Alison Taylor on relationships: We're creating a romantic apartheid, a Cold War between singles and marrieds


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The Independent Online

How does this idea strike you? Singles Day. A day for singles to celebrate being single. A time for people to gather and commiserate each other for the single status and also to remind couples that you don't need a relationship to be happy.

Before I continue on this hypothetical note , I should say Singles Day is a bona fide thing, celebrated in China, on 11 November. What started out as a joke, dreamt up by students in a dorm room in the 1990s as a sort of flip-side Valentine's Day, has now become a huge event among young Chinese people. It also happens to have become the biggest online shopping day in the world.

Those same students who came up with the idea ended up at an e-commerce company that pioneered this 'holiday' and duly cornered 70 per cent of the market. The message: 'Singleton, rather than sit at home gorging yourself on ice-cream, weeping over a romcom, why not treat yourself to something you can't afford, instead?'.

Apart from the commercialism at play here, much like with Valentine's Day, I object to Singles Awareness Day for the fact that being 'single' has to be a defining characteristic of somebody's identity.

I mean, who gives a toss? Why do we always have to be defined by our romantic statuses? With Valentine's Day on one side and Singles Day on the other, we're creating a sort of romantic apartheid, a them-versus-us Cold War between singles and marrieds (or those in relationships).

It's this part that I object to the most, because apart from it not being healthy, helpful or in any way sane to compare yourself to others and their relationship status, it also seems to be part of some greater con, namely, that divide exists in the first place.

How many couples do you know that hate singles? Or vice versa? "I don't think people in relationships look down on single people, nor do they feel that they are less celebratory of life because of it!" came a rallying email from a wise, coupled-up friend of mine. "Either way, it's as pointless as Valentine's Day." Quite.

I feel I should point out that Valentine's Day actually started out as a 'Singles Day', too – an opportunity for the unattached to woo the object of their affection with an anonymous missive. Not, as it has become, a day to be forced into buying stuff and eat the most awkward meal of your life.

So yeah, Singles Day, it's a no from me.