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It’s not all catfights & catwalks: Why TV gets single life all wrong

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 (Thomas Nelson)

It seems everywhere I look these days, there’s a new dating show. Always a new angle… on the same premise. Cram one man and multiple women into an enclosed space complete with a castle, a cheesy soundtrack, and contrived dates, add a heap of drama and a dash of scandal and you’ve got the formula for a hit show. Easy as that. Very little assembly required.

Apparently our culture is addicted to watching a gaggle of single women scratch, claw, and pull each other’s weave out to claim the affections of one charming (or not-so-charming) beau.  

Apparently our culture is addicted to watching a gaggle of single women scratch, claw, and pull each other’s weave out to claim the affections of one charming (or not-so-charming) beau. 

I suppose maybe we enjoy the cattiness and the romance and the drama of it all.  (Oh, the drama.  “Next week, watch the most dramatic episode in Bachelor history…”  And so, we watch. Of course.)

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m a television junkie.  I currently DVR 20+ shows (including several reality shows) and am helplessly addicted to my remote control and Netflix.  

I’m such a TV nerd, I once drove twelve hours to Wilmington, North Carolina to be an extra on Dawson’s Creek.  But that’s a story for another day (or you can read all about it in my new book "I’ve Never Been to Vegas but My Luggage Has").  Despite my passion for the small screen, however, I have to say – I find it troublesome how inaccurately singleness is portrayed on America’s “Must-See” TV shows.

I’m 35, never been married or engaged, and I can say that the single life is not nearly as dramatic as the girls on these shows would have us believe.  And it’s not “desperate” either. For me, my relationship status says nothing about me except whom I happen to be walking with.

Granted, it’s not always comfortable to be alone in a couples-centric society, but no “Prince Charming” is worth manipulating, begging, or crawling over seventeen other women to get to.

So, if my singleness doesn’t mean I’m desperate, then I must be glamorous, right?  Lots of dates, big nights out in the city, great clothes, and wild vacations.  Nope, not that either.  

Being single is not the catfights of "The Bachelor," but it’s not the catwalks of "Sex & the City" either.  My stilettos tend to come from Target instead of Manolo Blahnik, and I’ve found the bulk of the joy of single life is found in the quiet moments. 

The typical single girl’s first date doesn’t include African safaris or weekends in the Swiss Alps.  And that’s okay.  Give me dinner and a movie that’s rooted in something real any day.

TV says the female singleton swings on this pendulum between cat-fighting drama and thrilling sophistication.  And that’s just plain false.  (What are these wild expectations that we’re creating for women?)  

Instead, the single life is about finding deep contentment and real satisfaction in this stage, this season, this chapter.  Whether it’s for now or forever. 

We are not lonely, mournful, pathetic creatures who have no identity without a man and no worth without a relationship. 

What we are is brave. Too brave and too sure of who we are to settle for a life OR a love that’s less than what we deserve. Even if we are walking away from settling in chucks instead of Louboutins.

In the movie Sex & the City 2, Sarah Jessica Parker’s Carrie Bradshaw essentially discounted everything single and fabulous about herself that we came to love about her throughout the series with this one quote: “The minute I kissed Aiden, I remembered who I used to be.  Someone just running around New York like a crazy person, trying to get the one man I love to love me back.”  That was all she was doing that whole time?!  Funny… I thought she was inspiring us with her fierceness and confidence and independence… and really it all came down to a man.  Sigh.

Mandy Hale, affectionately known as “The Single Woman” by her million+ readers and fans, is the author of "I’ve Never Been to Vegas but My Luggage Has" and creator of thesinglewoman.net. With a heart to inspire single women to live their best lives and to never, ever settle, Mandy cuts to the heart of the matter with her inspirational, straight-talking, witty, and often wildly humorous take on the life of a modern single woman.