Single and Stigmatized

By | 9:30 PM Leave a Comment
Once people hit their mid-twenties and beyond being single elicits feelings of sympathy and the universally recognized “ouch” face from friends and family. Singles hear usual fanfare such as:

“You have such a great personality, you should be dating!”

“You’re such a sweet person, we need to find somebody for you!”


“You’re so much fun. Why aren’t you dating anybody yet?”


These good-natured people fail to realize they are describing features sought after in friendships more than romantic interests. It’s why so many singles have many and strong friendships, but their dating history is a bit sketchier. Including those who are actively dating.

Since 2011, it’s claimed 40 million Americans are using online dating services to meet potential matches. However, a good number of the most popular dating services are using swipe features where prospective matches are based on a physical attraction to a user’s profile picture. Swipe right if you like what you see and swipe left if you don’t. In the 21st century, it seems the most important thing in the dating world is physical attraction. While it is a strong aspect of straight dating culture, a priority on physical attraction is expressively dominant in gay dating culture.

This is reflective of the evolution of the dating world. When coupling becomes more about personal choice than the familial arrangements of eras past, people tend to gravitate towards particular personal wants in a mate. Whether they admit it or not, at the top of the list is someone who fits societal standards of handsomeness or beauty. What does this mean for singles that weren’t cut from the same cloth of supermodel specimen like Willy Monfret or Selita Ebanks? Or even those who don’t fit heteronormative aesthetic standards (whether straight or gay)?

I have no idea.

What I do know is the stigmatization of the post-25-year-old single is rampant. Yet, even with their accessibility, the possible rejection on dating apps and sites makes these services potentially ego bruising rather than helpful. A single can have a winning profile showcasing how stable and charismatic he is, but if he doesn’t please the eye of those he swipes right on it doesn’t matter. It’s to the left, to the left for the single. And vice-versa. It’s not enough to be an interesting person, there also seems to be a requirement to be picture perfect.

So, good-natured friends and family, just remember singles are combating such superficiality to find someone to authentically connect with and the task isn’t easy. Try to remember dating is just tougher for some singles. Don’t ask why they are still single. Just know they are trying.

What are your thoughts on 21st century dating culture? Do you think there are distinctions between straight singles and gay singles looking for a connection? Can people have chemistry without physical attraction? Sound off in the comments section below!

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