Why we choose to be single! South African creatives talk the art of self-love

When we were younger, the prospect of dating and navigating intimate relationships seemed effortless, flawless and romantic. We pitched our ideas of the perfect partner based on an idealised version of someone. Once thrust head first into adulthood, the fairytale is blown away and we are left shooketh. While some of us choose to enjoy our own company, and the comfort of singledom.

So as the self-appointed Singles Club chairperson, I sat down with a few single creatives to ask how they are navigating singlehood, creativity and (self-)love.

Sibu Mpanza

Sibu is one of the most recognisable members of the South African YouTube community. His videos on current affairs and trending topics are equal parts educational and informative.

How do you navigate events as a single creative?
I usually go with a close friend.
Any creative you would never date?
A painter – they constantly looked stressed.
Do you think being single has any impact on your work?
Yes, I don’t talk about my relationships in my videos.
Why did you choose the single life?
I didn’t feel my mental health has been in the right place to be in a relationship. I do not want to be harmful to someone else. I think a positive is that I can fully concentrate on myself and my career, although I do think with the right partner, one could still focus on themselves and their career.

Nwabisa Mda

If you’re a fan of binge watching YouTube, you will definitely recognise Pap Culture‘s Nwabisa Mda. She is a hilarious and talented strategist at an agency in Cape Town.

Do you think being single has any impact on your work?
Absolutely not. I treat these two worlds as separate things, as they play totally different roles in my life. Would I love to come home to a cooked meal and go to bed with a human blanket after a long and exhausting day at work? Of course. But that’s about as far as that goes.
What does self-love mean to you?
The concept of self-care has become so much more important now in my adult life because I’ve realised it’s such a crucial process of getting more in tune with yourself, your wellbeing and happiness. It’s about getting closer to your purpose, getting yourself healthy both physically and mentally… It’s just important, man.
Why did you choose the single life? 
Being single chose me. After ending my last serious relationship, I was kinda keen to just be out and about, no attachments or commitments. But then that got draining real quick cause between meeting people who just wanna have sex and others who are commitment-phobes, I just got over meeting people who weren’t particularly keen to get to know me for me; who I am, what makes me tick, stuff about family. You know, the good stuff… the real stuff. So the journey just continued from there and I’ve been single since.

Langa Mavuso

Langa Mavuso is a singer, songwriter and performer from Joburg. His voice is rich and ethereal, plus he is the epitome of a beautiful black boy. His star is undoubtedly on the rise.

Do you think being single has any impact on your work?
Yes, my work becomes my first priority. This is a bad thing but I’m way more productive when I’m single. I think love inspires the music and the solitude allows for reflection, which makes for great music.
Thoughts on Instagram couples?
Don’t do it! Just don’t do it. No matter how happy you are with someone. I just feel we already share so much ourselves online, it’s nice to keep some things sacred. This doesn’t mean it has to be a secret.
Why did you choose the single life? 
My last relationship ended.
What do you think are the perks of being single? 
The perks of being single is the freedom to enjoy my own company without guilt and the company of other people without the intense commitment or pressure to stay.

Jabulile Dlamini-Qwesha

Jabulile, aka StrawberryBompi, is your favorite fly aunty at any function and fashion writer at Superbalist. With a glass of Demi Sec in hand, the Cape Town creative can dish on the intricacies of the fashion and décor world from the inside out.

How do you use your singlehood to cultivate self-love?
It’s been the other way around. I’ve been on this self-love/ care/ discovery trip for some time now and the things I have learnt make it easier for me to rebuff and/or walk away from situations that don’t serve me in the way I need them to.
Why did you choose the single life? 
My main thing right now is that I get to be selfish in peace.
Has your work ever got in the way of a relationship?
Yes, there have been times where I’ve had to choose work engagements over showing up for a significant other. But it is only to be expected; this is what your 20s are about.
Is there any kind of creative you would never date?
The only thing I can commit to is to never date a lazy creative.

Kristen Clague

After taking a detour from a BSc in Chemical Engineering, Kristen has steadily climbed her way to the top in the advertising industry. The Cape Town-based digital strategist has brought exceptional creative to clients and improvised communities alike.

Career or relationship?
Yes. At the moment, the way my priorities are set up, my career comes before a relationship. The long hours and stress involved in this industry sometimes don’t leave much energy or desire for dating.
What is your favourite dating or hookup app?
I’ve tried Tinder recently for fun and it’s been quite entertaining. I’m not active much so most of my messages are like this one.
Have you been using your singlehood to cultivate self-love?
Definitely. I was in a toxic relationship for a long time. Finally getting out of that situation and being single has allowed me space and freedom to actively practice self-love. I’m super focused on putting myself and my mental wellbeing first at all times now.

Palesa Kgasane

Cape Town-based Palesa Kgasane is aesthetic moodboard brought to life, and she is also a writer at Elle and founder of Mzansi Moodboord.

Have you been using your singlehood to cultivate self-love?
Ah yes! It’s a back-and-forth journey that has me tweeting my feelings at 2am and then deleting them when I wake up. It’s tough, but with every encounter (with love or infatuation), I learn more about myself and the parts of me that need mending and love. Self-love is an everyday job.
What is your favourite dating or hookup app?
Dating apps are terrible in my personal experience but for all other intents and purposes: it goes down in the DM.
If you were to look for love outside, who would it be?
Someone patient and unrelenting with how they express their love. It takes a certain kind of person to be able to understand and love a creative. I don’t think I have found someone who ever did. Although I have loved people before, the support and attentiveness that goes into a relationship with someone like me is paramount to me feeling that I can trust the person. I also just want someone I’ll be able to just let go and be myself around without feeling like I am “intense”.
Why did you choose the single life?
I prefer to be single because it allows me to work on myself, it also affords me the luxury of making decisions for myself and not being limited or restrained. If I want to travel to grow my career I can do that. Being single also means allowing yourself to experiment with your craft because you are essentially creating for yourself and not based on circumstances. I think that when you are with someone and things go badly, it tends to affect your work, for me that’s the scariest part. I am also working on being whole and being a functional human being without depending on someone’s affirmation. Independence is the greatest thing for any creative and being single allows for that.


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