Approaching a milestone birthday inevitably forces us to evaluate what we've achieved and where we feel we've fallen short — both personally and professionally. In a recent interview with British Vogue, actress Emma Watson said one thing she's made peace with as she nears her 30th birthday is her current relationship status. "It took me a long time, but I'm very happy [being single]. I call it being self-partnered," she said.
What does that mean, exactly? Carla Marie Manly, a clinical psychologist based in California sees merit the idea. Manly describes the relationship status this way: "self-partnering focuses on the ideal of being happy and complete as a solo individual. A self-partnered person would feel whole and fulfilled within the self and does not feel compelled to seek fulfillment through having another person as a partner." That doesn't necessarily mean a self-partnered person doesn't date or never hopes to get married someday. It's that they're taking the time to know themselves first. "To be truly self-partnered, one must often invest a great deal of time and energy on personal development," says Manly.
Why re-framing relationship status is trending now
Watson isn't the first celebrity to shift what's normally viewed as a negative relationship status into a positive. In 2014, Gwyneth Paltrow used the term "conscious uncoupling" to describe her divorce from Coldplay singer Chris Martin. Why has reclaiming these terms become a trend now? "There’s a big shift in renaming the terms of relationships because there’s also a huge shift towards individuality in younger generations who are no longer wanting to be defined by the standards of traditional generations," explains Travis McNulty, a therapist practicing in Florida.