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Busola Adedire: Defining What It Means to Be ‘Single’

Busola Adedire



‘All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honour, duty, mercy, hope’- Winston Churchill

I am someone who doesn’t do well with ambiguous things – as my curious side won’t let me be great. But this life sha, e get plenty plenty things we question but can’t find answers to. Darn you, English! I would rather we found one definition for words with binary or ternary meanings like love, and oh… single!

You know the problem with English is that, we can read the same thing yet comprehend it in completely different ways. This is the problem I have with the words above – unnecessary ambiguity!

Now to the definition of single…the legal definitions for a single person is someone who is not in a relationship or is “unmarried”. In common usage, the term single is often used to refer to someone who is not involved in any type of serious romantic relationship, including long-term dating, engagement, or marriage.

Whenever I hear the word ‘single’, the common definition often comes to my mind: but, it seems a number of people disagree.

I remember in my Uni days, I was crushing on this dark and handsome bobo; but soon, my hope dashed when I heard he had a girlfriend. That was how I went on a headless rant with one of my girlfriends about this guy, but her response stunned me. My friend was strictly team shoot your shot! In her words, so far you are without a ring, you can do and undo. Errmm… I don’t know O!

I think for me, I do worry about doing the right things, so I can live with myself in peace. The thoughts of ‘stealing’ what belongs to someone else on the basis of that argument doesn’t sit very well with me. However, some people will argue… people are not properties, thus can’t be stolen. That one is another discussion for another day.

On one hand, I am team love without ‘pity’… no one should ever feel like they ‘settled’ with the other person. It is either you want them or not! But, I have lived long enough to hear classic variations of stories that touch. You know those stories that sounds like Bayo dated Sade for 7 years, only for Bayo to marry our Pana baby, Folake – whom he dated for 6 weeks. Yes, those ones!
First of all, I am not a fan of long winded relationships; but that does not mean it is a crime for those who do have them. In my head, a 3-7 year relationship is something that warrants sort of a ‘loyalty status’ as per wife/husband material certified! Not that you can own human beings but… I don’t classify people in one of those 3, 5, 7 year type of relationships as single in the literal sense. Especially, if we were to apply my friend’s definition of being single. No! You cannot do whatever you like.

I also think it should be a crime to cage someone else’s heart…because you haven’t found what you were looking for. But that one sef, is another discussion for another day!

If you are in long term dating, you kind of ‘owe’ the other person nothing short of an excellent/valid argument for opting out of a relationship with them. Infact, if you date someone for 9 years or over… you probably owe them a solid commitment status a.k.a marriage or what do you guys think?

Now, there are people who genuinely drift apart. But the term ‘drift apart’ is another controversial one for me-  as it is ridden with grey areas. If you claim you drifted apart with a lover, what are the chances it won’t happen again in the next relationship or marriage? But this life can like to surprise us sha.

Back to the topic, I think the problem with the word ‘single’ is the level of freedom associated with it. You get judged by others for this ‘perceived freedom’ and it also means you get to play by your own rules whether it hurts another person or not. The latter part does not sit quite well with me.

Although, I have learnt that on ‘Love Street’ you don’t waste time pointing fingers at those who did right or wrong by you… you just keep it moving! Like the famous quote goes ‘you only get 5 emotional minutes in a day’… for break ups? Maybe 60 minutes! And you get to decide how you want to spend that. However, on the flip side we have others who are not single in the ‘literal’ sense but refuse to acknowledge whoever they are involved with.

This is a very subjective one as I can understand it if you choose not to ‘claim’ anyone outside commitment, but you cannot get mad when people shoot their shot with you.

Also, whether this is a good or bad thing in the context of a serious relationship. I don’t know!

By the virtue of conventional reasoning, you shouldn’t act single if you are not single; but, that depends on what your definition of ‘single’ is. So, you see my problem?

So BellaNaijarians, how do you define ‘Single’? Do we owe prospective partners loyalty based on how long we dated them?

Photo Credit: Kadettmann |


  1. oo

    January 9, 2017 at 2:40 pm

    Single is when you are NOT married.
    Engaged, long-term, in a relationship etc don’t count.

    • Nkechi

      January 10, 2017 at 12:23 am

      Single means not married, not engaged, in a relationship he or she is managing till a better person comes along, still trying to convince parents to marry. I have looked North and South; East and West. Those who ask God to choose are not old school or archaic. They are the wise ones. The market is too crazy,sometimes dark. If you have been in a relationship for more than 2 and half years and both of you are working. Please Waka go or else you may regret. Don’t let anyone waste your precious life .. It is different if you are waiting for something eg complete Uni. My friend’s sister was in a relationship for 7yrs. The guy changed his mind. 7 good years of a life is no joke. Also, if he has a fiancee already. What is your own. Commot eye and face front. I admire the writer’s integrity.

  2. Damiloves

    January 9, 2017 at 2:58 pm

    It’s often difficult to be objective when emotions are involved, but single means not married. That fact is often a bitter pill to swallow especially if a person is in a chronic long term relationship that has no definite status or label.

    FGM vs Female Circumcision

  3. easy

    January 9, 2017 at 4:01 pm

    Wen u fill biodata wat do u c in marital status ;it is eida single or married which one u com dey ask

  4. Tee

    January 9, 2017 at 4:13 pm

    Babe you too talk abeg. Single is when you are single and you know you are single

    • yeyeperry

      January 9, 2017 at 5:33 pm

      Yes Tee’s right. And I am single, very single. BN please create that dating/ matchmaking site already.

  5. iyke

    January 9, 2017 at 5:33 pm

    Single means ……..’You don’t have a serious partner’. The simple distinction, you have a serious partner or you don’t, maps onto the golden rule of singlism, the way of thinking that has become the conventional wisdom of our time.
    I however have trouble with that term, and I don’t use it anymore. I don’t like the ‘single/ ‘married’ binary. It implies that any unmarried person is a fragmentary half-self awaiting completion in a spouse. It’s very counter intuitive. and a strange way of rating people.

  6. Lucinda

    January 9, 2017 at 5:33 pm

    Single is “unavailable” or “unoccupied” to me. That means:
    1. You are not loving someone else. And;
    2. You are not giving a person loving you, green or amber light.

  7. EndOf

    January 9, 2017 at 8:54 pm

    Some women and men might be hurt by this statement but the bottom line is:
    “If you are not Married, you are Single.” Shi ke na.

    On official documents and goverment forms, whether engaged or in long term relarionship, an individual will either be single or married.

  8. kelechi

    January 9, 2017 at 9:36 pm

    Being single is when you have no one to call your own..hey fam,im in need of new friends my email is [email protected]

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