Over 600 years later, the strictures and stigmas of courtly romance still poison our understanding of relationships. If only we had the courage to imagine something differentby Caspar Salmon / November 7, 2019 / Leave a comment
Much hilarity and scorn have greeted the statement in an interview this week from the actor Emma Watson that she is happily “self-partnered.” Not since Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow doulaed the phrase ‘conscious uncoupling’ into existence have online wags had such a shiny new locution to play with.
But any single person over the age of 30—which this writer is—will tell you that Watson’s intervention is timely because, despite immense progress in so many social causes, the stigma of singleness is still tenacious. Her comments are so much more forward-thinking than the reduced mindset of former years. Cast your memory back to literature’s most famous single person (apart from God, from the Bible): Bridget Jones. A recurring nightmare in the life of the protagonist is being identified as a singleton at social events—but in Helen Fielding’s deathlessly conventional world, Bridget ultimately solves this problem by… getting a boyfriend. Talk about curing the symptom.
Another notorious single gal from the 2000s, Carrie Bradshaw, brought great joy to many un-coupled people in an episode of Sex and the City in which she ordered a rich friend to buy her some shoes, with the words, “I’m getting married… to myself. And I’m registered at Manohlo Blahnik.” I have forked out (most gladly!) for friends’ engagement parties, weddings, and even—in grave contravention of my principles and homosexuality—stag dos. Totting up the exact sum that these events have set me back over the years would be deleterious to my mental health, but I will observe that in return I would have loved to see more married friends make the journey to London for my 30th birthday—which I consider the closest thing to a wedding I’ll ever have, given that I would rather choke than get married.
The financial woes don’t stop there for people who refuse to buy into the lie of lifelong monogamy. Have a look at property prices in London. When people ask me if I’m on the lookout for a partner—a question I certainly love to hear!—I tend to reply that I would dearly like to meet that special somebody who will halve my rent.
Of course, Carrie Bradshaw eventually ruins all her good work by finally getting married in…