Television Doesn’t Understand What It’s Like To Be Single

With You’re the Worst, Master of None, and Love (to name a few), television has seen an influx of smart takes on singlehood that are moving away from some of the tired tropes of the past. Not all the way away — those tropes will outlives us all — but when you watch those shows, there’s a thread of realism and it’s not as teeth gnashingly frustrating.

With other shows, however, the single person’s struggle still unfolds as characters fumble through an oft unrecognizable existence of exaggerated loneliness and despair or fall in and out of impossible love stories with great frequency. And while this may all be in the name of entertainment, no one wants to see a boring or wholly unrealistic caricature of their existence. Especially not when a choice is made to reject originality and relatability and churn out a “safe” rom-com that adds nothing to the conversation. So, with that in mind, we decided to look at some of television’s past and present rom-coms to highlight some of the most egregious misconceptions about single life in the faint hope that we all might wince when we stumble upon them in the future.

You are probably not embroiled in a love triangle.

The love triangle is a well-trodden trope in sitcoms and dramas alike. Sometimes a person’s reason for singleness is simply that they cannot choose, you guys! (Cue eye-roll.) While people on television may be lousy at making choices, chances are, in real life, two beautiful people aren’t vying to win your heart at the same time. No offense, that kind of stuff only happens on TV.

Your friends are not singularly focused on getting you laid.

Sitcoms and romantic comedies have really done a disservice to the “best friend” role. True friendship involves equal interest and encouragement, not the one sided fawning that usually happens on television. Yes, one person will obviously be the lead, but many of the peripheral characters are just lazy stereotypes to prop up our hero. It doesn’t have to be like this, television writers: It’s not so bad to let the sidekick have their own stuff going on.

Your crush probably isn’t pining away for you from afar. 

As much as we wish that a Jim and Pam situation would happen to us, common wisdom is that if someone wants to ask you out, they will. Sure, the quiet longing may occur at the beginning, but eventually, most people will let you know. And if you put yourself out there, you’ll probably get your answer pretty quickly which means you won’t be waiting around for someone while missing out on other opportunities. Unless that other opportunity is Roy. Best to wait for something better to come along for sure if that’s the case.

You can be single and still maintain a healthy work/life balance.

A common trope is that someone can’t find love because they just work too gosh darn much. Obviously if you could just take a break from the grind, love will find you. However, while being single does open you up to increased focus on your career, most single people find that they can balance things just fine. Honestly, people’s true selves always come out whether or not they’re in a relationship, so if you’re a workaholic when you’re single, you likely will be when you’re in a relationship, too.

Being single doesn’t consume your every thought.

While Carrie Bradshaw may have told us that a new form of feminism involves endlessly obsessing over relationships (ugh), most people find that they can find fulfillment in other ways. Shocking! I know! While every single person has a bout of feeling the sting of loneliness (looking at you, holiday season) from time to time, most find ways to not be totally alone. Be it hobbies, friends, or just the enjoyment of your own company, you’ll probably find that the love quest doesn’t consume every waking moment.

There is nothing wrong with the occasional dry spell. 

Fun fact: Your hymen is not going to grow back. Yes, it can be a bummer without an on-call sex partner, but there are certainly ways to — ahem — cope. Also, being single can even be a bit refreshing. While commitment is all well and good, it can be fun to play the field and keep your options open. And, when it seems like there aren’t any options, you’ll find that the world will go on turning and you can keep living life just the same.

Your impulse control is probably the same as your coupled up friends.

How many times have we seen a perpetually single character on television give in to their secret bad behaviors? While their friends are getting their lives together, our poor singleton is either too free wheeling to grow up or too emotionally devastated to eat the normal amount of ice cream. However, most real-life couples will tell you that bad habits carry over into relationships, as well. You may hide them better if you’re sharing a place, but even hidden bags of Doritos eventually come to light.