When I meet someone for the first time, I'm often asked, "Are you single, City Girl?"
I gaze into the person's eyes and notice his or her surprise and concern on my behalf. Any of the following questions might be uttered next:
"How old are you?"
"A girl like you? You're a catch!"
"Isn't your biological clock ticking?"
"Aww. The right guy is out there. You'll find him."
"You're not getting any younger. Don't you want to get married?"
If I actually answer the follow-up questions honestly, it would catch most people off-guard. Yes, I'm single, but I'm not necessarily looking to get married. It amazes me that in 2009, that's not a choice that garners as much respect as the other options out there.
My friend, Ash, and I got into a discussion about this recently. She and I are the same age, have made smart career choices, would be deemed "a catch" by conventional standards, and aren't sure if we see marriage in our future.
We weren't raised with marriage as the end goal or even a major life goal. We are both only children and value our independence. Our families emphasized our education and doing well in whatever profession we chose. We happily take trips, go to restaurants, and head to the movies on our own. We have an active social life with wonderful girlfriends. We don't go to sleep at night, feeling that our lives are incomplete because there's an empty pillow in the bed next to us.
"We don't need a man," Ash said, summing it up perfectly!
"And, a lot of the time, we don't even want one," I replied, as we both laughed.
I've admitted to being commitment-phobic in the past, but that's very different from where I am now. To provide some clarification, here's the back-story:
At 16, I broke up with my high school boyfriend, Boston Christian. My Mom thought that was a smart move, and told me that I shouldn't have a boyfriend in college. She also informed me that she didn't want me to bring any guy home unless we were getting engaged. (Keep in mind that this was coming from a woman who defied Irish-Catholic norms by focusing on her career and not getting married until she was 34 years old.)
The "no-boyfriend" mode worked for me since I viewed my family and girlfriends as the most important things in my life. School and work came in at the second tier. And, guys were "other" — for sex. Granted, I had a lot of sex so I won't devalue one of my favorite hobbies. But, it was just that to me… a hobby!
At around 25, shortly after my Mom died and my relationship with my Dad changed significantly, I entered a phase of being fearful of commitment. That lasted for quite a while, and I'm sure was a huge reason why I ended up in serious relationships with married men (Married Matt and Lawyer Boy) and fellow commitment-phobes (Basketball Boy).
Now, though, I'm in a new phase. I'm open to finding someone in my life to spend time with, but I realize that I LOVE my life as it is. I don't know that I want to share it with someone. The thought of coming home to the same person every night is just not that appealing to me. The only child in me craves her alone time, the Type A girl in me wants to keep my place immaculate, and the independent woman in me doesn't need help with her bills nor anyone to question how much time she spends with her girlfriends.
On the sex front, I used a line in college that "I like pizza, but I wouldn't want it everyday." There's a large part of me that still feels that way. Only sleeping with one person for the rest of my life? I might not perish the thought, but monogamy doesn't exactly have me jumping up and down.
Am I adverse to love or marriage? Not at all! I do have a sappy, Hallmark side to my personality. And, I respect the idea of marriage, but I'm not going to get married for the sake of it. If I can look into a guy's eyes and know that I'm going to be faithful to him forever, then yes, I'd consider getting married. But, the thought of "'til death do us part" seems like quite a stretch for me at a time when I don't really care to spend more than one or two nights a week with any guy.
And, since marriage and children are related subjects (pun intended), I'll address the question of kids. I see myself adopting one of the millions of children in the world who is in need of love, a home and a family. I don't need a man to do that biologically or financially.
In addition, when it comes to child-rearing, I worked as a nanny or babysitter during high school, college and law school. I have very definitive ideas about raising a child, and am disappointed at the fact that the majority of my girlfriends with children work outside of the home, yet are responsible for a disproportionate amount of the workload inside the home. I would much rather pay for a nanny who has experience with child care and will follow my instructions than have a man who is supposed to be my partner in parenting not doing his share.
I also have quite a few friends my age who don't care to have children…ever. Some are married, some are in relationships, and some are single. And, I've met a couple of women in their 30s who are starting to use men the way that men have traditionally used women. These women want some male companionship for dates and sex, but don't want to be in a relationship. Women's choices might not fit neatly into little boxes like they used to, but that doesn't have to be regarded as a bad thing!
Why did I write this post? I wanted to explain where I was coming from at this point of my life and show respect for the many choices out there that women in their 30s are making.
I'm 36, single and happy! If I want to get married someday, I will. And, if I don't, I won't be sitting at home crying about it. I define my life, not a man or my marital status.
Oh, and the next time you meet a 30-something single woman, try to leave the judgment and "aww, that's too bad" remarks out of the conversation. Some of us actually are single and proud of that fact!