Much of the stigma and negative self talk associated with being childless not by choice or single and childless not by choice is due to the societal stereotypes that seem so “normal” we absorb them as truth. There are narratives that we’ve heard for so long, by so many people, in so many different ways that we believe them but we don’t know why we believe them. We just always have and so have the people around us. There are societal norms that people get married and have kids. If you don’t follow those “norms” then something is wrong with you and society comes up with toxic reasons why your life doesn’t fit the “norm”. We then have to deconstruct the “brainwashing”. Below are 4 toxic stereotypes that are often associated with singleness and/or childlessness. Read below to help you replace the self talk rooted in these 4 toxic stereotypes with the TRUTH.
You are unwanted-According to Wells Fargo Economics as of 2021 52% of women are single. That means of the majority of women over 18 have seasons of life where they are single. Being single doesn’t mean you are unwanted, it can mean a million different things, but it does not conclusively mean you are unwanted. Maybe it means our society places too much emphasis on romantic partnership when people not in romantic partnership feel unwanted even when they may have well rounded friendships where they are valued and appreciated. It is like that sex in the city quote where Charlotte posits that maybe your friends are your soulmates and men are the more seasonable relationships.
Something is wrong with you- you are single and/or childless you don’t have the plague. It can feel like you do but you don’t. People grow and change and sometimes being single and/or childless gives us an opportunity to develop a life that is well rounded, varied interests, with a variety of people that can feed different aspects of our life. Sometimes being single can also help you feel more confident and assured about who you are. Maybe your season of singleness means you are getting in touch with your authentic self so instead of something being wrong you are enhancing who you already are.
You aren’t trying hard enough (related to singleness)-this often comes from people who have been partnered for a long time. Once you get out of the school environment it does become harder and try not to take to heart advice from people who have never been over 30 and dating. They don’t know what they are talking about. They may think they do but they don’t. The same can be true for childlessness. If you haven’t been through infertility or childlessness related to circumstances people often believe if you don’t give up it will happen. Things like positive thinking, manifesting, don’t stress about it etc are given as “advice”. Anyone who says those things has never experienced the situation they are giving “advice” about. Just because they say it confidently doesn’t meant they are right.
Work alcoholic- some people might use work to distract and cope and the idea that someone is single or childless because they only care about work isn’t accurate. If work plays a role in your singleness you can explore that AND lots of women have both a career and invest in other aspects of their life.