Stop Telling Single Women Not To Be Angry

"Self-preservation is a full-time occupation." -Ani DiFranco, Talk To Me Now, 1990
I think a lot about supposed tos. What single women are supposed to do, supposed to be, the shoulds and the should nots. All of life’s little instructions are scaffolded around the life of a single woman until all that advice and good intention begins to feel like a cage.
Single women aren’t supposed to be angry. I hear it from friends, family, and in the comments section of this series — all the time.
"No wonder she’s single, she’s so angry."
"Wow, someone’s angry."
"You’ll never meet anybody with an 'attitude' like that."
Does my anger surprise or shock you? It shouldn't. I once had drinks with a man who told me I had too many opinions. I’ve dated men who have found other women to date when I’ve gone out of town over a weekend. I’ve dated "divorced" men. I’ve matched with and messaged literally hundreds of men who simply never responded to what I had to say. I’ve been single and dating for 11 years and never, not once, have I had a happy ending.

This much time full of this much garbage would make any human being angry.

This much time full of this much garbage would make any human being angry. And anger’s just the start of it. Dating has often made me hate men, hate being single, and even hate every waking moment of my life for how punishing it is. Why do I try, and try, and try and get nothing (good) in return?
Of course I am angry. But as a single woman, I’m not supposed to be. That’ll just repel men, right? And I’m a single woman, and we’re supposed to attract men, right?
I’m supposed to be happy, upbeat, well dressed, thin but not too thin, successful but not more successful than the man I’m dating, funny but not funnier than the man I’m dating, kind, selfless, effortlessly put together, into the guy I’m dating and nobody else but not noticeably into him because he’ll get scared away, sweet, thoughtful, mentally stimulating, exciting and spontaneous but only a little so I’m not a mess, great in bed with a healthy but not too healthy sex drive, and also super pretty.
But not angry. I can’t be angry that all of these supposed tos are supposed to exist and certainly not angry that twisting myself to fit as many of them at the same time as humanly possible has still earned me net zero, right? I can’t be angry, I’ll never meet a man that way.
A friend told me this story: She brought a date to her best friend’s wedding. It was a sunny destination wedding full of palm trees and starry nights. They’d been dating for a little while — not super long, but long enough to invite him to her best friend’s wedding across the country. He was that helpful kind of wedding date, you know? She didn’t have to babysit him around her friends, he had it handled. Bringing the bride water when she was dance-floor parched, generally posting up as the amazing guy everyone always knew my friend deserved. He inserted himself into her life in the sort of way that makes a woman feel confident, at ease, and happy.
After her best friend’s wedding reception, in the cab on the way back to the hotel, he paused mid make-out to tell her that he had a girlfriend.

If you’re single and dating, angry is normal. It’s happy that’s the real surprise.

This is the dating world we’re living in. This is one story out of thousands. This is why we prefer to just stay home sometimes, because honestly, being single is easy — it’s dating that’s hard. It’s trying to end single that’s awful, that makes us angry, that feels cruel and mercilessly unfair. It’s the reason I spend so much of my time advocating for singledom being seen as just a thing we are, not a thing we have to stop being. In trying to stop being the thing society tells us not to be, we encounter situations like Wedding Date over here, and we get angry — and then society tells us not to be that, too.
If you’re single and dating, angry is normal. It’s happy that’s the real surprise.
The only two coping mechanisms that have ever made me feel better as a single woman are as follows: One, I realised that being single isn’t a bad thing, that the only shame or sadness I feel about my single status comes from societal influences, not from within my own mind and heart. And two, I get angry. I acknowledge that what’s happening to me and to women like me isn’t right, isn’t fair, and isn’t something we have to gloss over so that we don’t come across as angry. This is me, angry. With every right to be.
I am not here for emotions that a woman should or shouldn’t feel. I laugh at people who tell me not to be angry — because I think of how they’d feel if they lived inside my perspective. I think about how they’d feel if they were told to swallow everything that had ever been said or done to them in 11 years of being single with nothing more than a wink and smile.
We’ve built a dating paradigm where women date to get married and men date to date. There are no consequences for men who do horrible things to women in dating, because as women, we have to retain our hope and our positivity and keep fucking dating, no matter what they do, or we’ll be too angry to love. Ghosting, lying, misleading, obscene photos and texts — anything, anytime is consequence-free for men. Angry yet?
I’ve earned my anger. I also process my anger through healthy practices people can’t see from behind their laptop where they’re free to pen comments about how angry I am and how terrible my writing is and how I seem to be "obsessed" with the fact that I’m single. I’m angry? What the fuck would you be?
But I don’t write this for people who should put themselves in my shoes. I write this for the women who are already there. Those who know what this feels like, and who could maybe use a reminder that it’s okay to feel everything you’re feeling, that you’re supposed to feel everything you’re feeling, as long as one of the things you never feel is alone.

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