It's ok to be single!

by Samantha Hulkower

I never thought of being single as a disease. But I started to analyze the scene and realized the following:

  • There are support groups for those who are similarly afflicted.
  • There are seminars where you can learn about the singles crises.
  • Only people who are married (aka cured) are 'qualified' to set people up or be offered as a dating reference.

It's ok to be single!
If you are a woman over a certain age (22-25, depending on your community), people are quick to tell you that you are still young and have plenty of time. Time for what, they don't say, but whatever it is, it must be really good if they have to reassure you there is still time.

And the longer you are 'afflicted' the worse people feel for you. I have a friend in her mid-30s, and if she tells people her actual age, they reassure that it's "ok" to be 35. Like she had a choice otherwise? After she told me that I began to realize why some women feel pressured to lie about their age.

While concern for being older (than college age) and single afflicts more women than men, guys of a certain age (the consensus is around 35) are assessed that there is something wrong with them, and not they just haven't met the right person yet.

This pressure is especially strong in the Jewish community, and all the more so here in Israel. Another friend of mine, a guy in his early 30s so in the safe zone, was taken aback when he met the Israeli mother of one of his friends. The minute she asked him if he was seeing anyone and he said he was single, he told me she looked at him, "like he had cancer." She then immediately started telling him what he needs to change about himself in order to get married.

And heaven forbid if you say that you just aren't interested in getting married at this point. One of my friends knows herself very well, and has had a few discussions with me about the fact she's not sure if she ever wants to get married. At the very least she is for sure not currently ready. I asked her what the typical response was when people find out she is single, try to set her up, and she stops them. She said it ranges from people angrily telling her, "You can't do this!" to being anxiously asked, "You poor thing, are you sure you want to be alone forever?"

These interactions remind me of an episode of The Simpsons, where Marge gets anxious about something. She is very adamant that everyone must be part of a couple and starts putting together 'couples' first pushing the salt and pepper shakers together, then the dog and cat. As we discussed last week, having patience is very valuable while dating. You don't want to give up or cave into pressure to just pick someone already, and then end up as incompatible as a cat and dog.

Personally, I don't have a problem with my age (for the record, I'm 30). I was thinking, if I don't have a problem...maybe there really isn't a problem being single. It's not a condition that needs to be treated, or apologized for. It doesn't mean you are being too picky or not putting yourself out there enough. It is what it is, and that's ok.


Anonymous said...

THere is always the issue of people thinking "what is wrong with him/her?" if they are "still" single by a certain age. However, with divorce so common in the states, this is much less of a stigma. I wonder if the divorce rate is less in Israel, and if that matters?

Anonymous said...

For years I was afraid of also just having to "pick someone", and ended up dating women I did not think were attractive to me and having to break it off because I had no motivation to date. However there is a sad issue when women think they don't want to get married because it's not that important to them, and then as they get older, less of the men they like want to marry them. Or their friends start having babies and they feel the pressure. The issue comes for both men and women when they date for fun in their 20's and at some point in their 30's now feel "ready" for big scary marriage. But how ready can one be? I have many gorgeous single female friends who waited till their 30's to think about marriage, and they see their siblings and friends with kids and the guys their age who want to have kids are not as interested. Especially in the Orthodox Jewish world, a man's main purpose in getting married is to fulfill the mitzvah of "being Fruitful and Multplying". Guys realize that if they marry a girl past her early thirties, there is a chance that she will go into menopause, as some women do during that time and they are taking a gamble of never having natural children with their wife. Guys who wait till their late 30's and forties to stat thinking seriously are in for a surprise when they want to date girls in their 20's, who are scared of older creepy men trying to date them. While it may be ok to be single if a person is 100% convinced that having a husband or wife is something they definitely will never ever want, most people stay single because they don't try hard enough when they are younger or because they have something "better" going on, like focusing on "important" things like their career or just living life. Marriage to the right person can be the most amazing thing in the world and many people miss out on in because they don't wake up until it's too late. I understand the intent behind the article and certainly judgements and pressure are not the best way to make getting married sound desireable. However, there are a lot of people who get older and have a real hard time finding somebody because whether they want to believe it or not, they are getting close to the end of their prime and there are, at least in theory, the choice to date someone who can more easily satisfy their life's goals in raising a family. I think people in their 20's need to realize that they should consider that in 10 years the choices available to them will inevitably become smaller, because men are attracted to youth and health and women attracted to health and wealth. I know too many gorgeous ladies who are in their mid thirties and cannot find guys under 50 to go out with them, and they confess how sad they feel to me. One friend of mine is 31 and her twin sister is having a second baby, while she is still waiting to find that Prince Charming. While it may be "ok" to be single at 35, it is simply not the desirable choice for a guy or a girl who really wants to get married but hasn't found the right person yet. It's not about fighting an "oppressive system or society", but rather about giving oneself the opportunity to maximize their potential spouse of choice. :)

iranian woman said...

Well Samantha, it is quite true and it is seen in almost every society. People always found thinking such silly things about the others. It is all about their narrow mentality and there is nothing to care and worry about as well. I personally don’t care about the people thinking like this, and why should I care as well? It is our life and if we found ourselves comfortable being single, we should not care about what people say and think.

Yashar LaChayal

The majesty of the Western Wall

Nefesh B'Nefesh