Such alternatives don’t always ring true. At a 2014 panel discussion I attended, one dating coach suggested using the word “available” instead of single. As in: “You’re available to find love,” he said.
That term didn’t seem quite right; to me, it felt both creepy and desperate.
In 2015, we coined a new word over here at The Post: solo-ish. We viewed it as a way of saying: My life is my own, but I share it with others, too — family, friends, co-workers. Sometimes there’s a special someone, but not always.
Whether “self-partnered” speaks to you or not, it harks to the larger trend of sologamy, or marrying oneself. Japanese travel agencies offer “solo wedding” packages: wedding dress, bouquet, limo, hotel stay and photo album included. An Italian woman hosted a “fairy-tale” wedding, sans prince, for herself and 70 guests. A New York woman “married” her community, a way of using the wedding ritual to commemorate the strong bonds she has created with friends. And, of course, there was that “Sex and the City” episode where Carrie Bradshaw declared she was marrying herself and was registered at Manolo Blahnik.
Bella DePaulo, a sociologist, author of many books on single life and a Washington Post contributor, thinks “self-partnering” doesn’t quite fit, because it’s still about partnering. “When I want to specify people who embrace single life as their best life, I use the phrase ‘single at heart,’ ” DePaulo said in an email.
It’s easy to mock solo weddings or Watson, for calling herself “self-partnered,” but both hit on the importance of each person’s relationship with themselves. It’s something you cultivate and work on, and it can change over time. Just like a relationship with someone else, this bond can be healthy, toxic, boring, fulfilling, loving or deficient.
The theme of healthy self-love is having a moment in pop music, too. In this year’s hit song “Soulmate,” Lizzo looks at herself in the mirror and recognizes she’s “The One”: “I know how to love me / I know that I’m always gonna hold me down / Yeah, I’m my own soul mate.” Similarly, in her 2018 upbeat breakup anthem “Thank u, next,” Ariana Grande sings about how she’s moved on from her relationship with ex-fiance Pete Davidson to a more fulfilling relationship — with herself: “I know they say I move on too fast / But this one gon’ last / 'Cause her name is Ari / And I’m so good with that.”
The Twitter reaction to “self-partnered” has been mixed, with some mocking the term and others saying they were going to use it the next time a nosy relative inquires about their dating life. Whatever word you prefer, the search to find an alternative to “single” will continue.
This post has been updated.