Yes, People, I Am Still Single.

One of the things I like about getting older is that many of the things that used to Unknownbother 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.

Unknown-1After 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 Unknown-2aren’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?

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27 Responses to Yes, People, I Am Still Single.

  1. And The Truth Is says:

    Anyone that will ask a good man like me that question which i will really tell them Just Maybe if i can only meet a good woman that Doesn’t sleep around with so many Different men all the time which then i Would really have it made especially if she can Accept me for who i am as well since i can Easily Commit to just Only One Woman. The very extremely Hard Part though is to have her Commit Only To Just Me.

  2. Nissa says:

    My personal favorites are:
    –because I’m a smart girl.
    –because I try not to make the same mistake more than once
    –just lucky, I guess
    –what, narrow it down to one?
    but in truth,
    –I just don’t believe in that anymore, sorry. What’s funny is, that when I tell people the truth, they get just as bent as 5 year olds who just heard that there’s no Santa. (Whaaa? That can’t be true! Gasp! And the Easter Bunny?? Gaaahh!).

  3. Natalie C says:

    I’m in my late thirties and never have been married, so I get the question a lot. I usually respond, “Because I would never want to marry anyone who would marry me”. That usually stops them in their tracks.

    I’m not so concerned about answering their question truthfully because someone who would ask me that simply isn’t worth my time.

  4. Grace says:

    My favorite response to why are you still single? “Because I can be. Because I was lucky enough to have been born in a place where freedom rules. I have the freedom to make all choices regarding my life including education, career, where I choose to live and who I choose to let into my amazing and blessed life”.

  5. Velvet S. says:

    This is a great post and I love it! Great humor, too. You know, I’m 25 and I get asked why I’m not dating anyone. It’s hard to explain to people that I’ve never been asked out on a date and they just look at me funny. But, it’s nothing compared to the look I sometimes get when I tell people that I’m waiting for my wedding night to become intimate! That look sometimes makes me want to lose right there! It’s hilariously funny, depending upon the individual. My Mom and Grandmother hates when people ask me that question, they think that it’s so personal. But, I’d much rather go ahead and tell the truth. That if I hear it again and the news travels back and it sound different, then I’ll know what I said and that I told the truth. Because as we all know, that stands. I think you have a right to enjoy your life, married or not. My Mom is the same way. She’s been divorced for 21 years and she’s got a great love of her life. SHOES! She is an avid shoe fan and if she was to date again, (to which said that she’s not interested in doing that again) then whomever the guy, will have to understand that. I love this post. Very True and funny!

  6. Noca says:

    I’ve always like to give answers that are strange, hard to respond to, and leave the asker wondering when I get the ‘marriage and kids?’ questions. Of course it depends on the asker, if it’s someone important that I need to keep in good graces with I’ll be less flippant or strange, if it’s someone who is not in that category I will just mess with them. Answers like “There’s a court issued gag-order on that, I legally can’t discuss what happened” for the marriage deal, or a few fake tears and a “I’ve tried and tried but …” for the kids one (which I think is super rude and nosey, it’s no ones business what I’m doing reproductively, that’s private for goodness sake and I think it serves the asker right to feel bad if I’m ‘crying’). But, firing back with a few rude questions is also a very good way to get the point across.

  7. K says:

    While I have used the “Just lucky, I guess” and “Why aren’t you divorced?” retorts for strangers and casual acquaintances, I find for the work colleagues who ask, a simple, “I live in a city apartment and never met anyone who was worth giving up closet space over” a tad more tactful and light-hearted while driving the point home.

  8. Ms.Sasser says:

    I’m with Jill, I usually respond “Lucky I guess” with a huge smile on my face.

    The other response is “I prefer it over being divorced and a single parent”

    Either one of those responses usually ends the conversation about that particular topic.

  9. Lauren L says:

    I think it’s sad that people pose the question at all. No one walks around and says “Why did you get married? What happened?”, or “Why on earth did you have children?” But, people will ask the opposite. I am someone who actually considers life-long monogamy something unnatural and an unattractive arrangement… and I think if people weren’t so socialized to follow this “path to marriage and children,” from the instant they are born, I think far fewer people would do either or both.

  10. Cindy L'Esperance says:

    My reply is so honest and to the point, it could be considered boring: “I never met anyone I wanted to marry.” It’s really that simple. I can’t even imagine thinking anyone is so awesome and amazing that I want to enter into a (supposedly) lifelong legal contract with him. I don’t think most people think this through. Which calls to mind the very wise saying, “I think, therefore I’m single.”

    • CLV says:

      I completely agree with having never met anyone I wanted to marry. No matter how much I’ve liked someone, and even loved someone at a couple of points in my life, to imagine myself dealing with him 24/7 forever is just more than I have every been able to get my head around. (I also love, love Eleanor’s comment about wanting him to go home sometimes!)

  11. Cat says:

    I am usually completely upfront about my disdain for marriage. I explain how 1. historically, marriage has confined and enslaved women, 2. that I embrace change without the fear of clinging to a projected future that is beyond my control, 3. that I believe life is cyclical, like the seasons, and so are relationships. 4. That my love cannot be defined or made valid by any church or government contract. And if I’m really honest I’ll tell them that I think people who marry are conformists who don’t really think things through very thoroughly.

  12. Ali says:

    I still remember the time I was the new person in the room. A nice woman about my age (50ish) came over and introduced herself. We started chatting. She then asked if I was married. I said no. She asked if I had children/ grandchildren. I said no. She then go this strange look on her face and just walked away. It was like because I wasn’t married and had no children or grandchildren there was just nothing we could talk about.

    On one hand I was a little happy because I really do not enjoy listening to married mothers go on and on about their partners and children. On the other a little said that two women could not find a subject to talk about that did not include partners and children.

  13. Erica says:

    I can remember when I was flat out asked, “what’s wrong with you,” by a man who thought it strange that at 30 I wasn’t married. I can handle those types with no problem. I don’t get snippy or anything, just assure them that nothing’s wrong with me & it’s not my time, haven’t met anyone I’d be interested in marrying, etc. What does throwe off is some well-meaning (I guess) woman telling me, “Don’t worry, it’ll happen,” & I’m left wondering why she felt the need to reassure me. Am I exhibiting some sort of fear & desperation in just replying, “No, I’m not married,” that they need to pay my hand or shoulder (in pity, no doubt) & offer encouraging (they think) words. In the past I’ve wanted to express that assurance was never needed or even requested, but I don’t bother anymore. The unsolicited encouragement is more for their benefit than mine, kinda like community service! 🙂

  14. Maybe instead of one-liners, use a different approach would be to call out the rude question and approach the subject directly? So for example, “I find that to be rude because I would never ask somebody why they’re still married. What response are you looking for when you ask that?” And then see where the conversation goes. At the very least, they might think before asking someone again.

    I think this is important for 2 groups of women. Those who just don’t like the idea of marriage and those who want to get married but refuse to let circumstances beyond their control prevent them from leading full lives. I feel mostly for the latter group h leaving a friend who’s just turned 40 and constantly hears grief from family about the topic. I know this question is supremely hurtful to her but she carries on making the most out of her life even if she can’t have everything she wants.

  15. Jen says:

    I am 47 and I really don’t get asked very often. I just get the tsk tsk look… But if I ever do I am going to shoot back with “Why are you married?” Brilliant.

  16. Jeanine says:

    I’ve faced this question for many years as I will turn 54 tomorrow and have never been married/no kids. In truth, sometimes no matter what you do–it’s just not in the cards. That being said–I grow irritated with this very rude question–so now I merely respond with…”and what happened to YOU–that you have grown to be so very rude and VAPID?
    That usually shuts their little mouths. Frankly, I’m sick and tired of how insensitive married women are.

  17. Jill says:

    I always respond, “Just lucky!” Works for me.

  18. Patricia says:

    I don’t face this question too often — Los Angeles is the world of the single and non-dating. But I do remember responding once, “Because I don’t want to have to raise a husband.” I thought it was such a bizarre question given how often the asker complained about how immature her spouse was.

  19. Rosemarie says:

    When someone asks me why I’m still single, I respond with “Are you asking me what’s wrong with me?” Why else would they be asking.

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