“I am so over this single thing”.

This is a text message I received late the other night.  The sender is my good friend, Jackie, who would appear — from the outside– to be the epitome of Spinsterliciousness (even though she, technically, isn’t a Spinster).   She’s a good-looking chick, a well-paid marketing executive who takes frequent vacations throughout the world, has an active social life and a close relationsip with her family.  But I guess that’s mostly external stuff and they don’t quite matter.   Correction. Of course they matter.   I don’t think Jackie wants to lose any of this, but they can’t fix what’s ailing her.

What’s ailing her is that she is  tired, really tired of being single.  When she got divorced, I think we all assumed she’d remarry pretty quickly.   Now, here it is 12 years later and no husband or husband-to-be on the horizon.  And she hates it.

Now what?

I really didn’t want to give a bunch of platitudes (“don’t worry, he’s out there”; “you’ll find him when you’re least expecting it”; blah blah).   First of all, they sound empty and insincere to me.  But more importantly, the odds aren’t in her favor.  Women-of-a-certain age do get married, but not nearly as easily as men-of-a-certain-age.

And I didn’t want to try to talk her into loving being single because that’s not what she wants.   It really made me think.   What’s supposed to happen here?

I don’t care to be married but I do wish the prospects were better for my friends who do.

The drawing to the right is by Van Gogh.  Supposedly, when he finished it,  he appended it with a quote from Jules Michelet’s treatise “La Femme” (1860)

“The worst fate for a woman is to live alone. Alone! Just to pronounce the word is sad.  And how on earth does it happen that a woman is alone?  Are there no longer any men? Have we arrived at the end of the world?”

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7 Responses to Spinster-minus-licious

  1. April says:

    Just be there for her. We don't know what will change, and we're certainly not equipped to diagnose whether or not she's clinically depressed. Just acknowledge her feelings, and be someone she can talk to openly.
    Being a happily single person myself, I tend to believe that loneliness is just like any other emotion; it comes and goes. But I know that's because that's how it goes for me. Even if I'm happily single doesn't mean every so often I feel loneliness (just like being married doesn't guarantee one will never be lonely again).
    Just be her friend. I'm sure one day soon, you'll be celebrating some moment of joy with her, in whatever form that ends up coming her way.

  2. Josie says:

    I agree, eleanore, your friend probably isn't depressed and you can't diagnose someone like that anyway. And Lisa's right, you've just got to embrace what's good for you. If you're happy being single, then super, if you want to not be single then you have to accept that too and be authentic to yourself. (Have I just re-said what Lisa said?)
    If I hear “you'll find him when you least expect it” one more time I'm probably going to vomit on the speaker, or throw my drink on them. . . it's not helpful.
    Josie x

  3. Lisa says:

    Hi. I really like your blog. I'm not a Spinster (I'm a 30-something newlywed), but I support women choosing to live their lives on their own terms, whether it's single or married! I hate when people assume there's something wrong with you because you're single…

    Anyway, I came out of lurkdom on this topic because I can say that I really enjoyed being single and doing fabulous single-girl things for a good period of time.

    One day, I was tired of it. I was depressed, I did see a psychologist… she did a good job and tried to encourage me to find hobbies, interests, appreciate being happy as I was, work on myself, etc… oh and some of the happiest women she knew were single and never married.

    And then we had that “breakthrough.” I said, “I'm not happy because I don't want to be single. Any other suggestion is a band-aid. I want to be in a relationship.”

    Suddenly, I felt a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I finally got to admit what I wanted and not try to appease myself with platitudes and more activities. Once I did that, I shifted my focus to trying to meet more dating prospects and actually doing LESS of the single hobbies and interests that passed the time for me.

    I think that it's important for people to honor that need for a relationship and not try to have that person “refocus” on other things.

    Just my opinion, thanks for listening and keep up the good work.

  4. L Lyn says:

    I have two separate trains of thought on this. First, I've found when I've gone through periods of time where I felt really sad about not being married that it wasn't actually that I wanted to be married the way it really is, but that I was either longing for the fairy tale that we are sold on a daily basis through the media (let's face it, there is good and bad about just about any relationship here in real life) or I was just tired of the way I was treated as a “single woman”, that pariah to some, and just wanted to be “normal”. So, there's that.

    The other thought is that, yeah, it sucks when you want something and it's not happening for you. I wish that everyone who wanted to could find a great partner to be with. However, I've also come to realize that we don't always get what we want. I don't know that it's any worse when we don't find that relationship we want as when we don't end up in a career where we are valued or never climb Mount Everest or never acheive whatever other really meaningful or personal goal or dream we may have wanted for ourselves. Yet, I think we are conditioned to THINK it's worse if we are unmarried. I don't think it is. It's just another reality of life.

  5. I've had these conversations with friends as well. Sometimes it's because we still have work to do on ourselves. And sometimes we have to be thankful that we've got sense enough not to fall for anything or anyone when it comes to love/marriage.

    Being alone is not the worst thing. There are many wives who would trade places with her. Tell her to appreciate this blessing for now and not to give up.

  6. eleanore says:

    @io: I think your answer is one that is too easy, but I don't think it's that black-and-white. I don't think Jackie is depressed nor does she have a miserable life. She has a great life with lots of goodness in it, including passions/hobbies like being an avid marathoner and supporter of a number of volunteer causes. She knows how to have a good life. She just also wants to be married.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Your friend should go to a psychologist because she's suffering depression.

    In life you often can't change what happens to you – the only thing you can change in your REACTION.

    She can choose to be miserable and unhappy all her life …. it's a life sentence.

    Or she can try to help herself so that she gets over the grief and tries to be happy ….

    And while she's seeing a psychologist, she could have a think about a hobby or interest that she loves – because finding something that you're passionate about is one of the stepping stones towards happiness.

    Maybe you can print my reply to her and ask she considers what I've said.

    Good luck to her.


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