What does self-partnered mean?
Self-partnered is an alternative for the word single as a relationship status. It was popularized by Emma Watson in a November 2019 interview with Vogue.
Examples of self-partnered
Where does self-partnered come from?
In an interview with British Vogue published in part on November 4, 2019, actor Emma Watson, famed for playing Hermione in the Harry Potter films, discussed how she feels about turning 30.
Watson noted pressures she feels women face to have a home, spouse, family, and stable career by this age. Commenting on her own relationship status as single, Watson said, “I am very happy [being single]. I call it being self-partnered.”
Watson’s use of self-partnered is both pointed and creative. It’s pointed in that it calls out how society often judges women who are single, as if something is wrong with them for not finding or wanting a partner. Think of the stereotypes around single older women as spinsters, for one.
WATCH: Was "Single" Always A Negative Word?
Self-partnered is also creative as a substitute for single, using the language of relationship statuses (partnered, or “being in committed romantic relationship with someone”) to indicate she is positively committed to herself, hence self-partnered. In this way, self-partnered has resemblances to quirkyalone, “a person who prefers being single to being in relationship with someone just to be in one.”
Although maybe it’s because when you tell someone you’re single, the automatic assumption is that you’re actively looking for a partner, so by saying self-partnered you’re making it clear that you’d actually rather be on you’re own right now? pic.twitter.com/XPj79ebc6G
— Hazel Hayes (@TheHazelHayes) November 5, 2019
While self-partnered doesn’t have any wide use as an actual relationship status, Watson isn’t exactly the first to use the term. One person substituted self-partnered for single on Twitter in January 2018.
One early instance of self-partnered in a relationship context comes in a passage in a 2012 book Freeing Emotions and Energy Through Myofascial Release. The author, Noah Karrasch, notes self-partnered (along with “committed partners, semi- and uncommitted partners, change encounters, or hired partners”) as a choice one has for sexual activity.
Melanie Tonia Evans, a counselor on narcissistic abuse, has been using self-partnering (and related forms) since at least 2015 in her programming. Being self-partnered, as Evans uses it, involves strong self-care, self-empowerment, and self-agency—loving and being true to oneself.
Who uses self-partnered?
Self-partnered isn’t (yet) meaningfully and widely used as an alternative label for single as a relationship status.
Watsons’s use of the term, however, did generate a lot of conversation in the media and online about how single women are viewed in society. It also has its finger on the cultural pulse in that 1) partner is an increasingly popular term for “significant other,” and 2) self-partnered underscores broader changes underway in language not only around gender and sexuality but also romance and relationships.
I personally love that Emma Watson calls being single "self-partnered". We really need to overhaul the way we think about singledom and especially how our culture views single women. I wrote about this a while back: https://t.co/DGxcns6K1a
— Rachel Thompson (@RVT9) November 5, 2019
Social media, as ever, also made a lot of jokes about self-partnered as a term.
might just mess around and…
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change our name to Kraft #SelfPartnered
— Kraft Singles (@KraftSingles) November 5, 2019
Notre Dame is simply self-partnered, not independent https://t.co/M63R60vXLe
— RedditCFB (@RedditCFB) November 5, 2019
This is not meant to be a formal definition of self-partnered like most terms we define on Dictionary.com, but is rather an informal word summary that hopefully touches upon the key aspects of the meaning and usage of self-partnered that will help our users expand their word mastery.