By Tara Pilkington
I am single. I’m 25 years old and in all of that time I have successfully participated in zero romantic long-term relationships. If I were to describe my love life to you, I would describe the scene as a barren wasteland with one lonely tumbleweed rolling by.
In January, I, like most people, foolishly believed that 2020 would “be my year!” Fast forward a few months and the country is in quarantine and I’m the only one in my friendship group that isn’t in lockdown with a significant other.
While my relationship status is unlikely to change anytime soon, partly due to the current climate that we are living in, the following is not a sad and lonely cry into the void, in fact, it’s a message of hope! Being single, both in and out of lockdown, isn’t nearly as bad as you might think.
The reason that I’m bringing this up now is because I recently watched the Daniel Sloss Netflix comedy special ‘Jigsaw’, and I’ve been thinking about it non-stop ever since for a couple or reasons:
- I now have a great point of reference that I can use when people ask me how I, a single person, can be genuinely happy alone
- I now know that I’m not the only heartless-but-actually-big-hearted person out there.
If you’re already a fan of Daniel Sloss then you’ll know about the infamous reputation of ‘Jigsaw’, a show which, to date, has been responsible for over 9,000 break-ups and 157 divorces (you can keep up to date with the numbers via his Twitter bio.)
As I’ve never had a relationship, yet always seem to be surrounded by couples, I’ve had an abundance of time to sit and theorise about romance from an outsider perspective. There are many thoughts that I’ve had but never articulated, because I figured that I must be missing something which wouldn’t become clear until I was actually in a relationship myself. However, every single theory that I’ve ever had was discussed in ‘Jigsaw’.
Simple truths were pointed out, such as the fact that we live in a society where everything points towards love, that nobody wants to admit that they have no fucking idea what they are doing, or why we have decided that it’s normal to enter relationships when we (well, maybe not me…) are all so young. The countdown to finding our ‘person’ starts before we’ve even had a chance to figure out who we are, what we want and deserve or what we can bring to the table.
A lot of factors in our lives (the media, friends, family) feed us a narrative which tells us that if we are not with someone, we are incomplete. If we’re not in a relationship, we’re not really happy. So it’s not surprising that the older we get, the more shameful the prospect of being alone can become.
Whilst I was watching ‘Jigsaw’ there were no shortages moments that made me do a double-take towards my laptop screen, and I have to admit that I felt a strange sense of secondhand-pride knowing that these thoughts I’d been having for some time have resonated with other people so strongly that they chose to end their relationships because of them.
One point that Sloss makes during his set is how we’re all obsessed with this idea of being a successful adult and reaching all of these societal milestones, even at the expense of our own happiness. We’re told that if we tick the right boxes, (one of these boxes obviously being whether or not we’re in a long-term relationship) then we’ll be happy. If we find that after this we still feel incomplete, well, that’s on us to figure out, but being single is definitely not going to make us happy. We all want to find our life partner as quickly as possible, and the only thing stronger than our culture’s obsession with romance is this fear of being alone.
Love should never be treated like a magical elixir that will make your problems go away, and it’s not fair to put that kind pressure or those expectations on someone, but sometimes the act of loving another person can help you learn how to love yourself in return. However, as Sloss rightly argues, if you enter a relationship not loving yourself 100%, someone can come along and love you 30% and you’re going to think that is an acceptable amount because you don’t know what total acceptance feels like.
I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my life. And I also happen to be single. Relationships seem awesome, and considering I’ve spent the past couple of months living vicariously through plenty of them on TV, I’d love to be in one if I met someone who made me want to sing Perfume Genius songs all day long. But still, finding a boyfriend just isn’t a priority for me, and I’m not going to let anyone make me feel like my life is incomplete every moment that I’m not in a relationship.
Ultimately ‘Jigsaw’, similar to my outlook on being single, is hopeful. The show is about loving yourself so much that being alone isn’t a terrifying thing. Forcing yourself to spend your life with someone that you do not truly love on the other hand, is.