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The Right to Happy, Female Singledom
I confront the wedding-industrial complex, yet again
“So, what do you think about marriage?” the question rings around the table.
I’m at breakfast with some close family and friends. Three members of the generation above me are in their mid-fifties to mid-sixties. The question came from a male family friend who is 65. I know what his question means.
I glance across the table at my siblings. My brother and sister are 4 and 5 years younger than me, respectively. Both of them are in long-term, heterosexual, monogamous relationships. Meanwhile, I’m 28, single, and dabbling in being queer in Mexico City. The idea of being monogamous forever still feels terrifying and unnecessary to me. TL; DR: my siblings are stable. Me, not so much.
“All the good men are probably taken,” my younger brother chimes in. I know he means well with his concern, but that’s not how it feels. No matter that single women are supposedly the happiest demographic. No matter that if I were to find a man and bring him into my life, it would be a minor miracle if he wasn’t one of those career-hungry man-children who would expect me to make his side of the bed. Or clean up after him in the kitchen after dinner. No matter that my happiness or my single, fun existence might be compromised for the sake of some broken societal ideals. No matter.
After breakfast, I stand up from the table. I catch myself thinking. I’m almost 30. Maybe I should go out and meet someone new? Maybe I should double down on Bumble, Hinge, The League, Feeld, Coffee Meets Bagel, and Tinder? Why am I still single? It’s like a game where everyone is passing Go and collecting $200, and I’ve been stuck rolling low numbers and landing on inconsequential properties in Monopoly, like the light blue ones. They’re pretty, but they aren’t going to get you anywhere in life.
I walk into the bathroom. I see myself in the mirror, puzzling to myself. As I look into the quivering brown of my own eyes, I realize something I hadn’t before. Every single one of my older relatives and family friends is divorced. They’re all divorced. Even the man who had proposed the marriage question to everyone at the breakfast table is divorced. All of them are, that is, except my own parents (I don’t know how they’re still together. It must be the grace of God).
I have nothing against divorced people. Many of my best friends are divorced. I think divorce is a wonderful thing. But it’s kind of ironic, isn’t it? The older, divorced family members and close friends picking on the single woman. The free woman. The woman who has never been tied down. The woman who might be perfectly happy alone. Or the woman who simply might not have found the right person yet.
My siblings are sitting there awfully smugly, getting approving looks from all the people who married the wrong person. They are further along than me in the relationship-marriage-kids-industrial complex.
Now, I scold myself. Not for being single, but for second-guessing myself. Don’t do that. Don’t succumb to the people who think they know what’s good for you. When we are all in the same boat. When they are just as bad as the rest of us. Older adults sure as hell don’t know better. Even if they’ve been adults for decades longer than you have.
I don’t judge my family or friends for being divorced. I just resent the fact that, in that conversation, they are judging me. As the single woman with these kinds of things, you can never win. I resent that, as a woman, all these conversations are filled with undertones of urgency, pity, and concern for my own choices about my own life. If I’m single forever, it doesn’t matter if I’m happier; they will pity me for not having a man. If I’m with someone, it doesn’t matter if I’m unhappier; that will lighten the load of their concern.
I wonder, yet again, if the world will ever be ready for a woman who knows what she wants.
I wish you all a liberated weekend!