I write this post with reluctance and only because yesterday's combox indicated that you want to hear what I think about Singles and selfishness. Not being Single anymore, I am naturally reluctant to talk about a moral failing that I personally have the opportunity to overcome every day. As a spouse, I have to think daily about the happiness of Other Spouse and remember that there is no such thing as "You do 50% and I'll do 50%" in Christian marriage, to say nothing of housework. In marriage, each spouse has to assume that they should do 100% of everything and not actually having to do 100% is an astonishing bonus; it's the only way marriage can work, if you ask me.
In Poland the English loan-word "Single" suggests not just an ordinary, unmarried person but someone we might call a swinging single. Thus the Polish title of my book, Anielskie Single, is controversial and attention-getting. In Poland a "Single" is assumed to be a selfish person who is anti-marriage and anti-family and just wants to fool around. They can't possibly be "Angelic." Well, I love that Poland is so marriage-and-family-oriented and so comparatively Catholic, but yikes.
I suppose the bright side is that the pressure on Polish men to marry is enormous, so Polish men in general are perhaps a little more keen to get on with it than American and British men in general. However, it's not so nice for the long-term Single Polish women. Pray for them.
There is some justice to the Singles-are-selfish stereotype when we are talking about Single people who take advantage of each other or their parents. It is egregiously selfish for an adult to live off his or her parents, if that adult is able-bodied and able-minded, without contributing money towards his or her upkeep or doing chores or helping with childminding. It is also selfish to use other people for sex or perpetual ego-boosts.
If adult Single you are paying your own way, either in money or in help, and if you are not engaging in premarital sex, you are already fighting a good battle against selfishness, if you ask me.
Oh, wait. I am including recreational making-out in the "using people" scenario. Making-out is not sex, of course, but it is nature's way of making women ready for sex, so don't kid yourselves. You shouldn't be making-out with someone you're not engaged to. Hugs and pecks on the cheek are fine, traditional expressions of affection. Yes, this is easy-for-[me]-to-say-[I'm]-married. Actually, it wasn't until I was married that I understood the truth of all this. Hindsight is 20/20.
Where was I? I always get so distracted when I write about making-out. Selfishness. Right.
Actually, I don't think of selfishness as being an overwhelming problem for Catholic Singles. What is more of a problem is self-absorption. In Single life, but also the priestly life and even the religious life, there is a terrible temptation to think about Me Me Me all the time. MY relationship with God. MY celibacy. MY priesthood. MY three meals a day. MY boundaries. MY little drinkie. Taking some time for ME. Okay, this desire is technically wrong, but I have given up so much and done so much good that I deserve a little something for ME.
This is very clearly revealed in the story of the male religious who went all over a married female friend's house, including her bedroom, admiring everything. When she visited him in his house, she asked if she might have a tour, and he got very prim and made a small speech about privacy.
It is also revealed in the story of the male religious who talked to a Single friend all the time about his emotional struggles, and when she tried to talk to him about her own, he said, in effect, "Whoa. Boundaries. I'm a male religious, you know."
I'm not going to get into the religious-or-priests-with-girlfriends stories, of which I have heard a few, except to say, "Oh I wish we could be together forever but I'm afraid of my bishop whimper whimper."
And it is not just unmarried men who are at risk of becoming self-absorbed, of course. There are Single women who simply make assumptions about other people, based on their own wishes. For example, there is the woman who invites herself over to your house because it simply hasn't occurred to her that you might be busy or that you aren't actually on just-drop-in terms. Or the woman who tells you you're "like her sister" when you certainly don't think of her as being "like a sister" and wonder where on earth she got that idea.
Then there is abject resentment about being Single. It can be tempting when you are Single--and I was Single for a looooooong time, so I know--to moan and fuss as if you are the only woman your age in the world who is not married. This is a thought-bog very difficult to escape unless you grasp the idea that other women your age and older are unmarried and might be suffering even more than you. And that there are lots of women who are happily unmarried, like nuns and merry widows.
Despite having a lot of Single friends, I did not entirely overcome my "OH POOR SINGLE MEEEEEE" tendencies until I started my Seraphic Singles blog. When I started my blog, I had to seriously think about other Single women, both famous Single women--usually but not always virtuous ones--and my readers.
In my experience, the best way to deal with unhappiness about being Single is embracing the identity of Singleness and looking around for other Single women to hang out with and discuss successful Single women. Yes, it could be temporary. (Most of the time it is, unless you are over 60 or a war has killed off the men.) And, yes, you'd like it to be temporary. But that's not the point. The point is to wrest joy from the state of Singleness, and the best way to do that is to reach out to other Single women and help them to be Single in the happiest, healthiest, most virtuous way.
Okay. Sound off in the combox.