PERSPECTIVE: Taunts about singleness, dating distort meaning of happiness

By Beth Byrd

Dating. It is the main ingredient in a recipe of emotional trauma.

After years of dates, breakups and every status in between, I know a thing or two about the miseries of singlehood and the trials of relationships.

I come from a family of jokesters. From uncles to nieces, we all enjoy a laugh. The snarky comments normally are playful enough to be swallowed without losing too much pride. But as a teenager, I had several family members who began to assault my dateless status, saying “You must be a lesbian” and “That’s what you get for being home-schooled.” I learned a lesson about how tactless people can be about sensitive issues.

Years later with a rock now on my finger for a wedding slated for next fall, I realize this situation was but one of many trials the dateless endure. From cringing at every love song blaring on the radio to watching mushy couples openly display their affection, singles are frequently reminded about the heart missing beside their Facebook statuses. But harassing others about their dating life is cruel yet not unusual punishment when people think that pressuring the dateless somehow makes singles feel better.

This childish behavior should have been ditched long ago. But rumor has it that Unionites are prey to the same pressuring that should only exist in the film “Mean Girls.” Whether playful or well-intentioned, forcing a friend into the dating scene is no one’s responsibility.

Dating is not a game. The purpose of dating is not to make oneself look good, nor to discover how well someone kisses, nor to make someone else jealous. Dating exists for people to better understand whether they want to marry someone. Some may laugh at such a serious approach to a typically flippant idea. Living in a world of casual romance and one-night stands, I have not always treated dating seriously, either. But I also have dated for the wrong reasons, and the results are not so pretty. Friendships are destroyed. Time is wasted. Wounds are inflicted that often take years to heal.

Considering these pitfalls, why would anyone want to pressure friends into relationships? Some people are not ready to date. Others have not found people they are genuinely interested in dating, or they are focused on classes or jobs at this point in life. None of these reasons are wrong, and none of these reasons should make people feel bad about being single.

For a while, I thought something was wrong with me because I was single. Everyone seemed to think dating gave a person purpose, and I believed this lie for years. I struggled with depression and a negative self-image because I thought I had no worth being single.

On this side of engagement, I realize my purpose in life is tied to something beyond my fiancé, although I love him to the bottom of my soul. I would harm both of us if I made him into the god of my life, which is exactly what people do when they think that human relationships are the key to a meaningful existence.

Happiness is not found in romantic relationships. Stop believing the lie that it can be, and stop forcing this lie upon those who dare to rise above it.

Beth Byrd is a senior journalism major.

About Cardinal & Cream 1011 Articles
The Cardinal & Cream is a student publication of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. Our staff ranges from freshmen to seniors and includes a variety of majors — including journalism, public relations, advertising, marketing, digital media studies, graphic design and art majors.