The paradox of single shame (plus the epiphany of a drag queen)

by | Apr 22, 2014 | Advice, Single Shame | 2 comments

Reminder: Tomorrow’s quirky chat is on “The Paradox of Single Shame” at 5 pm PT/8 pm PT. Click here to RSVP and put your question in queue.

The whipsmart Sara Eckel (author of the fantastic new book It’s Not You: 27 (Wrong) Reasons You’re Single) will join us. She’s written about her own single shame in the New York Times Modern Love column: “I didn’t want him to know the truth: that I was 39 and hadn’t had a serious boyfriend in eight years.”

Now, as a leadup to this most juicy quirky chat on single shame, I want to share my amazing experience at a drag show this Monday night (it’s relevant) and some thought-provoking questions on single shame that have come in in advance of the chat.

Monday I planned to meet up with my friend Jenny for a drink in downtown Oakland. We wandered over to Café Van Kleef, a whimsical, kitschy, zany, dare I say *quirky* dive bar famous for its grapefruit-vodka cocktails. As we started on second drinks the emcee announced the drag show would begin. We had no idea it was drag night. We had not noticed that many of the couples around us were pairs of men. Boy were we lucky on a Monday night!

The performers were out of this world. One of them made me feel like I was back in Rio for Carnaval, she undulated so pansexually with the crowd in her pasties. I adored the way they lip-synched and danced to the pop songs with such passion, such emotional catharis. One drag queen slithered on the floor lip-synching to Pink, what more do you want? I felt validated that strong emotions exist.

In between the shows, the bar broadcast RuPaul’s reality show Drag Race on a big screen. Think America’s Top Model but for drag queens. The standout moment for me (there were many great moments) was when one of the contestants shared an epiphany. I will paraphrase. He said, “It was that moment when I realized that there was actually nothing wrong with me, and the only thing that was wrong with me was the fact that I thought there was something wrong with me. Nothing changed, but everything shifted.”

That’s the subtle yet huge shift we are going to be talking about tomorrow in our monthly quirky chat on THE PARADOX OF SINGLE SHAME.

Why this topic? Shame about singlehood and not knowing what to tell a new partner about why you have been single for years has been one of the consistent things I have heard from my quirkyalone coaching clients. It’s a real problem. How do we share our lives and our histories with a date or a partner when they have not conformed to the “norm”? IF we anticipate being judged, we’re already judging ourselves as “wrong.” We can all draw inspiration from that drag queen’s epiphany and stop making ourselves wrong at the get-go.

Here’s one of the great questions that has come in in advance of the chat:

“Hi, I’m a QA who has just recently started dating someone (who has A LOT of dating experience) after being single for 11 years. I feel embarrassed and like I need to come up with a great explanation on why I’ve been single most of my life. This topic seems to come up more and more in our discussions. How do let go of my feelings of inadequacy? Thanks, Sue C.”

Another quirkyalone Tracy Maxwell, who’s writing a book, Single, With Cancer, wrote in to say,

“I was marveling to a friend recently that with more than half of us living alone now in this country, it was astonishing to me there wasn’t a magazine or other publications focusing on the single crowd, and then it hit me. Shame! That’s why. Few people want a magazine touting their shameful status landing in their mailbox monthly. Wow!”

Robin wrote in with another view:

“What about those of us who have chosen to be single? For me, it’s not like being unemployed. I’m not ashamed that I am single. I do not bemoan the fact that I am single. I strongly believe that I will be single for the rest of my life, and that it is not a bad thing. I am not against being in a relationship, it just isn’t a goal of mine. Much like traveling to Azerbaijan is not the goal of most travelers. If, however, someone comes along that makes traveling to Azerbaijan sound like a remarkable thing to do, I might be convinced to take the trip. It’d have to be a pretty good pitch though, since time and money are limited commodities. If I take a trip towards a relationship, I might have to forgo some other experience that I was already looking forward to.”

First, it’s great that you don’t feel shame. Shame is a war on the self, and so it’s best to not feel shame. However, the first step to clear shame is to acknowledge it, and many single people do feel shame about their status or relationship history, whether or not they are dating someone.

Quirkyalone is about freedom to do it your way, but specifically, quirkyalone has always been about people who are both comfortable being single and do want a relationship. I recommend those who really want to stick with being single check out the work of sociologist and writer Bella de Paulo for more support and research about the people she calls “single at heart.”

When we talk about single shame, I’ve noticed that what happens for quirkyalone types often is that we spend a long time single and then we don’t know how to talk about this with someone new when we start dating. That fact of having been single so long in itself becomes a barrier for connection.

This is often one of the biggest themes in my conversations with my quirkyalone coaching clients, so if you want one-on-one personalized support to work on this issue and become more free to connect, click here to find out more about quirkyalone coaching.

Tomorrow join us live!

RSVP for the The Paradox of Single Shame chat here and join us tomorrow at 5 pm PT.


  1. Cami

    Hi Sasha! I just watched the Spreecast chat. Wow. So real. So honest. Thank you. I felt like I was having a deep conversation with good friends.

    In the first part of the video I felt like saying: “but there IS something wrong with me”. Because I feel I know why I am single, it has a lot to do with how I was brought up. There is a lack of trust and fear of risking my heart only to be hurt, and shame for being imperfect. So I just haven’t bothered. But maybe it’s not that simple, maybe the story I have been telling myself is quite heavy handed on the self blame, a bad habit. The facts are that I have been single for 7 years. Be it circumstantial or my own doing.

    As the conversation went on, the perception of my situation morphed a little in my brain. “Maybe it’s just something that happened” doesn’t sound so implausible anymore. This new outlook is one of the roots to the self acceptance you mentioned in the video. It makes everything (my damn story) so much more palatable.

    I LOVE the idea of the group coaching! I am signed up to your list already so I will hear about it 🙂

    Thank you.

    • sasha

      I loved reading this Cami, thank you so much for sharing your story and reaction. This is truly deep and important stuff for us to all heal. I’m very excited about the idea of group coaching too. I’ll be sharing more information on the list–yes, and if others want this, let me know because it helps me to know and move it up on the chain on the to-do list. 🙂


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Hi! I’m Sasha

Executive and Life Coach on a mission to help women connect with their bodies to pursue their truest desires in the bedroom and the world.

Author of Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics (HarperCollins) + To-Do List: From Buying Milk to Finding a Soul Mate, What Our Lists Reveal About Us (Simon & Schuster).

At work on a memoir called Wet, about adventures in healing through sensuality.

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