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- I Don't Like Kids. There. I Said It.
- 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!
- The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone
- How Can I Be Happily Single When I Hate Being Single?
The Spinsterlicious Life
One of the most absurd dates I’ve ever had was, if I’m really honest about it, my fault. It was my fault because, though I’m not responsible for the “gentleman’s” actions, I ignored a feeling in the pit of my stomach that said, “End it now.” Thirty minutes into the date, I knew this was not the guy for me, yet I allowed the date to go on for another three ridiculous hours because, I suppose, I didn’t want to seem rude, reactionary, like a bitch.
I met Mr. X at a fundraiser gala for a charity. I felt and looked great that night and he looked great and we were drawn to each other immediately. He was good-looking and charming and funny. We lived in different cities, but I had an upcoming business trip to Chicago, where he lives, and I couldn’t wait to go out with him.
He had planned a nice evening for us; one that would allow me to have a fun experience in one of my favorite cities. I didn’t know the plan ahead of time, but I didn’t really care, because I love Chicago and assumed I’d enjoy whatever was on the agenda.
We started with drinks at the new restaurant in the lobby of my hotel. As we were waiting for our drinks, he began to brag about his sexual prowess with more detail than I cared to know (which was none). I made a rather lighthearted comment about this not really being first-date conversation. He accused me of being uptight, and continued to tell me more than I cared to know.
This guy was in his 40s, but I felt as if I were with a 14-year-old who was just discovering sex. It was so sophomoric. This would have been a good time to thank him for the drinks and excuse myself. But I didn’t. As a single woman in my 40s, I had often been accused of being “too picky.” Not wanting to prove that notion to be right, I stayed, even while this fool disrespectfully continued a conversation I had made clear I didn’t want to have. I stayed, waiting for the charming gentleman I initially met to show up. Where was that guy?
Next on the agenda was dinner, then a visit to a show at a club he belongs to. I convinced him that I wasn’t very hungry so we should just grab something at the club. I didn’t want to spend more time with him than necessary, but I also thought a show would be fun. Yet I was still pushing down that feeling in my gut that’s saying “I should just cut my losses and head back to my room.” There was something odd and aggressive and just not right about this guy. But off to the club I went.
We got to the club and I was immediately confused. All the staff knew him, and so did all the performers. But we were at a private club and all the performers were drag queens. I wondered how often he came here? Drag shows can be entertaining and a lot of fun, but I don’t know that this is something that many straight guys do on a regular basis. But I said nothing, because I was still trying to be a good, open-minded, non-uptight date. But now I knew something wasn’t right.
Finally I asked him what made him join such a club. In a very nasty tone, he explained to me that he “loves everybody and doesn’t judge anyone.” This exchange was so unpleasant that it was another opportunity for me to leave. But I didn’t. I told myself that I should be patient with him.
During the course of the first show (yes, he wanted to stay for two), I made a comment about some of the performers not being very good. He very angrily explained to me how brave they are, how hard their lives are and how rejected they are by society (none of which had anything to do with not being very talented). His reaction was so strong that it was at that moment that I realized what his problem was: the over-the-top, graphic sex talk, the membership at this drag club, and the anger at any mention of the performers all said to me that he was probably struggling with his sexuality.
And that was fine. He needed to work that out. What I needed to work out was why I ignored my gut feeling hours earlier, when it was clear that this was not going to be an evening I would enjoy?
After the second show, he dropped me off at my hotel and said, “Is 8:30 still okay?” Geez, I’d forgotten that, early in the evening, I had agreed to breakfast the next day. I should have said something like “It was nice seeing you, but I think I’ll pass on breakfast.” What I said was “Okay,” and I’m still not sure why. I think I was feeling sorry for him; if my theory about his struggle with who he really was was correct, than I had started to see him as fragile, and I wanted to be a “nice girl” and not reject him . . . even though I had no desire to see him and his vacillating moods again.
Breakfast was awkward as we made small talk about nothing, including no mention of anything we saw or did the night before. I paid the bill, which he didn’t appreciate. He called me out with, “Women like to pay the bill when they don’t want to feel like they owe you anything.” He was right. He’d paid for everything the night before and, even though I knew I didn’t owe him anything, I just wanted to dispel the notion that I would let him pay for everything and would ditch him anyway. This time, when he dropped me off at my hotel, I just said “Thank you.” We never spoke again.
I shared this story with a number of single girlfriends and we all acknowledged that we have stayed too long on dates we didn’t want to be on just so we wouldn’t be seen as too picky, difficult, and whatever other hostile descriptions single women are sometimes labeled.
I so much wanted not to be called a user, high-maintenance, a bitch, that I ignored my own feelings in the effort to protect his.
I’m over it, though. That was the last time I did that. There’s no reason to tamp down my own feelings and give away my power just to make my date feel better.
My book, The Spinsterlicious Life, has 20 life lessons for being happily single. This should have been Lesson 21: Always trust your gut, and be brave enough to act on it.
A version of this post can also be found at Women Voices for Change
I had a miserable night last night and I really needed my (non-existent) husband to step up and handle the situation…make me feel better…act like a man and do manly things.
Here’s why. I had driven out to my country house to inspect it after the weekend renters checked out, and I decided to stay a few days just because it’s so lovely and peaceful. In the early evening, while watching tv, I heard squeaking noises. What could that be? I start to walk in the direction of the noises and see in front of me a tiny, wriggling gray object. A godda** mouse! Actually, it’s just barely a mouse because it’s clearly a newborn. Not even the size of my baby finger. But it’s still a mouse…and it’s in my house.
This is horrible. It’s so tiny it can’t seem to walk so it’s just wriggling. What to do? That is, besides trying not to throw up? I get the broom, but hitting it seems so violent…and then what will I do if it splatters? I’m not cleaning up mouse blood and guts. I’m not.
Now I’m not just irrationally terrified; I’m mad because I need a man right now! And there’s not one around.
This is a baby mouse, so at first I feel slightly better…until it occurs to me that (1) there must be a (much bigger) mama mouse somewhere nearby and (2) mice give birth to a litter, not a single mouse. So, I stupidly Google “mouse litter size” and see that the typical litter is 10-12. Which means there are lots of mouse siblings in my house somewhere. But where? I’m not looking for them. Because what will I do if I find a mother-and-babies nest…besides scream and run?
I cover the wriggling baby with a bowl because I don’t know what else to do. I go back to try to watch tv. An hour later, there’s another tiny, wriggling little MF, right beside it’s sibling. Where did it come from? Now I’m really scared. So i get another bowl and cover that one up, too.
I think seriously about packing up and heading to the city, but that makes no sense because then I’d have to deal with decaying mouse carcasses when I return and that’s way too gross. There’s no point in going to buy mouse traps because I’d then have to place them near where I think the mice are…except I don’t want to go near them. And I don’t want the dog to, either, because he might think it’s a game. I need help.
Thank goodness my friend, Raychelle, and her husband are in St. Louis right now. I say “thank goodness” because I would have called him to come help right away and he probably would have said “no” because they live 15 miles away and he would think I’m being ridiculous and I would have been mad.
Then I think of Teddy. Teddy does lots of work around my house and he’s good and really nice. But I can’t call him at 10p to come get mice, can I? Probably not. His wife (and he) would probably think I’m nuts…plus it’s pouring rain.
So I decide to wait until the morning to call Teddy. I also decide to sleep on the couch. Why the couch? Because I’m afraid a critter could climb up the bedclothes and get into bed with me.
I wake up at 6am. Is it too early to call Teddy? Probably. What about 7am? Probably still too early. I finally call him at 7:55a. He chuckles and says he’ll come by later. First he’s got to go service one of his clients who has a flood. I actually don’t think a flood is more important than 2 mice, but I don’t say anything. I give him a fake deadline so he’ll come sooner. “I’m only going to be here for a short while because I have a meeting in the city”. He says he’ll get here as soon as he can. I don’t hear any urgency in his voice.
Teddy showed up at 1:30p and I wanted to hug him. He tried to reassure me that “mice can’t hurt you.” I didn’t really want to hear that. What I did want to hear is what he said next: “Don’t worry. I’ll take care of it”…just the way I imagine my husband would do…if I had one.
And on my drive back to the city, I had a conversation with my friend, Susan’s husband. He’s more afraid of mice than I am and would have been useless in this situation, so I guess a husband isn’t necessarily the answer, is it?
Adulterous affairs have pretty much always been seen as wrong, but are some less wrong? The “other woman” has traditionally been the scorned party, a negative force. But is this changing? Is adultery becoming more acceptable?
I was thinking about this recently while watching Scandal, one of the most popular shows among women ages 25 to 54 on television right now. Among the many story lines of this show is the adulterous affair between the Spinsterlicious lead character –Olivia Pope– and the very married President of the United States, Fitzgerald Grant. This affair is steamy and charged…and very popular. Social media (#Scandal) is alive on Thursday nights with fans rooting for Olivia and Fitz to be together.
This is only fictional tv, but even in fiction ”the other woman” is usually a homewrecker…and worse. And the cheating husband is a scoundrel. But not this time. The love between Olivia and Fitz runs deep and the viewers are cheering them on, at the expense of his perfectly lovely wife.
This “cheering on” intrigues me because infidelity –on tv and in real life– is almost always looked down upon and is rarely (never?) cheered for. But what we see on tv is often a reflection of what society-at-large is experiencing. This made me wonder if adultery is becoming more acceptable. I think it might be. Rather than painting all adultery with a broad brush, it seems we may be now seeing gradations of “how wrong is it?”
The declining incidence of marriage, the growing rate of cohabitation, and the steady divorce rate could lead one to conclude that marriage has become less sacred. People may be starting to acknowledge the reality that “til death do us part” is, perhaps, unrealistic in many cases and that sometimes married people fall in love with people who are not their spouses. Studies show that infidelity is on the rise. Adultery may have become less scandalous because we see so much of it. In pop culture, we know who’s cheating with who, and why, and even the aftermath of having been caught.
So when Heidi Klum of the very popular Project Runway left her husband, Seal, for her bodyguard with whom she was having an affair, it was almost a non-news event, despite the regular news coverage of Heidi and Seal renewing their wedding vows every year for the seven years they were married.
South Carolina Governor (at the time) Mark Sanford, infamous for claiming to be “hiking the Appalachian Trail” when he had actually flown to Argentina to see his mistress seems to have been forgiven by many of the people of his state. His divorce is done, and he recently won a special election for his old House seat with his then-mistress, now-fiancée by his side.
And on a personal note, my good friend, who will go unnamed for obvious reasons, fell in love with her contractor. They both left their respective spouses, married, and are now a “legitimate couple” in their social circle, church and community. She even held onto her seat in the national PTA. People looked askance at them up until about the time it was clear that they were madly in love.
But not all adultery is given a pass. We still look askance at Tiger Woods even though it’s been a couple of years since his dalliances with 10+ women were revealed. He now has a new girlfriend in Lindsay Vonn, yet his escapades during his marriage to Elin Nordogren are still fodder for jokes on the late night talk show circuit.
Heidi, Mark, Tiger, and my friend all cheated on their spouses, yet Heidi and Mark (and my friend) seem to have been treated more kindly than Tiger, by the public. I think love is the difference in the reactions of others to these four examples.
As the Scandal storyline goes, Olivia and Fitz have a deep love for each other; Heidi and Mark (and my friend) are still with the people who helped blow up their marriages. Tiger, on the other hand, was purely on a lustful adventure with the multitude of women with whom he cheated. When it comes to adultery, it seems that rampant ‘screwing around’ is still bad, but love can be forgiven.
This distinction, between affairs rooted in love versus lust, seems new to me. The public has, from time to time, looked the other way regarding infidelity, but it’s usually after the fact. For example, Newt Gingrich wasn’t a well-known public figure during his cheating with and subsequent marriage to his then-mistress. We only learned of this history of his infidelity later. The Heidi, Mark and Tiger situations all took place while they were in the public eye and we “saw” it unfolding in real time. And yet there was little fallout for Heidi and Mark, perhaps because the public has accepted that these are genuine love-based relationships, which was obviously, not the case for Tiger Woods.
I ran this notion by a friend who has been in a “challenged” marriage for 25 years. His very matter-of-fact comment was “I think people recognize that the fundamentals of love sometimes come outside the legal relationship.” For him, breaking up a marriage and family for the sake of a new, but real and burning-bright love is a risk worth taking…an understandable, and forgivable, risk. (Well, forgivable by those who are not the spouse and kids).
Is this the wave of the future, the nuances of infidelity? Is true love the forgivable criterion for an adulterous affair? Is there such a thing?
A version of this post can be found at Women’s Voices for Change.
About a year ago, a guy I often see while walking my dog said to me, somewhat apologetically, that he thinks “women who’ve never been married are kinda sad” . I chuckled…until I realized he was serious. He’s going through a divorce so I decided to cut him some slack. I merely asked him if he knew any sad married people (other than himself and his soon-to-be ex-wife).
But that was last year, and I was starting to assume that people were beginning to show some progress in this area. But I was wrong. My new doctor –who is younger than I am and should know better– spent too much time “counseling” me that I need to get married so I can have a family to share my life with. I patiently explained to him that I already have a family that I share my life with. What are my brother, sister, sister-in-law, nieces, nephews, and cousins if they’re not my family?
When will it sink in to people that not being married does not equal alone in the world? It doesn’t mean sad, it doesn’t mean a small life. I thought of several Spinsters we all know who I think have pretty great lives. Here’s a few that come to mind right away:
These women are anything but sad. I know…they’re all celebrities so they’re not like you and me, right? Well, you don’t have to be a celebrity to be a Spinster with a pretty great life. There’s this lady.
And there’s the readers of this blog. And I’ll bet you can think of more than a few Spinsters –famous or not– who you admire (and who aren’t sad). Who are they?
There was a time when a woman over, say 35, who was still single was thought of as “less than”…not quite up to par with her better off sisters who had managed to snag a husband…like they’re supposed to. Something had to be wrong with her, right, because why isn’t she married? This, actually, wasn’t too long ago. Two years ago, when I first started writing my book –The Spinsterlicious Life: 20 Life Lessons for Living Happily Single and Childfree– I got many puzzled looks from lots of people.
But not anymore. Something happened. The world woke up to something that many of us already know. Being single, free, and unencumbered can be quite good. Women everywhere are learning that there’s real appeal to being single and having the ability to live the way you want, spend your time and money the way you want, and to just be.
Yep. Being single just might be in! Many women are celebrating their ability to date who they want and then send him home. He doesn’t have to “put a ring on it”. Being married is no longer the only desirable life path for a woman. It’s still a good one, but just not the only one.
I’m not making this up. There are statistics that back me up:
- According to the U.S. Census, 28% of U.S. adults were unmarried in 1970. That percentage rose to 47% in 1970, and a 2011 study by the Pew Research Institute found that the number of U.S. adults who are unmarried is now 49%, a record high.
- To be clear, this number (above) includes not only those who are never-married, but also the divorced and widowed. If we focus on the Never Married, that description fit 1 in 5 white women in the U.S. in 2010 and 2 in 5 black women, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
- Now granted, being single wasn’t the life plan of every unmarried woman. Sometimes plans don’t work out, including that there just might be an inventory problem: in 2011, there were only 89 unmarried adult men to every 100 unmarried adult women in the U.S. It’s nice to know, though, that Plan B can be pretty good.
- But many women are choosing singlehood, either for the time being or forever. The rise of later marriage, single motherhood, and homeownership by unmarried women are all signs that the pull of marriage is changing. Marie Claire magazine even explored the idea of “girlfriends as husbands”, in that close friends are now possibly filling some of the roles that would typically be filled by a husband.
Do an online search of ‘single’, ‘spinster’, ‘singular’, ‘unmarried’ and what you’ll get back are pages and pages of blogs, news stories, and online magazines talking about the joys and realities of being single.
But it’s still a little complicated. I have a number of single girlfriends who say they really hate being single, and yet, at the same time, they love so many things about their single lives.
I don’t know why this trend is happening. I don’t know what jump-started this shift in thinking from single = “poor thing” –to- single = “woman on top”. I don’t know that I even care why. I do know that the ability for single women everywhere to proudly own their single status and embrace the life they have ahead is a beautiful thing. Being married isn’t necessarily better, it’s just different. (But we already knew that, didn’t we?)
Fortunately, in 2013, there’s no one right path for everyone. There are a number of ways to “do single” (e.g., divorced, cohabiting, single mom, single-and-dating, single-and-looking, single-and-not-even-thinking-about-a-man…), and they’re all legit choices. So is marriage. To each her own…
Twice in the past month I had the opportunity to spend time with two of my ex-boyfriends. Both times, afterwards, I was struck with how much I enjoyed them and lovely it was.
A dear, married-for-20-years friend has always teased me about how weird she thinks it is that I have remained friends with all my exes. It isn’t true that I’m friends with all of them –there’s 1-2 that turn my stomach– but, for the most part, I am friendly with most of them. It’s nice. And it works for me.
Here’s whatI like about it:
-I appreciate the company of a man. They’re different from my girlfriends in ways that are good and ways that I still don’t always get, but that difference is what makes it interesting.
-We know each other well…or as well as a man can know a woman. :-) We’ve shared many intimate moments (not just the physical kind) and we’ve seen each other at our best and worst. There’s no pretense, so it’s comfortable.
-Since we’re just friends now, and no longer dating (and no longer “doing it”), I get to focus on the good things about them, those things that drew me to them in the first place. And when they start to bug me, I can say “good night”. I get to shut out the other sides of them that are the reasons we broke up in the first place.
-I know who’s good for what. When I need someone to hang with me –escort me to yet another gala, or see a movie, or go to a concert –I know who likes what, so I know exactly who to invite and who not. (When you’re dating, he has to go with you whether he wants to or not, which doesn’t always work out so well).
Sometimes it can get tricky when he’s married or has a steady girlfriend. I know that it’s innocent and strictly platonic, but that’s a hard thing to convince her of. And I get it. I’m not sure how I’d feel if my (presently non-existent) boyfriend was spending time with his ex.
I interviewed for a job a few weeks ago that seemed like it could be my dream job…if there’s such a thing, given that I’d have to make my own company, Golden Door Consulting, my part-time gig, if I took it. That’s how almost-perfect this job sounded, so I was delighted when they invited me in for an interview.
My first interview was with Human Resources, a nice young lady who kept telling me how impressed she was with my résumé. I thought, “So, we’re off to a good start.”
We chatted awhile about the job requirements, the people who would be on my team, and the company’s culture…and the company culture conversation is where things got tricky.
Nice HR Chick mentioned that she had Googled me and came across this blog. Then she said that it was great that I’m single because the two other women I’d be working with are married with young children. Screeching brakes sound in my head. What is she implying? First of all, you can’t discuss marital status as a job requirement. It’s illegal. But more importantly, what was her point? That I would be expected to take up the slack for them because my home life wouldn’t be making demands on me? Au contraire, Naive HR lady. I have a very full home life, it just doesn’t involve a husband or kids. But it’s every bit as important to me.
Before I could respond, she caught herself and apologized for her slip. She tried to clean it up by saying something about diversity in the workplace being good for everyone. Yeah, right.
So I played along. I wasn’t going to ruin what seemed like a good thing just because at least one person thinks the single lady is going to be the fill-in whenever there’s a school play or appointment with the pediatrician.
As it turns out, this wasn’t my dream job after all because they made the decision to move the position to their Los Angeles office and I’m not willing to relocate. But it reminded me of something I always suspected when I had a “real” job: being single and child free means always-available…to some. I got really good at having ever-ready excuses as to why I wasn’t available, either.
This conversation was really timely, as the blogosphere, online and print magazines, and tv shows everywhere are discussing women’s roles and behaviors in the workplace, spurred by Sheryl Sandberg’s new book, Lean In, about what women need to do to fare better in the workplace, and Marissa Meyers, Yahoo’s new CEO who had a nursery built in her office but is cutting out the opportunity for others to work from home. (I know; that was a really long sentence). These conversations have mostly left single women without kids out of the conversation and, instead, focus on wives and mothers. It’s been interesting to watch from afar.
But the HR lady let me know what she thinks about people like me. I wonder how many others do, too.
One of my favorite vacations was an African safari at the Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania. We stayed at the beautiful Sable Mountain Lodge which really felt like paradise. Deep in the wild, the accommodations were minimalist yet lovely, the food was great and the staff personable, friendly, and efficient in all the right ways.
And then there were the animals. Beautiful, majestic, and awesome to see. And to be clear, this was a photographic safari; no animals were harmed.
I went with my married friends, Cindy and Peter. Yes, I was the third-wheel, single friend in theory, but it never felt like that. We had a grand ole time.
But a vacation to Africa, in general, and a safari, in particular, can be expensive. So I am grateful to Danielle Mcann of Wild Africa for sharing information on ways to travel to Africa for safari or other adventures without breaking your personal bank.
Danielle is a copywriter who works with Wild Africa. When she’s not writing content she enjoys traveling, swimming, shopping and taking her Golden Retriver dog for a walk. Today, she’s sharing tips on “wild, wonderful, easy-to-budget Africa.”
In Danielle’s own words:
How great is traveling? You get out of your routine, out of all the things that shroud us in habit and comfort and you get down to what really matters, which is the pursuit of pleasure and experience. That’s the sort of thing that makes us into a human rather than a walking, eating, sleeping, working machine.
And, of course, you get to see and do new things. It’s all worth it in the end, all the saving and the aeroplane trips and the research. Traveling on a budget is a way to get the very most out of your travel dollars, by stripping away absolutely everything you don’t need (um, meals should stay). Where there’s a will there’s a way, and if you are short on cash and you want to go somewhere, make it happen.
- Traveling anywhere during the off-season is a good way to do this. Or you could go to Africa, where seasons matter less than they do elsewhere. Everyone should see Africa at least once in their lifetime. It’s like nowhere else on earth. Just by changing the time of year that you travel, you could save a lot.
- When traveling in a group, you will end up with more value deals than you would if you went somewhere all your own, because packages normally work in bulk/group deals.
- Planning a really long way ahead is one way to save, and the other way is to not plan at all, and to get a last minute deal! Whatever you do, make sure you’re enjoying the ride.
- Tours are great because of the local knowledge and secrets that they provide you. There are certain places you can only get into courtesy of a tour. Tours come with information that you wouldn’t otherwise have which is great in a place like Africa. Wild Africa offers these sorts of tours, tours that mean that you don’t have to completely fend for yourself, and that some of the research is down to your guide.
I agree with Danielle that Africa is like no other place on earth and visiting there is an amazing experience.