Lately I have been hit with a barrage of questions and comments regarding my single status. Some have been from friends and coworkers and some from people who barely know me. Some have been from inquisitive children. I’ve been fielding questions and hearing opinions left and right. I’ve started feeling like I need to create a pamphlet of frequently asked questions to keep in my purse so I can just answer it all with one quick pass of a paper. But for now, since I don’t have it in my budget to have my pamphlets printed, let’s just address these concerns here.
“When are you getting married?”
It would be awfully presumptuous to set a date. Step one would be to meet the man I am to marry. So far that has not happened. So, I do not know when/if I am getting married. Also, let me add, this question is best reserved for an engaged couple so the questioner can get an actual answer. Otherwise, it just makes the questioner look ignorant and the answerer feel awkward. Instead of smiling an awkward smile & saying, “Oh, well, uh, I don’t know…”, I’m tempted to throw a date out there – “September 17, 2017! Save the date!” Or better yet, I just want to ask, “Is that a real question, because the ring finger on my left hand looks awfully naked to me.”
“Why aren’t you married?”
Well, I haven’t met him yet. Maybe I will some day. Maybe I won’t. But until and unless I do, marriage is just not going to happen. The meeting is an essential first step.
“You should be married.”
Thanks, I guess, but I’m not.
“I mean … there’s nothing wrong with you!”
Thanks! I tend to agree! I think I’m alright!
“You’re an old maid!”
There are so many things wrong with this statement. Can we please move away from this antiquated phrase that conjures up images of moseying out to the barn at sunrise in my Little House on the Prairie dress and bonnet to milk the cows & slop the hogs… and then coming in and Ma and Pa will scramble the eggs I bring in from the chicken coop and we can go wash our clothes by hand in the creek? Old Maid. Wow. I don’t feel old. I also don’t feel like a maid. I’m just single. And that’s okay.
“You better get married & pop out some kids before it’s too late!”
Thanks for the visual! Strangely, birthing babies has never been too high on my list of things I want to accomplish, so I’m okay not popping any out. More power to all the women who do, but they are stronger than me, I can assure you. If I ever have children, I would be more than happy to adopt them. In fact, adoption appeals to me much more than pregnancy, childbirth, etc. I think adoption is beautiful.
“I know you got burned once before, but you can’t just give up on all men. There are some good guys out there.”
I haven’t given up on all men. I know there are some good ones out there. My college crowd comes to mind. I have a whole slew of male college friends who are wonderful men, husbands, and fathers. And I have lots of female college friends who have married great guys. They absolutely exist. I know lots and lots of them! The “burn” I experienced was heartbreaking. Did it make me gun shy about wanting to be in a relationship again? Definitely. I had all the heartbreak fun I could stand. But the broken heart was not due to having been in a relationship with a bad guy or a jerk. He wasn’t. He was a very good part of my life and I have nothing bad to say about him.
“Are you ever going to experience this?” (Said while questioner rubbed her own pregnant belly.)
Well, I don’t know. It’s not really in my plans. And – again, I am much more drawn to adoption than childbirth.
“You look young. You could probably date a really young guy … like a 24 or 25 year old.”
Thanks, but I’m not looking for a man child; I’d prefer an actual man. One of the great things about being single into my 30s is that if I do find him, he will likely know how to wash a dish, cook a meal or two, and wash a load of laundry. And I, on the other hand, can mow a yard and am planning to learn how to change the oil in my car. Skills, people. Life skills.
“You could always get artificial insemination.”
*** insert crickets chirping here ***
I’m good, thanks.
“I’m just waiting on a great guy to come and sweep you off your feet and you’ll get married and live happily ever after.”
That’d be cool – I mean, he’s welcome to come along – but I’m not holding my breath.
“Your Daddy has ruined you for all men!”
This may be true, in a sense. I know what a good man looks like, because I was raised by one, so I am definitely picky when it comes to character. I know how a good man treats his family and how he treats waitresses in restaurants and cashiers at Walmart. Until I come across a single guy where there is mutual interest and he makes me laugh, loves Jesus, is financially responsible, treats people kindly, works hard at whatever he does, and whose character looks an awful lot like my Daddy’s, we can just all assume I’ll stay single. I’m sure there are men out there who fit that description, but they’re few and far between, and the vast majority of them are already married. So let’s say my Daddy has ruined me for most men, and I’m okay with that. Maybe the right one will come along. Maybe not. I guess I’ll have to wait and see. But I can guarantee that unless he pulls the wool over my eyes in a major way, I won’t end up married to a jerk.
My friend, Amber, who is also single, and I stayed the weekend with a mutual friend. As we were about to go to sleep Friday night, we were talking about how we’ve gotten kind of set in our ways. Even the idea of dating is not all that appealing. Amber said, “I want to do what I want to do. I want to come home after work and cook what I want to cook for dinner, and then watch what I want to watch on Netflix in my pajamas, and go to bed. If someone wants to do that exact same thing, he’s welcome to come along.” This made me laugh out loud. She talked about how all these guys on the dating websites have profiles stating they only eat vegetables and love draft beer. They love camping and hiking and working out in the gym and want to find a woman to backpack across Europe. Also, they hate TV. These guys sound like adventure-man caricatures. Where are the normal good guys who go to work and then just want to relax with a good meal and Netflix at the end of the day? We decided we’d fight over the same regular guy, so we need to find brothers who were raised right. Indeed, Amber.
I realize it’s odd to be single at my age. This isn’t what I thought my life would look like in my mid-thirties, but life doesn’t always turn out the way you plan. Life is good though. It frustrates me on behalf of myself and my handful of (still) single friends around my age when we are made to feel lacking because we don’t have spouses and children. Thankfully, not many people in my life have this attitude – or if they do, they don’t make it obvious to me – but every so often I come across someone who seems to think it is a sad, meaningless existence to be single & childless. I think marriage and children are a great blessing in life, but there are many other blessings. Even being single at 34 with my only “child” being the overweight six year old Boxer snoring at my feet, my life is not without purpose or joy or accomplishment. My single friends are some of my favorite people in the world and their lives are extremely valuable.
It seems so easy for some who are married and/or parents of children to make demeaning comments to those who aren’t. I don’t think these comments are made maliciously the vast majority of the time, but they can sometimes feel very degrading. I think it’s probably similar for couples with more than one child to make comments to couples who are either childless – “When are you going to have a baby?!” – or who only have one child – “When are you going to give _______ a brother or sister?!” It could be that this couple desperately wants a child or a second child and it just hasn’t happened. Most couples deal with this privately, but when put on the spot with the question, they’ll likely smile and laugh it off and give one of those expected answers. I think it’s safe to say that most single folks wouldn’t really prefer to live life alone, but it’s just their reality. Conceiving a child doesn’t come as easily for some couples as it does for others, and sometimes it just doesn’t happen at all. Finding the love of one’s life doesn’t always happen when you’re twenty-two, and sometimes it just doesn’t happen at all. I wish we’d all not be so quick to assume everything in life comes easily to everyone and that they’re weird if they don’t have the things that the American Dream says they should have by a certain point in life. Things aren’t always as they appear.
I’m 34 and I’m not married. I’m also not willing to settle just so I can check “marriage” off the list of things I’d like to accomplish in life and finally fit into some social norm that society has set for a woman of my age. I’ll be the “old maid” in messy ponytails and Chuck Taylors who looks young for her age, I suppose. Laura Ingalls can keep her full length floral dresses and farm animals. My crystal ball doesn’t work, so I guess I’ll just have to see how this life plays out. This is simply what my life looks like right now and I’m okay with that. God has never forgotten me. I’m just single.