I recently read an extremely long article from The Atlantic titled, All The Single Ladies. Once I started reading it, I was hooked. The author talks about how men and women relationships have decayed and how society’s developing pressures have created a confused and disoriented generation.
I started reading it because I could identify with the author’s initial anecdote. I can feel her confusion. I just got out of a very long ‘situation’ (not sure if I can accurately call it a relationship) and I find myself wondering if the string of bad romantic choices I’ve made throughout my life will now come to bite me in the butt.
I’ve always assumed the right kind of love will come along at the right time. But I also wonder if this romanticized way of looking at life even makes sense. It’s as basic as are there even enough (good) partners for all of us who do eventually want to settle down with a partner for life?
A few months ago a friend told me that women past 28 are not dating material because all they think about is marriage and babies. I argued that marriage and babies are life goals whern the right person comes along, not relationship goals that imposed on every partner. The moment I want marriage and babies I won’t automatically want to marry the first guy I date. Quite the opposite.
This begs the question: why am I being punished now for wanting that someday? Maybe I am not being punished. It’s worth considering that maybe this mentality is more a reflection of men’s unwillingness to commit rather than a reaction to my relationship wants and needs.
The author states: “My spotty anecdotal findings have revealed that, yes, in many cases, the more successful a man is (or thinks he is), the less interested he is in commitment.” Well Kate, mine too. I never thought of the possibility that men’s lack of desire for commitment was a direct result of their ambition. I never imagined that there is a possibility that these guys I have dated or that I have known maybe never want that commitment. What happens when you live in a city full of successful, ambitious men? What happened to finding the right one? What happened to fate? Or, to love conquers all?
In addition to discussing the dating man’s brain anatomy, the author tackles another also very confusing subject for me. Who is the modern day single woman? I cannot fit myself into any of the common stereotypes society has for single women. “[T]he single woman is very rarely seen for who she is—whatever that might be—by others, or even by the single woman herself, so thoroughly do most of us internalize the stigmas that surround our status.”
Whenever the issue of being almost 30 and single comes along, I don’t know where I stand. I compare myself to my mom; she was married, was a professional and had two kids by the time she was my age, but I don’t feel ready for that. Yet, when I think in numbers, I feel like I am milestones behind from where I am supposed to be. Growing up, 30-year-olds had their life together, and I hardly have a plan. What I was taught life should be, doesn’t seem on par with what life is. That leaves me figuring out things as I go but feeling completely lost and, at times, torn, in the process. But, when I rationalize these feelings, they don’t make sense. Shouldn’t society be okay with women waiting for the right time? I feel too much even though I live a perfectly fulfilling and happy life (plus, as life expectancy keeps increasing shouldn’t people take things more calmly?) See my conundrum?
So, I find myself unsure which way to go, making the romantic choices of a college student but yearning the emotional fulfillment and stability that I though maturity and adulthood would bring. In this generation where women (and maybe men too) were raised to choose “independence over coupling” (as the author puts it) and where we constantly guide our decisions on abstract reasoning—such as”does it feel right?”–where do we stand?
As the author talks about the evolution of relationships and how society’s pressure on relationships has inadvertently contributed to its decay, I wonder if luck will be by our side or if happily-ever-after will eventually only be seen in the movies.
If you have ever asked yourself any of these questions, you should read “All The Single Ladies” by Kate Bolick. I don’t assure you that you will agree with her skeptical view of relationships or men, but I do assure that you will have a strong opinion that you will want to share and discuss.