Dating Dissection 0.6: Pompous Couples & The Smug Singletons
Disclaimer; this Dating Dissection doesn't delve into the highs and lows of modern dating, you won't learn how to detect a fuckboy, or be affirmed that self-love comes first. Instead, we will discuss the...
The Lesser of Two Evils
What grates at your teeth more? A smug singleton or pompous couple? Maybe they're equally disdainful? I guess by nature it’s impossible not to be a shooting target for either. If you are single and content, you shan’t be for long if a painfully happy coupled friend or acquittance has anything to do with it, and that painfully happy coupled person will soon meet there match in an overly content singleton. Very much like vegans to omnivores and omnivores to vegans, someone always has a point to prove, and this stands true for many facets of our lives. A person who only wears black will profess that it indicates intelligence, whilst the person wearing a rainbow-hued sweater and purple leggings will claim that colourful clothes suggest a colourful personality. Humans are constantly trying to justify the decisions that they make, positions that they find themselves in and their dispositions on a whole, so it's more than natural for singletons and couples too. As humans, we're striving to be liked, right and reassured, but earnest happiness doesn't need reassurance right?
Perhaps there's a lot to say about overcompensation here. The expression 'the lady doth protest too much' is true in many cases whether that be in regards to pompous couples or smug singletons, or perhaps there's just a fear of being judged and pitied for your relationship or lack of. We're going to look to Sex and the City (the very show that inspired the Dating Dissection), Season 4, Episode 1 to be specific, in which at a party Miranda is asked,
'And what about you Miranda, seeing anyone special?'
'Actually no but I am seeing a whole bunch of unspecial guys. That’s one of the requirements to date me. Are you special? Sorry! Move along…but if you have any unspecial friends could you give ‘em my number. I’m serious do any of you have a completely unremarkable friend or maybe a houseplant I could go to dinner with on Saturday night?"
Carrie bemused by Miranda's self-depreciation asks Miranda about the 'comedy routine' of which she explains,
'We were standing in a group of married or engaged women just trying to avoid the pity party.'
Ok, transcript complete (if you want to know the rest of the conversation go watch the episode).
Like Miranda, many singletons are prepared with ammunition for the uninvited condolences that will be poured over them once they reveal their 'situation'. It starts with 'don't worry you'll meet someone soon' and then (occasionally) continues into a humble-brag about how they met there significant other when they were least expecting it, or after a bad break up. Sometimes the coupled person tries to build the single person's confidence (because single life is so diminishing) by expressing that they are 'beautiful, intelligent, etc....what's wrong with (insert gender here)'. And worse of all, some digest that it's obviously your problem, suggesting that 'you need to get out more', 'maybe you need to be more open', 'you're not dating the right kind of (insert gender here). On the flip side is the singleton that brags about 'single life', how much fun you can have, how much time you have for yourself, all the people you get to meet (and have sex with), the lack of stress – this is particularly tactless when proclaimed to a person that's just relaid an argument that they had with their SO, or a general annoyance of their relationship.
The truth for both the self-satisfied singleton and coupled person in these situations is that they are probably slightly unsure about their circumstances. The single person may, in fact, be independent and happy in the self-indulgence of being without a 'partner', yet they still may crave companionship and romance, or the guarantee of good sex with someone that they care for rather than the awkward uncertainty of casual sex. They may enjoy the thrill of sitting down for dinner with someone unknown, but this doesn't mean that they don't ultimately want to meet someone that makes first dates a thing of the past.
This is the case for Miranda, she is happy being single yet she is open to meeting someone – the two are not exclusively mutual.
Later in the episode, she bumps into a 'happily married' old friend who has her own ammunition prepared for questions around whether she will have a baby. Which leads Carrie to narrate,
'Miranda realized, it’s not just about being single; everyone has a sore spot that needs a little comedy routine.'
The point in case is that 'the lady doth protest too much' is most likely the case for anyone of that's self-approving about either being coupled or single. The person that's truly content with single life just lives it, exuding confidence, occasionally mentioning the downsides and as well as the positive attributes. As for the person in a content relationship, well, they don't need to tell you how happy they are because it's as patent as the smile on their face, they feel more than at ease to relay the irksome behaviours of their partner because they love them regardless.
The moral of the (somewhat disjointed and pointless) story here is that there is no lesser evil when it comes to pompous couples and smug singletons, so don't be either. And it's not difficult to strike an equilibrium of stating happiness or imparting advice without displaying sympathy or arrogance, simply read the situation; does this person want or need your advice? Question why you need to declare how happy you are; is it productive or to prove a point, be that to yourself or others? Once you've done this you're at no risk of being neither pompous or smug.