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Single people: are they discriminated against?

Should society show a little more love to single people? Andrew Papworth believes it should. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO

Should society show a little more love to single people? Andrew Papworth believes it should. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO

Teraphim

Some people might simply see this column as nothing more than a man without a wife, partner or girlfriend complaining that he's hard done by.

Who knows, maybe they're right.

But in an age where calls for greater equality are ever louder, there is one group of people who can be sneered at and left financially worse off - and that is singletons.

Having been single myself for a number of years, I've taken my fair share of snarky comments from those who clearly think that living on your own is weird, or that I must be secretly desperately unhappy for not having a partner.

The main questions I get is often simply 'why are you single?' or 'do you think you'll ever find someone?'

Being in a relationship is one route to happiness - but it's not the only one, says Andrew Papworth. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTOBeing in a relationship is one route to happiness - but it's not the only one, says Andrew Papworth. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO

Others have amusingly told me that they thought I must be gay, as if being homosexual somehow makes any difference whatsoever.

The inference running through these questions is that being single long-term is unusual and that I must want that to change.

For me, the answer as to why I'm single is straightforward. I'm quite happy as I am.

Sure, if I met someone I liked then I guess that would change. But it's not something I'm actively searching for and if it doesn't happen, then so be it. My life is fulfilling enough as it is.

Just because you're single doesn't mean you're broken hearted, says Andrew Papworth. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphotoJust because you're single doesn't mean you're broken hearted, says Andrew Papworth. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Of course, many people might want a partner because they want the company or maybe want to start a family. That is perfectly fine.

But to me, there seems to be a great pressure on many people to couple up because it's seen as the 'normal' thing to do - and perhaps because they'll get embarrassing questions if not.

Films, novels, television programmes and - dare I say it - newspapers often play to the idea that happiness lies in love and marriage. Being single appears, in comparison, as somewhat inferior.

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To me, that's all nonsense. It's 2019 - people should be free to choose to live as they like. If that is on their own, then so be it. There's more than one way to be happy.

And while a single man or woman munching popcorn on their own doesn't sound like the most thrilling of film endings, I hope one day that being single is celebrated just as much as its alternative.

Part of the problem, in my view, is the fact there are financial incentives for couples but not for single people.

The Married Couple's Allowance is great for those who are wed or in a civil partnership, as they can effectively get up to an extra £891 a year in their pocket.

But why do single people not also deserve some sort of financial boost, just because they have made a different (but no less justified) life choice? Or just because they haven't met the right person?

Also, don't they deserve it? Single people know only too well how you can clobbered financially, not least by bearing more of a burden in rent and bills than couples. It's something single parents must feel even more.

It would also undoubtedly be popular. Current statistics show single person households make up about 15% of the market - and there must be more single parents and others beyond that. There are a great many people who need that financial help.

Of course any discrimination single people face pales in comparison to the battles people have had (and are still fighting) for racial equality or women's rights.

But in my opinion society still has a view that the family, wife/husband and children is ideal which everyone should aspire to.

The sort of society I think we should aspire to is one in which everyone is free to choose the life they are happiest and most comfortable with, without fear of being judged.

If that is a family and children, that's great. But if it's living alone, that's okay too.

Perhaps when it comes to that view, I'm on my own - a position I'm rather used to being in, you might say. But I suspect, quietly, that this one area of my life where I'm actually not alone.

We of course ought to celebrate love and marriage. But as a society, let's show a little bit more love to single people too.

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