Singleness after the “Sbwl”

Do you know where the danger is when you “sbwl” a relationship? (Before I continue, let me explain: “sbwl” is a South African pop culture reference for something you desire or wish for yourself that you see in others’ lives.) I used to “sbwl” a relationship until I got into one and realized…hmm, actually, it was better to “sbwl” and remain single than to stay committed to something that didn’t align with where I was in this season of life.

I am 21, a recent graduate, and I believe(d) in “settling” and building a life with someone. This is all because of the romantic comedies I watched when I was younger. It seemed to me that your 20s are for that cliché scene when you bump into someone, fall madly in love and make and share memories and milestones together until marriage, kids, a picket fence and grandchildren. I wholeheartedly wanted this for myself because,, growing up,that was a narrative I resonated with and looked forward to. 

But as I have grown and experienced life’s rose petals and thorns, I am also okay with the fact that this is not the season of my life for that. Love is an act of labour, and I think most of us look past that or don’t get to see it when our favourite couples post cute, cuddly pictures or milestone/highlight reels. So yes, #umjolo and #uthando are beautiful facets of the human experience, but so is taking the time to seek and settle into them healthily. 

Developmental Psychologist Amy J. Rauer and her colleagues studied why we seek romantic intimacy and desire to settle soon in our adolescent years. It all has to do with physiological and psychological safety. When your brain and emotions develop into adulthood, you begin to seek stability in our society, and that translates to a job, an income, a spouse, a home and a reliable support system of friends and family. So in case you thought you were weird for “sbwling” a relationship in your adolescent years, you’re not. Your brain is kind of wired like that!

“Sbwl” will fool you! Perspective and Preference

Well, as for me, I am pleased to announce that I prefer to be single. I’ve seen both sides of the coin – so if you think you’re missing out, I promise you’re not. I can guarantee that the side of the coin that is a romantic relationship probably has better currency later in life when you’ve learnt to focus on generating your value internally and not basing it on being in a relationship with someone. Moreover, you’re probably only scared to be single because you think you’re running out of time. But I assure you, you have so much beautiful time, and there is so much value and romance in learning to love yourself, find your purpose and be patient enough not to fall prey to the “sbwl” syndrome that has us in a chokehold. But if you’re hesitant to believe me, I get it. Two years ago, I wouldn’t have believed me! 

Sex Culture 

So we have all “sbwled” the couples that go on ‘baecations’ and post about each other, all alluding to sex, right? Most of us may not want to be single because of the sex culture on social media and how more comfortably and attractively it is dispensed. The way social media narrates and defines intimacy is twofold. It is either through hook-up culture or a romantic sense of sexual relations over time with a partner. Most young people, when looking for relationships, are also looking for a sex partner with whom they can share intimacy. There is nothing wrong with that! However, sex culture has primed itself as a priority and not just a part of the bigger relationship. So, most relationships become modelled around your desire to find someone to engage sex with safely, which also drives your “sbwl”. Nothing is wrong with wanting to share your mind and body with someone in that way, but don’t just desire not to be single just because you’re thinking about sex. Consider the priority of a relationship in which you are dating somebody in more ways than one!

#Sebenza, with your singleness

Many of us desire a partner we can trust without suspicion or #umgowo to feel safe, seen and supported as we do life. But most of us tend to either fear or focus on the sex, the scenery and other stuff. And that is simply because of social media. You’re not strange for wanting a relationship, I get it, but behind that camera of the couple you “sbwled” is a different lens to love, life and partnership. What “sbwl” syndrome won’t tell you is that there is a whole life of work, compromise and responsibility in any relationship. So, consider that before you commit your whole time to want something instead of appreciating yourself and the freedom of singleness! That’s my 2c – what do you think about singleness – love it or hate it?

Tell us: In what ways do you believe social media has shaped your perspective on being single? Has it created societal pressure to be in a relationship, or has it allowed for a greater appreciation of the benefits of singleness? Let’s discuss this.