C and I made this observation over lunch today:
We have a word for someone who abstains from sex (celibate) and the idea of abstaining from sex in general (celibacy). Actually, we have two words for it if you count abstinent as well.
But as far as we know, there isn’t really a word for someone who has decided not to pursue romantic relationships for whatever reason (whether they’re celibate during this period or not). The closest we have (as far as I am aware, at least) is aromantic, but that’s different. The vast majority of people who don’t pursue romantic relationships are not aromantic, they’ve just decided that now is not the time, for whatever reason. Maybe a bad break-up, maybe they have career goals that they don’t want to be distracted from, maybe they just want to spend time single to get to know themselves well and gain a sense of independence. It’s the same as the difference between asexuality and celibacy, only with aromanticism and… a person who is abstaining from romantic relationships, I guess. You see what I mean? We have a description, but not a word.
Has anyone heard of such a word? It gets rather unwieldy to say that every single time when you’re trying to have a conversation about someone who is intentionally, purposefully single like that. I guess there’s “independent,” but that’s more of a general personality trait used as a euphemism than an actual term for it. Since it has that general meaning as well, if you say that without explaining what exactly you mean, other people are liable to get confused. You can say, “She’s very independent” about a married woman, too.
And what does it say about our culture’s values that people have never thought to name this concept? It’s like the idea of people being single on purpose is considered so wrong that people don’t even consider naming it, even though it’s not unheard of. It always seems to be considered just a temporary thing that requires explanation.