Smug Married: “Why is it that there are so many unmarried women in their 30s these days, Bridget?”
Bridget: “Well, I don’t know… Suppose it doesn’t help that underneath our clothes, our entire bodies are covered in scales.”
– Bridget Jones’s Diary
I met a guy the other day and he asked me one of the most annoying questions anyone can ask: “Why are you single?” Which to me is a nice way of asking: “What the hell is wrong with you, and why doesn’t anyone want you?” I wanted to give him a version of the Bridget Jones quote but Instead, I smiled and politely replied: “Has it ever occurred to you that perhaps single people choose to be single?” “Also, I’m awkward and sort of weird…”
I know sometimes when we meet someone who we think is interesting and we might possibly be attracted to, our immediate instinct is that they must be “taken”. But the truth is that there are tons of people who are funny, smart, good looking and unattached. The problem is it’s difficult to identify them. Then when we finally get to meet one of them, we can’t help but wonder if their entire bodies are covered in fish scales.
But why do we assume the worse? When the fact is most of us chose to be single! And don’t give me that “I don’t want to be single, I just want to be loved,” crap. We all want to be loved, but on our own terms, schedule and by the right chin structure.
I know I’ve gone into this before, but it’s worth reinforcing, we tend to get comfortable in our singlehood. We like the freedom, the alone time, the control this grants us, and we become addicted to this feeling. This is why it becomes tougher as we grow older to want to be attached, because being in a (healthy) relationship means making concessions and doing things we don’t always want to do for the sake of the other person.
“This is my aunt!” My eight-year-old niece announced to her teacher one day as I dropped her off for school, “she’s not even married yet,” she said almost annoyed. “Thank you for that,” I told her with red cheeks… “that wasn’t embarrassing at all”. I hurriedly gave her a kiss and rushed out of her classroom hoping my normal skin tone would return by the time I reached the parking lot.
This is my family life, it’s surrounded with married people and children. All who wonder why I’m still single. Most are nice about it. I think in my immediate family, they’re just looking to have another baby around. For the longest time I got away with it, no one asked questions because I was still in my 20’s. “Get to know yourself,” they would say. Lately it’s more: “Whenever you’re ready. Soon would be better though.”
When I ended a serious relationship last year, My nieces and nephews were very confused, considering I had lived with the guy and we’d been together for years. “Tía where is HE?” (No, that’s not his real name), they would ask me every time they’d visit. Then, while the others seemed to adjust back to regular life without HIM, the twins kept on with the questioning, pressing me for answers like an annoying investigative reporter. And I could not give them any. “But why can’t HE come over and play?” “Because we’re not together anymore,” I would say patiently. “So?” They would say. Ughhh… “Maybe we can revisit this subject in say 10 years??” I’d reply. I considered telling them: “because HE joined the circus and became a famous juggler,” but I didn’t think they would find my sarcasm comforting…
And so the questions went on for SEVERAL months. And I kept my answers the same every time. Until one day when I was asked: “But then, who are you gonna marry?” I was stumped for the first time… Leave it to a five-year-old to make me feel insecure…
Then a couple of months later I came across this online quiz called: “At what age will you get married?” It was one of those genius marketing schemes that makes you feel inadequate so you will buy whatever they’re selling, just to appease your ego… Obviously I took the quiz! It took me five minutes to get an answer that made me question my decisions for the past 31 years. The quiz told me I would get married at age 48… “Ohhh silly little quiz that doesn’t know anything,” I said out loud almost convincingly… “You’ve gotta be fucking kidding me!!!!” my uterus screamed back at me.
“Do you think it’s because I picked the cake topper where the bride is whipping the groom?” I asked my friend. (See below)
Damn it! I knew I should’ve gone with Mickey and Minnie, they’re the definition of true love! How could I be so naive?! When the quiz asked if I wanted to have children, I selected neither yes or no, I selected “sure”, because that’s how I feel. I think if it happens great, but if it doesn’t then I’ll be ok. The problem is I think the quiz somehow read into my sarcasm and indecisiveness as a weakness, which is why it decided to punish me with 17 more years of dating.
The quiz got me thinking about what my life would be like if I never get married… I think I would travel a lot, and spend as much money or as little as I’d want because it wouldn’t bother anyone. I think I would get a dog, volunteer my free time with education programs for kids, and spoil my nieces and nephews. Cementing the idea along the way that one of them will have to invite me to live with them when I’m old and frail. I’d get massages every week, get your mind out of the gutter… The trouble is I haven’t mastered the art of cuddling myself, and there’s no one to rub my back or kiss me goodnight in this vision. Although I’ve known married couples who don’t do these things either. The saddest part about my vision is the potential for loneliness. Once my parents are gone and the kids are grown, most of my friends will be preoccupied with their own families and I’d be spending a lot of time by myself. Is that so terrible? I’m beginning to realize why some older people pay for the simple pleasure of companionship… No judgement, but I really don’t want that to be me.
We’ve all heard the saying “you have to be happy with yourself, before you can be happy with anyone else.” And this is where my focus lies now. In my experience, no one can make you happy, that’s an unreasonable demand and an incredible burden to put on someone else’s shoulders. The best we can hope for is that we are so happy within, that all we want to do is share that happiness with someone special, and do whatever we can to make them feel loved. Maybe that’s what marriage is about, lowering our defenses and learning to let go of our selfishness, so that we can bring our partner joy, which in turn will make us happy.
So the next time someone asks me: “Why are you single?” My answer will be more clear: because I’m not looking for a husband. I’m looking for my new best friend. A man who will find me at least a little bit funny, and won’t mind that my hair sheds more than a golden retriever’s. Someone to share a vision with, who will support my goals as I would his. And more importantly, let me be myself with him for life. ♥
“I wanna dance with somebody, with somebody who loves me…” – Whitney Houston