Friday, June 26, 2009

Why Am I Still Single?

Back in 2004-ish I wrote a series of articles for a start-up website called The site was intended to bring together a number of relationship "experts" to discuss aspects of, well, relationships. Amidst the psychologists and therapists there was I, talking about being single, dating, and breaking up from a young woman's point of view. My work got a pretty positive reaction even if the website did not reach the heights its team aspired towards. The site, after years of inactivity, has since gone offline and as a result so have my articles. In an effort to keep them online I am going to be reposting them here. After all, this did start off as a blog about singles' issues. Just bear in mind that these articles are a few years old and as such may not reflect some current situations in society, the online world, and my life.

Why Am I Still Single?

It is the number one question that singles get asked, especially if you are over the age of 30: why are you still single? It has many variations, sometimes phrased as a comment, rather than a question – “I can’t believe a nice girl/guy like you is still single,” followed by the more direct and probing: “When do you think you’ll get married?”

As mature singles, we ask the exact same question –but not to each other. Rather, we ask ourselves in times of loneliness or frustration: “Why am I still single?”

Most of us have a timeline in which we expect or want to be married with a family. Thirty tends to be that magic number. For some, it may be 25, but 30 is definitely a marker on the far end of the map.

To be single, over 30, and a woman is not as big of a stigma as it was in years past. But it can still weigh on one’s mind. When I am asked that inevitable question, a few things pop into my mind.

I’ve always been one of these people with an uncanny sense of telling when there is going to be a problem, before it becomes a problem. If I ever went for another career, my friends have told me that I should go into disaster planning. Perhaps always being able to second-guess situations might be good for survival in a war or tornado, but it’s not necessarily good for survival in relationships. After all, no one is perfect. All of my friends who are “happily” married have their share of problems too. It’s just that they have learned to deal with them. Negotiation, and, frankly, love covers a multitude of quirks.

Yet my foresight into the characters of other people has earned me the brand of being mature beyond my years (I was told that in my early 20’s), and full of wisdom and discernment (buzzwords from my religious friends). Upon reflection, I have been either extremely smart, or extremely stupid. I know for sure that I have averted at least a couple of marital disasters. But there have also been situations where I think I may have just given up too easily.

Had I gone down any of the paths formerly before me, wearing a white dress, by now I would possibly be divorced, like a single parent – both of which also carry with them little of the stigma of our parents’ generation. My biological clock would not be ticking as loudly, because I would already have children. But in most ways, I would simply have traded one set of problems for another.

I don’t have a bitter ex trying to make my life miserable. I am not myself a bitter ex trying to pull the pieces of my life back together. Rarely have I ever seen a divorce where everyone involved parted ways peacefully. I have become a sounding board for my friends, a witness to the carnage of lives tearing apart.

However, the desire to avoid the War of the Roses just doesn’t seem to be an acceptable response to the barrage of socially awkward questions. Here are some witty repartees I have collected, courtesy of other mature, single adults:

Question: Why are you still single?
Answer: I don’t know – maybe you should ask my ex’s.

Question: Would you like me to fix you up with someone?
Answer: Why do I need to be fixed up? Am I broken?

Question: Don’t you feel your biological clock ticking?
Answer: I am not sure about that, but I suddenly feel a sharp pain in my rear end.

One of my favorites came in the form of a postcard that I saw at a gift shop. An older woman is asking a younger women why she isn’t married. “I forgot,” was her flip answer.

It really isn’t a joke. We are all so busy these days with advanced education, careers, social causes, hobbies and activities, and a variety of other distractions to occupy our time, that the void left by not having a significant other, really isn’t all that significant after all.

Yet there is always a part of a single person that worries he or she will never find lasting love. Being continually faced with questions that are awkward at best, and insensitive at worst, does not help single people feel comfortable with who they are. The focus should be on not how to answer these questions, but to discourage them being asked in the first place.

Paula E. Kirman is a freelance writer and website designer in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Her website is:

1 comment:

singleblogger said...

It is very wise to avoid problematic situations that aren't right for us. It seems society doesn't honor that enough and yes, I agree the "questions" should be discouraged!