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How was your holiday break?

Some of us, especially the singles, experienced the tough love scrutiny from our relatives about our personal lives, and, of course, our love life. 

Unless you’re unfamiliar with the Filipino culture, you may know that it is not uncommon for someone who is unmarried in her 20s or 30s to be put under a lot of pressure in regards to their love life—thanks to the outdated beliefs that have been embedded within our collective narrative for so long now. According to a study commissioned by Bumble on the “Romance Gap,” the majority (57 percent) of Filipino women feel the pressure and need to settle down before they are “too old,” while only close to one in three men (38 percent) feel the same.

Relationship expert Dr. Margarita Holmes sheds light about this toxic culture and how singles can handle it. 

Define what single shaming is and in what ways people or Filipinos, in general, are doing it?

Dr. Margarita Holmes: Single shaming is the bias “against” people who are single, assuming they remain single because they are unattractive and no one wants to marry them. The idea that a person chose to be single and that a person could have gotten married had s/he wanted to but didn’t, never enters the minds of single shamers.

Asking why someone is “still” single and assuring them they’ll “find their person soon” is also rather patronizing…and, again, quite presumptuous because it implies that their single friends wish they had a life like their (coupled) selves. In the Philippines, joking, teasing, nagpaparinig are examples of single shaming. Those doing the joking and teasing excuse it as simply joking. Theywill claim “they” (the singles) can take it. This is especially difficult when the questions are asked out loud and in public.  


What are the possible effects of single shaming and biological-clock reminding?

Insecurity, doubting themselves, not liking themselves, being apologetic for their choices, loss of confidence, avoiding friends and other tactless people.

What are the things people can do to combat it and embrace their singularity? 

The most important thing they can do is develop a strong self-concept so they don’t get affected with words from heartless people (and people, even so-called friends or “concerned relatives” who do not care about your feelings are heartless since they cannot read/pick up on your true feelings). You don’t need people like those in your lives. So, as the Desiderata says, “avoid loud and aggressive people, they are vexations to the spirit.” Remember to have self-acceptance and self-compassion (read Dr Kristin Neff to learn more). There are “tips” others can give you to do this, but the tips only work if you have a healthy self-concept, self-acceptance, and self-compassion within you.

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