I enjoyed the honesty of this interview; once again, it’s nice to hear a dude’s perspective on coming to terms with the single and childless life:
As the single and childless life gets more attention in the mainstream media, I’ve noticed that a number of blogs I used to enjoy reading on those subjects have gone quiet: The Plankton; Single and Thirtysomething; Sex, Lies and Dating in the City. Some that are still going strong: The NotMom; Living Single; Editrix Abby; Life Without Baby.
Please share in the comments section if you know of some more good ones.
This past weekend I spent some time with the non-relationship guy. He came to a show with me, but I turned him down in terms of hanging out afterwards. I felt a bit bad about it, as I know he’s lonely, but my health and sanity has started to take precedence.
He was never able to commit to a relationship and, as he continues to pursue his dream of working in the entertainment industry without success, he has a lot more free time on his hands. I, on the other hand, am tired. I’m a few years older, working in a job that’s tougher than my last one in terms of responsibility. I’ve just been through two moves. I feel more pressure than he does to look nice, keep a clean apartment, and exercise and cook.
I can’t continue to live like this and expect nothing from the men I’m seeing in terms of help or commitment.
That year, seven of my girlfriends were expecting babies.
Although the biology was simple, falling pregnant seemed like life’s greatest mystery.
“Why does it happen to everyone else but not me?” I asked my mother, who had never put any pressure on me to settle down.
She was proud of the life I had created.
“Perhaps it’s just not your destiny,” she replied philosophically. “Maybe you’ve got a different purpose in life, like writing your books.”
“I probably had 12 kids in my last life and need a break!” I joked, despite the fact that a deep sadness was starting to settle over me.
Loved this comment and can totally relate after my long job search (not to mention all the hours I’ve spent on the phone with various corporations between my two moves):
You also notice this horrid bureaucratisation if you have the misfortune of having to look for a white collar job. There never is any contact person to email a resume to or to call; job seekers must go to the company website and “apply”. Those of you who have done this know how awful this has gotten in the last several years.
One is immediately confronted with a demand that you “create an account”. From here on, it’s like trying to log on to a CIA or NSA computer! Give email address; repeat and re input you email address. Then try your luck with choosing a username and password. It almost never likes your first choice of these! You then get a system message that your password has to have numerous criteria, that involve caps, numbers and some character like a #,%, =, etc. Then you will be prompted for the answers to 3 security questions! (Why all this NSA level of security walls and paranoia? Are they that afraid that some prankster or imposter will upload a resume, pretending to be you?!)
Once you get past those hurdles, now comes the fun part! You have to fill in a LOT of information (much of which should already be on your resume); pages and pages of it! Even simple questions like city, state and country have to be answered from a lengthy scrollbar list. You can’t just type in “USA”- you have to pick the country from a list of all the worlds nations, which always start alphabetically with Albania and Azerbaijan! Because the US starts with a “U”, you have to scroll way down. Given that most applicants are from the US, it would make sense to put the US first, above Albania. That however is too rational and makes life too easy for the applicant. The purpose of this exercise is to treat people like shit and make them jump hoops. See? You’re already being conditioned for the corporate life to come!
Same goes for a lot of other choices, like school. You have to pick your college from a scrollbar list. Even past employers often have to be selected from a lengthy list of corporations. People can’t be allowed to just input information on their own! Dates have to selected and created from a calendar menu; just typing them in won’t do! Phone numbers are also a problem; they have to follow a strict format. Some sites won’t let you type in the dashes, preferring you leave spaces instead. It helps to also know your country code! Some do ask that! Some will require you to take a profiling test right then and there, with the type of questions that are designed by psychology quacks.
If you leave out necessary information or don’t format something to their liking, one is confronted by an angry looking red letter message telling you to get with the program! Sometimes as “punishment”, all the information you typed in on the page gets wiped out in the reset and you can now re-input all of it again. That’ll teach you to follow their instructions!
After about doing five or six of these, hours have gone by and the person is exhausted and has had more than enough!
How did we become such a shit nation? How did things get this bad? How do we put up with it and why? It wasn’t always like this, but we all go on as if it always was. Some of us remember better times, but that’s a distant and irrelevant memory. We used to have a reputation for being a great nation; but now, the way we treat employees, job applicants and customers, our whole economic system in general- is not an ideal or role model that any other sensible country would want to copy. In a depression/recession where employers are sitting on a lot of cash and not too willing to hire, they are having a field day humiliating people in a buyer’s market for labor.
There’s no solution to this in sight; these corporations are beyond any political and popular oversight and control. That realisation causes me to feel more frustration than any bureaucracy.
Very timely, given the recent debates on here in the comments section:
Hans Castorp respected work– as how should he not have? It would have been unnatural. Work was for him, in the nature of things, the most estimable attribute of life; when you came down to it, there was nothing else that was estimable. It was the principle by which one stood or fell, the Absolute of the time; it was, so to speak, its own justification. His regard for it was thus religious in its character, and so far as he knew, unquestioning. But it was another matter, whether he loved it; and that he could not do, however great his regard, the simple reason being that it did not agree with him. Exacting occupation dragged at his nerves, it wore him out; quite openly he confessed that he liked better to have his time free, not weighted with the leaden load of effort; lying spacious before him, not divided up by obstacles one had to grit one’s teeth and conquer, one after the other. — Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain
It looks like my new job will be much like my last, in terms of understaffing and unrelenting demands. I’ve been initiating a number of projects I’m excited about; these projects have some personal appeal to me, might introduce me to interesting people, and should be a win for my customers. I’m not keen on the responsibility of being the boss lady, but I am enjoying the freedom to innovate and initiate, and my staff seems to be willing to come along for the ride. I like the people I’ve been working with and am appreciating the fact that I can accomplish a lot here.
In the same way, I can appreciate many aspects of being single. I have some time to pursue hobbies and relax and read (not so much lately but hopefully again soon), and as I’ve written before, I’ve had an adventurous and varied life.
That said, I would prefer not to have to work and, if I had my choice, I would work a lot less. I would also prefer to be in a relationship, even though I know it would entail a lot of sacrifices. I’m trying to reconcile myself to the fact that I didn’t live the last two decades of my life in the manner I would have preferred, and at this point, I probably never will do so, at least until retirement age.
I railed against this for a long time but am slipping into acceptance now.
I’m vaguely acquainted with a strikingly good-looking woman whose big schtick was that she used to be a serious drug addict and involved in terrible relationships with sketchy men. In her thirties, she married a handsome man and had a baby. Now her Facebook feed is filled with cute photos of her kid.
I bring up this story because as much as people like to shame such women, her story puts a lie to the idea that there’s a right way to do things if one wants to end up married with kids. She’s beautiful, which helps, but I have another equally-as-striking friend who, while never going without a serious, monogamous relationship in her twenties and thirties, had her last relationship go bust right before the wedding and has ended up childless and never-married.
I currently take an exercise class from a cute, perky woman in her late twenties; she could play the girl-next-door in a romantic comedy. She was just asked out on a date by a dude who works in a coffee shop; her last boyfriend was a bartender. She is giving the coffee shop guy a chance but would like to find a man with a real career. She wants to have kids but is also happy, day-to-day, spending time on her own.
What advice did I have to give her? None. Absolutely none. I know of no guaranteed route of meeting (available) men with solid careers, nor would I necessarily recommend that she grab the first one who comes along, regardless of attraction, because of the ticking clock. I wouldn’t tell her to forget the guy from the coffee shop, either, although my guess is that it won’t pan out. In many ways she seems headed down my own path, but plenty of other women who seemed the same to me at that age ended up getting married and having kids, some as late as their forties.
There seems to be little rhyme or reason to it all, despite our desire to believe otherwise.
To put those developments in historical context, Daly notes that the last time the childless rate was one in five, it was in a generation of so-called “surplus women” born at the turn of the 20th century. “The fact it took a war with unprecedented loss of life and global depression to cause such an increase in childlessness gives you some idea of the social change we’re going through now,” she says.
Today’s “surplus women” are not war widows but young professional women for whom there aren’t enough suitable male partners—a phenomenon referred to in China derisively as “A1 women and D4 men.” Yet the blame invariably falls on them for being “too choosy,” a motif of the booming advice-to-female-professionals book genre, the latest being Susan Patton’s new Marry Smart: Advice for Finding THE ONE, in which the “Princeton Mom” advises women to snag their “MRS” in university as they’ll never have access to such an elite dating pool again.