Things Said To Single Women That Need To Die In 2019
A new series that explores what it's really like to be single in your 30s and NGAF.
“For my will is as strong as yours, and my kingdom is as great...You have no power over me.” - Sarah, Labyrinth, 1986
I have a good feeling about 2019. I have a good feeling about it for single women. We have a good one coming, full of optimism and accomplishment. And when we start talking this way, it’s assumed we’re referring to our relationship status. But I’m not. I don’t think 2019 is the year I’m going to “meet someone.” I do think, however, that 2019 is the year people will stop saying insensitive things to us on the topic. I will see to it.
There are things single women will no longer tolerate hearing in 2019. Call it cancelling if you want, but I prefer to think of it as a more epic death, something befitting the decades of winces and nod-and-smile suffering we’ve endured. I imagine killing these phrases as a medieval knight, Excaliburian sword driven through the heart of the offending utterance.
There are things single women will no longer tolerate hearing in 2019.
We will serve as educators. When you hear a dead phrase, just pause the conversation, and in a calm but firm tone, inform the offender that in this, the year of our internet 2019, there are things single women won’t hear anymore. It doesn’t mean we don’t love you, it doesn’t mean we don’t want to talk to you. It just means we want you to remove your head from your ass. Confused about the phrases that I’m referring to? They’re as follows:
Are you seeing anybody?
People often start conversations with me like this, not “how’s life,” or “tell me what’s new,” or even “how are you,” the old Starlight mint of conversation. The first thing anyone wants to know about a single woman has to do with how close she is to not being single anymore. “Are you working on that problem of yours, single woman? I just want to check.” Nevermind the fact that it puts the focus on being single as a negative right from the jump, it’s also no one’s business. My suggestion? The next time someone asks it, ask them how their relationship is going. It’s the same shit.
It’ll happen when you aren’t looking.
Really? That’s the trick? Thank you, wise oracle, for advising me to stop doing things half the population advises me to do in favour of the nothing the other half swears by. What. The. Actual. Fuck. Kind. Of. Advice. Is. This. How are single women supposed to react to it? By telling a woman “it’ll happen when you aren’t looking,” you are by default heightening her senses to be “looking” at all times. In line for coffee, waiting at the dentist’s office, scooching out of the way of the kids who dance on the subway, everything. “Omg are you looking? Stop looking! You’ll never find him if you’re looking! Eyes on the ground, ma’am!” The people who say this are the same people who say “you’ll never meet anyone if you don’t try,” just on a different day of the week. Enough.
Please stop calling us a fictional word that sounds like a washing machine cycle from the '50s.
On the fire with it. Has there ever been a word that could so quickly dip a woman in dishwater? And it’s not just this word, it’s the motivation behind saying it. So much speak around being single implies failure and wrongness that I’m simply not having anymore. It never needed to be there at all. It’s shamemongering that corrals women into partnering up — and be quick about it — because you don’t want to end up like her, the spinster, do you? Please stop calling us a fictional word that sounds like a washing machine cycle from the '50s.
You’re too picky.
Am I? So you found your husband because why exactly? You weren’t? Did you marry the first schmo you got shitfaced with at a frat party? The first entry-level investment banker you met in the city? Your first right swipe? No, people (hopefully) marry the person they want to marry, the one who’s right for them. And simply because that person will enter our lives at a later point in time than for those already partnered, that doesn’t mean we should simply “take what we can get.” I’m too picky? Okay, were you picky enough? Hate that question? Then don’t tell single women we’re too picky because we’re not interested in what you think we’re too behind schedule not to settle for.
Did you marry the first schmo you got shitfaced with at a frat party? The first entry-level investment banker you met in the city? Your first right swipe? No, people (hopefully) marry the person they want to marry, the one who’s right for them.
“How are you still single?” I’m sorry, what was that modifier? This is one of those charming phrases wearing the mask of a compliment to hide the monster-esque insult behind it. “Still?” Again with the timelines! Who decides when a woman hasn’t done something soon enough so as to not be late? Does the March Hare’s mad pocket watch keep the metronome for coupling? A woman in her 20s is too young to wed, a woman in her 30s is too old. Pray tell, when precisely should a woman find love and marry it in order to avoid remarkably offensive language? The last week of her 29th year on earth? Thank you for this ample window. Care to toss us any other scraps? The couch as sleeping quarters on a group vacation perhaps?
I’m sure you’ll find someone.
Oh thank heavens, I was up to my neck with worry. The thing about insensitive things said to singles is that we didn’t ask for them to be said. So when someone tells me they’re sure I’ll “find” someone, a part of me wonders if they thought I thought I wouldn’t? There’s an implied lack of self-confidence in single women that is, quite honestly, bullshit. Just because I’m single and over 30 doesn’t mean I lack belief in myself or future. I think both have amazing potential, thanks. And I know it’s said with love. I know very often these are all said with love. And believe me, I wouldn’t bother correcting them if I didn’t love right back. In an absence of love, I’d just stop talking to people any time they used an offending phrase. But that sounds like far too lonely a life for me.
Just because I’m single and over 30 doesn’t mean I lack belief in myself or future. I think both have amazing potential, thanks.
The thing about single women is that we stop being single sometimes. Sometimes we begin new, wonderful relationships, and that’s fantastic. But when that happens, if whatever timer has long since dinged, signaling that we’re overcooked, overdone, or just over, another maleficent modifier creeps in and paints our happiness with a sad blue tint. “Finally.” She’s finally found someone. She’s finally married. Never mind that whatever timeline you think she should be on was plucked from fiction and only serves to give you someone to gossip about when she can’t make it to brunch. Her timeline is her own, and you’re not going to dampen her joy by turning her happiness into a “yes, but” failure. Fuck your finally.
It is a new year, but for single women, I want a new world. I want our success and happiness and lives to carry equal validity and weight as they do for people doing the same things, just while coupled. A good start in my mind is changing the conversation, improving the perception, and ending the insults. You can’t say these things to me anymore. It’s inconsiderate, it’s hurtful, and it’s 2019.