Power of single women

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This topic contains 6 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Reds10 11 months, 3 weeks ago.

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  • #1527

    Reds10
    Participant

    Just curious: Does anyone ever think about their singleness in terms of social and political power and also the messages we get about women/marriage despite what the data says about marriage trends? Just rewatched this video and it made me think…
    http://www.theatlantic.com/video/index/482058/america-epoch-of-single-women/?utm_source=atlfb

    I waffle between wanting a relationship and really only wanting his money so I can have a bigger apartment. Been reading a lot about solo women, and women in general, and it made me feel like there’s a lot of untapped creative energy in being single, and I’m recently finding myself trying to think of ways in which my lack of partner can be advantageous.

    I’m coming from a very Northeast point of view, so I’m curious about how other people see this. In my area, we have the highest average age for marriage and having kids, which may be contributing to my perspective. I’m personally acquainted with only a few couples who married in their 20s.

    #1528

    mariposa
    Participant

    Love this topic Reds10, and yes, I’ve been thinking about this a lot, especially recently. I remember seeing Rebecca Traister interviewed on a talk show here earlier this year and being so happy that people were talking about this. I haven’t had the chance to read her book but yet still very much want to.

    This was the interview, from back in April:

    http://www.thesocial.ca/Culture/TheSocialChapter/Why-unmarried-women-possess-a-whole-lot-of-power

    She talks about marriage trends from the beginning and the social/political power of single women at about the 6:00 mark. Seven months into the future, I found the ending hard to watch, although I still believe it to be true, I just think it’s just going to happen now in a different way.

    I share a similar experience to yours in that most of my friends got married in their late 20’s and early 30’s, and that’s pretty typical for where I live. And while I do very much want a relationship, I’m also relatively happy on my own, and sometimes I question how much of it is actually me wanting it vs. me buying into what society tells me is normal. I think it’s a bit of both, and it’s a strange dichotomy to try to live with. There are times when I’m definitely lonely and very much feel like something is missing, and other times when I’m pretty okay. I would love to be in a relationship, but I want it to be the right one with the right person, and we’re so lucky to live in a time where we have the luxury of being able to choose that. At the same time, I’ll be turning 36 in a few weeks and the pressure of the clock ticking is definitely weighing heavily on my mind. Despite our changing demographics, we’re still a very marriage and family focused culture and it’s hard not to fit into that. But I also really love that single women are providing an alternative path for girls to follow, and I’m proud to set that example for my nieces and for the kids I work with. I definitely agree that we have untapped potential as a group to really influence society as a whole, and it’s empowering to be able to be a part of that. There’s fulfillment in that too, just in a different way than what would come from getting married and having kids.

    I feel like I have way more to say about this but really need to get to bed! Thanks for starting such an interesting thread. I’ll definitely be back and I’m looking forward to hearing what others have to say.

    #1530

    Reds10
    Participant

    I love Traister’s book! Even though it was very factual with anecdotes and interviews, I found it pretty empowering and made me think about men I’ve dated or communicated with on sites/apps in the past who, in retrospect, really didn’t seem to like that I wasn’t willing to drop everything for them (um, because I have stuff to do?). I’ll watch the clip you posted soon.

    I’ve read a lot about occupying time when you’re single, but it’s always tinged with this notion of finding hobbies/activities with the intention of meeting someone. I wish the message was more “do these things because they’re worth doing, period.” There’s probably more fulfillment in that anyway, and on your point about fulfillment I think people forget that it doesn’t come in one package. And when you’re enthusiastic about anything, people notice, and they might not be enthusiastic about the same thing but it can be inspiring and push them toward something they want to get involved in. I love talking to younger people about that. There were a couple periods recently when I was feeling really low about being single, but I’m really lucky to have had a lot of new and awesome experiences this year and they’re a source of pride because I made them happen myself. Some solo trips and women’s political stuff, but not everything has to be about meeting a partner. And with those marriage trends being what they are, maybe that extra time and space we have in our lives will be the driving force behind a lot of change for the better.

    And this is me. Like every day:

    And while I do very much want a relationship, I’m also relatively happy on my own, and sometimes I question how much of it is actually me wanting it vs. me buying into what society tells me is normal.

    #1532

    Angel88
    Participant

    Thank you, reds10 for starting this thread and for sharing.
    It’s very fitting to where I am now. I have been looking at our social dynamics and I see a lot of things I had no idea about when my life revolved around being liked by some random guy because I wanted a relationship.
    I feel exactly how you feel: do I want a relationship because of social conditioning?
    I think most of us do somehow. We are humans and we want connection and stability, I think that’s true for most of us, but I do think there’s a lot of messages around us that contribute to how much weight we put on that.
    You’re right about untapped potential and I do agree with the author of the video in that there’s a lot of work to do to actually ensure that women thrive as individuals in society. I look forward to the day people choose a partner because they want to and not because of pressure and conditioning. I look forward to the day when we’re not asked why we’re single nor judged for it. I look forward to the day every individual regardless of gender is required to define themselves on their own terms and can be seen as a person and not a label or a bunch of expectations that are not fair.

    #1539

    mariposa
    Participant

    I’ve read a lot about occupying time when you’re single, but it’s always tinged with this notion of finding hobbies/activities with the intention of meeting someone. I wish the message was more “do these things because they’re worth doing, period.”

    That’s so true. I’m doing more things now for me rather than because they might lead me to a parter, and I’m finding it so freeing. It makes me realize how many of our day-to-day choices are based on the messages we get from society, and that often we’re not even all that aware of it. My mom is a feminist and I definitely wasn’t raised to see marriage as the only path to a successful life, but yet I’ve still bought into so much of this stuff. It really makes me think about the societal beliefs that we as women might be unconsciously contributing to, and how that impacts progress. But then I try to reconcile that with my personal desire for companionship, intimacy and all of the good that would come from having a partner to share my life with. How do you navigate those two things?

    And Angel88, I’m with you on looking forward to the day where all people have equal value and worth and where we are all free to define ourselves on our own terms. We’ve come a long way but we’ve still got a long way to go.

    #1541

    courtney550
    Participant

    I’d by lying if I didn’t admit that money was a factor in finding a partner. Don’t get me wrong, finding the right person is worth their weight in gold, but from a financial standpoint coupling up helps a lot. You don’t have to foot the home payment, internet, grocery bill, etc… all by yourself.

    Sometimes I think if I were single and a multi-millionaire, the “need” for a partner would be reduced. I’d move to an area that appeals to me, I’d buy and decorate a home to my liking, I’d take trips around the world and discover amazing things by myself. I’d give back to communities. I could literally pursue some of my long-held dreams.

    Can you do these things anyway while you’re single? Yes, but to a point within your financial limitations.

    #1557

    Reds10
    Participant

    I agree with you that mortgage payments and travel and the like are easier to deal with when two people are contributing to them, but I also think that the benefit can plateau. Grocery and utility bills go up when you add household members and square footage. Some things are absolutely more enjoyable with another person, but the extra money he or she contributes could very well be a wash unless that person is better off financially. There will always be an activity that’s cost prohibitive, regardless of relationship status.

    I just thought of an article I read once for a grad class that argues that the person in the relationship with more resources, financial and otherwise, holds more power in the relationship, and has more freedom to leave than the person who doesn’t. It was interesting and made me think harder about intentions because I’ve seen both sides play out, someone stays for the material benefits, another uses them as a control tactic.

    Personally, I’d like to see those power dynamics disappear and more mainstream examples of single women who work hard to make it on their own (and not just wealthy CEOs and the like), who are also genuinely happy. I’m certain they exist. There’s still more social pressure to partner up than pressure to recognize the economic and political reality that being single is far from disastrous. The basic biological/evolutionary urge to find a partner will still be a common experience for most people, but hopefully the stigma of being alone will erode.

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