Monday, 4 January 2010

Taking Stock of Singles

It was a bit early in the life of this blog (my fifth "Seraphic" blog) to conduct polls, but I put one up anyway to see who you all are, statistically speaking. And 50 readers answered the poll (I, the lone married respondent, was #51). Now of those 50, 45 were Searching Singles. There were 23 20-somethings, 16 30-somethings and six 40-somethings among them.

There were four Serious Singles, then, two in their twenties, one in his or her thirties, and one over fifty. I bet this last chap was you, Dominic Mary! And then there was one male or female religious, and I'm flattered that a religious is reading my blog since it is, you know, rather worldly what with all the dating advice and recipes.

Having blogged for (and polled) Singles for three years, I have made some conclusions. They're not very scientific, but I find them handy. The first is that most of my Single readers are always Searching Singles. The second is that I always have way more Searching Singles readers in their twenties and thirties than I do in their forties. And I suspect this is because most people are married or "partnered" by 40. I predict that most of my readers in their 20s and 30s, who do not have an obvious impediment to marriage (like mental illness), will be married by age 40.

When I began to blog in 2006, my personal approach was to assume that I might never get married (again), despite being relatively cute, well-educated, sane, sober and attracted (very attracted) to men, so I had better learn to love the Single Life and praise it to the skies.

In doing this, I once linked to a study that showed there were way more Single women in the USA then there were married women. Ta-dah! We were not alone: we were the Majority! But because this study became big news, conservative commentators began jumping all over it, pointing out that 15 year old girls were included in the survey, and that, rather unfairly, wives of servicemen in the field were being included as "separated" and Single. Yeah, okay, hello? Being in Virginia while your husband is in Kandahar makes you unhappy but it does not make you either "separated" or Single.

So I had another look at statistics and realized that most people (in the USA, at least) get married. (Sure, half of marriages end in divorce, that doesn't mean half of married people get divorced: some people have more than one. A divorced person is more likely to get a divorce than the average married person.) So that added another nuance to my thinking about the Single Life: the Single Life can be fun and full of freedoms and you never know when it might end. In short: Relax, never-married Singles, that stats say you're probably going to get married eventually.

The answer to that is, of course, "What if I don't? Yarg!" And my short answer is, "Well, you're not married today and you're still breathing, right? Got friends? A job? Chocolate? Vacation plans? You'll live. Here, read these statistics on battered wives. There are a lot of women who wish they were you, my dear Singles!"

Truly, it seems to me for the average Searching Single in his/her twenties and thirties--Searching Singles without overwhelming social problems (e.g. schizophrenia, alcoholism)--the question is not "Will I ever get married" but "Do I have the smarts and faith to wait for the right person?". Not only do you have to wait until you have found prime marriage material (aka The One), you have to wait until you are prime marriage material yourself.

One of the sadder truths out there is that sometimes you marry the right person and get divorced anyway. Yikes! This happens because one or both of you were not mature enough or disciplined enough or faithful enough or whatever enough for marriage when you got married. So while you are praying for Mr or Miss Right, it would behoove you to pray that God will make you a good marriage prospect by the time Mr or Miss Right bounces into view.

Personally, although I was cuter when I was 24, I was infinitely more mature at 36. But that's just me. Some people are ready at 22. One of my best friends was tremendously more mature at 24 than I was at 30, and she married at 26. How nice it would be to have a litmus test for marriagability! (Is that a word?) You'd stick a piece of paper in your mouth and, voila! It the paper stays blue, you're not quite there yet. The paper turns pink, you're ready!

Here's (->something interesting) I found online about Never-Marrieds. There is a fascinating, comment stream by Never-Marrieds that follows. Men, for once, seem to predominate. If you read it, listen or watch or read something funny afterwards. And notice the men who talk about not compromising on anything. Eeeee!

Update: By the way, I completely disagree with the conclusion the top poster, Jaye, draws from what the men wrote there. My advice to her would be to tell Mr. Boyfriend of Two Years that it's time to set a date. And if Mr. Boyfriend screams, she should move out--or kick him out--and not let him back in without a ring. "Gorgeous" women in their early thirties do not have to settle for concubinage. Actually, in a free country, no-one does.


Dominic Mary said...

Quite right : it was !

(As I said, it took me a fair while after losing my wife to realize where I was meant to be going . . . some of us are just slow learners, I suppose.)

Yet again, though, you are just so right about so much . . . I just hope all your Searching Single readers listen very carefully to what you're saying.

Catholic Bibliophagist said...

Hmmmm. That first poster, Jaye, didn't seem to see the parallel between her situation and the one posted further down from the man who thought that there was no reason these days for a man to ever marry because (though he didn't use these words) there's no need to buy a cow when you can get the milk for free.

I think it would have been interesting if the author of the article had differentiated between unmarrieds who were living with sexual partners and those who were really single because I would think they would have different responses.


some guy on the street said...

"Marriagiable" certainly gets used --- note the second 'i'.

If the paper turns black, maybe it means "marry or burn" whereat St. Paul says "OK, go ahead..."

Right... Now I *must* get back to grading calculus papers... oh, so _dull_ !

Seraphic said...

DM, all these things are easier to say than to do, as I know firsthand! (And as you will see in my book!)

CB, not to blow my own horn, but I am so glad there is a writer saying that living with a guy with who you have sex is NOT REALLY BEING SINGLE, even though that writer is me. Why do women sell themselves so short? Why, why, why? (She bangs her head on the table thrice.) Actually, it's because they're afraid of being lonely and they don't realize that only marriage to a person who values marriage as an institution (or better yet, a vocation) can give a woman true and lasting security with a man. Any exceptions prove the rule. Glorian Steinem is married, for heaven's sake. It is not feminist to let some guy use you as a long-term concubine/chef! (She gives her head one more bang.)

SGOTS--ooh, thank you. It was the "I" I needed. Ooh, if the litmus paper turns black that is scary!;-)

Alisha said...

Wow...that comment thread is incredibly sad...the only thing I can think is, I wish they could see themselves through God's eyes...

some guy on the street said...

Alisha: I am reminded of that famous book Anna Karenina, of which I confess to have read only the first page and given up with disgust.

Seraphic: why not tell Jaye??? Do you think she reads SSC?

Altogether, as some folks earlier in the linked thread observe, I rather suspect that the class "Never married" is much too vague a set. Studying never-married people seems to me like studying "unsolved math problems" as a class, only somewhat less tame.

As it happens, I have never married; I don't expect to be married untill I am [!] --- and even then, I imagine, I'll find it surprising! To call me "never-married" seems to highlight a transient historical fact quite beside any point of interest (except perhaps to anyone I were courting). But there are some rather dense-sounding people leaving their candid comments in that other thread a good stretch younger than me calling themselves definitively "never married", (but none "serious single" or comparable.) that I dreadfully hope they come to some better sense in time. A lot of them are both scandalous in their frank honesty and dishwater-dull in their self-deception (as Alisha laments). But I don't believe they've actually so much in common with eachother that it's helpful to study them for statistics purposes.

Seraphic said...

I also found the 20-somethings' comments a bit funny. It's like the statistic for "Single" women including 15 year olds. Okay, if you are under 30 and you are not married, it is not a huge surprise in this day and age. You're not weird; you're not a hero. You're pretty normal.

However, many people in their 20s don't see it that way. Their friends start getting married at 20 or 21, and by the age of 24, some think "OMG, what's wrong with me??!!!" (Answer: nothing except a case of measuringyourselfagainstothersitis.)

Or else they are swaggering about saying, "I'll never put MY head in the noose, man!" That's lovely, but Mr. All That And a Bag of Chips might be thinking differently when he's 37. Hopefully he won't have turned into the "I never date but women wouldn't be interested in me because I'm not rich" guy.

Alephine said...

Not an I but an E, actually: marriageable.

some guy on the street said...

oh. silly me... Sorry, Aunty S!

KimP said...

Interestingly, Gloria Steinem is a widow these days. She finally got married at age 66, for no other reason than love, and then her husband got cancer. They were only married for three years before his death.

I think it is tragic, especially since she took so much heat for actually getting married. There were a lot of feminists who felt she betrayed the movement by submitting to marriage.

Seraphic Spouse said...

Okay, we're all on track now: marriageable.

KimP, that is indeed a very sad story.

As for "submitting" to marriage--yarg! It's submitting to less-than-marriage (i.e. just living with some guy, no ring, no commitment, sometimes no "I love you") that is so hurtful to women! (Out and out abuse, of course, is much, much worse. But, oh, the pain of women who wish their live-in lovers would marry them! It makes me want to cry.)