depths of the dating scene so that they wouldn’t be alone. But I found myself unfazed by the prospect of being alone, what I was troubled by was the emphasis people placed on being in a relationship, not only did my friends and classmates’ parents tell their daughters “get married and have children” they made it seem as though a females worth lied in her ability to have a romantic relationship or maintain one, not that independence was the cornerstone of a more successful life, I guess that was the difference between my upbringing and theirs.

Paula Quinsee is a relationship expert, a certified Imago relationship therapy educator and facilitator, NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) life coach and PDA (Physical Display of Affection) analyst.

She said “Both young males and females at some point can feel the pressure of needing to be in a relationship from a peer and society perspective not to mention their natural hormonal development. There is also the sentiment that girls mature quicker than boys (neuroscientists are making new discoveries everyday about how the brain re-wires itself during/after puberty and that the adolescent female brain prunes itself differently and at a faster pace compared to the male brain). If both boys and girls do not have a healthy sense of self and personal boundaries they can potentially be pressurized into a relationship. Some of the reasons why this happens is: the need to fit in/belong, wanting to be liked, it gives us an identity i.e. we are someone’s boyfriend/girlfriend, it broadens our social standing and circles.”

One night I went to dinner with my girlfriends and one of them was telling me about the dates she had after being on Tinder. I was shocked not only by the fact she was dating online but that the reason she wanted to be in a relationship was because she felt like she had to. That she wanted to get it over and done with, at the time she was just short of 19 years old. Imagine being 19 and thinking that getting married and having kids was just a thing you did. Just because we are biologically deisgned to procreate doesn’t mean you have to or that its part of your destiny, I guess no one told her that.

Quinsee said “Females don’t need to be in a relationship, rather they desire to be in a relationship as much as men do, each for various reasons: one being from a mating perspective, the others are things such as sharing your life with someone, growing old together, raising a family, physical and emotional safety and financial security to mention a few. Family and society at large do play a role ultimately in children pairing up when they get to adulthood as it is considered a normal progression and evolution in like – grow up, meet someone, get married, have children, grow old together and repeat the cycle. We consciously and subconsciously identify with both the positive and negative behavioural traits of our primary caregivers and this becomes our ‘blueprint’ for the type of partner we look to pair up with. So in essence there is some truth in the old cliché of “we marry someone like our mother or father”.”

I wonder if the relationship questions will die down as I get older but I doubt it.

Quinsee said “There is a perceived stigma attached to women who have not yet met a partner or married in their adult years, particularly around their late 20’s mid 30’s and feel that life is passing them by and they are being ‘left on the shelf’. This term originates from earlier generations where it placed emphasis on a woman’s advanced age and assumed inability to ever attract a husband and was commonly known as a spinster or an old maid. Some pressure also comes from parents and women themselves from a biological clock perspective in that they are getting too old reproduce and/or have children. Trends show however that these days many young adults both male and female are choosing to wait until later in life to get married as they have so many more avenues open to them than generations beforehand i.e. travel, career paths etc.

It made me realise that yes there are many romantics out there but like myself the cynics either jump headfirst into something trying to get to the other side or they go with the side of caution and ease themselves into relationships taking things slow.

For now I’ll be okay being single and not ready to mingle.

Divani Coopoosamy

I’m a journalist, keeping up to date with what’s happening in the world. Writing is in my blood and a Journalism & Digital Media studies student at Rosebank College.