My parents and friends expressed shock and horror when I told them that I’m choosing to remain single for the rest of my life.
They couldn’t understand what brought me to such a decision, and they thought I was crazy. At first, black feminism was to blame before the conclusion that perhaps my high standards resulted in my inability to find love.
As the first born daughter in my family, it is expected of me to be married at least by the age of 30 and produce pretty grandchildren to extend the family. At some point, I’m expected to pump the breaks on my career and focus on family, or adhere to the “modern woman” expectation of juggling career, marriage and motherhood in my 30s.
I don’t blame them for being shocked because marriage is a social expectation for women, more so black women who, according to culture, have their womanhood defined by being wives and mothers by the time they reach their 20s. In my culture, the rite of passage into womanhood happens at 21 through the custom of umemulo, which indicates that a young girl is all grown up and is ready to accept a boyfriend and get married. Marriage becomes a part of a woman’s identity.
I’m not at all against marriage, even though it has been tainted by patriarchal norms that make light of a woman’s personhood. If anything, it’s a beautiful thing when two people that sincerely love each other enter into it. My parents have been married for 30 years and are a prime example of a healthy marriage, one filled with respect, mutual understanding and love.
I’ve had my fair share of relationships, and not all were bad experiences. However, I entered into them because dating was an expectation, even though I had no real desire to date. Growing up, my lack of desire to be coupled confused me, and I thought that it was all in my head. But as I grew older, the deep sense that singleness was for me grew more pronounced.
I realized that I was a lot happier and free by myself, and relationships overwhelmed me, like I was tied into something I didn’t want nor desire. I felt out of place because no one understood what I was feeling. I found sexual intimacy to be invasive, not because I was afraid of the closeness it brings, but because I truly did not want such a relationship.
I’m not isolated and devoid of any human connection because humans are designed for relationships. I feel happy and fulfilled with the connections I have with family, friends, nieces and nephews. But I have no desire to be in romantic relationships or to experience sexual intimacy.
I don’t expect to have an easy ride with this decision, especially where social expectations of me as a woman are concerned, but I am happy that I made it.
*image from Beyonce.