According to Reverso, these are synonyms for unmarried:
bachelor, celibate, maiden, on the shelf, single, unattached, unwed, unwedded, virgin
Celibate? Virgin? Unattached? Unless I’ve replicated virgin birth, I am obviously no longer a virgin because I have a child. Why does a single person have to be celibate? And what’s up with being on the shelf? As if being unmarried means that you cannot possibly live your life; you are waiting to be picked. Only then can you get off the shelf to finally enjoy life. What matrimanical bs!
But it gets worse. Throw in unmarried woman at thesaurus.com and this is what you get:
bachelor girl, fuddy-duddy, goody-goody, lone woman, maiden, prig, prude, single woman, spinster, unmarried woman
Of course! An unmarried woman has to be lone and prude! Why didn’t I think about that! And, btw, the main entry for unmarried woman is “old maid.” Pretty telling. Because women before 80 are all married, right?
Remove the woman and it gets even worse:
by oneself, companionless, friendless, in solitary, individual, me and my shadow, me myself and I, on one’s own, single, solitary, stag, unaccompanied, unaided, unassisted, unescorted, unmarried
If you’re unmarried, you don’t have friends, you don’t get any help, and you never have company. That’s for unmarried (using main entry “solo”)! Scrolling down to main entry “alone,” we find
abandoned, batching it, by itself/oneself, companionless, deserted, desolate, detached, forlorn, forsaken, friendless, hermit, in solitary, individual, isolated, lone, lonely, lonesome, me and my shadow, me myself and I, on one’s own, onliest, only, shag, single, sole, solitary, solo, stag, traveling light, unaccompanied, unaided, unassisted, unattached, unattended, unescorted, unmarried, widowed
Alone is not lonely, far from it. It certainly does not mean that someone deserted or abandoned me! And what’s up with this “me and my shadow, me myself and I”? Being single is so horrible that we have artificially create a group? Of course that’s also pretty pathetic because we’re so desparate for companion that we start talking to our reflection in the mirror.
Clearly, we have a long way to go if the words that are associated with single or unmarried are such negatively laden things as “forsaken.” Gee, if that’s what comes up for “alone,” what will lonely be? Oh, sure enough, it’s single (among other things…). Notice again that they’re mixing words that are negative and those that could be positive, like the juxtaposition of lonely and alone. Edwards and Hoover define loneliness in chapter 4 of their book “The Challenge of Being Single” like this (p. 79):
Briefly, loneliness can be defined as an acute longing for companionship, a feeling of bleakness, of isolation, and of being cut off from others in an uncomfortable, even despairing way. Being alone, on the other hand, means simply being by one’s self. It can make you miserable – if you can only see it in terms of loneliness – or it can be quite enjoyable, a source of infinite possibilities once you appreciate the positive uses of being by yourself.
Loneliness has nothing to do with being alone, by oneself, secluded, or solitary – as anybody who has felt desperately alone in a relationship can attest to. Yet, the thesaurus writers throw it together with being alone. What a sad reflection of our cultural assumptions!