A while back, I wrote a scathing rant about why I was still single. So scathing that some men actually stopped talking to me for awhile.
I was okay with that.
I didn’t feel like I needed to apologize for breaking bad in a blog about things that at the time I felt really needed to be said. But I was harsh.
Let’s just say I wrote the blog on a day when I was really pissed off about how men sometimes treat women.
At the time, it had been assumed by a guy with an unrequited crush (and some major personality issues) that I was a lesbian because 1. He hadn’t gotten anywhere with me and 2). I had suggested that humanity should be kinder and less judgmental to all–including non-heterosexuals.
I knew I was fighting a losing cause, at least with this guy. So much of our population, male and female, are unbelievably messed up about their sexuality. But his assumptions made me mad enough to speak my piece.
It isn’t easy to be ’50-something’ and single. Especially if you’re reasonably attractive and have certain expectations about what you consider to be reasonable and fair.
Yet, when I went back and re-read my blog, I found that in that year, I’d made quite a journey away from the frustrated single person who wrote it. Yet, some things were still the same.
I have lived, for the most part, for almost 10 years in a very conservative small town. This town, which proclaims itself ‘the Holy City’ has shown me some of the most unholy people I’ve ever met. I sometimes wonder why the cross that some get so worked up about doesn’t fall off the water tower in celestial disgust.
In that small town, I’ve had women treat me badly while clinging to their unattractive, creepy and sometimes leering husbands as if I, by my very single status, must want them. I’ve even been told by a church secretary that if a woman is single, other women assume that she must be ‘on the make.’
I had one woman accuse me, because I met and began a relationship with a male of a small devotional group, of treating that group like ‘a singles bar.’
I don’t have anything to do with these individuals anymore. At some point, something in me rose up and cried “Nonsense” to such silly women and equally silly men. If a marriage is so fragile that a woman has to stare down every single woman they meet as possible competition, I suggest they go ahead and call a lawyer. They really don’t have a marriage.
These days, if I encounter women who act like that, I immediately distance myself and don’t give such foolishness dignity. I don’t need to. While I am not a fan of marriage, I honor it. If a couple has gone to that trouble, there is no way that I’m going to do anything to rock their boat–not even if the guy really wants me to do so.
And yes, there are those men–often in the church or religious community. I’ve had ministers and other respected church members leer, make suggestive comments, even feel way too compelled to stare at my chest during conversations. I’ve had fellow church members contact me for what I thought was going to be a date, when it turned out that all they wanted was quick, easy sex.
Or, when some men get caught flirting by their mates, they have blamed me, saying that I had the wrong idea about their intent (when you really couldn’t get another idea about their behavior.) Their wives believed them because it was easier to blame me than to address with their husbands why they lacked self control or respect for their marriage or their wife.
I have certain expectations about how I think men and women should act. When such ham-handed attempts at getting their desires met are not successful, I am shocked about how nasty and childish such men can be. It makes me angry. And it reminds me of why I choose to be single, even when I’m often judged for doing so.
I’ve been engaged twice, but I never really wanted to get married. I’ve only recently realized that. The two engagements took place in my twenties when I was still buying into what I thought society expected me to do–get married, settle down, have a few kiddos and then start pressuring others to follow suit.
For years, I found myself in one go-nowhere relationship after another. Some were really painful, because I really loved the men involved. Some of them said they loved me, and I believed them. At least, until their consistent actions showed me that their words could not be trusted. Or worse, once they realized that the relationship might take some work, they jumped ship and acted like there’d never been a relationship.
This can be especially hurtful in the church, where men I’ve known break up by saying “God” told them to do it. You know, sometimes, that is valid. But I think that is often an immature excuse by someone who really needs to man up. If God is going to end a relationship, I really think he’s going to tell both parties.
Or, you find the super spiritual guy (or thinks he is) who confesses all his sins in the relationship, usually on social media or at a church service. Of course, the ex-girlfriend is made out to be some unstable Jezebel type. He gets the forgiveness of his fans in church, and goes on to create relational havoc elsewhere.
Lastly, you find the couple who have, in their pasts, been up to everything immoral under the sun. Things that would make Hugh Hefner blush. Some of it while in church leadership positions. Yet, they are the first to lecture the single person struggling with very real temptation to sexual immorality. They are the first to pretend they are something they are not.
In my journey as a single woman, I was once treated as a sexual ‘hit and run.’ I got pregnant during that brief relationship. The man in question had married a former girlfriend by this time and never knew he was a father. I had a miscarriage, alone and without medical care. It took years to forgive myself for going from a college ‘good girl’ set to go to seminary that Autumn to whatever it was that becoming sexually active (with the wrong guy) had made me.
At a later point in that journey, I tried to turn my sexuality over to God. So much so that I gave him permission to even decide who gave me the next romantic kiss. Now some would say it would be foolish to think God would be that much of a micromanager. However, I didn’t. And time went by.
Lots of time. Decades even.
During that time I was in relationships with men who couldn’t commit, were abusive, who hid behind the church and did very inappropriate things. I was determined, that when I next had sex, that it wouldn’t be a booty-call or a one night stand. It would be making love on both sides, something that God could look at while it was happening and smile, knowing that two of his kids had finally gotten it right.
Recently, I was talking to a male friend, discussing my most recent ‘go nowhere’ relationship attempt. He’d been there for all of it, from its exciting beginning to its sputtering end. He’d seen me cry about the guy involved. He’d held back his opinion for the most part. But finally he didn’t.
He just called it as he saw it. He told me that I purposely chose men who were not appropriate relationship choices. The narcissists, the users, the spoiled brats, the men who see women in full color stereotype–with no room for adjustment. He said, “Laura, if you wanted to be married, you would have been by now. You just don’t want to commit.”
I was almost ready to admit this. Almost. But my friend’s revelation shocked me. I wanted, at least a little, to blame someone else. The men who treated me badly. The women who tried to make me fit their stereotypes of a old maid. The churches who made me feel as if I were a leper because of the absence of that little band of gold. But not me!
But you know, my friend was right.
It’s just not possible, unless we’re living in a really ugly world, that there could be that many men who are that relationally inappropriate. And yes, I’d had some great platonic guys for pals. But had ‘friend-zoned’ them like crazy. Like a person who was….terrified.
I just was not willing to believe that there was a man who would treat me right. I told myself I had never seen it. And maybe I hadn’t–because I was too busy looking for the cheaters, players, Peter-Pans, and abusers.
Having said all that, I remembered recently joining a dating site. I put up what I thought was a honest profile, and by the next morning got 5 hits. I took that profile down in an emotion that I can only, in retrospect describe as terror.
I don’t like some parts of being single. Having better boundaries now that when I first came to my town, I can stare down the weirdos and the wanna be wandering husbands. I can choose to avoid the men who stare at my breasts as if they’ve never been weaned. I can choose not to be in friendships with insecure women who want to act like they are in some petty 50’s sitcom.
Yet, I still meet the types that drove me to write my earlier, angry blog. That day, I announced to the interested world why I was growing old with my cat instead of the latest dream-guy. I described the guys who use inappropriate behavior to try to pencil women into a certain box, but instead just proclaim to the world why they don’t have healthy relationships.
I guess I will always meet them.
However, now, I’m willing to believe that there are also nice guys out there too. I’ve met them. I work with them. If they are eligible, and the interest is mutually there, well, I guess we’ll see. I’ll ask God about it. And believe that He, being the loving Father (not micro-manager) that he is, will take as much interest (if not more) in arranging a match for one of his daughters.
Till then, I remain single. Not because I hate, or am frustrated, or even because I match some stereotype of some equally hating and frustrated male. Because I choose.
And also because I think I am worthy of someone who will treat me as the gift God has been making me into all these years.
I choose health in how I deal with others, and how others deal with me. It’s not negotiable. And I will wait, even if that wait takes years or a lifetime, because finally, thankfully, I know my worth.
Finally, I expect others to recognize it as well.
And that, my friends, is, one healing year later, why I’m still single.