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When they asked me to tick my relationship status, I drew my own box

In my mind, a better word for “single” is “independent”. It’s a nicer term with more positive connotations, just like “child free” is a more palatable description of those without children than the downbeat “childless”. For many, not having children is a state of liberty, a plus rather than a negative.

It’s still no one’s beeswax who or what you do in your private life, but at least changing the word is one way to catch up on the many broad lifestyle choices available today. It shows how the norms have shifted away from predominantly religious-based notions that decree coupling as a requisite to happiness.

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Which leads me back to the preconceived perceptions of singledom and why they need to change. Not all single people are pining for a special someone to complete them. We are also not necessarily celibate. We can and do date and/or have fulfilling romantic relationships without needing to declare ourselves as committed – whatever that entails, considering an estimated 70 per cent of all marriages experience an affair.

Today, when we recognise that sex and sexuality can be fluid, why are we still categorising relationships as static (that is, you are either committed or single)? And why is the latter still perceived as negative, an unhappy state of limbo, thus denying the freedoms that remaining unattached allow?

To those who want to propagate the belief that singles are missing out on romance and sex and intimacy, you may find yourself in a distinct minority in your convictions. Because being independent is an attractive alternative, one that lends to the truth that single is a spectrum, not a cliché, something that doesn’t define anyone, or deserve being stuck in an archaic status box.

This article appears in Sunday Life magazine within the Sun-Herald and the Sunday Age on sale April 4. To read more from Sunday Life, visit The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

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