Gray Matter


Single or Not Single - Modern Relationships Are Confusing

RT Cunningham | September 26, 2020 (UTC) | Culture

singleI’m well aware the English language evolves over time. I just never thought it would evolve so much during my lifetime. In relationships, it seems that single no longer means what it meant when I was single. I wasn’t even aware the commonly understood meaning had changed until I started paying attention to how people were using the word.

I wrote about this a few years ago at one of my old websites, but it bears reexamination. People are also using the word “crush” to define a relationship now, and I’m totally confused about how a crush on someone could have any bearing whatsoever. Also, I’ve made a few minor changes to the original post to clarify what I’m talking about, based on some comments I read.

Are You Single?

Years ago, I heard my older son use the word “single” for someone who wasn’t in a relationship. A few years later, I heard my younger son, Jon, do the same thing. I thought their abuse of the word was just a family thing until I heard the same thing on a popular TV show (I think it was “Vampire Diaries”). It was mainstream.

When Jon was going to college, I asked him if he was interested in a good-looking girl in his class. He responded with “she’s not single”. When I asked him what he meant, he said she had a boyfriend. Why didn’t he just say that in the first place?

Somewhere along the line, I realized that “single” had changed in its everyday usage. Kind of like “my bad” not meaning what it sounds like. Single now means “unattached” to another person. It begs the question: If you’re in a relationship and not single (by the current usage of the word), what exactly should your relationship be called? Wouldn’t “attached” be more proper?

Marital Status

When you fill out forms, especially government forms, you have to check the box that indicates your marital status. As far as I know, these haven’t changed:

They’re the legally recognized relationships. Perhaps the list needs to be modified a little to more closely define the relationships:

“Single”, in its current usage, has become a bit ambiguous. Even “separated” has become ambiguous in that unmarried couples who have split up are considered separated in modern word usage.

Cheating in a Relationship

I’m sorry if you don’t agree with me, but a non-married relationship just doesn’t have the kind of binding power that a marriage has. Where’s the commitment? In other words, if I’m not married and you’re not married, you’re fair game as far as I’m concerned.

Cheating used to refer to extra-marital affairs but apparently, it now means extra-relationship affairs. “Infidelity” still means infidelity, regardless of what kind of relationship status you’re in, but cheating seems a bit extreme if you’re not bound to each other in marriage.

Photo Attribution: Free-Photos from Pixabay
Edited and updated. Originally published at one of my other websites in June 2014.

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