We’ve all encountered that moment. It happens during family functions, at parties or bars, and basically in any social environment. Things are going smoothly until we’re asked that dreaded question that forces us into defense mode: “So why are you single?”

Some people will bluntly ask. Others might be more subtle, offering only an awkward smile and change of subject. Regardless of how it’s handled, it is single shaming, my friends. You might be wondering what on earth single-shaming is. Ask any single person who has been forced into defending their status and they can probably tell you.

Single shaming is unintentional most of the time. It's that look of concern or pity you get when you reveal the fact that you are navigating this life without a romantic partner. It's the nagging questions about why you're single, when you last had a relationship, and if you ever get lonely. I even classify forced matchmaking to be a form of single shaming. In this day and age, I don't need you to push me into a cringe-worthy date, friend. There's an app for that and it rhymes with hinder.

In a society where social media is now used as a standard diary, people take pride in broadcasting their happy, lovey-dovey relationships. From the ever popular #MCM (man-crush Monday) posts to starry-eyed date night pictures, people use every opportunity to showcase their romantic endeavors with “bae” (hate myself for using that word). And why shouldn’t they? To be honest, I have a deep appreciation for couples that display a healthy, loving relationship that I would like to have one day. These posts are not bad, but they do often remind us of how much value people place on that relationship label when in reality, how much depth do a lot of those relationships actually have?

I am 21 years old. I will finish college in four years and plan to pursue a career that makes me happy and sufficiently supports my financial needs. I like to party but I also enjoy nights in with Netflix and my warm bed. In my eyes, I am a normal, driven, outgoing college student and compared to lots of the hooligans I’ve met, I like to think I have my life together on most days. So why when someone finds out that I’m single am I immediately looked at with sympathy and confusion? Who decided that with the single status label comes additional tags? Why does the fact that I’m single have to mean that I’m too much for a guy to handle or too socially inept to hold a conversation? Whether people realize it or not, they immediately make assumptions about a person when they find out they have no significant other.

Single shaming will probably be something that stays around for awhile. People have unintentionally thrown romantic relationships into the list of components that are supposed to make up a normal, well-rounded person. However, this fact shouldn’t phase those of you single individuals out there. Wear that label and wear it with dignity. No, I’m not suggesting that you hook up with a slew of people at the bar because you aren’t tied down, but take pride in the fact that you won’t settle for mediocre love just to feel like you’re not alone. If you’re in a relationship, good for you! Just make sure it’s not compromising your goals and desires as an individual. Let’s all be on the same team here. Single or taken, we all want to find happiness in this twisted crazy life.