Single, yes. Lonely no!

Annette Tan

The New Paper, Singapore Press

January 5, 2005

The festive season is always an excuse for old friends to compare the year's successes.

In my motley circle, John, an insurance agent, made it to the Million-dollar Round Table.

Celine sold her restaurant for twice the amount she expected.

Romeo, a one-time Talentime star turned flight steward, earned his Leading Steward promotion.

Me? Let's say I can finally afford to buy a few more purses and shoes after paying my monthly rent.

Yet success these days seems to be measured not by marital status.

At one dinner party, my friend June and I were ruminating over how well our lives have turned out - despite our Secondary Four teacher's predictions that we would end up sweeping roads, the day she caught us skipping class to watch Dirty Dancing.

June is now a successful lawyer, and I'm - well, I have a fortnightly column in The New Paper on Sunday (it's all relative, okay?).

And then came the inevitable.

'So, you married yet?' asked an old schoolmate at the party.

'No,' we both replied cheerfully.

And that's when we were met with the dreaded head tilt. Which, if you're not familiar with it, implies pity.

'Oh,' our friend said, her head tilted to the left.

'Well, you two have always been the independent sort.'

On another occasion, my friends Josh and Rose announced they were getting married. This was, of course, followed by congratulatory toasts.

In the three hours I was at the party, I was lectured by a 25-year-old single mother (who never married, by the way) about the joys of marriage and children, asked five times if the boyfriend and I were planning to marry, and subjected to eight head tilts from people I didn't even know!

One C-list celebrity actually said, 'Not married? Aiyah, poor thing!'

The way it was bandied about, you'd think marriage was as easy as picking up some guy at a salsa party and doing the horizontal mambo to create the requisite baby.

Sure, research has shown that married people are happier and live longer than single people.

Plus, it must be fantastic to have the power of two incomes.

But single people are single for a reason: They may not have found the ones they are meant for.

Or they could be recovering from emotional hurt. Or, perhaps, they are perfectly content with their lives.

Couples can, and do, stay together for years before they don their finery and recite their vows. The point is, it's their business, not yours.

So this New Year, instead of tilting your head at singles, look them in the eye. Wish them love.

Because in a world filled with money, terrorists and natural disasters, we're all vulnerable - married or not - and love is something we could all use.

Plus, it's more polite.