- I Don't Like Kids. There. I Said It.
- Where Do Old Broads Hang Out? (An Oldie but Goodie)
- I'm Single and Happy...Why Does That Make Them So Mad?
- What's Wrong With Separate Bedrooms?
- Why I'm Done With Online Dating!
- How Can I Be Happily Single When I Hate Being Single?
- The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone
The Spinsterlicious Life
This week I –like millions of others– celebrated Thanksgiving Day, my very favorite holiday. I love this holiday because it is so uncomplicated: just sharing good food with people you love (hopefully) and being grateful for all of life’s goodness. And gluttony gets a pass on this day.
There were four generations of us eating and laughing and reminiscing and debating and drinking and sharing stories…and it was just great. One of the topics that came up –as often happens when there are lots of women and wine around– was men. It started out as a “can’t do with ‘em, can’t do without ‘em, can’t kill ‘em” kind of conversation. It eventually evolved (or digressed) into “what should a young woman do?” And that’s when it got tricky. Lots of women, lots of opinions.
Marriage? At what age? Maybe never? Then what?
Of course, there’s no one right answer. This is not a one-size-fits-all conversation. Or is it?
I know that most women do want to get married and that most women still think that marriage should be every young woman’s end-game.
I’m not anti-marriage. But I don’t think marriage is for everybody. Done right, marriage can be a really good thing. I get a warm gooey feeling when I watch some of my friends with good marriages interact with their mates. It’s nice.
I’m a fan of having “important” relationships, but “’til death do us part” just seems so dang long. And if it’s not going to last forever, why walk down the aisle? There’s a reason the marriage stats are in decline. And divorce is expensive.
And, yet, I do wish I’d put more effort into some of my relationships. I didn’t want to be married, but I do like being part of a couple when it’s right. There’s one or two where I wish I’d tried harder.
I think that pairing off in a loving, healthy relationship is a good thing. Emphasis on loving, healthy. I just don’t want young women –anybody really– to think that they should settle for anything less. Having any man is not better than having the right man. Although when I look at some marriages, it’s clear that not everyone agrees with me.
One of my best friends and I argue occasionally about when a young woman should settle down (if ever). I think that the 20s are for exploring: traveling, dating lots of boys, trying new things, doing stupid stuff, learning who you are. If it was up to me, no woman would be allowed to get married before age 30.
My friend disagrees with me. She thinks that finding the right guy while in college might be the right move; there’s certainly no other time in life when the supply of men is so plentiful and readily available. And, of course, she’s right on that point. Where we differ is I think all those men means more to date. I just think college is too young to lock-it-down on any one guy.
What would life be without at least one gut-busting heartbreak, getting caught with the “other” guy, doing that early morning walk-of-shame still in your party clothes from the night before, a hot but short fling, maybe a one-night-stand thrown in there. These are what young women in their 20s should be doing. And learning good lessons on what not to do again. And these behaviors are much less attractive when you’re older. Do it now.
But what do I know? I’ve never snagged a husband. What advice would you give to a young woman?
I hate online dating…most of the time. Too many of the guys who contact me clearly haven’t read my profile, or maybe they just assume they know more about what I want than I do. So, when I say I want a non-smoker, the smoker reaches out to me, anyway. Though my profile says I want a monogamous relationship, that doesn’t stop those who are looking for someone to “play” (which I’ve learned is what those in-the-know call sex with more than two people at the same time.) And then there’s the guys who turn out to be much older than their profile indicates or are not exactly divorced, but are thinking about it. I’ve lost the will to wade through all the nonsense. How do I find that needle-in-the-haystack when the haystack keeps getting bigger?
But sometimes I really like online dating. Or should I say “I used to really like it”. I’ve met some great guys online and a couple of them turned into long(ish)-term relationships. It’s been awhile since that happened, though. But, about a month ago I decided to give online dating another ‘go’ because I was stuck in a hotel during a blizzard in South Dakota and was running out of ways to amuse myself. So, I responded to a couple of guys who sounded interesting and normal. And we had a couple of nice phone conversations, then…nothing. They stopped calling/writing. Whatever… (So, to Nissa, who asked for an online dating update, this is it… but you can find more on what I think about online dating here and here.)
So, if I don’t like online dating, where do I meet men (asks, Dee, another Spinsterlicious babe). I don’t have a particular place to meet men, though I have learned that my chances of meeting someone increase tenfold when I’m out alone. And then I’ve met them almost anywhere: at the grocery store, walking down the streets of NYC, on airplanes or in the airplane lounge. Social events are another good option, except I don’t like going to social events alone. I’m an introvert and get easily overwhelmed if I’m around too many people for too long, especially if I don’t know them all. So, even though I know I should do more things alone when I’m hoping to meet someone, I usually don’t. I’d rather have a good time at the event with a friend, than go alone and not have as much fun just because I might meet someone.
Here’s how I met the last few guys I’ve gone out with for longer than a few minutes:
- introduced by a friend
- at a party
- at a restaurant bar
- while walking my dog
- at a funeral
It all seems so random, doesn’t it? I get a lot of requests to write about meeting guys, but I think I’m out of material…so I’m calling on you. (Apologies to my readers who hate when I write about dating.) I’d love to hear from you on where/how you met the last guy (or woman) that you kept around for awhile.
A friend recently asked me to re-run this article. I wrote it about 2 years ago and she’s feeling like she needs a refresher. See, she recently slept with a guy she recently met, and hasn’t heard from him since. (This never gets old, does it?)
She’s now wondering what she should do. What to do, indeed. Unfortunately, there’s no way to know whether it was the “sex too soon” thing or something else that sent him away. I, laughingly, told her she should have consulted my “To-Sex or Not-To-Sex” chart, below.
I am a little amused that, at this age, we are still discussing when to have sex with a new guy. Steve Harvey thinks a woman should wait 90 days. That seems like a long time to me…but maybe he knows what he’s talking about. I dunno.
At any rate, I have this conversation quite a bit and for some reason, I’m usually the one giving the advice. I say “for some reason,” but I actually know the reason: I’ve been single all my life, am good at dating, and I feel like I’ve got this aspect of dating all figured out. There are other parts of dating life that I don’t always get—like the way men want you to need them but don’t want you to be needy—but this one I do. So I’m going to take this opportunity to share with the many single women out there what I know about how to make the decision to roll around naked with the New Guy for the first time.
That’s right. A decision tree, for this not-usually-rational decision. When you have to make an important decision at work, you generally think about it ahead of time and seriously weigh the different outcomes. You don’t decide at the last minute. This decision should be no different.
Here’s a scenario. You’re at a bar/party/conference/car wash/restaurant…wherever. You and “Scott” strike up a conversation and seem to hit it off. There’s lots of laughing, flirting, and witty conversation. At some point it becomes clear to both of you that you may want to dial things up a bit, either right now or very soon.
The “sex too soon” thing is something that only women grapple with. I’ve never heard a guy wonder how “when to have sex” will impact the relationship-that-is-yet-to-be. But the world’s not fair—we already know that. Follow my advice, though, and it might help you avoid getting your feelings hurt.
The “sex” thought process is not a straight line, though. It’s more of a schematic. So pay attention, and be honest with yourself.
The first thing to ask yourself is: “What do I want from this guy?” (Caution: if you’re feeling really lonely, you probably should skip this exercise completely. Sex-because-you’re-lonely will probably make you feel even lonelier afterwards).
Once you decide what you want, you can decide your next course of action.
This is by no means foolproof. But I think it’s a pretty reasonable facsimile of the way things shake out much of the time. Go ahead and do your thing . . . and let me know if it works for you.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to visit Mt. Rushmore and Yellowstone Park . After years of begging people to go with me and having no luck, I learned that my friend, Colleen, had a similar yearning. So we coordinated our calendars, booked our trip, packed up the dogs, and headed out West.
Cute Danny and I were to fly from NYC to meet Colleen and Andy in Minneapolis, and then fly together to Rapid City, SD. We were to then drive to Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse Memorial, and Devil’s TowerDevil’s Tower, ending up in Yellowstone Park. I don’t really have a bucket list, but if I did, this trip would’ve been on it.
What Really Happened
1. The government shut down…thereby closing all National Parks.
2. There was a blizzard that shut down South Dakota…for days. Highways and major roads closed, people warned to ‘stay inside’, ‘ no travel allowed’… and so we camped out at The Holiday Inn Express. We’re on Day 4, as of this writing, but the airport’s still closed…so who knows when I’ll sleep in my bed again. (PostScript: I made it home and slept in my own bed by Day 5.)
Day 1 was awesome. We drove to Mt. Rushmore, which was closed…but so what. The mountain is so big, we didn’t need to go inside. We only had to look up! It was absolutely breathtaking.
From there we drove to Bear Country, a wildlife park in the Black Hills of South Dakota. It, too, was pretty amazing. Lots of bears and dozens of other wildlife species. We spent a couple of hours there, driving around looking at the animals.
Our next stop was Reptile Gardens, which is billed as having the largest collection of reptile species in the world. It was great, and pretty educational…if one needs to know a lot about reptiles.
On the way back, we stopped at Peggy’s diner. They have lots of things made from buffalo. Things that I don’t expect to made from buffalo…like hot dogs.
That night, we had dinner “in town” at The Firehouse Brewing Company , a popular restaurant housed in an old firehouse, where they are known for the variety of beers they brew. It was crowded and we had, apparently, stumbled on a local hot spot. We were almost pinching ourselves at how much fun we had that day.
Day 2 we were supposed to head out to Yellowstone Park but Mother Nature had a different idea. The blizzard hit fast and hard. This was nothing like the blizzards I’ve experienced in NYC. This was a blizzard on steroids. We were warned not to go outside…but we did anyway. (Idiots). We didn’t get far. The wind was strong and the snow felt like glass on our faces, so we humbly turned around and began our plan to settle in at the hotel.
Days 3-4 were pretty much the same. Hang out in the room. Hang out in the lobby. Hang out in the dining area. Hang out some more in the room. Play Words with Friends. Facebook. Tweet. Eat gas station food. Eat chips and candy bars from the vending machine. (No restaurant at the hotel). Try to convince the dogs that going outside is a good idea. (They weren’t so sure about that.)
Colleen and I laughed about how happy we were that we get along so well. Otherwise, being stuck in a hotel room for 96 hours-and-counting could have been it’s own special hell.
I even became bored enough to dabble in online dating again…which I claim to hate.
I did see –up close– an elk that had been killed by a man and his son for their winter dinners. I was a bit grossed out, but also tried not to be a hypocrite. I eat animals, I just don’t kill them. I have to remember that buying from a supermarket and restaurant isn’t superior, it’s just less messy.
The airlines played games with us a lot and, honestly, that was the worse part of this trip, because they kept rescheduling our flights home –> then canceling them. I wanted them to stop getting my hopes up and then snatching hope away. Reminded me of Lucy, Charlie Brown, and that darned football.
It’s funny. This was still a really great trip that I’m glad I took…despite all the madness. I guess I’ll soon start planning my next attempt at Yellowstone, hopefully, with better results.
A couple of weeks ago, I ran into a woman who I hadn’t seen in forever. We went to high school together. We had, apparently, missed each other at high school reunions so there was a lot to catch up on. I’m always interested in “whatever happened to” stories, so I was looking forward to hearing hers.
Except I never really got the chance to hear much of her story, because she got stuck in mine. And I don’t mean she was stuck in what I consider my pretty interesting life. No, she was stuck on the fact that I had never married. “What happened?”, she asked.
I tried to blow it off by laughingly replying that “I’d been having too much fun.” But it didn’t work. She dug in with more of the same question, just re-worded…which is what has led me to penning this article.
With the release of the 2010 U.S. Census and various other research studies on Singles (The Pew Research Institute to name one), we all know by now that there are lots of single women out there. My being single, as in ‘never married’, just shouldn’t be that curious. We’re everywhere.
But for those who still get tripped up over meeting a woman who has never been married, here are 5 questions that I (and women like me) would like not to be asked again:
Some of my writings on this topic are feigned outrage, because I do kind of get it. Though being married at this moment in time is slipping away as the statistical norm, it very much remains the societal norm. Adults are still expected to get married. And marriage can be a really good thing. I just want to do my part to help people to acknowledge that it’s not the only thing.
And, by the way, we observed National Singles Week a few weeks ago (September 15-21) We have our own week now. That feels like progress to me.
And in honor of Singles Week, I hosted a fun and sassy singles event –men and women– at a Harlem bookstore. Along with a reading from my book, The Spinsterlicious Life: 20 Life Lessons for Living Happily Single and Childfree, guests were treated to the reciting of erotic poetry by Ainsley Burrows and a lesson on seduction tips using “spells” and essential oils by Yolanda Shoshana. This event could certainly have been enjoyed by people of any marital status, but it was nice to observe this relatively newly identified “holiday” week with like-minded singles.
[This post also ran at Women's Voices for Change.]
Why do we need National Singles Week? We probably don’t really need it, but I must admit that I really like that it’s become a “thing”. The proper name is National Single and Unmarried Americans Week, which is a little bit of a mouthful, so I hope I don’t offend by shortening it.
National Singles Week is celebrated this year, September 15 – 21, 2013 and was started in the 1980s (!) by the Ohio Buckeye Singles Council.
It’s purpose is to celebrate single life and recognize singles and their contributions to society. And I like it because it’s another opportunity to shine a spotlight on this demographic trend of the growing number of singles in America (and around the world). Regardless of the reason for this growth in the number of singles, the reality is that there are a lot of us and we deserve a voice and we deserve the benefit of the doubt…in that “we’re fine”. There’s not (necessarily) anything wrong with us, we’re not (necessarily) crazy…or pathetic…or immature…or angry. We don’t hate the opposite sex, and we’re good people. And I say “necessarily” in the previous sentences because I want to make the point that we’re not necessarily different from marrieds. Some of them are crazy and pathetic and immature and angry, too, ya know. But most of them are fine, too. They’re just fine and so are we.
Anyway, I’m doing my part to bring attention to National Singles Week next week. On Tuesday, September 17, from 6-8pm, I’m hosting an event at Sisters Uptown Bookstore and Cultural Center. I’ll be joined by Yolanda Shoshana –courtesan extraordinaire– and poet Ainsley Burrows, and it’s going to be fun! If you’re in the NY/NJ area, I hope you can join us.
Natonal Singles Week isn’t about telling people how to live their lives, it’s really about learning to love the life you have. Cheers to all of us!
Every popular woman’s magazine has, at some point, run an article about things a woman should know by a certain age or lifestage. One of my favorites, by Pamela Redmond Safran, ran in Glamour Magazine. It’s a smart and fun list of her take on life’s milestones for the 30-year-old woman.
But there’s another list “out there” that makes me roll my eyes when I think about it. It’s about the milestones of adulthood and, even though I’m deep into adulthood chronologically, I don’t really qualify as an adult according to this list. You see, sociologists have traditionally defined “the transition to adulthood” as being marked by five milestones:
- Completing school
- Leaving home
- Becoming financially independent
- Having a child.
Did you see that? According to sociologists, I’m not an adult. I have not advanced to Stages 4 and 5; I’m stuck at Stage 3!! No husband. No kid. Yikes!
I’m feeling like this list might be a little outdated, so I’ve decided to make my own. This one is not about defining the milestones for adulthood; I’ll leave that to the professionals. My list is a lighthearted Spinsterlicious version of what single women everywhere should know, have or do:
▪ A few people she can call on when she wants to share news –good or bad– or she just wants to talk
▪ How to cook a weekend’s worth of great meals, at least one of which can be served in bed
▪ A good tailor..but also how to sew on a button, or repair a hem herself
▪ Which color lipstick makes her eyes glow
▪ A “placeholder” kind of guy (i.e., steps in when you need him, but isn’t around all the dang time)
▪ How to open a bottle of champagne…without the cork popping off and putting somebody’s eye out
▪ How to enjoy her own company
▪ An up-to-date passport
▪ A pair of great-looking shoes…preferably heels
▪ A dress that makes everyone go “wow”
▪ A job she enjoys
▪ A couple of ex-es who can still make her laugh
▪ A roadside assistance service
▪ A piece of really nice jewelry
▪ Long-term care insurance (if you’re over 50)
▪ Take a vacation… alone
▪ Take vacations, in general
▪ Mentor a girl/young woman
▪ Flirt every now and then
▪ Have her own home
I’m determined to change this notion that Singles are somehow “less than.” I’m also determined to remind people that single life can be full and really good. In that vein, what should we add to the list?
One of the things I like about getting older is that many of the things that used to bother me when I was younger, no longer do. One of those things that no longer bothers me is being asked –often in an incredulous tone– why I’m still single. And its a good thing because it happened, again, just the other day.
I ran into a woman I went to high school with. It seems like 1000 years since we’ve seen each other. She recognized me and waved me over. I didn’t recognize her but her name was familiar. I felt a little awkward because she remembered me well and I was struggling with trying to come up with some memories of her. I didn’t have any. But I didn’t want to seem rude so I decided to focus on the present. “So, what are you up to now”, I asked.
After I caught her up on my life, she said “Oh my God! You never got married? What happened??” There was a time when I would have looked at this divorced mother of three who is raising one of her grandchildren and said something snide. This time, the grown-up Eleanore just laughed and said “Ya know, marriage isn’t for everyone.” There was a little bit of an awkward silence, but only for a millisecond. We chatted for a few more minutes, then went on our separate ways.
Given how many ‘never married’ women there are in this country, it can still catch me off-guard when someone expresses surprise that I’m not married. I’ve gotten used to the idea even if others haven’t.
I’m reminded that there’s a bit of a double standard here because, while most people think it’s perfectly acceptable to ask someone why they’re single, it would seem rude to ask someone “why are you married?”
And, honestly, I don’t wonder why people, in general, get married; I do, though sometimes wonder why they married the person they married. But I know I can’t ask that.
From time to time, readers of this blog have asked me how to respond to the “why aren’t you married” question. My favorite response is the one I gave my high school classmate. But I do have a few other responses that I’ll give, depending on the situation, who I’m talking to, and my mood. Always said with a smile, they include:
- Clearly there’s something very wrong with me;
- It’s cheaper and less stressful than a divorce;
- Because I want him to go home sometimes ;
What I’ve learned, though, is it really doesn’t matter what my response is because the ask-er has usually already decided that there’s something wrong with me. Getting married is still considered the norm and bucking the norm is…abnormal.
What about you? What’s your response to this rather tiresome question?