People keep calling me a “girl” even though I left puberty over a decade ago. Presumably the title of woman is only bestowed on those females who marry, produce children or have become so old they are presumed widows. I am none of those things, because I am many women’s worst nightmare. I am a spinster. Fortunately, a cadre of lady writers has emerged to let me know I’m not cursed; in fact I’m part of a new and growing demographic.
We once may have been statistically rare and mentioned only by male writers as “career girls.” Now we are apparently on everyone’s mind- especially our own. Melanie Notkin called it Otherhood, the title of her new book about female single childlessness. The writers of Sex in the City glamorized us into cool sex-kitten-fashionistas. Kay Hymowitz wrote about how fabulously educated we are by comparison to our male peers. Cristelyn Karazin told us if we were black we had better marry or stay childless lest we be responsible for the demise of America. Lori Gottlieb got real with us in an Atlantic article, and told us to just marry already, anyone we can stand, because our prospects are slipping away with each month and new wrinkle. And who could forget the next big buzz generating article about single ladies in the same magazine? Kate Bolick reminded us that hey, at least single life is not as bad as dying of cancer while being married to a mean husband, so let’s get this party started. Everyone seems to have an opinion on what ought to be done by women like me. Hopefully most people will have the tact not to call us up on Valentine’s Day to ask the annoying question “Did you find anyone yet?”
For us your world of couples can sometimes seem to be split into two camps: the merely insensitive, and the unbearable. The insensitive post pictures of their new babies on Facebook as we watch our fertility dwindle, and then suggest we get pets so we can have love in our lives too. The unbearable get angry at us because we won’t sleep with them in spite of the fact they are married (in their minds single and slut are synonymous). The unbearable angrily chastise us for considering single parenthood even if we can make more money than them, their spouse, and their parents combined. The unbearable tell us condescendingly we are completely responsible for our own plight because we are dating the wrong men, but can’t think of even one single decent guy who would date us when pressed to do so. The unbearable have not realized that some of us date men they label “losers” because these types make up a very high percentage of what is left in the dating pool. The truth of the matter is that many women much past 30 face some pretty slim pickings for a husband if they look in the traditional places and ways. But as far as dating goes, we can take solace in the fact that we could have a date or sex any day of the year.
The possibilities of temporarily available men for a spinster are actually nearly endless. I have found the idea that older women are not attractive to be at least partly mythological. Even when I let myself slide into being overweight for a year, there were always people around asking me on a dates every single week: starry eyed 19 years olds hoping for affirmation from ANY woman, lonely men over around 65, happy to describe themselves as someone who didn’t need Viagra when they asked me out, married men desperately interested in cheating on their wives, men with financial problems hoping to land a sugar-momma….The list of men looking for spinsters goes on and on. Unfortunately for some of my single sisters, the ones that look a bit closer to their actual age than I do, the list of men asking them out does not include the demographic we might hope for: single, childless men of our own age. Fortunately, for most problems there are some solutions…and that is why I am writing this blog. I have some advice for our worried relatives and friends, and some advice for us.
So friends and family, as you celebrate Valentine’s Day, don’t forget us, but be sensitive when you deal with us. First of all, don’t pretend that if we just worked harder at it, surely a prince charming would come sweep us off our feet, impregnate us and buy us a house. The last time I checked in some areas available single women outnumber available single men by over 2 to 1 in some age and socioeconomic brackets; so unless polygamy is going to be legal, we won’t all get married easily. Yet in the face of the problem we are constantly being told to simply work harder on the issue, by not only to dating more, but taking up personal cosmetic enhancement like a job. In reality most of us probably got this way by working too hard already. Bringing the same victory at all costs attitude we bring to work into the dating world may backfire. Frankly most of us are so busy trying to support ourselves financially, throwing tons of money into improving our appearances, online dating and matchmakers may be a losing proposition. Secondly, don’t set us up with anyone you wouldn’t date yourself. I’ll never forget when a friend of mine who had married a beautiful movie star found me dates. He told me anyone as smart and educated as I was could ace the dating game. When I challenged him to find me a couple dates, I soon found myself at a strange party. My friend made a point of bringing eligible men out for me to a get together. Any hope I had of meeting anyone as cool as his glamorous wife were crushed when I found myself seated between a one handed prison security guard who had never been to college and a guy who said so little I’m still convinced he spoke no English. I’m not saying we might not find love with someone without two hands or a degree- what I’m saying is please stop wasting our time by trying to fix us up with anyone, no matter how unsuitable.
I’ll be spending this Valentine’s Day alone, but I want to tell my spinster sisters they really don’t have to. Thanks to an unbelievably high divorce rate, permanent singlehood really is a choice for most of us. While they might not be the partners we dreamed of in our younger years, there is are some sizeable demographic groups we can pair well into. One of these demographics is divorced dads. I recently tried dating a man with a kid, and I have some observations. Men with kids are often looking for relatively older single women with careers. These guys aren’t too keen to go down for supporting another woman financially, but they are looking for love too. Divorced dads are already in an established lifestyle, and probably won’t be running away to Europe to find themselves when anything gets too difficult. These guys tend to behave like actual adults, unlike some single men in their 30s who are only distinguishable from adolescents by their male pattern hair loss and wrinkles.
The subject of divorcees brings up an unfortunate truth. Watch out all you married and partnered ladies. Next year’s Valentine’s Day, you too may be in our single lady shoes.