never married, over forty, a little bitter

Month: July, 2012


Thanks to Gateway Women Daily for this one:

Because it’s not simply that a baby puts a whole person-ful of problems into the world. It takes a useful person out of the world as well. Minimum. Often two.

…every woman who chooses — joyfully, thoughtfully, calmly, of her own free will and desire — not to have a child does womankind a massive favor in the long term. We need more women who are allowed to prove their worth as people, rather than being assessed merely for their potential to create new people. …


If this worked out, our relationship would redeem all the lazy cruelties that had come before:  in the light of something that proved so right, I could look back and justify everything else as a necessary prelude, like Elizabeth Gilbert and the dashing Brazilian guy.  But if there was no trusting rest to look forward to, no shelter to hope for, what were these years in the desert for?  — Gideon Lewis-Kraus, A Sense of Direction, p. 193.

Michael Cobb would argue that the “years in the desert” are in and of themselves the point.  In his book Single, he devotes a significant amount of text to the (literal) desert as a place to connect with the universal, away from civilization and the confines of couplehood.  His thesis brings to mind kundalini yoga, and Nietzsche, and his own example of Ralph Ellison’s The Invisible Man.


Having had more than a few dates this past year that were okay, even nice and enjoyable, but that didn’t seem to leave any toes tingling, oh how I can relate to this.  My (paranoid?) suspicions have been that while I haven’t been enormously interested myself, the men have decided I’m not worth the bother due to my age:

I’m guessing he once was keen but is as fickle as me and hot and cold.  But probably more cold, having concluded that I am too old or unappealing, or fat or thick, and that, after the investment of a few gettings-together and a hundred quid or so, he has found that plankton, and more specifically I, just don’t do it for him.

Now I am going away.  He knows when I am back, so we shall see.  No idea whether or not I shall ever see him again.  Which is fine; just slightly odd.  Middle-aged dating is just so peculiar; just so extraordinarily nebulous.


Now that the games are underway, the mom props have really been rolling in…there’s a subtle undermining at play in these kinds of stories, the message that no matter what else a woman achieves in her public life, she is always going to be first and foremost defined by her children. That if she attains anything else, it’s kind of a neat trick.


I just finished reading Single:  Arguments for the Uncoupled by Michael Cobb.  It is a dense, academic treatise of the subject with an interesting thesis that a “couples culture” projects its anxieties and unhappiness unto single people.  I liked this line, p. 31:

Singleness is currently not compatible with a society in western Europe, North America, and probably other locations that wants people to feel desperate, lonely, fearful of death, and ready for toxic forms of sociality.

To whatever extent this is true, it offers another explanation regarding the ridiculous amount of time and effort I put into dating in my thirties.  I recall, in my late thirties, telling a friend that while I did have some life options as a single person, none of them were particularly good or appealing.  The friend disapproved of what she thought of as my “whining,” preferring to project an upbeat outlook on the single life.  If the above statement is true, however, is it “whining” to want to be in a couple, or was I simply intuiting that life in this society is difficult to impossible alone?

To a large extent being single still limits my options, as having someone to split the bills with would be a huge help in terms of funding my dreams.  Had I been living with a partner for the last five years, for instance, I would now have approximately 25k more in my pocket.  On the other hand, perhaps I would not have had the time and space to dream.

As far as a partner providing me with intimate connection and social viability, however, I am starting to balk at the idea that a partner is necessary for those things.  Not that it isn’t true, I’m just tired of trying to accommodate that truth.   I’ve had some intriguing developments on the romantic front lately, but they have all come with challenges, whether it be geographic distance, a big difference in age, or a racial divide that would kick up a certain amount of political dust and family drama.

I feel like I should be willing to do whatever it takes for “love,” but despite all my whining on here, I am starting to question that paradigm.  Whenever I have insomnia or feel uneasy or wake up dreading the day, I now imagine feeling that way with a partner, and it helps me realize that a partner won’t solve everything, and could potentially cause even more problems.

And surely having children gives one even more reason for sleepless nights.



with friends like these

postscript:  Jody makes a good point that a good number of the comments on this article are depressing, but I did find at least a few thoughtful ones, such as this:

What a fascinating article. It was a pleasure to read simply for the writer’s gifted command of the English language – but the content also provided much food for thought in my view.

As a single man, I feel as though I can identify with some of Petronella’s experience. The issue of ‘fairweather friends’ is a particularly pertinent one: and one certainly doesn’t need to be single to have had experience of this phenomenon. Though when one is single and friendships are one’s main source of emotional intimacy, the discovery that a friend is of the fairweather variety can be particularly painful and disappointing.

Yes, there are individuals and couples who choose their friends on the basis of their potential to enhance their own wealth or social status. But people who select friends in this way can never provide the kind of genuine all-weather friendship and intimacy that most of us need, particularly the ‘singles’ among us who don’t have a partner for emotional security. True friends are rare, and we usually don’t find out who they are until a crisis happens. Superficial, fairweather friendships are a waste of time and energy that one could be investing in real communication and connection with people who are capable of true friendship.

Alas, these days, I hardly see or speak to my best friend, who is married with children and a busy job, simply because he is understandably so busy with his job and family, and when he isn’t, he is close to exhausted. When we do meet up, he always wishes to include his family. His wife and children are delightful, but I do miss the opportunity for our one-to-one conversations over a bottle of wine. There is no reciprocal, nurturing friendship there any more, but I hope it will be rekindled once the children are older.

In some quarters of our society, there is a disparaging attitude towards single people, and particularly unmarried women without children. The key thing in my view is for single people to try to get their need for emotional intimacy met by making genuine friendships with people who do not regard friends as means to economic and social ends. This also entails oneself being prepared to be an all-weather friend to others, and committing to trying to meet one’s friends’ needs.

The economic points Petronella makes also strike me as valid. How a single person is supposed to live on £65 per week  Job Seekers’ Allowance, I have no idea. 

Single people will probably always find themselves on the fringes of society, I imagine. But there is then the opportunity to connect with other people on the fringes, and hopefully build a community of friends who are there through thick or thin.

a mind of my own

I’m friends with a man who would make a great boyfriend for someone.  He is unfailingly courteous and dependable, rare traits these days,  and he has a solid career.

We hang out occasionally, but I can’t date him myself, because I’m uninterested in his primary diversions, nor do I particularly respect them, outside of respecting his rights to his own passions.   I attended an event with him recently that I wasn’t particularly interested in, and I couldn’t experience the pleasure of deconstructing it with him without, I felt, insulting him, so I kept my thoughts to myself.  Later that week, however, I was able to discuss the event in an intellectually fulfilling manner with another acquaintance.

I suppose it is unusual for a woman to prioritize her own intellectual development in considering a mate.  Women in general are expected to mold themselves to a man’s life and interests, but I’ve never been able to do so, unless his life and interests appeal to me in the first place.

This streak only gets stronger as I age.


A friend from my youth, a peer I spent my formative years with, emailed recently to let me know she is coming into town with her husband and new baby.  After several tries, she successfully gave birth last year.

At first I felt excited about seeing her, but then the doubts crept in.  My recent transition from a woman in mourning over being single and childless into one who accepts and even, in some ways, embraces my status has taken a tremendous amount of psychic energy.  The idea of paying homage to my friend’s motherhood feels exhausting, especially if there is even a whiff of a suggestion that my life is somewhat “sad” or I am somehow “immature.”

I’ve certainly fallen down on the job of asking about her new baby.  She updates me and I respond, but I don’t initiate much.  I suppose I find the parenting success of long-term friends exceptionally difficult to accept, especially the ones who seemed as if they were going to accompany me on my path, only to take a sharp u-turn at the last minute.

I’m also just not in the mood to coo over one more damn baby.  Okay, maybe a little, but I’m fairly cooed out.


Life in Los Angeles can be especially lonely because it is a city that covers a large geographical area. While the City of Angels offers its residents plenty of daytime excursions and nightlife attractions, the traffic-ridden freeways can turn a casual outing into a road trip. Not only is it difficult to meet a suitable mate, developing friendships with other females can be a challenge as well. There is an inherent flakiness in Angelenos. People make plans, but are more likely to cancel them because they don’t want to endure hours of traffic trying to reach their destination. Additionally, most people come to Los Angeles with an agenda, usually to work in show business. Success requires focus and determination. All of one’s energy can be consumed striving to achieve personal goals and leave little time for socialization.

Los Angeles is a lonely city. All day long people run errands, shop for clothes, eat in crowded restaurants, drive, work, and come home – alone. I spend the majority of my time alone, and no matter how much I tell myself that it’s a good thing or how much I get accomplished, I still feel lonely. I have two miniature dachshunds, Paisley and Rocket, and for some reason I look at them sometimes and get the sense that they feel alone and wish we lived with more people.