For as long as I have been alive, I have been single. We’ll ignore the minor episode in high school where I tragically tried to date my best friend’s brother in secret, then broke up with him 72 hours later because it was too much pressure. Other than that, my life hasn’t been sullied by the typical dating woes that so often keep my friends up at night. And to be honest, it’s quite a relief. I get to exist without the scars of heartbreak and disappointment dictating my every move. Similar to a baby, fresh out of the womb, I am untainted. Being single has given me time and space to grow on my own and figure myself out before entangling with someone else. Despite how much I enjoy the perks of being single, my lack of dating does seem to leave other people perturbed. And my question is : why?

The questions come up all the time. Christmas dinners. Graduations. Even strangers on the train seem to have the right to inquire about why is it that I’m single. The big answer is, I’m not ready, and I never have been. Growing up, I watched my friends eagerly dive face first into relationships with no knowledge of who they were and what they really wanted out of it in the first place. I’ve always liked to go into things prepared, and a deep emotional connection  never seemed like the type of thing to get into without adequate personal development being done first. I know that I am untrusting with new people. That I am a terrible listener. That I require far too much attention to feel appreciated. That I put impossibly high pressure on people I love to be perfect all the time. These are all things I want to work on before entangling my  life with someone else’s. 

And then there are the small things too. I love never having to take anyone else’s feelings into account before I make decisions. I enjoy existing as my own person; never “the girlfriend”, the “plus one”, or an accessory to someone else. No one can bother me about my bad habits. I am free to connect with whoever I want, whenever I want, in whichever way I please. These reasons may seem small, but for me, they feel like freedom.

But all that being said, I am not required to explain any of this to anyone. 

The constant probing about my relationship status often comes under the guise of concern, but I can always sense the touch of disapproval seeping through. Aunties awaiting nieces and nephews are constantly disappointed when I tell them there’s no one in the picture. When I say that it just doesn’t feel like the right time, they nod pityingly. I have friends who will try to analyze what  I’m “doing wrong” over brunch. They doubt my ability to relate to them in certain ways despite our years of friendship ,and when I point this out, they roll their eyes and say “I just don’t get it”. All of it is insulting and disappointing. Lack of relationship experience does not equate to being unknowledgable about the complications of love or undesirable as an option to have children. 

All of this unsolicited worry about a woman’s relationship status, is a projection of someone else’s fears. They see a woman living happily on a path that they don’t understand and are quick to pass judgement. But everyone’s realities are different, and just because someone else finds relationships to be necessary to attain happiness, does not mean every woman does. To be single can be a choice, one that myself and many other women are happy to make. To be alone, does not mean you feel lonely or unloved. There are other relationships to cultivate and nurture, other things and people that will give life meaning.All of  these things can peacefully coexist.  

That’s not to say that I’ll never be in a relationship in my life. I will, eventually. On my own time, and on my own terms. But what I won’t do is succumb to the pressure of others to do something I don’t feel prepared to do, simply because it makes them uncomfortable.

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Iyana Jones

is a TGM Contributor from Brooklyn. You can find her trying to create digital content about and for black women, while unironically watching reality tv shows, playing Lemonade on repeat, and feeding stray cats. Follow her Instagram here or check out her blog.