never married, over forty, a little bitter

Month: January, 2012


I’ve never been to a therapist but believe there is much insight and solace to be found in books.

Chick lit has, of course, exploded over the last decade, reflecting the massive confusion in women’s lives.  Much of it is not very good though.  During my thirties, these books (nonfiction and fiction) helped me the best in coping with being single and childless:

The Late Bloomer’s Revolution–Amy Cohen

Marrying Anita: A Quest for Love in the New India– Anita Jain

All Over the Map– Laura Fraser

Single State of the Union– Diana Mapes– particularly the essay An Open Letter to Mom, Deana, Mary, and the Folks at Work

Three Wishes: A True Story of Good Friends, Crushing Heartbreak, and Astonishing Luck on Our Way to Love and Motherhood–  Goldberg, Jones, and Ferdinand

In Her Own Sweet Time: One Woman’s Unexpected Adventures in Finding Love, Commitment, and Motherhood– Rachel Lehmann- Haupt

I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti– Giulia Melucci

Lonely: A Memoir– Emily White

Can’t Think Straight:  A Memoir of Mixed-Up Love– Kiri Blakely

How to Be Single: A Novel– Liz Tuccillo

Accidentally on Purpose: A One-Night Stand, My Unplanned Parenthood, and Loving the Best Mistake I Ever Made– Mary Pols

The Quality of Life Report– Meghan Daum

Girl Walks Into A Bar: A Memoir–Strawberry Saroyan

The Curse of the Singles Table: A True Story of 1001 Nights Without Sex– Suzanne Schlosberg

The Leopard Hat: A Daughter’s Story– Valerie Steiker

Making Love: A Romance–Lucretia Stewart

The Pig and I: How I Learned to Love Men Almost as Much as I Love My Pets–Rachel Toor

But Enough About Me–Jancee Dunn

Lying Together: My Russian Affair–  Jennifer Beth Cohen

The Cigarette Girl: A Novel– Carol Wolper

Now You See Her: A Novel– Whitney Otto

Desperate Women Need to Talk to You– Joan Frank

Venus After Forty– Rita Ransohoff


In addition to this list of books, I recommend a DVD series called “Flying: Confessions of a Free Woman” by Jennifer Fox







There’s no man on my horizon at the moment, but I can’t imagine that if I met a suitable partner whom I wanted to marry, I’d be totally passive about waiting for a proposal after two decades of making my own life decisions.   I liked this post:

closet cleaning

I’ve been holding on to some books I have on singleness, assuming someday I would have a like-minded friend to pass them on to.  I’m now thinking that day may not arrive again, so I’ve decided, on this beautiful day, to bike them over to a donation bin at a nearby library.  Before I do, I will pass some titles on here:

Outdated: Why Dating Is Ruining Your Love Life by Samhita Mukhopadhyay–  a good read about dating while feminist.

The Single Woman: A Discursive Investigation by Jill Reynolds– an academic exploration of the ways in which midlife single women perceive themselves…p. 4 “singleness for women continues to be remarkably resistant to losing an association with a discreditable identity.”

An Inconceivable Notion: Stories of Coping With Infertility and Childlessness by Justine Davies–p.34  “In the past few years a lot of people I know have started getting married, having kids (some friends are on their second or third child now), and nothing else comes close to making you feel like an enormous failure as when other people are procreating and you’re not.”

Longer bib to come…

second thoughts

I’m familiar with the common ambivalence amongst black people in the U.S. about “making it” in a white man’s world.  They quite understandably have mixed feelings about striving to succeed in a society that has historically excluded and even terrorized them.

I don’t mean to suggest that my sense of exclusion as a single woman is nearly on that same par, but I now get that ambivalence on a personal level.  Would I want to get hitched and hang out in the world of the “smug marrieds” at this point?  A world that has marginalized me for at least my last decade?  I don’t know.  It would be nice, I suppose, to be married, and perhaps even necessary.   But the smug part I certainly want no part of.


When I was 39 I met a gentleman of the same age with whom I had immediate sparks (we have remained friends despite everything).  We emailed each other several times after our first meeting, but he didn’t ask me out.  I asked a mutual friend about it, and he told me that the gentleman in question was worried that, due to my age, I would want to get married and have kids immediately, and he wasn’t ready for that.

I remember feeling quite depressed by that piece of information.  I was being pre-judged for something I did, in fact, want, but that I might have been flexible about if he’d had the guts to communicate with me directly.  Makes me wonder how many other times in my dating life I had been a victim of preconceptions.

new definitions

I recently located an article from 1989 entitled “Toward A New Definition of Singleness: Building a Life With Close Friends” by Rachel Kranz.  It originally appeared in Utne Reader, March/April 1989, and was reprinted in a book called “Marriage and Family 90/91.”  It’s worth locating.

A few good passages:

Many of my single women friends were desperate to find men because they saw this as the only way to have any significant emotional ties with anyone.  What about friends?  Well, no.  If coupled, they weren’t available; if single; they’d disappear as soon as they found men.

I certainly recognized this anxiety, too.  So I decided to make a radical assumption: I was never going to meet a man who would become my lifetime partner…

I’ve begun to wonder whether I really want a life of shared intimacy with one person.  I might actually prefer builidng my life around a wider and more independent circle of friends…

In fact, relationships with female friends, if they are serious ones, open you to all the pain and terror of any important relationship. Yes, of course female friends can disappoint you, betray you, terrify you with their demands or their inaccessibility– why should this relationship, alone among all others, be exempt from the guilt, fear, anger, and destructiveness that we have ruefully learned to associate with families ad lovers?

Sometimes it seems to me that everything in the economy and the culture conspires against female friendship… I often feel that in my decisions to accept my single life and to allow myself to depend on my friendships, I’m hacking out a small, temporary space beneath an imminent landslide.

going it alone

I have a lesbian friend who had a baby through artificial insemination at the age of 35.  She has irregular work hours, little savings, and is living in a city without any close friends or family.  Yet, she makes it work.  She got pregnant on her first try, the kid is adorable and healthy, and she is even trying for another one.

I confess, I couldn’t do it.  For one, my family would not be supportive, which is a biggie (this woman’s family is).  Two, I live in a city without close friends or family, and I personally would be terribly stressed out raising a child without that.  Three, the amount of money I saved last year would not even cover the cost of daycare.  The cost of a one-bedroom apartment in this pricey city is outrageous; I can’t imagine affording a two-bedroom.

Finally, and most important of all, I wanted to have a baby with a man I was in love with, not separate from that.



I’ve had many of these moments:

hold the advice

Some nice posts on how annoying most of the advice given to single people can be:

I particularly like #2 in the Glamour post:

2) What’s Said: WEAR MORE MAKEUP.
What’s Heard: More than implying that the search for Mr. Right is as easy as brushing a spot of color onto the cheeks, this comment offends further by actually attacking a person’s core identity. “A woman presents herself according to what she defines as meaningful. Whether her style is glamorous belle or au naturelle, every woman should be allowed to be herself. There’s a man out there who is going to be attracted to her style, whatever it is. If she’s presenting herself as anyone other than who she really is, that’s false advertising and that’s going to backfire.”


And for more, there’s a pretty good book called “It Just Hasn’t Happened Yet: Bogus, Ridiculous, Absurd Explanations as to Why You’re Still Single and How to Deal With Them” by Karin Anderson

literary mover

In the book “A Jest of God,” later made into the film “Rachel, Rachel,” the thirty-four-year-old narrator, a never-married schoolteacher in her “last ascendant year,” finally decides to move away from her small hometown.  I’ve lived a far more adventurous life than her character, who is situated in a different place and time period altogether, but I love this beautiful passage, as she pulls away from home on the bus:

Where I’m going, anything may happen.  Nothing may happen.  Maybe I will marry a middle-aged widower, or a longshoreman, or a cattle-hoof-trimmer, or a barrister or a thief.  And have my children in time.  Or maybe not.  Most of the chances are against it.  But not, I think, quite all.  What will happen?  What will happen.  It may be that my children will always be temporary, never to be held.  But so are everyone’s.