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Are We Single Because We’re Different?

Last night, I participated in the annual ritual of the Seder (meaning “order”), during which Jews around the world are obliged to re-tell one of the greatest liberation stories ever told. There were 24 guests at the lively dinner I was invited to, 8 of whom were teenaged or younger, along with their parents, and a set of grandparents. I was the only unmarried adult in the room. I’ve been in this situation many times, but it still pierces my heart, as I look around at lives that look similar to mine, but, in so many ways, are not. Intrinsic to the Seder is the asking of questions. So I’ll throw one into the mix: Are we single because we’re different, or different because we’re single?

Image: Grosse Dame, 2007, by Christoph Ruckhäberle


4 comments for “Are We Single Because We’re Different?”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Wendy Braitman. Wendy Braitman said: Are We Single Because We’re Different?: Last night, I participated in the annual ritual of the Seder (meaning “ord… http://bit.ly/cle4aP […]

  2. Petra says:

    Wendy, I think it’s a mix of both and singletons aren’t a monolith. I AM different and always have been (and when I was a little kid, I always told my parents that I was never getting married–to their credit, I was never pressured to get married, either). But some of my married friends are also clearly different (we unconventional types tend to attract each other!)

    Then again, merely being single in a world that is still uncomfortable with people who live outside the standard issue (heterosexual) married “box” makes one different, like membership in any of the other “other” categories. It comes with the territory, I suppose. This will change, slowly, because that standard issue box just isn’t the way people live for their entire lives now.

    That said, my idea of forever is being present at a dinner party where all of the other guests are married couples–NOT because I feel self-conscious, but because the conversation is so deadly dull (and I am looking for the earliest possible time to leave without seeming like I’m pulling and eat-and-run. Such a gathering needs to be tempered with a few single people, attached or unattached gays/lesbians, and perhaps the odd married person who has the gumption to attend sans spouse.

  3. Jen says:

    When I was young I imagined owning a house of my own. I spent a lot of time fantasizing about the details of this small house, there was a spiral staircase and a small library and a beautiful view from the master bedroom upstairs. I thought, What is enough for me to live my whole life with and feel safe and satisfied? In my case, this home did not have any permanent residents besides me, although I always imagined lots of people coming over.

    I see now that this fantasy came out of my experiences growing up and, perhaps, my particular personality. I remember my friend Juliet, in seventh grade, writing her first name in a notebook along with the last names of various boys she liked to see how they looked together. I thought she was nuts. But I wonder, now, if I’d felt inclined to do that, if I’d be married.

    So, yes, I am a little different. Because I think my childhood fantasy was probably out-of-sync with what most girls my age were thinking about. And maybe that’s because my life experience has been different. But it’s hard to tell for sure.

    Being a post 40-year-old woman and still single in our culture makes you feel different whether you are or not. (And potentially bad about yourself, as though you’re not good enough or weird.) I don’t think we’re different in the ways that really count, however, certainly not when it comes to dinner conversation or what gives us pleasure or our personal ethics. It’s my hope that the culture will grow to include us so that one day single people (and especially women) will not have to ask themselves if there’s something different about them just because they’re single.

  4. Winegoddesstx says:

    I ask myself this question all the time. More and more I begin to believe I’m not that different after all. I seem to keep meeting more women over 40 and never married. Maybe it is because we gravitate to the same sets of friends (married or otherwise)and career fields. At our age, most of my friends are beyond the need to have even numbers of people at their dinner parties or be bothered by having one single person there. I’ve even travelled with some couples to Europe – and had a blast. I think the only time I get bored is when an entire evening’s conversation revolves around the children. I realize the kids are the biggest part of my friend’s lives at this time – I just don’t have anything to contribute in the conversation.
    Years ago when I was giving online daating a try, I took eharmony’s personlity test. The results said my chances of finding the right person were very minimal, something like 5-10% – very disconcerting since I live in a city of 5 million plus. So far, the damn test has been right!

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