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Relishing the Single Life
in a Couple’s World
Stop pining for someone when life’s calling you.
The featured blogger in this post is Josephine who’ll carry the word vomit torch in my steed.
In my early 20s, a friend asked in a very [concerned] tone, “Are you sure you don’t ever want to get married?” That question caught me off guard. Despite being pre-occupied with school, apparently I didn’t care enough about my future because I was single and romance was shoved to the back of my mind.
The thing is, I was happy then and I am happy now. I have other single friends who are off pursuing their dreams, unconcerned about the lack of romance in their lives. Yes, romance is a beautiful part of life but that doesn’t mean we can’t relish the single life. As much as romance is a huge fixture of YA fiction, being single doesn’t have to be a curse for characters. Just consider the following five factors.
1. Space for Self-Exploration
Being unattached allows for greater self-exploration. The focus is entirely on the self and there’s no one to stand in the way of pursuits.
Take Elise from This Song Will Save Your Life who wanders off into the night in search of herself. It’s unlikely she would’ve ghosted around the empty streets if she had been bound by a partner and wouldn’t have discovered the make-shift club in a warehouse, and ultimately, her passion for DJing. It’s through music that she came to find herself.
2. Ambitions Matter
While a partner can be the most supportive cheerleader ever, being single is practically a guarantee that you’re free to pursue your ambitions.
I know A Mad, Wicked Folly is set in Edwardian England when the Suffragette Movement was just taking off, so Vicky’s rein was already severely limited. It wasn’t becoming of a woman to pursue a man’s craft and her husband-to-be refused to support her ambitions. This is singledom at its finest — one less obstacle closer to freedom. Alternatively, Josie in Out of the Easy focuses on walking a better life–pursued through education (college)–and thus rarely sought out romance as a medium for success in her future.
On a personal note, I’ve seen former teammates and opponents from other clubs give up competitive sports because of their significant others. For some reason guys can be very obstinate when they’re against girls pursuing sports. Whatever it is, being single also means that there’s much more time and energy that can be invested in pursuing ambitions.
3. No Ties Holding Back
Single people have no ties holding them back.
The lack of a suitor allowed Lee in Walk on Earth a Stranger to uproot herself in search of gold. Though she was on the run, Lee traveled across the vast expanse of America and made something of her life even if it meant giving up the greener pastures of home. A suitor would’ve forced her to stay put or in the very least, slowed her down.
4. Possibilities of Romance
Many find the chase to be the most exhilarating part of romance. When characters find themselves in a relationship, the chase is effectively over; on the other hand, a single person sill has all these possibilities. Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares is a prime example of possibilities. Both were single when they first came into contact through Lily’s red notebook. When Dash found the notebook, he read instructions that he must be a boy and he must be single. Should either not be the case, he was to return the notebook where he found it. That notebook represented the possibilities of a single person.
When you think about it, possibilities are what makes love triangles such a common trope in YA books. They offer options and make readers choose their ships. The possibilities are there because the protagonists are single and we’re left wondering whom they’ll choose, if anyone at all.
5. There’s More to Life
If there’s one thing I never understood about romance, it’s how it can trump life or death situations. In so many dystopian and fantasy novels the protagonists are fully aware that they might die the next day. The natural thing to do is to plan and ensure they stay alive, right?
For some reason a lot of them seem to think the night before is the time they should kiss and maybe even make love to the person who may or may not love them back. I mean, come on! A couple of days working towards a common cause of rebellion or war doesn’t cement soulmates. It takes time to get to know someone.
Single protagonists theoretically have a higher chance of survival because they’re not distracted by romance. They’re fully focused on self-preservation, which is important in order to be able to enjoy many more decades of life.
At the end of the day–romance or not–what matters is characters soundly represented given their unique story. However, amidst all these books that contain romance, I do wish that more would portray the single life in a positive light. Excitement can be derived from many things in life, and it’s important to remember that. Stop pining for someone when life’s calling you. The plot moves with the present – carpe diem!
Joséphine is the blogger behind Word Revel. She resides on an island affectionately known as the Little Red Dot and can be found on Instagram, Twitter, and Goodreads celebrating the written word.
Why do you think being single isn’t such a common status among YA characters?
What were some motivators pushing you toward a relationship (or otherwise not)? Were they intrinsic? Extrinsic?
How else do you think characters could relish the single life such that romance wouldn’t be necessary to move the plot forward?
As always, think aloud.
I screamed into the void and Josephine was one of the first bloggers to respond to wanting to help out/be featured.
This is Day 4 of of my week long 2016 Valentines Themed Week!