Sunday, 16 June 2013

Why Do People Feel Shame About Being Single?

'The best way to deal with shame is to talk about whatever it is that makes you squirm and want to hide under the blanket.'

We live in a society where individuals are free to choose all aspects of their life style. Gone are the days when a woman was passed from father to husband like a prized jewel or a marketable cow. Gone are the days of shot gun weddings, 'illegitimate' children, and the the fear of becoming an old maid at the tender age of 25. When it comes to sex and marriage, society has changed beyond all recognition, so why is it that people still feel so much shame about being single?
I used to think it was 'natural loneliness' that drove me to join one online agency after another and endure endless dates with men who were completely devoid of even the most rudimentary manners. But after the ending of my most recent relationship I was reminded once again of an inescapable truth: There is nothing more lonely than living with someone who doesn't love you - at least when you're single you're free to focus your time and attention on people who do love and care for you. After the initial shock and grief of the latest break up I thought I'd finally cracked it: I was happy and single – and if one day a lovely man should come along, he knew he would be the cherry on the cake not the eggs, milk and flour.

The it started, that old familiar feeling like a dark heavy cloud creeping slowly across the sun. I checked in with myself to see what I was feeling; lonely? No. Desperate for sex? No. Bored and in need of some drama or excitement? No. I decided to sit with this feeling until finally I was face to face with what was making me feel so bad and much to my surprise I discovered it was shame. I was absolutely horrified to hear the voice of shame that said 'no man wants you and therefore you are a failure, an outcast, an absolute reject'. In the eyes of shame, it never matters how great I think I am, or how wonderful my friends say I am, it doesn't matter how amazing my life is or what I achieve in the world – if no man has granted me his 'seal of approval' then shame quietly points out to me that if I am still single, then I must be completely worthless.

This may sound harsh but that is exactly what I discovered lurking in the core of my being when I stripped away all the layers of 'perfectly natural' loneliness, the urgent desire for sex, the feeling that something is missing and the wistful belief in my very own 'happy ever after'. And, knowing as many single women as I do, I also know I am far from alone in experiencing this insidious, excruciating shame. Are women really are free of the shackles of social control, or has the oppression has simply been sublimated and hidden from view, making us think we are now choosing to go bonkers in the quest for His love?

Things are difficult for men too, after all we all live together in this shame based society. If a man manages to cleverly avoid being 'tied down' by a woman, then he is expected to be out there having sex with everyone and anyone, (as long, of course, as it is not with someone wearing pig tails or long shorts which is the only sexually addicted behaviour that is frowned upon these days.) I have met many men who have no interest in 'sleeping around' but who feel shame about not having done it – as if this would have somehow made him more of a man.

Despite the 1960s 'sexual revolution', it appears that women and men are still carrying huge amounts of shame about their sexuality. We can't simply be, instead we have to constantly find ways to prove our sexual worth. The shape and form of the shame many vary between the sexes, and even between individuals – but it is always there; ugly, pervasive and cunningly well hidden. That's the problem with shame, it lurks in the shadows and is such an uncomfortable feeling most of us will do anything to hide it, even from ourselves.

A wise person once told me; shame doesn't live in the light and I have discovered that they were absolutely right. The best way to deal with shame is to talk about whatever makes you squirm and want to hide under the blanket. I was shocked to discover that not only do I feel ashamed of being single, but I also feel deeply ashamed that in this day and age, I can still feel this way. (I should have more self respect than that!) But I'd much rather own up to my feelings of shame than continue pretending that I am experiencing one of the more socially acceptable feelings of loneliness, horniness, wanting a baby or some dreamy notion of being rescued.

I wonder how many of us are running around sleeping with strangers, going on endless disappointing dates or slowly suffocating in painful, unloving relationships just because we are afraid of feeling ashamed? (Ashamed of not being 'man enough' or of not being cheerfully claimed and taken off The Shelf.) Maybe if we started admitting to our feelings of shame we could finally begin to heal the buried wounds caused by thousands of years of social-sexual oppression. Perhaps we could begin to experience true freedom from the realisation that none of us have anything to prove to anyone through our sexual encounters or relationships with others. After all, true self acceptance can only come from letting go of external judgements and living a life that is true to oneself.

Freja  © November 2011

Additional note for Manifesting Mr Wonderful readers:

There is absolutely nothing shameful about wanting a positive loving relationship or to meet the right man. However, I highly recommend checking to see if you are motivated by feelings of shame about being single or if this shame is hidden somewhere in your unconscious because it will only stand in the way of you manifesting what you want. I now believe this 'shame of being single' plays a major role in blocking women's ability to manifest positive relationships; there really is nothing more effective at lowering your vibration and your standards. Shame is an incredibly powerful emotion and our unconscious fear of it can lead us far away from self caring decisions. If we really want to raise our energetic vibration then we must begin by confronting any conscious or hidden reservoirs of shame.

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