In this week's Grazia writer Zoe Beaty wrote about how she's made to feel boring because she has a boyfriend. Here, she explains why she wrote about this issue and asks if you've ever been 'relationship shamed'? To read the full piece buy this week's Grazia - and let us know what you think. Is Zoe wasting the best 'single' years of her life?
I’m 25. I’m in a long-term relationship. I have been (mostly) since I was 15 and, because of that, some people think I’m doing my twenties wrong.
I learned this when, holed up in an East London pub, my friends staged what you might call an “intervention”. They told me that I was wasting my best years being “held back” by simply having a boyfriend - there were more important things to do, they said, like climb the career ladder and travel. I am missing out on all of the fun, they said. It didn’t feel great.
When I started to look around, I found that other people were experiencing the same thing: relationship shame. Some were my friends, pretending their live-in boyfriend was “just a housemate” to save face, others I found debating whether they should split up with their partners to "experience being single".
It's just not cool to be in a relationship. Statistics from 2011's national census showed that single households are increasing at a rate of 166,000 per year and, according to the Government Office for Science, singletons are are on track to become the biggest type of household by 2031, reaching 10.9million. Women are increasingly shunning men to be more career oriented. Opinions surrounding the topic agreed that, whilst it’s predominantly fantastic that men and marriage have been replaced by careers and independence for women in their twenties (and we wouldn’t want it any other way), it can come with a side effect of anxiety - by being shacked up, am I really missing out on all the fun? Will I regret it? Am I living my 30s a decade too soon?
Rationally, I know that the grass is always greener, as one long-term single friend told me. Unfortunately, as many of us know, that knowledge alone can’t prevent anxieties from creeping in. And after years of hearing family and friends voice quiet concerns about my tendency to jump into new relationships (I’ve had three) just months or even weeks after another has ended - “shouldn’t you learn to be on your own?”, “we just don’t want you to settle down too soon” or “you’ve never been on a date?!” - I could relate to it entirely.
Being in a relationship too young can feel like you’re old before your time or like a disloyalty to our independence. It doesn’t fit with the ideal of young, ambitious woman we strive to be. We’re educated, achievers – our careers come first. To admit, publically, that you want a relationship – to show vulnerability, need and desire for love – is now embarrassing.
It shouldn’t be. And so I wrote about it in Grazia this week, to champion a new attitude to your twenties - one where being career-oriented and relationship-oriented and fun can be part of the zeitgeist. Please, do join me.