Singletude: A Positive Blog for Singles

Singletude is a positive, supportive singles blog about life choices for the new single majority. It's about dating and relationships, yes, but it's also about the other 90% of your life--family, friends, career, hobbies--and flying solo and sane in this crazy, coupled world. Singletude isn't about denying loneliness. It's about realizing that whether you're single by choice or by circumstance, this single life is your life to live.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

"Why Aren't You Married Yet?"

Sooner or later, someone pops the question: "So, why aren't you married yet?" It may be your great-aunt at that family reunion. It might be a guest at your friend's wedding. Or maybe it's that well-intentioned coworker, who asks while staring at you like a wide-eyed Sally Struthers wondering why you still don't have your high school diploma.

Granted, it may not be this version of the question. Instead, you may hear:

"What's a great girl/guy like you doing single?"
"I'm surprised no one has snapped you up yet!"
"When are you going to give me some grandchildren?"

These questions are often followed by creative problem solving, such as:

"I should introduce you to my neighbor's daughter's boyfriend's cousin, who just got off parole."
"Don't be too picky."
"Go catch that bouquet! You might be next!"

No matter which unwanted questions or solutions you hear, your reaction is likely to be the same--an awkward smile and shrug while you grope for words that are confident, witty, and upbeat but not forced or desperate. Somehow, you always invent a diplomatic answer that makes you wonder why you're not Barack Obama's speechwriter, but you can't help feeling irritated that you were backed into that smooth-talking corner in the first place.

Fortunately, I've never had the displeasure to be asked this question or a variant thereof (though I have gotten the modified, somewhat more acceptable "Are you seeing anyone lately?"). Perhaps it's because most of my friends and family are understanding, respectful, and discreet people, who are more interested in being sensitive to my feelings than they are in dredging up the melodrama of my life. Or perhaps by now they're used to the fact that I only pass on the nuggets of my love life when I want to, and when I don't, I tell them I don't want to get into it right now. But nosy friends and relatives rank near the top of many singles' Worst Fears During the Holidays list. Therefore, Singletude presents an open letter to married people addressing our concerns, which you can adopt for yourself, make your own, and distribute at appropriate times:

Dear Married or Otherwise Coupled Person,

Thank you for your recent interest in my love life. I know that your curiosity is only an expression of your concern for my wellbeing and future happiness, and your input is appreciated.

However, while I am grateful for your concern, I must ask that you refrain from this line of questioning. At this time, I do not know why I am single, or, if I do know, I prefer not to hold an open discussion about this personal choice in a public forum. If you would like to register an appeal, you may provide three (3) documents certifying why you are still married, when you expect to have more children, and, if you are female, how you plan to achieve my career.

Failure to acknowledge the existence of a love life should not be interpreted as an admission that I do not have one. Due to rapid and unpredictable changes in the status of my dating relationships, I reserve the right to withhold comment in order to avoid embarrassment or pity should a full-scale merger not take place. Sometimes a prospective partner I have backed suddenly withdraws, and I do not wish to disclose, and thus relive, my hurt and disappointment, especially not when it appears that my misfortune has become a sideshow for the married and bored.

More to the point, since my solo operation continues to produce much contentment and even happiness, I am not compelled to expand it to a limited partnership. At this juncture, I believe that I am positioned well to fulfill my expectations of a meaningful life, and I do not wish to endanger that trend by incorporating with the wrong partner. Unfortunately, due to incredulous and dismissive feedback from my "supporters," I have discontinued communications regarding my bullish outlook on singlehood. This positivity will remain part of my paradigm, though it will not be on display until test groups reveal a shift in acceptance of my long-term singleness.

In lieu of questions about my marital status, it is suggested that you inquire into aspects of my life that are important to me and would demonstrate your esteem for me and the things I hold valuable. For instance, you might ask me about my work, a hobby to which I am devoted, or my family (i.e. children if I have them, parents, siblings, and extended family). You may also discuss with me all the subjects on which you would routinely converse with a married individual, including politics, economics, entertainment, and social issues. You will find that I am no less opinionated, articulate, or sociable than any member of a marital partnership. Further, longtime friends and family are encouraged to monitor complications I have brought to light, such as a job loss, impending move, or health crisis, which might burden me disproportionately as a single individual, and assist as you are able (eg., by providing counsel, job referrals, your helping hands or pickup truck for heavy lifting, etc.). The help you extend in this capacity is calculated as a greater investment in our relationship than investigations into my dating life and will appreciate for future returns.

Your compliance with the above requests is integral to the continued growth and success of our relationship. Refusal to adhere to these guidelines may result in needless aggravation, the disruption of friendly relations, and mutual alienation.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. I apologize for any inconvenience it may have caused. Please address any questions or concerns to me. You are a valuable member of my social community, and I look forward to continuing our relationship in the years to come.


A Positive Single

Are you often asked probing questions about your life including why you're still single or a similar variant? How do you respond to these questions?

Fun Link of the Day


Eb the Celeb said...

I so feel you on this... at it didnt help me at all that I am the oldest and my younger sister went and got married when she was 20. So she had been married 4 years now and they had their first child last year. So thanksgiving and christmas all I heard is Eb when you gon get married and started having babies.

I just ignore it for the most part. Remind them that I have several degrees and was concentrating on school where my sister just went back to school last year. I think the best thing to do is to remind them of things you've been doing that they approve of so they forget about the married and kids thing.

bobbyboy said...

hahaha outstanding reply to this single life grinding question. You may want to get a patent on it though Elsie, it seems kind of legal ;)

I did get asked about marriage a bit when I was too dumb and stupid to realize that it was my life to live. I fell victim to the pressures of both families, hers and mine, and was married when I shouldn't have been. It lasted less than a year!

If a single person is open to a relationship leading to marriage, it would be just so cool if the family members, and close friends, would listen to your needs and discuss those, not leave you with the feeling that you are choosing wrongly in life.

It's about trying to understand the single persons choices and respecting them. Really quite simple.

I do get asked from time to time when am I going to "Hook up" with someone. I tell them simply, "When I am ready."

Clever Elsie said...

Eb: See, I got "lucky" and was the only one born into my family in my generation. How fortunate I was to grow up without playmates is debatable, but at least it prevented anyone from measuring me by a younger relative's yardstick.

Your family situation is interesting because it represents that perennial question of whether women can have it all--your sister went down the path of marriage and kids, and you chose the career. Of course, she's also discovering now that she can have both, and maybe you will too one day, but there certainly is a need to prioritize, I think.

Multiple degrees! Damn! I feel like a slacker! :)

Bobby: Yes, it's patent pending, but I won't send my lawyers after you for stealing my intellectual property should you decide to borrow any of it for nosy friends and relatives. ;)

I'm sorry to hear that you got pressured into a marriage you weren't ready for. :( Even though I'm sure it wasn't an easy decision, I guess it's good that you realized you weren't right for each other early on and didn't waste years of your life struggling to fix the unfixable.

"When I'm ready" is such a perfect answer. It's clear, non-defensive, and brooks no argument. As usual, you've found the antidote to my verbosity. :)