What does"there was never an us" mean or imply here?

Relationship Status
__ Single
__ Taken
__ There was never an us

Relationship Status printed on black cloth


1 Answer 1


Consider the following question and its choices:

What is your favorite vegetable?

(  )  broccoli

(  )  asparagus 

(  )  spinach


The question, as asked, wants a noun as its answer, but one of the answers is a full sentence, Vegetables are for farm animals. That answer is meant to be a humorous analogue of "None of the above" or "This question does not apply to me. It makes an assumption that I have a favorite vegetable when I hate all vegetables."

Your question and its choices work in a similar way, although your question wants an adjective as answer:

[What is your] Relationship Status?

 (  ) [I AM ] single

 (  ) [I AM ] taken  (taken = someone has claimed me as their own; I am unavailable)


Just as in the vegetables example, that final choice also means "This question does not apply to me".

The pronoun us is being cast into a noun meaning "a couple who are committed to being with each other" and the indefinite article an specifies an instance of that class. So, to paraphrase:

There never was a couple committed to each other.

The answer is meant to apply to the person answering it. The meaning is not perfectly clear in context, but we might understand that answer to mean "I have never been in a committed relationship".

  • I can think of two plausible situations where I'd check off the third answer in the OP's image. One would be exactly what you say: "I have never been in a committed relationship". The other would be I had very recently been in a relationship, but the heartache of the recent breakup has me in a state of denial, and so I'd rather check THERE WAS NEVEN AN US than check SINGLE. The poignant lyrics to Ken Yates' The One That Got Away come to mind.
    – J.R.
    Feb 7, 2018 at 17:08
  • 1
    @J.R. I just assumed the third choice was the bitter/cynical option. :)
    – Andrew
    Feb 7, 2018 at 17:32
  • @J.R. As I say, "the meaning is not perfectly clear, but we might understand...." With respect to Andrew's suggestion, I would ask, do true cynics or the truly embittered even bother to fill out such questionnaires? :)
    – TimR
    Feb 7, 2018 at 17:57
  • 1
    If it is a cynical option, the sentence should be there never "is" an us, instead of "was", right? It implies the person doesn't believe in relationship Feb 7, 2018 at 19:17

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