What is it like to be single? | Sunday Observer
“If you liked it then you shoulda put a ring on it”

What is it like to be single?

10 October, 2021

‘If you liked it then you shoulda put a ring on it ‘’ chants the gorgeous Beyonce in her song Single Ladies. On today’s issue we are going to discuss about a subject which has been bothering all women (especially single women) ever since civilization evolved –and that is, ‘to be or not to be single’’. From the ancient times, marriage was supposed to be a crucial part of a woman’s life, and society looked upon the role of a woman as one who merely existed to get married, produce children and look after the house and family, forever being a slave and a doormat. But with the evolution of time, society has changed and the modern woman has become more liberal, educated, and independent, though the concept still remains the same. We still live in a traditional society with a primitive mind set and clinging to a concept which still belongs to the stone ages. We still find that inquisitive bunch of aunties, relatives and neighbours who talk behind our backs and come to all kinds of conclusions of what made you remain single still and there is something wrong with the individual and other similar conclusions.

Gone are the days when you were forced to surrender to an arranged marriage by your family, and you couldn’t take your own decision, and had to take the bulath heppuwa to that certain individual and look like some museum exhibit in front of everyone, embarrassed as heck. Though you might get that situation in Asian countries like Sri Lanka and India, in the modern context, marriage is no longer a must, but a choice. A woman is free to take any decision she wants – be it in marriage or in other circumstances. I have heard from several professional ladies that nowadays women are less keen to get married because they value their independence and freedom. Of course, we could come up with a point like this – If a woman has a stable job and income, and can fend for herself, has a place of her own and her own vehicle, yes, why not? What society might say is,’ a woman can’t fend for herself without a man ‘and how many so called men have we seen who are total parasites and look for the dowry first in a marriage, expecting to use the woman as a doormat and also to eat at her expense, and use her as a mere cash machine? Among educated and more liberal individuals the situation might not be the same, but in most circumstances, this is what we see in today’s society. Even we ourselves have gone through that experience, having no end of people asking us, ‘’Why are you still single? ‘’, ‘’Why aren’t you getting married? ‘’ and go out of their way to find out the ‘’reason’’ and either come to their own conclusion, either that the woman is lesbian or there’s something wrong with her. Seriously, there seems to be discrimination against single women, and they are considered as individuals to be sympathised with. You might recall countless times where you were the ‘Diva’ of all the gossip.

Being single is a challenge which only a few can handle. It means you’re strong enough to handle things on your own. (Ain’t no babysitting a man luv !) There is nothing to be ashamed or frustrated about being single, as we have seen many single ladies lament, get frustrated and depressed about being single. It’s the society which has formed this myth. Even a late marriage with the person of your choice, who will respect, understand and support you and is more liberal minded, is better than marrying a stupid narscisst and ruining your life. We have women in many high professions who have achieved their goals without any support, setting an example to other women as well. So, today’s interview is going to be dedicated to all single ladies who rock out there and stand on their own feet! We have Attorney at Law Ms. Raveendra Sumathipala again to shed some light and educate the general public on this social issue.


Q: Is there a truth behind the concept that single women are more vulnerable than married women, and not safe on her own without a partner?

A: This is a common myth society has created, simply to hide their own inadequacies in dealing with a single woman. Society is still discouraging the unmarried woman to remain single, simply for unjustifiable reasons. The issue comes when she is deprived of certain advantages of a married woman, with the burdens of a man, but not his privileges.

The real question is if society cannot ensure the safety of a single female, is it justifiable for society to put the blame on her simply or rather should not society accept that they need to change.

Q: We have seen many circumstances where parents are worried about their unmarried daughter. An unmarried woman is considered as a ‘total failure’, that she is not complete without marriage. What are your thoughts on this?

A: It needs to be understood that being single even for ever is not a failure and you are not missing out anything simply because you have not made yourself enter into the institution of marriage. You can experience love, partnership, sex, motherhood and family even without being legally married. It’s only because the society is not ready to accept it all that you withdraw from these. In the Sri Lankan context, there are limited barriers legally for any of these, unless you are in adultery. Although the living in relationships is still a new concept to us we find the urban youth are grasping this concept with more open arms.

Q: The whole revelation of one’s marital status seems to be a vital part of any introduction and a single person sometimes seems to have no identity at all. Do you think the single women are faced with an identity crisis?

A: Yes. An unmarried woman’s status should be defined regardless of the status of a married woman.

Single women can be in various forms from woman yet to be married, unmarried, women not living as a couple, who have never married, never- married singletons and the names for her vary as single , alone, lone woman, maid, old maid, free woman, spinster , miss. In Japan, unmarried women over the age of 25 are known as ‘Christmas cake’as if they have passed their expiry date, while in China it’s ‘Leftover Women’ which is even more damaging. Although some of these words are no longer in the modern usage they kind of underline the whole singleness of a female as a lumbering hopelessness and the idea still haunts. Though this is no rare problem for the western woman, it is made more easier for her in comparison to her Eastern counterpart.

(To be continued next week)