Being an extrovert allows me to freely have access to the opinions, life stories and thoughts of other people in real time. Of course, those who are less inclined to walk up to someone and start a conversation do as well thanks to the Internet, but there’s something about being able to solidly connect in person with someone. An element of exchange is present that cannot be conveyed through a computer or cell phone screen.

While I am grateful for the blessing of having thousands of conversations with people, I often find myself sifting through the thoughts and ideologies that many possess regarding relationships. And because we have that “exchange” I referred to previously, people are more upfront, honest and bold in their thoughts, especially when it comes to single people.

The most annoying thing that I’ve discovered is what seems to be an automatic demotion in relationship sovereignty that society places on single people. And you know who the primary culprits are? SINGLE PEOPLE!

While a nice portion of single women and men are confidently opting to ride solo for a variety of reasons such as taking time to heal, trusting and allowing their intuition (not Father time or Mama Biological Clock) to dictate their paths and/or unselfishly making the decision not to engage in a relationship because they just aren’t relationship ready, many of you simply do not accept these reasons as legitimate. In other words, you’ve bought into the philosophy that you are unworthy because you don’t have a mate.

I cannot tell you how many unattached people subconsciously allow their esteem to be impacted by their relationship status. While it is normal—and in many cases completely healthy to self-evaluate and look at your relationship patterns—there comes a point when you start to blame yourself or worse, find your single status to be a burden.

I’m pushing 40. Any man that looks my way will get a date!

I’m a divorced mother of three. I will take who I can get!

You’re 45 and have never been married? What woman hurt you?!

She’s fine AND single?! She’s crazy bruh.

For many, going from “single” to “taken” sends a signal that you are a prize. It conveys the notion that you’ve been claimed because you are this uniquely amazing person. While that may be true for some, there’s a way to appreciate and give praise to those who are in relationships without insulting those who are not.

This article isn’t meant for those in relationships who label single people as “defective.” I don’t have to tell you that the smoke screen isn’t working as effectively as you think. We both realize that some of you are miserable, cheating, settling and wish you were not “stuck” in your union. Just sayin.’ By no means am I writing to try to make single folks feel good about themselves either. There are too many articles out there addressing that already.

What I want to do is stress the importance of not allowing your fears, your observations of other people and their lives, as well as their decisions regarding their own lives to dictate how you navigate your love life. Understand that desperation will greet a potential mate—or snake for that matter at the door—before you even get to say, “Hello.” And that’s just not a good look.

To the single women and men who view their relationship status as more trouble than benefit: don’t. There is a very distinctive difference between practicing self-improvement and practicing self-sabotage. Don’t count yourself out of the game of love.

Being single doesn’t mean you are defective. There is nothing “wrong” with you (excluding the self-centered, narcissistic, passive-aggressive a-holes). But if you do not realize it, then no one else will.

Shantell E. Jamison is a digital editor for EBONY. She moderates various events centered on love, relationships, politics and wellness and has appeared on panels throughout the country. Her book, “Drive Yourself in the Right Direction” is available now. Keep up with Shantell via her website, Facebook, Twitter @Shantell_em and Instagram @Shantell_em