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“How to Be Single”: A 21st Century Guide?

Picture this: a couple of weeks into February; I went to the cinema to see “The Revenant.” Looking back now I know it was probably not the smartest idea, but I needed to focus on something other than my recently shattered love life, and Leonardo DiCaprio is always good for my mental health. Irrelevant to the story. So there we were, waiting for the film to start, when a new trailer caught my attention – Dakota Johnson and Rebel Wilson’s “How to Be Single.” Look, I had just been dumped. I really needed to learn how to be single again.

However, as much as I wanted to see it, it took me ages to do so. Besides, I had my reservations. It looked like a fun film, alright, but I found this idea of a how-to guide to being single a bit troubling. First of all, not every woman deals with it the same way. Second, even the same woman won’t actually use the same “guide” every single time. Sometimes you feel like going out with your friends. Sometimes you feel like meeting new guys and/or girls. Sometimes you just want to lay low and watch “Bridget Jones’ Diary” with a stupidly big bowl of chocolate-covered popcorn (hey, not judging – been there, done that).

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I won’t go into details because this is not a movie review (I’m way too late for that, anyway), but Dakota Johnson’s character Alice breaks up with her boyfriend, not because she doesn’t love him, but because she needs to be alone to find herself. Or so she says. So she tries to find herself by living a typically single’s life, with the help of the always hilarious Rebel Wilson, and then decides that that life’s not for her. She tries to get back with her ex-boyfriend, Josh, by telling him that as far as she’s concerned the break is over – only to find that he’s met someone else and is happily moving on. I know we are supposed to take Alice’s side, okay? She had been in relationships all her adult life and needed some time alone to discover what she really wanted, but I simply can’t side with her on this one. Can anyone think about Josh for a minute? The poor guy was so confident in their relationship and, as he says, he “didn’t need an experiment” to know that he loved her, whereas she did. Sorry to break it to all of you want-to-try-being-aloners out there in the world, but it’s incredibly selfish of you to ask a person for a break and then still expect them to be there when you come back running to them. Because you will. As Josh says (look, he really is my spirit animal, okay?),

The minute you walk out of here, you’re gonna realize how much shit I do for you and how great I am and how much you need me, and you’re gonna start stalking me. And that’s sad.

That is sad, indeed. That’s not being single. That’s staying in the middle and, in the meanwhile, not letting the other person move on. Cheers, social media! The 21st century really makes being ex-partners so much easier with all that stalking, uh?

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Apart from that, the film really does make an excellent point about singlehood. Alice does lose herself at first amidst parties, new guys, “dick stands” and generally trying too hard to be stereotypically single. We’ve all been there. At least, I have. After you’ve been in a relationship for quite some time and you have to put yourself out there again, it’s really easy to get caught up in the attention you receive from different guys, and you can get yourself into the kind of trouble you never thought you would. However, there’s a point where we all go from being Dakota Johnson to being Rebel Wilson: confident, fearless, sharp, feisty. The world stops spinning for a minute, and suddenly you’re the one setting the pace. And if you’re not there yet, don’t worry. You will. We all do.

Last but most definitely not least, I’m in love with how the movie doesn’t put Alice together with neither her ex-boyfriend nor any other random man she hooks up with (I thought she was going to stick with Damon Wayans Jr for a while; hell, that’s what I would’ve done myself). There’s a Tumblr post going around that says that after a girl’s been broken up with, she’s hardly ever single. She always has a close male friend, somebody she’s flirting with, somebody she wants to kiss, but she’s never fully alone – which I actually, from experience, stand by. But there’s a moment towards the end where she tells Josh she wants “to be alone. I know that I’ve said that a lot, but for the first time in my life, I really, really, truly mean it.” And I think that’s incredibly important. After all, it takes time perspective, and at the beginning, it’s obviously really hard to see, but singlehood really is a blessing. We do need it. Take that trip. Read that book. Drink that wine. Kiss that boy. Cherish being able to live life your way.

Have you watched “How to Be Single”? What are your thoughts on it? And do you have any other movie to add to the Single Girl Motivation list of films to watch? Leave a comment below!

*Disclaimer: I keep referring to heterosexual relationships in this article because it is both what is shown in the movie and what my personal life has taught me. However, it is obviously applicable whatever your gender/whatever gender you’re attracted to. 

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