Hot Girl Somos

Marianismo Taught Me Single Women Are Worthless (Spoiler: That’s BS)

There are rumors in my family that my dad’s tía Petra never married because her standards were too high. “No one was ever good enough for her,” my mom heard my dad’s cousin share at a family party. While I never met Tía Petra, and she has since passed away, her story haunted me for a while. 
When I was younger, I worried I’d end up like her — alone. Her family called her a cotorra, an unmarried woman well past the age that people of her gender “should” be married. In a machista culture, there are a lot of words, sayings, and jokes about single women, all of them with negative connotations. That's because under machismo’s counterpart, marianismo, a Latin American concept that views “good” women as those who sacrifice everything for their spouse and family, single women are basically worthless. 
For years, I internalized this idea of singlehood. All of my tías and older primas, some even younger than I am, on both sides of my family are married and/or have children. Seeing this in my family and in the media, I  believed that becoming a wife and a mother was my duty. It felt as if our lives as women begin once we tie the knot. 
So, like many Latinas, I set a timeline for myself, certain that by 25, I’d be a wife and mom. However, as I got older, life wasn’t going according to plan. I'm now 27 years old, single, childless, and totally over that schedule I set for myself based on a sexist culture. Instead, I'm imagining a different life for myself, one that isn’t so traditional, one where I can be happy, complete, and worthy without a partner. At first, the thought startled me. “How could I let go of something I’ve always wanted,” I wondered to myself. Fortunately, encouragement to stay single came from the most unlikely place: my mom and tías. 
My mom and tías don’t sugarcoat anything. “Don’t get married,” they say, urging me to stay single, travel, and treat myself to the things I enjoy. “Marriage is not easy. Your life completely changes. Even if you marry a good person, it’s not just about you anymore.” My mom got married when she was 20 years old. Like me, her mother didn’t push her to wed. In fact, Abuelita advised my mother not to marry. “But why do you want to get married,” she asked my mom back in 1994. “Look at where your sisters are now,” she’d say about my mom’s married siblings, who weren’t experiencing a “happily ever after” in marriages where they were expected to obey, serve, and put themselves last. She didn’t understand why my mom was in such a rush. But my mom got married anyway. 
In hindsight, Mamá says despite not being pressured by Abuelita, she felt a cultural and societal expectation that ultimately led her to that decision. It seemed like the obvious next step in her life. If she could turn back the clock, she would have at least delayed getting married a little longer, she tells me.
Sometimes, it’s hard to picture my mom before she became a mother. She worked at a photo studio, had her own room in my abuelita's house, and had the freedom to hang out with her friends whenever she pleased. All that changed when she got married. She married my dad, someone she barely knew, after dating for six months, and immigrated to a new country with him and their baby — me. 
Like my mother, my tía felt a similar pressure to settle down because she was surpassing the age that her sisters had gotten married. She was only 22. Still, she moved in with her then-boyfriend and soon had her first child. Since then, she married another man and had a second child. Her life changed, now carrying the weight of household responsibilities like cooking and cleaning. “There was no such thing as a 50-50 marriage when I was growing up,” she says. “If you want to date, then date. Live separately. But why would you want that kind of commitment,” she asks me. She doesn’t regret her decisions, but she does long for the carefreeness that she once experienced as a single woman, a time when she didn’t have to answer to anyone, could go out whenever she wanted to, and didn’t have to sacrifice any part of herself. 
A lot of the women that came before me didn’t get the opportunity to ask themselves, “What if I don’t get married?” It was expected of them. In fact, their personal worth and their net worth demanded it. For so long, being an unwed Latina didn’t just make you the target of terrible jokes; it also labeled your failures in the eyes of society. Unmarried women often had less money, fewer opportunities, and even less rights than those who were married.

I once thought I’d have to wait for the right person to show me what love looks like, but it turns out I’ve been capable of it all along. 

Jacqueline Delgadillo
Not having that same level of pressure and obligation has allowed me to enjoy my singlehood. To start, I've been able to repair and strengthen my relationship with myself. For many years, I believed that not being in a romantic relationship meant there was something wrong with me. I picked at the parts of myself that I thought made me less desirable, like how attractive people found my appearance and personality. When dating, I often sacrificed my own needs and wants, afraid I’d scare off potential partners. I was more concerned about being chosen when I should’ve been choosing myself
I’m finally beginning to see my life as a single woman in a new light. This is not a phase, the in-between, or the before; my life is happening now. When people talk about relationships, we often think of romantic ones, but the longest relationship we will ever have is the one with ourselves. I once thought I’d have to wait for the right person to show me what love looks like, but it turns out I’ve been capable of it all along. 
Enjoying my singlehood is still new to me and I thought it would look like solo trips and candlelit dinners for one, but it’s deeper than that. It’s been a lot of reflecting and breaking down walls within me. It’s about healing the parts of myself I didn’t know were still hurting, not so that I’m ready for someone else, but because I’m deserving of it. I’m open to romantic love, but I’m not waiting for it to arrive.
This isn’t to say you can’t be in a romantic relationship while simultaneously being in one with yourself, but being single has given me a new perspective on love and relationships than the one I had. I was convinced that I was missing out on something greater by being single. I know now that when I compare myself to others, the only thing I’m missing out on is the life right in front of me.
Redefining romance is something else I’m working on. Buying myself flowers has been an absolute game-changer, but nothing comes close to speaking to myself more kindly. Women are expected to be humble and unaware of their brilliance, but I’m practicing speaking to myself and about myself with affection and compassion. The more I practice this, the less likely I am to accept anything less than what I already give myself. 
What I feared most about not getting married was being alone. I’m now cognizant of how silly that thought is. I’m grateful for the friends in my life that have been my accomplices and angels through the highs and lows of life, without judgment and with plenty of love. I dreamed of sharing my life with someone, and I’m already doing that.
I’ll never know why tía Petra never married, but now that I’m older, I’m not afraid of ending up like her. Instead, I have so much admiration and questions for her. This year, I’ll be turning 28 — and I’m single and childless by choice. This is not where younger me imagined myself at this age, but it’s exactly where I want to be. Choosing to be in a romantic relationship is an option, not a requirement. And like Tía Petra, I’ll be keeping my standards high.

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