“There’s nothing wrong with that.” That’s what people tell me when they realize I’m single at 44. Yeah, I know there’s nothing wrong with being single at 44. But do they really believe it, or are they trying to give me a platitude that they think will make me feel better about something I’m already OK with?
Why do people have such a hard time believing that a person can be single and happy? Why is our society so prejudiced against single people?
Here are some of the things that people automatically assume about people that are single over 40:
- There’s something wrong with them (picky, difficult, desperate).
- They’re players.
- They’re gay and closeted.
- They don’t want kids.
- They’re commitment-phobic.
- They don’t have room in their life for more than a career.
None of the above describe me. Yet people continue to make these assumptions. By the way, all of those things are actually OK, they’re just not true for me.
Tonight I told my sister and mother that I was going to cancel all my online dating subscriptions. The reaction was almost as though I told them I was giving up on life. I decided I wasn’t going to accept that reaction.
I asked them “Do I seem unhappy to you?” Of course, the response was no, but they wanted me to find love because… Except there really wasn’t a reason why. I know they don’t really think there’s anything wrong with me. I know they know I’m happy. I know they know I live a full life. Even with all that, they can’t seem to wrap their heads around that it’s perfectly OK and normal for me to be single.
Society (at least in the US, I can’t speak for elsewhere) is based on the premise that the nuclear family is ideal. Anything outside of that and you’re essentially punished in one way or another. Oh, and it’s not because singles are some tiny minority – about 49% of people are unmarried.
Singles over 40 get treated differently. I still sometimes get treated like I’m only part of my nuclear family that I haven’t lived with in nearly 15 years. What I mean is that I get invited to extended family events usually through my parents, if at all.
Did you know that when making restaurant reservations, you often can’t make a reservation for one? If you want to buy a travel package and travel alone, there are often singles supplements you have to pay in order to have your own room. Things come to you addressed to your “family.” These are just a few examples, and they’re not okay.
So, do me a favor. Market things to me other than dating sites. Don’t assume any of the things noted above. Don’t penalize me for not fitting your societal “norm.” Treat me like a valuable human being in my own right.
Believe that I am, because I do.