never married, over forty, a little bitter


Gloria Steinem once said, “We are becoming the men we wanted to marry.”

Perhaps due to lack of options, I did, over the decades, become the man I wanted to marry.  I became well-educated, well-read, and well-travelled and lived in several different cities as well as abroad.  I learned to partner dance and play tennis, I tried a bit of surfing and boxing, and I generally kept myself physically fit.  I engaged with the world and developed opinions and accompanied myself to events ranging from the intellectual to the outrageous.  Had I known I would end up single, I would have pursued a less stable but more exciting career field, but nonetheless, I have had some enviable jobs and have developed some measure of financial security, including property ownership.

I will now confess a dark secret:  sometimes I look at my Facebook profile and launch into a fit of pique that no man I’ve ever “friended” or “messaged” has pursued me romantically.  Just last week I messaged two men with nada in return, restoring my sense of umbrage.

This being the first time in my life when I seem to hold myself in higher esteem than others do– hell, I want to date me!– I suppose all I can do is poke fun at my inflamed sense of injustice.



This weekend I came across a few choice bits in the 1977 book Slow Days, Fast Company:  The World, the Flesh, and L.A. by Eve Babitz.

This one reminds me of my complaints about Facebook:

p. 3  Besides its being bad luck to even whisper that you’re happy, it’s also not nice basically… But the real truth has nothing to do with bad luck or niceness; the real truth is that I’ve never known any man-woman thing to pan out (it may pan out to them, of course, but couples in middle age who don’t speak to each other are not my idea of a good movie).

On the pursuit of romance:

p. 3  I have a lot of friends who are positive life isn’t worth living without True Love Forever.  They’re always on the prowl and sulk against the gods when they go to a party and don’t fall in love.  Women, especially, engage themselves in ghastly self-inflicted tortures for which they’ve been primed since childhood.

At a high school reunion party in Bakersfield:

p. 23  Not a whisper of sin, not a glimpse of passion by the men for women beyond their own wives, not a trace of a signal from the women beyond cheerful interest in each other’s children.  Of the forty or so people there, all between twenty-five and thirty-three, ten were pregnant.  The women moved easily around the patio and spacious backyard, holding drinks, seeming mildly amused at the oval stomachs draped in flowered cotton fabric.  Their wedding rings reflected the pink twilight, their golden bracelets caught the light of the mustard hills.  There was no extra energy in those women beyond their children or their particular geography.  There was no energy for humor or wit, and I wondered at my friends in L.A. who were always brimming over with spare words and bright phrases.


nine months

I know a kundalini yoga guru who says it takes nine months to enact any real change in a life.

It’s been nine months since I (mostly) abandoned online dating and let nature take its course in terms of meeting someone new.  Hasn’t happened.

I’m now facing a new nine-month stretch, one that will determine whether I move back to my former city or recommit to my current locale.  It’s impossible for me to conceive of anything happening that will convince me to stay; I just cannot imagine how I will possibly stumble across new friends or a new man to date.  I checked an online dating site this weekend, and for the first time did not see a single man, not one, whom I would want to contact.

Perhaps in nine months I will give birth to a new perspective anyway?  We shall see.


the herd

The majority of people wish to fall in love and have that love result in a happy marriage with children.  This seems hardwired in us biologically.  Some people, I would guess a minority of people who actually get married, get this lucky.

The rest compromise.  They marry someone whom they don’t love or whom they are not attracted to (I know of at least three women who have admitted they never enjoyed sex with their husbands), or they marry someone they are crazy about but who is poor spouse or parent material and make do, or they have a child alone.

In the past, this made sense, as the pressure to marry was great for reasons of economic and social security and population growth.  Even today, society pushes people to marry so they can take care of each other (and thus not become a burden to the rest of society) and procreate (so there are new generations to take care of the old).

Despite all the marriage and parenting mania out there, I believe we are on the cusp of questioning this arrangement due to three factors:  environmental devastation, the economic liberation of women, and the flexibility required of the current job market, which works against the stability of marriage and the requirements of parenting.  At some point the environment will become inhospitable to continued population growth, and we will have to think of alternatives for the care of the growing elderly population that don’t rely on the young.  Given all the single people out there, we will also have to imagine other economic and social arrangements that don’t involve leaning on a spouse.

New social arrangements would allow people to have children only in the ideal situation, one in which they were truly in love with their spouse and that spouse was a good candidate for partnering and parenting.  Everyone else could marry the person they love but not have children, not marry or have children at all, or, if they truly desired to do so, have children as a solo parent.  This would free people’s energies up to tackle pressing societal problems such as elder care, community building, environmental pollution, wealth inequality, and so on.

Of course, people who can’t find the right partner would have to overcome their biological hardwiring to partner and have children, which, speaking from experience, can be quite difficult.  On the other hand, they would be giving up doing those things in a stressful or unhappy situation, so that’s less of a loss, and if there was enough societal support for alternatives, those alternatives might just begin to seem more appealing.

Or perhaps I’m dreaming.