never married, over forty, a little bitter

Month: June, 2013

economics 101

A few months ago I wrote about getting set up on a blind date with a tall, attractive, Ivy-League-educated, socially adept (although perhaps just slightly nerdy), successful Industry guy. Quite the blind date! He was within a few years of my age, to boot.

My feeling on the date was that this guy could surely clean up on a dating site (not to mention IRL), so why did he assent to a set-up? Curiosity? Politeness?

Regardless, I mustered up a positive attitude and had a nice chat with him. He kissed me goodnight, and then I never heard from him again. It didn’t surprise me.

When I told this story to some acquaintances– a few lesbian women as well as women who have not been on the dating market in years– they all scolded me for approaching the whole thing so pessimistically. Why wouldn’t I think he’d be thrilled to meet me? They were furthermore appalled that he hadn’t followed up with me.

Unlike those women, I don’t think this was a case of me having low self-esteem; on the contrary, I think in many ways I’m a more interesting person than that guy. But I’m unsurprised that he didn’t have the motivation to find that out. I simply know the market. I also don’t think his behavior was particularly rude. Certainly I’ve encountered worse.

This piece brought that date back to my mind:

What we have going on now is a number of women pursuing the same men. These men are all employed, attractive, educated and engaging. They are in no rush to pick just one woman because…why should they? Women refer to them as players, but is that really accurate? Or fair? Is it their fault that most women would rather pursue them than consider the guys with fewer options? For several months now we’ve been reading about how there are fewer and fewer “marriageable men” out there thanks to the economic downturn. Fewer men graduating college means fewer men are able to be the type of providers that women seek. That leaves us with a bunch of ladies all setting their sights on a smaller population of men.

I’m not sure what the answer is in terms of dating. Lowering one’s standards, yes, but which standards?

For me, I do need someone well-read and with an intellectual bent. Most likely that person would have a college degree. I also prefer someone near my age.

I’ve been willing to let a lot of things go when those particulars have been in place. The last man I was involved in was bright and educated, and we had a good physical and emotional connection as well. He also had some fairly serious mental health and career issues. Those were issues I was willing to accept, but ultimately they torpedoed the relationship.

The last time I saw my mother, she started in on her advice that I just needed to find a single girlfriend and hit some trendy bars in order to find a single, professional boyfriend. I try not to scream when she starts down that path.

If only things were that easy.

hair pulling

I think that is the primary goal of these MRA/Manosphere blogs. They want us to be filled with dread and regret in the hopes that we’ll just throw our hands up and cry uncle and eventually settle down with one of them. Or maybe they just want us understand how they feel. I know it’s not as simple as wanting to vent. There’s a goal there, and it’s not just about wounding us. It’s about forcing us to acknowledge them. That’s interesting, isn’t it, given that many women in my age range so often feel invisible?


unwanted attention

A few weeks ago I went to a networking function of former colleagues. Immediately a man who used to hit on me zeroed in. I have nothing against him, but he is most definitely not for me.

Under the guise of job leads, he’s been calling me and asking to meet for lunch. I finally capitulated and met him, and he had some good ideas, but they were leads for me to pursue on my own by making cold calls. In the meantime he has had to undertake his own job search. I feel for him, but I can’t be put in a “support” position at the moment, particularly involuntarily.

It’s hard not to wonder why I bother to get gussied up and get out there. It usually results in nothing but more problems for me, if it results in anything at all.

Back to secluding for the weekend!

the odd couple

I’m beginning to understand why my roommate and I became friends.

Despite being in his early thirties, he’s disinclined to socializing, and his favored position is prone on the sofa, in front of the TV, with an iPad on his stomach. He’s happy to have an uninteresting and low-demand job and to not do much outside of it.

I, on the other hand, have held dynamic jobs, exercise daily, read, cook, and get out on the town several times a week.

So what was the initial connection? I have to conclude it was that I was pushing forty when we met. Despite my much more active lifestyle, the social world just doesn’t yield much for a single, fortysomething woman. He probably thought of me as safe and nonthreatening and in need of companions.

I’m glad we formed a friendship. We took some excellent trips together, trips I couldn’t have taken alone, and had some good times. Elements of the friendship are beginning to depress me a little now though.

I have PMS this week and have attended three events in a row alone, so I probably just need to curl up at home for a while and get through this current dreary mood. My recent attempts at online dating aren’t helping. I had the one date with the guy I suspect is gay, but the three I wrote this week didn’t pan out into actual meetings. And I just can’t find anyone else I’d want to write.

I’m kind of at a loss again about how I’ll make connections here, although I’m thankful I have a couple of friends occasionally willing to meet up.

I liked Bella DePaulo’s response to this headline:

Yet I also thought the original article had some true things to say about staying single. In some ways I envy millennials in that maybe they will have more single companions to hang out with when they got older. I thought they were all getting married young, but I guess not:


If I have to head back to the salt mines, I suppose I should feel some gratitude for the four to five months I’ve had off. I’ve done quite a bit during these months.

I took a short trip in which I learned some new recipes and cooking methods. I got rid of piles of old clothes, numerous broken appliances, and several pieces of furniture that had seen better days. I made it through a tower of books. I gave my condo a facelift. I practiced yoga every day and took a bunch of mid-day dance classes. I upgraded my technology skills. I enjoyed leisure time in L.A. and time to explore a bit in my new location. I spent a few weeks with my mom. I bought a rice cooker. I got a sense of what sewing entails and brushed up on my Spanish.

Not bad. It’s been a sorely needed sabbatical.

survival tactics

I’m eating well, doing yoga and meditation daily, going swimming and walking, seeing old friends when possible, and going out to events a few times a week. I’m still feeling uneasy from the uprooting, but I was uneasy in L.A. as well.

I miss my non-relationship guy, as we had good conversations and a real connection despite everything. I’ve written a couple of new men on an online dating site but my hopes aren’t high.

It seems I am going to have to utilize every trick in my bag to make it through middle age. I’m not suicidal, but I do have the sense of numbing out a little until I (hopefully) settle in here.

He calls the first “low belonging,” and it’s the most intuitive idea in his formula. Joiner argues that “the desire to die” begins with loneliness, a thwarted need for inclusion and connection. That explains why suicide rates rise by a third on the continuum from married to never been married. It also accords with the fact that divorced people suffer the greatest suicide risk, while twins have reduced risk and mothers of small children have close to the lowest risk. A mother of six has six times the protection of her childless counterpart, according to one study. She may die of work and worry, but not of self-harm.

The need to belong is so strong, Joiner says, that it sometimes expresses itself even in death. “I’m walking to the bridge,” begins a Golden Gate Bridge suicide note he cites. “If one person smiles at me on the way, I will not jump.” The writer jumped. He was alone, and so are more of the rest of us. Unattached is the new fancy-free, a strategy for success that translates to later marriages, easier divorces, fewer kids, and a tendency to keep running toward the next horizon, skipping family dinner in the process.

Twelve years and a tech revolution after Robert Putnam wrote Bowling Alone, his treatise on the decline in American community, the institutions that used to bind America together have, if anything, crumbled even further. People tell surveyors that the world has become less helpful, trustworthy, and fair. It’s a place where you work longer at more deadening jobs for less pay, your life pulsing away with each new email, or worse, each additional hour on your feet. What’s deadly about all this is the loss of what Joiner calls “reciprocal care.” When people have no shoulder to lean on, they feel more isolated, and that isolation can be lethal.

the ghetto

Good points, although I think the 1950s were actually better in that the expectation was 9-5 as opposed to 9-6 (or longer) back then:

The issue, as Slaughter notes, is that this flexibility is still something almost exclusively for parents. Everyone else might as well be working in the 1950s. This is the dangerous part of the story.

Because the moment that we start talking about designing the workplace around mothers (or parents in general), we create a ghetto that’s nearly impossible to escape. The reality is that every employee would probably love to design their work to fit into their life, regardless of whether they have kids. But the hordes of Gen Y workers are confined by expectation and tradition to the office all day, every day, for the first decade of their working life. The message that’s sent to them is deviating from the old norms is something you only do when you’re desperate. Or when you have kids. Or, most commonly, both.

But what if we could convince those wet-behind-the-ears junior staff that flexibility is something that should be baked into modern life, regardless of spouses or kids? To borrow one of Slaughter’s hypotheticals, what if we built a workplace that was marathoner-friendly? Or more volunteer-friendly (my local food bank can only accommodate helpers during working hours)? Or more art-friendly or music-friendly or blog-friendly or whatever-friendly?

Because if we can sever the connection between “flexibility” and “parenthood,” we can start looking at policies to see if they impact productivity without making this about moms. And all of this can be done without reducing overall hours worked.

going it alone

Childcare, in fact, can be a huge burden on single mothers, both because they have no partner to pitch in but also because of the sheer costs associated with it. As “At Rope’s End” puts it, “In relationship to wealth and asset building, the costs associated with single parenting—childcare, housing, health care, and other expenses—contribute to the economic insecurity and instability of single women mothers and directly impact their ability to save.” In fact, the report estimates that paying for childcare accounts for over three-quarters of their monthly expenditures. The price can be incredibly steep: as much as $20,200 a year for an infant in a childcare center.

wood spirits

When I first moved to town, I had no interest in applying to two full-time jobs that were available, and I let the postings come and go and did nothing. Then I ran into an old boss who a few days later informed me they had been reopened for another month (because I was back in town?).

I still held out, and on the last evening before they were to close again, took a leisurely stroll down a wooded path, not a care in the world. There I ran into an old friend, who told me all kinds of scary tales about the job market.

I walked home glumly, pulled up the job postings, and stared at them grimly. I slowly started to fill them out, then closed down my computer and went to bed. The next morning I forced myself to finish them and pressed “send.”

I should find out within another week or so whether I got one.

I haven’t run into that friend from the wooded path again. He sent me a brief email asking me if I’d applied for the jobs, but he didn’t respond to my answer that I had.

Was he a test? Should I have seen him as an obstacle to my dream vision and ignored his advice? Or was he placed in my path because I was heading for disaster by cavalierly dismissing my chance for gainful employment? The coincidence of running into both him and my old boss plus the jobs being reopened is hard to ignore.