You know what really sucks for us guys? When we slip up and accidentally imagine being a single woman.
Not because being a woman or being single is terrible, mind you. But because occasionally we remember that, as men, we don't have to explain why we're alone with the sheer maddening regularly that you all do. This thought has occurred to me at various points in my life but was made crystalline while at dinner this past weekend with my close friend, S.
S and I are both unmarried, uncoupled and in our 30s. Now, this makes sense for me. I'm slightly unhinged and haven't been on a third date since there were only two "Shrek" movies. There are only a few things I know with utter certainty: Grape Nuts contain neither grapes nor nuts, unicorns are real, and I'm only good at strange, psycho-sexual affairs that end in mutually assured isolation. But my friend S? She's gorgeous, smart, successful and funny.
I found myself wondering, Wait a damn minute, why
is she single?
Then it hit me. Why is the sheer fact that she's a beautiful charming woman who's alone worthy of questioning? Why am I not asking why my charming and attractive friends are in relationships (or why my less attractive, less charming friends are)? There's a huge world out there of interesting people who shouldn't have to condemn themselves to a two-person chain gang digging trenches in their conjoining manacles so people don't wonder what's wrong with them.
S wants to meet someone special. Relationships exist because being we want to love and be loved. We want someone to care about us, and we want to care for someone in a way no one else on Earth does. It's all as human as treating airport employees as if they have some providence over your delayed flight: "But the weather's fine -- why is it saying we don't take off until nine?"Maybe You Haven't Met the Right Guy Because I'm What's Out There
Sure, you do get used to being alone after awhile, and sometimes in a good way. S and I talked about how our protracted singledom made the thought of actually having to date someone seem as strange and confusing as the choices my stupid cell phone's predictive text makes. (I'm trying to say "cool," you idiot phone, not "jazz." Why would I respond to my friend's text about getting a huge promotion with "hey, jazz!"?)
But while in my case, the problem may lie with me, I firmly believe that S just hasn't met anybody who does it for her. She has a great job and she's well adjusted and doesn't "need" someone to complete her. Me? I'm a huge mess, but my friends and family regard my single status as proof of my intelligence, patience and independence. I'm a man, and I don't have elephantiasis or a soul patch, so clearly I'm single by choice.
But S? She can count on being perceived as being too picky, too difficult, too proud. She can count on people asking if she's considered Match.com and if not, why not? And even worse, she can count on the news of her single status being met with the shock that usually attends the visage of the Virgin Mary appearing in a shrimp basket at Long John Silver's. Two things here: There should be no such thing as quick-service seafood, and my friend shouldn't have to take the time to explain herself to disbelieving mouth-breathers who refuse to live in a world where stunning blondes aren't rolling their eyes at their fat husbands.
Picky vs. Unwilling to Settle
Although she gets sad and feels lonely occasionally, and although she wants a family one day, she won't fake-laugh her way through life with a genuinely unfunny man because he's pretty swell otherwise and it's time
. Disabusing someone of why a charming and smart woman like herself is still single shouldn't require the time it takes to explain string theory, yet S is constantly required to explain herself. (I would guess this goes for millions of single women out there as well.) This is such bullsh**.
S has remained single due to not settling for the cavalcade of men she's had in her life who weren't right and because she hasn't let the pressure of society, family and friends constantly asking her "Why are you still single?" get to her. She won't choose Mr. Good Enough, no matter what Lori Gottlieb says in her book
about settling, because she's acutely aware of the epic chasm between Good Enough and Truly Good.
Speaking of that book, let me get this straight, Ms. Gottlieb: A woman no longer in her 20s should apparently deign to cohabitate with someone she's not really into because a single women in their 30s and beyond who want a relationship based on real love and true friendship and intellectual compatibility are unrealistic?
No offense Lori Gottlieb, but F you. Thank God you're not a playwright and weren't alive in the 16th century and that your existence didn't cancel out Shakespeare's, because I'm pretty sure "Some Guy and Juliet" wouldn't have had the same emotional resonance.
As a man I'm entitled to a certain idea in my head of the kind of woman I want to be with, and -- poof! -- I'm a romantic. As a woman in her 30s, S has a certain kind of idea in her head of the kind of man she wants, and -- voila! -- she's unreasonable.
In truth: S is the romantic. It's really the thing that turns people like her off from online dating. There is truly nothing wrong with it; it's a medium to meet people and as good a way to do so as any out there, probably better than most. But it's undeniably unromantic and increasingly specialized, involving algorithms and long questionnaires and has all the charm of being set up by that robot Jinx from "Space Camp." Where's the mystery? Where's the unimprovable feeling of something akin to fate having a hand? "If I hadn't stopped to tie my shoe, if I hadn't decided I needed to buy a cantaloupe, if I hadn't contracted acute paralysis of the liver in Ecuador and ended up hospitalized next to so-and-so ..."
Perhaps S needs to "put herself out there" more, as she's often told. Perhaps when push comes to shove she'll have to online date, or pick up some hobby that puts her in contact with different people, or learn how to animate yarn into a handsome prince. I really have no idea. All I know is she's great and she's single and, for the most part, she's happy. We all get lonely. People in couples are not immune. Some would argue there's nothing worse than being lonely in another person's company. Ask anyone who's ever dated someone they didn't really love or spent time on a New York subway.
The next time someone asks S why she's single, I hope she responds, "Because I haven't been lobotomized yet, you miserable bastard."
Even if it's her mom.
[Redacted] Guy is Lemondrop's anonymous single guy writer. He likes Steak-Ums, gardening on his roof deck and corresponding with serial killers. You can send him hate mail and love letters here, and follow him on Twitter.