Edited versions of this post were published on VerySmartBrothas 11/13/14 and BlogHer 11/14/14.
If this piece strikes a nerve, it probably should. You’re the “you” I’m talking to. (In other words, a hit dog will holler.) If it doesn’t strike a nerve, good! That means you are self-aware and considerate. But I guess you won’t know either way until you make it to the end, so…keep reading.
I’m sure you’ve read all the recent think pieces, seen the comedy bits full of memes and gifs and watched the recent celebrity interviews related to the topic of being single and/or childless. We singles and marrieds with no kids (or not enough kids for your taste) are tired of the questions about why we’re still single or still childless. We’re tired of the assumptions. We’re tired of the unsolicited “advice”. Because underlying all your questions and condescending comments disguised as concern is the assumption that we want your life. The assumption that you’re the standard by which we should measure ourselves. The assumption that we don’t have a plan for our own lives or disapproval of the plans we do have. Actually, let’s rewind. Let me not speak for anyone but myself. Let me explain to you why I’m tired of it.
1) You’re not being genuine; you’re being judgmental. There is a difference between making conversation and judging. There is a difference between questions like, “Are you single?” and “Why are you still single?” Questions like, “Are you dating?”… “Looking to date?”… “Interested in getting married?” in my mind can be fairly benign if not asked in rapid succession. And they are definitely different from, “What are you doing to put yourself out there more [since you’re not married]?” With this question, you’re being presumptive and accusatory. And rude. You’re insinuating that there must be something wrong with me. Why do I have to put myself “out there” more? Am I doing something wrong by choosing to live my life the way I choose to live it? I’m not doing anything to put myself out there more. Absolutely nothing. And that’s fine with me…why can’t it be fine with you? Can I live?!
2) You’re being pushy. Some people ignore clues. For example, if you’re asking questions and folks respond with one word answers, back off! “Are you dating anyone?” “No.” “Why not?” “Because.” “Because what?” You’re skatin’ on thin ice, slim. Stop being nosy! Maybe I just got out of a relationship and I’m still raw. Maybe I’m in a relationship but just don’t want to talk to you about it. Maybe I’m too busy for your inquisition and don’t have time to engage you. Also, and here’s the most likely circumstance, maybe it’s none of your business.
3) You’re assuming that because Person X is single, they’d automatically be interested in Person Y who is also single. The assumption that all single people want not to be single and are willing to be set up blindly with someone they haven’t screened is an incorrect assumption. True story: A friend once told me (not asked me, told me) she’d planned to hook me up with one of her husband’s friends, but opted not to because her husband wasn’t on board with the plan. He was concerned that if there was a break-up later, they would be caught in the middle. The problem with her plan is that she never considered whether those who were to be hooked up (particularly me) actually wanted to be hooked up. Don’t I get a say in the matter?
4) You’re assuming that there is something enviable about your own marriage or relationship…and to me, there isn’t. This is my opinion. And when it comes to me allowing others to play matchmaker for me, my opinion is the only one that matters. You may think you have a good marriage, but I’ve observed the relationship you have with your husband/wife…and maybe I don’t want that. I’ve also seen the relationship you have with your kids…don’t really want that either. If you’d be offended by my unsolicited thoughts on your marriage, relationship, or parenting skills, then put yourself in my shoes. If I didn’t come to you and ask you for assistance, take heed. You don’t have the credentials to hook me up.
5) You’re diminishing my overall worth when you place so much value on me being single. True story: I have a “friend” who reaches out about once a quarter to catch up. “How have you been doing?” he always asks. “Great! Life is really good,” I usually say. “Oh? So you found a man?” For real…this is how our conversation goes every time we talk. And one would deduce that the last conversation we had was about relationships. Nope. We mostly talk about our careers. Life is good because I’m happy, healthy, my family is doing well, I just got back from a great vacation, I’m excited about my new project at work, I just got certified to teach yoga/typing/underwater basket weaving/whatever, I successfully baked my first cake without burnt edges, I successfully gave myself my first relaxer without burnt edges, etc. But none of that matters to you. All you care about is whether or not I’ve “found” a man. I might need to stop taking your calls.
In conclusion, I don’t feel the need to live my life by your standards. You don’t know my financial situation. You don’t know my health situation. What if I have a plan and actual goals I want to achieve before I decide to get married or start a family? What if I can’t start a family?
Maybe I’m still childless because I like taking real vacations rather than just trips, because that’s what happens when you take kids. You’re not vacating your everyday life…you’re taking your life with you to a new location. Maybe I’m still childless because I’ve run the numbers and learned that I can retire a lot sooner if I don’t have kids. Maybe I’m still childless because I like to sleep until noon on Saturdays. Or maybe I’m still childless because I’m still single. And I’m still single because I’m not married…yet. And that’s it. Not always single, just single right now. Get a grip. And mind your business.
Until next time…
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