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Monday, August 18, 2014

SL Letter of the Day: Judgment Daze

Posted by on Mon, Aug 18, 2014 at 6:05 PM

I'm a 47-year-old heterosexual male, never married, no kids, and single for many years now. I've always appreciated your statements on the podcast that there isn't someone for everyone. I also agree with your statement it's impossible to give the undateable useful dating advice, and I'm not asking for such advice here.

I've never wanted kids, and over the last few years I've made peace with the fact I've been alone a long time, and will likely be alone for many more years. I have a good job, I have friends, hobbies, I go out and enjoy myself. I recognize my life is pretty good, and I'm grateful for what I have. I'm not shutting the door completely on love, but I'm working on not beating myself up over not being partnered.

So what's the problem? The opinion of everyone else in the world.

It comes across in many ways. A co-worker gets married, then has a child, and everyone talks how this is achievement—like marriage and children are items you accumulate. Someone mutters "He's X years old and unmarried—is he gay or a serial killer?" I was listening to another popular podcast where the host and guest discussed how many times they'd both been married and then the host suggests if you're over 40 and have never been married "something is wrong with you!" Well, I'm far from perfect but I see nothing wrong with me that isn't wrong with married folks with kids. My personal pet peeve is people who tell me I just haven't grown up. Excuse me? I'm a child because I don't have kids? I can give myself all the pep talks in the mirror, but society keeps telling me that being old and single indicates some horrific personality flaw that wipes out any positive qualities. I get it: People judge. We all judge. It's human nature. But having the value of my entire existence boiled down to whether I have a romantic partner or offspring just sticks in my craw.

My question then is simple: Is this constant feeling of being judged just something I have to live with? Do you have some thought or insight on this?

Single Not A Psycho

My response after the jump...

••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

There isn't someone for everyone—I've been saying that for years (much to the consternation of some readers (mostly partnered ones (it's always the partnered who seem most invested in seeing others live in false hope)))—so single people are well advised to build lives for themselves that are rich and rewarding (meaningful work, good friends, hobbies) whether or not they expect to remain single all their lives.

Because, hey, there's a chance you might be single all your life. And even if you happen to be partnered now—and forgive me for being morbid—there's a 50 percent chance that you'll outlive your partner. Your partner could die decades from now or your partner could be dead right now and the authorities haven't been able to reach you yet. Since the odds are good that you're going to wind up single again at some point... you're going to want that rich and rewarding shit to fall back on, right?

Okay, SNAP, you have a good job, you have plenty of friends, and you have hobbies and activities you enjoy—it sounds like you're doing everything right. The only missing piece is the ability tune out the unfair, harsh, irrelevant, and sometimes imagined judgement of others. It might help to bear in mind that partnered people and parents come in for their (un)fair share of judgment and disapproval. The same coworkers who were cooing approvingly over your married colleague's first child will turn around and judge your coworker for vaccinating that kid or failing to vaccinate that kid; for letting that kid to eat too much junk food or for giving that kid food issues by limiting that kid's junk food consumption; for homeschooling that kid or for not homeschooling that kid; for raising that kid in the wrong faith or for not raising that kid in any faith at all.

And I gotta say... unless those expressions of delight at the birth of a coworkers child come bundled with shitty comments about you being single and childless, SNAP, your coworkers weren't judging you. Those comments weren't about you and there's no reason to make them about you—unless you enjoy making yourself miserable.

As for anyone who would tell that you haven't grown up or that being single and middle aged makes you a creep or a serial killer... fuck those people. Don't listen to them. If I can tune out the millions of motherfuckers out there who tell me that I'm sick and sinful and perverse and unnatural and "intrinsically disordered" for being gay, SNAP, you can tune out the odd idiot podcaster or boundaryless asshole who tries to make you feel shitty about being alone.

Finally, SNAP, I think you should read these two recent-ish books: Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After by Bella DePaulo and Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone by Eric Klinenberg. DePaulo and Klinenberg will show you that you're not alone in being alone and they'll arm you with arguments you can use against anyone who tries to make you feel shitty about being alone.

Good luck.

 

Comments (75) RSS

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venomlash 1
You don't want to have kids. I don't want to socialize. We're all mad here. Join the club.
Posted by venomlash on August 18, 2014 at 6:31 PM · Report this
sanguisuga 2
Not to belittle your experience, but it's ten times worse for the single and childless woman. I don't know how many judgements I've endured. Oh, there's definitely something sick and twisted about a woman that doesn't want to go through the 'miracle' of childbirth... Whereas for me, I've always viewed the idea of something growing inside me as a parasite, rather like the incubating Alien. No fucking thank you. Yeah, tell people that, and watch them turn all kinds of shades of pale.
Posted by sanguisuga on August 18, 2014 at 6:34 PM · Report this
3
I'm 57 straight, never been married and unlikely ever to be. I wasted years beating myself up over this. Don't. You are probably judging yourself more than anyone is judging you, because we are all self-absorbed. Be comfortable with who you are, live with the choices you've made and get realize that the times you are lonely are fewer than the times you are glad no one is around bugging you;>
Posted by martinmc on August 18, 2014 at 6:35 PM · Report this
nocutename 4
Fuck 'em. Show them this:
http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2014…

I love my kids; I'm glad I had them, glad I'm a mom. But it's not my place to judge anyone for the decisions they make and I think it's far better to not have had kids and be happy with it than to have had kids and been miserable, or, far worse, to have had kids whose lives you made miserable.

Posted by nocutename on August 18, 2014 at 6:59 PM · Report this
Sea Otter 5
unless those expressions of delight at the birth of a coworkers child come bundled with shitty comments about you being single and childless, SNAP, your coworkers weren't judging you.


Well, I mean, his coworkers aren't going to say outright nasty things about his singledom, particularly to his face, unless they're exceptionally horrible people. I do think the fact that we value marriage and kids as achievements, often over other kinds of achievements, does very much come "bundled" with the assumption that being single and childless makes you somehow inferior.

As a 34-year-old, never-married, childless woman, I get people asking me all the time why I'm single. I get well-intentioned but aggravating speeches about how someone will come along if I just work on myself (which is strange, because I see people all the time who are clearly dysfunctional and yet have found partners). I hear casual comments about other people like, "he's such a good guy, I don't understand why he doesn't have a girlfriend," as if having a girlfriend is the expected natural outcome of his being a good guy. No one ever outright says that there must be something wrong with me because I haven't found a partner, but it's often strongly implied.

That said, thank you, Dan, for your advice to SNAP, and for your past rejection of the bullshit platitudes that single people hear all the time. It makes me feel better, and hopefully does a bit to change people's attitudes.
Posted by Sea Otter on August 18, 2014 at 7:22 PM · Report this
6

I'm a 43 year-old virgin and a complete, total, train-wreck failure at building any kind of career or life. I grew up to be the "Local Creep" of my small Midwestern town. I can't image any woman except maybe a very desperate prostitute ever letting me touch her.

However, whatever anyone might say about me, I can say this: Over the decades I've taken a lot of the same shit as SNAP, and, IN EVERY SINGLE CASE, the trash giving me that shit were 1) In marriages that were miserable, 2) closet cases, or 3) Eventually outed as child sex abusers.

Every. Single. Case.
Posted by Just Another Snake Cult on August 18, 2014 at 7:28 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 7
I've never understood the attitude that someone who hasn't married by some arbitrary age, or at all, has something "wrong" with them. I look askance at people who marry under 30 or, egads, under 20. Marriage is a serious commitment that people would do well not to take lightly.

And it's funny to me, this idea that marriage is an important Life Achievement, but then it's entered into so cavalierly by so many people.
Posted by keshmeshi on August 18, 2014 at 7:36 PM · Report this
8
Fuck those people, SNAP. I've got a partner and kids, and that's good for me, but different strokes, man. Anyway, anyone with kids should be thanking those who don't reproduce. We have enough people, and your existence, if anything, does a little to balance out the damage I'm doing to the planet by procreating.
Posted by Park on August 18, 2014 at 7:38 PM · Report this
9
I am overall happy being in a long term relationship. The only person I have judged in the past was a friend who had an impossibly long list of non-negotiable attributes she required from a partner - including a stipulation that they did not have a foreskin. She is in her 50s and still single.

However, I have to say, being in a long term relationship means that there are days when you definitely wish you were fucking single and didn't have to pick up crap, organise this, cook that and all the million things you do for your partner - not all of them appreciated. Swings and roundabouts.
Posted by JJinAus on August 18, 2014 at 7:47 PM · Report this
jadajuice 10
yeah, what #5 said. I will add - just because you have never been married does not mean you were never asked. I've often wondered if the 4 times married woman ever thought she could say no.
Posted by jadajuice on August 18, 2014 at 7:54 PM · Report this
JunieGirl 11
As far as dysfunctional people who find LT partners, it reminds me of what my first boss used to say: "There's an ass for every bench." But when it comes to actually being in a LTR, my favorite quote is one from my old pastor: "Marriage is like a bird cage. Those on the outside want in, and those on the inside want out."

The only advice I have for the LW is that even if someone temporarily sounds judgemental, it passes. They are far too absorbed with their own concerns to really think much about your 'issues.'
Posted by JunieGirl on August 18, 2014 at 8:40 PM · Report this
12
There's also a situational component to it - you're much more likely to encountered this attitude outside the center of a big city. I never caught so much grief for being single, and so uniformly, until I moved to Tacoma.
Posted by spacedneedle on August 18, 2014 at 8:41 PM · Report this
13
I have heard so may tales of regret from the married and several times married, and many of the parents I've known as well.

Good company or no company I say.
Posted by SifuMark on August 18, 2014 at 8:53 PM · Report this
14
Hoping not to bring out the Catholic priest analogies..
Buddhist Sangha, those who follow celibacy etc, some of these men and women are amazing. Some of the Tibetans, who I have had as teachers over my 30 yrs as a Buddhist, they are people of exceptional Human qualities. And some of the Western Sangha also.
When I lived in a Buddhist community, with my slightly easily made hysterical husband, and 4 children under 8, I'd see these serene people and just want to be in their lives. My life, frankly, felt like a hell realm.
Now. Husband gone. Surviving children grown. (One of my children, died, aged 31, ten yrs ago. Another hell realm to go thru, that grief.) Oh, how I love my life, now. Go to bed and I can read and turn the light out when I want, no days issues to have to hear about, or
Relationship problems to be sorted etc. I plan my activities and outings and enjoy. Feel constantly stimulated by the world, doing my Art work, talking- being online etc. love it. Do not miss having a partner.
Children, been my life's work- had way too many. Love them dearly. But, they get with their own story...
LW. If you feel content and happy and fulfilled, be thankful.

Posted by LavaGirl on August 18, 2014 at 9:17 PM · Report this
Alanmt 15
Ignore what you can't control. But one thing you can control is your response to people who say shitty things to you. I don't care if it's your mother, your co-worker, or your best friend, when he or she says something obnoxious like insisting you haven't grown up yet or there is something wrong with you, you look them in the eyes and you ask them "Do you realize how rude and inappropriate that [statement/question] is?" And you stare at them expectantly. If they apologize, sincerely and immediately, then carry on. If they react in any other way whatsoever, you shut down the conversation and go, even if you have to leave their house or a restaurant or close a door in their face.

Be less embarrassed and more angry. You set the boundaries of what you will tolerate. And stick to them.
Posted by Alanmt on August 18, 2014 at 9:18 PM · Report this
wilbur@work 16
As a happily married guy with no kids (and definitive plans NOT to), just wanted to say I appreciate all these excellent strategies and responses to the LW.

Heard the shocked "why not??" challenge to our decision too many times to count (combined with the Eyes of Judgement), and it's probably long past time to lazily BS them rather than just responding with "because we have free will. do you?"
Posted by wilbur@work on August 18, 2014 at 10:04 PM · Report this
lauramae 17
I'm convinced that some people are motivated to comment on your status because the old adage "misery loves company" applies. They have made a decision to be partnered, or be parents and see your unfettered life as a threat to their sense of security for reasons that probably make no sense.

I was 32 when I got married---and 40 when I got divorced. When it was good, it was lovely to have that sort of relationship. Towards the end, I never felt more alone.

You said you had friends, had a good life and that you were happy. That's great! Enjoy it! Look for someone if that's what you want. Get married if that's what does it for you.

People are nosy and concentrating on your perceived problems serves as a distraction from worrying about their own stuff.
Posted by lauramae on August 18, 2014 at 10:43 PM · Report this
McBomber 18
Reflecting @16, happily married, but deliberately childless. Before we finalized that decision, I worried that by not having kids, I might miss out on a particular life experience. Thing is, NOT having kids is also a particular life experience. We're not missing out on anything, just choosing a different adventure. Same goes for being single.
Posted by McBomber on August 18, 2014 at 10:45 PM · Report this
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Sandiai 20
If a person is being rude by asking me why I don't have kids (say a co-worker asking in a judgemental way), I feign sadness, and say something like, "I've always wanted kids, I just am not biologically able to get pregnant." They often will respond with suprise and horror, like "gosh I hadn't thought of that."

Well, rude person: We don't know what a person's story is, so stop asking such personal sensitive questions in a judgemental way.
Posted by Sandiai on August 18, 2014 at 11:31 PM · Report this
21
This is just another instance where its best to ignore the judgments of others about stuff that ain't their business.

It really is analogous to Mr. Savage shrugging off homophobic bullshit. Why give those who aggressively violate the golden rule any credence, weight, or significance?

@2 Not wanting children is entirely legitimate. My views on ignoring those who stick their nose in the personal business of others applies to you in this instance. However, I don't like your assumption that for women it is ten times worse than for men. Who has the right to measure pain, and make absolute judgments like that? Certainly not you. So I shall return your presumptuousness with some of my own: you're a fucking bitch.
Posted by Functional Atheist on August 18, 2014 at 11:45 PM · Report this
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Registered European 27
LW, I (male) am about your age and happily single and childless. I never noticed any judgments of others about that. I am also far from the only single childless male in my circles.

I do think that @2 is right that single childless women get judged more harshly than men. I think men are considered something like endearing "man-children" who never grew up, whie single childless women are considered sad failures.
Posted by Registered European on August 19, 2014 at 12:20 AM · Report this
28
@tell_darwin, your comments do not actually make sense. They are incoherent ramblings. I can somewhat grasp from them that something has upset you, but it is not in the slightest bit clear. That is actually pretty worrisome. I strongly suggest you see both a doctor and a therapist. You may be suffering from some form of health problem. Best not to take chances.
Posted by uncreative on August 19, 2014 at 12:45 AM · Report this
Eva Hopkins 29
IDK how it is for men, because I'm not a man, but as a woman - yeah. Much much judgement if you choose to not have children. Won't say more or less, but it sucks. I get that conversation right out of the way, both with friends & prospective partners, right away. Nope, not havin' kids. Why yes, I have big birthin' hips. Let's move along.

I've always thought that we'd all be so much happier if people just accepted our families / households as we choose them to be, or accept them to be. Triad, couple, single, many relatives - whoever you want under your roof & in your bed, or not = your business, & we should recognize all forms of that as equally valid. :) Solitary doesn't mean sad; alone is not the same as lonely.

Whether I'm partnered or single I tend to spend a lot of time exploring places on my own, including sometimes sitting & buying myself a meal somewhere or a cuppa coffee, etc. & the *awkwardness* of some servers / managers when seating a single person, takin' themselves out. it's sad. I usually go at off-peak times when I decide to do this & bring a book to make it easier on 'em - & me.

There was one deli I loved in upstate NY, had my favorite salad & iced coffee drink & cute tattooed servers. Over time, I was able to gently sway the various hosts/hostesses to say, "One today?" or "table for one?" as opposed to "Just one today?", with there always being this sad kinda emphasis on the "just". ;) sometimes when we live alone, part of the experience of going out to eat is socializing a little with others at a minimum safe distance. A small thing, but some days it kinda made my afternoon.

Dan gives good advice, SNAP, for anyone. LBGTTQ etc, hetero, partnered, single, triaded, etc. Live a good full life. Haters to the right as you walk on by them. If you've never seen Downton Abby, go look up the Dowager Countess & practice giving people that down-the-nose stare when they ask you inappropriate stuff or proffer their non-asked-for judgements on your life. Or, feel free to regale them with tales of sleeping in, or a fine bottle of wine, or some other awesome thing you did recently. IDK. Work on letting it bother you less. Life is short!

& speaking of that..Dan..wow, are you ever a product of your Catholic upbringing! We share that early Catholic morbidity thing. Lots of death on the mind.
More...
Posted by Eva Hopkins http://www.lunamusestudios.com on August 19, 2014 at 12:50 AM · Report this
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33
Eva @29; it's not just the Catholics. Buddhist say you should carry death on your shoulder, cause it can come at any time.
Life is precious..
Posted by LavaGirl on August 19, 2014 at 1:26 AM · Report this
34
SNAP might want to look at getting involved with his local Child-Free group (or starting one). There are lots of us (married & single) who know we don't want kids, not now, not ever and there are some great groups that get together to socialize, do fun stuff, and some even get involved with charities. Being around accepting, like-minded people does help balance out the crap from judgmental people.

Keep in mind SNAP this little mantra: Whatever you do, someone is going to think you're doing the wrong thing. Fuck 'em, live your happy life and leave them to their misery.
Posted by NoKidding on August 19, 2014 at 4:47 AM · Report this
35
#1. I'm the same. Really don't like socializing much anymore. Not a big fan of people in general. Nobody seems to get that being alone isn't equivalent to being lonely.

I think that people who make passive-aggressive comments about single and/or childless people might be jealous. Single, childless people often have more disposable income (if we're lucky), take more vacations, and enjoy more adult entertainment (i.e., better restaurants, films, museums, etc.). We tend to have more interesting and fun accounts of our weekends and vacations because they're not "family focused." Even those families who do take exotic vacations argue with each other, monitor fighting children, and generally spending the entire time surrounded by noise, stress, and resentment. We date; we have more sexual adventures; we can sleep in on the weekends; we can be more spontaneous.

When everyone's sharing what they did over the weekend or during Christmas vacation, I think they might secretly resent us. So they "fight back" by trying to convince themselves that we're miserable. Or maybe they think we're bragging.
Posted by jade on August 19, 2014 at 5:28 AM · Report this
sanguisuga 36
@21 Do kindly fuck off. I presume because I've been there. I have had it said to my face that not wanting children makes me dysfunctional and broken. "You're a female, you have a womb. Put it to use." Actual fucking quote, dickhead. You think any man has had to deal with that shit?
Posted by sanguisuga on August 19, 2014 at 6:57 AM · Report this
sanguisuga 37
And @27 - Thank you.
Posted by sanguisuga on August 19, 2014 at 7:01 AM · Report this
38
Ms Hopkins - You remind me of how much I wish someone would film Mr Keenan's novels, although perhaps not until the work would have a retro feel (like Jeeves & Wooster, given how Wodehousian the plots are).

My equivalent to the Dowager Countess look comes, as I've mentioned before, from Putting on the Ritz, when Claire Simmons, with a scornful stare, declines a grateful offer of a job from someone she'd only coincidentally saved from ruin...

"and she couldn't have done better if she'd been packing a lorgnette."
Posted by vennominon on August 19, 2014 at 7:04 AM · Report this
Fortunate 39
As Dan said, try being gay and having to ignore all the horrible shit people who don't even know you say about you.

I am partnered for almost 20 years, but we have no desire for children. It's a no win situation. Half the time we hear "why don't you want kids. Aren't you going to have kids? You can adopt you know?", and the other half "If you're gay you should have kids. It's evil for gay people to have kids."

The people who think I should have kids don't get that I just have zero desire for them. Having kids may be great for them (although clearly not always), but just because they find it fulfilling doesn't mean I would. When people tell me that having kids IS the most fulfilling thing, and that it IS the only thing that really gives life meaning I actually now feel sorry for them. I'm sure it's fulfilling for many, but the insistence that it must be the most fulfilling thing for everyone sounds more like people desperately trying to convince themselves.

I have no doubt I would be miserable if I had kids. Just as I know people who I know would be miserable if they were married. Some people just aren't parents, and some people are just happier single. I know many life long single people and none of them are broken or damaged. They are wonderful, intelligent, active people who for what ever reason either chose to be single or just never met the person they could see themselves with. But they all have great lives because they basically did what Dan said and built great lives for themselves.

I know more than a few married people, and people with kids who have told me "If I could go back and do it over I wouldn't..."

People just need to learn to mind their own freaking business and not project their crap onto other people.
More...
Posted by Fortunate on August 19, 2014 at 7:43 AM · Report this
40
To the Letter Writer: people can be shits. People who are shits are usually jealous shits. Sure, technically they are judging you. You should look at it this way, though, they survey your easy, fulfilling life and it KILLS THEM. How dare you do what you want? How dare your life show theirs up for the train wreck it is?

As an unmarried woman in my 30s, the shit I endured wasn't exactly like yours, but constant judgement is hard, I know. However, I wasn't strong enough to withstand it and when I fell in love, I, ugh, got married. I love him, yeah, and there are some perks to being married, but if I could time travel back to my younger self, I would tell her what I am saying to you. You are unburdened and fulfilled, you don't need to be like everyone else just to make them SHUT THE FUCK UP. Be strong and do your own thing.

Take the advice of some of the above commentators and hey, be creative. Tell a different story to everyone who dares comment to your face. Not in relationship because: 1) military accident (meaningful gaze) 2) love of my life killed by speeding train 3) family trust fund forbids marriage/LTR 4) secret ambition to join a religious order 5) thinking about a sex change 6) already fathered six kids for infertile friends. Have fun with it. Keep 'em confused. Imagine the fun.
Posted by Bugnroolet on August 19, 2014 at 7:50 AM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 41
Firstly, pity the poor child that would have had me for a parent. I just would not have been a good parent and realized that early on. Children deserve better. Secondly, I get the distinct impression that, though they love their children, many hate and resent them at the same time. And lastly, I never gave a shit what others thought. People are generally shallow and self absorbed and are conditioned to believe nonsense.
Posted by Pope Peabrain on August 19, 2014 at 7:51 AM · Report this
42
@9 I wonder if she had such a long list of requirements because she thought saying "no one has yet met my standards" would garner less judgement than "I like being single"

There's an extent to which people understand "I haven't yet met the right person but I totally want the same things you want in life" better than "we have completely different wants and values, but that doesn't mean I'm criticizing your life choices"
Posted by tal on August 19, 2014 at 8:09 AM · Report this
In2ishn 43
We are happily childless after many decades together. When people ask me why I don't have kids my standard answer is a gently offered "Why not?"
Posted by In2ishn on August 19, 2014 at 8:15 AM · Report this
44
Yes, it is worse for women. Fucking atheist is just living up to the profanity in his name. And yes, you can quantify pain. Sorry, but my neck pain from having bad posture ain't worse than Ebola. What a dick. It's obviously worse for women, and he is being intentionally myopic and self involved. And I say that as someone who's never had to deal with anything like that. But I see every single woman bet asked constantly "when are you going to have kids?" Married or otherwise.
Posted by joeyjackson44 on August 19, 2014 at 8:22 AM · Report this
who cares what I call myself 45
After worrying way too much for much too long about what other people think about me or my choices, I found something that helps a lot. Just repeat to yourself ..... it is none of my business what other people think about me.
Posted by who cares what I call myself on August 19, 2014 at 9:15 AM · Report this
Fortunate 46
@41, " I get the distinct impression that, though they love their children, many hate and resent them at the same time."

Not only that but I have also observed that despite parents who get divorced always telling their children "It has nothing to do with you", some times (more often than people would like to admit) it is about the children. My own sister ended up divorcing her husband over disagreements on how to handle their kids. They never thought to discuss exactly how to raise their kids before they got married. Certainly not things like what rules they may impose on their daughter when she starts dating as opposed to their son and things like that, and how they would address various behavioral issues with their kids.

When the time came they found they were on very different pages.

Children can cause a lot of stress, they demand a lot of time that take a couple's attention away from each other. When you have a kid you can't be each other's main concern any longer and some relationships just can't survive that, although very few people will openly admit it.
Posted by Fortunate on August 19, 2014 at 9:27 AM · Report this
47
People are judgmental assholes about everything.

If you're single, they ask why. If you're married, they ask when you'll have kids. After you have kids, you get asked when you're going to buy a house. If you're the woman in a hetero marriage, you'll get asked why you're not staying home with the kids and be told how terrible daycare is. If you don't want to use a daycare center because of germs, you'll get told that exposure to germs is good for the kid. You'll get judged about vaccinations. Then once people stop judging your kid choices, they'll judge your marriage itself ...

Point is, people are judgmental because they're jerks and if you are happy with your life, fuck everyone else.
Posted by J from Oregon on August 19, 2014 at 9:43 AM · Report this
lyanth 48
As a single late 20-something woman, I want to thank @2, @29, @40, and anyone else in the comments I missed for sharing your life experiences and points of view. I hear you!

I have NEVER had the urge to bear children, much as @2 said. At this age, I get asked if I have children, and then told that I will change my mind one day, most likely when I /have/ them. Cool beans random stranger, I'll keep it in mind.

But knowing that even though I've been single for over a year and only foresee that continuing, it isn't the end of my life. I'm doing what makes me happy, and thus far that seems to be working out okay.

And the beauty of it all is I reserve the right to change my mind and life at any time because OH YEAH it's MY LIFE. Everyone else can just deal.
Posted by lyanth http://www.marietietje.com on August 19, 2014 at 9:58 AM · Report this
49
Whatever. Why does so much of our social discourse these days boil down to some variation on the theme: "I'm OK with myself. And I want everyone to be OK with me being OK about myself." This pattern of thought, encouraged in Western society for several centuries now, is in fact our deepest flaw. It is time for everyone to take a fresh look at the Renaissance-era insistence on glorification of the individual and give some thought to putting the collective first. This does not necessarily mean marriage. But it does necessarily mean utterly selfless and total commitment to the welfare of someone else -- not yourself. Ultimately, the only true path to the good life for the individual is complete commitment to the good life of others. Anything else is, at its human core, cold and lonely. Until we come to terms with that reality, we will remain frozen in our self-centered world of illusion.
Posted by realnowhereman on August 19, 2014 at 10:00 AM · Report this
50
What bugs me is that people assume that because I'm not married at 40, I'll never get married. I've never understood this. Who's to say I won't decide I really want to get married when I'm 50 or 60?

In my former homeland, this judgment is much worse, which I why I escaped.
Posted by Escapee from S. Idaho on August 19, 2014 at 10:16 AM · Report this
Registered European 51
@50
What bugs me is that people assume that because I'm not married at 40, I'll never get married. I've never understood this. Who's to say I won't decide I really want to get married when I'm 50 or 60?

Presumably, the thinking is that someone who is 40 and never married or single for a long time is "damaged goods" and won't be able to find someone if they wanted.
I can't speak for anyone else, but I will admit that anyone judging me as "damaged goods" as far as romantic relationships go is most probably right. But I prefer being single, so I don't have a problem with that.
Posted by Registered European on August 19, 2014 at 11:09 AM · Report this
52
The commenters who're coming from similar situations, both men and women: I hope your stories help SNAP see he's not the only one. He sounds like an individual who's really trying his best in a world that can be pretty nasty, at times. And at some level it sounds like he might have internalized the messages from the outside that getting married/having kids is "what people do".

But I would add this. SNAP says he hasn't "closed the door on romance" just yet, but in the opening statement, he agrees "with [Dan's] statement it's impossible to give the undateable useful dating advice, and I'm not asking for such advice here."

It sounds like the LW himself thinks he's 'undateable'. If SNAP reads this comment, I encourage him to think about why he thinks this. Is it something somebody said? Or multiple somebodies? Just a general feeling? Is it the result of trying to date, and not finding anybody? Once you place your finger on what's causing the feeling it's easier to unpack it.

And regardless of why he feels like this, it's self-defeating; SNAP's a lot less likely to find someone if he thinks himself unworthy of a relationship. I'm not saying that SNAP should improve his self-esteem just to get partnered off, but because he'll be happier whether he's dating or not. And it'll give him a resource of strength when those little, thoughtless comments cross his path that he presently finds so hurtful.
Posted by rowing@dawn on August 19, 2014 at 12:13 PM · Report this
53
@52, very true. Whenever those sorts of Poor Me , thoughts start creeping into my head, I just move em along. How we feel about ourselves, what out thoughts are about our situation, is picked up by others and that's what often is reflected back..
And RE at 51, your comments I've read here, have always seemed clear and measured. And, how many people , really, are not in some way "damaged goods." The beauty really, of our shared humanity.
Relationships and having children take and are work. People choose to do that work, find out several yrs in- that it is life long work( esp with kids). Daily work. Weekend work. Looking after other peoples needs work.. It is not some romantic adventure. That's just the first bit.. To suck you in. Cute little baby. Then it cries and gets teeth or won't sleep .. But of course, many benefits too. Somewhere.

Posted by LavaGirl on August 19, 2014 at 1:27 PM · Report this
Lance Thrustwell 54
I admire people who are really okay about not having kids, and I often envy them. Not because I don't love my kids - because I love them too much. I sometimes have cold-sweat nightmares about them getting hurt or worse. If I had just myself - or just myself and a spouse - to worry about, I think I'd be a lot more carefree. Too late now...
Posted by Lance Thrustwell on August 19, 2014 at 1:47 PM · Report this
55
"When people tell me that having kids IS the most fulfilling thing, and that it IS the only thing that really gives life meaning I actually now feel sorry for them."

@39

Me too! Immediately makes me realize how sad their lives have been. If the only way you can "make meaning" in your life is to shit out a tiny mini-me, what a pathetic existence you have. I find it humorous tho when they go on about all the "meaning" they get from parenting but don't realize they're actually embarrassing themselves in doing so. Heh, heh - keep talking, parent, it's actually entertainingly sad-funny for me.
Posted by Confluence on August 19, 2014 at 1:50 PM · Report this
56
@49 >>the only true path to the good life for the individual is complete commitment to the good life of others.>>

Unfortunately humans suck at fulfilling other people's needs without screwing up. Even raising children, where all you have to provide is stability, people almost always screw it up. So, personally I approve of the cultural notion that we make ourselves happy, as long as we avoid hurting other people in the process.

Posted by EricaP on August 19, 2014 at 4:59 PM · Report this
57
That said, if the LW's pet peeve is when people tell him he's a child, he might consider whether he'd be happier if he got more involved in giving back to the community. Getting defensive is sometimes a signal that we aren't being true to our own values.

Posted by EricaP on August 19, 2014 at 5:05 PM · Report this
strangebride 58
You know, I'm married and pregnant, and I always tell people that there isn't a "soulmate" and that one can have a very fulfilling existence it without kids. I was very happy before I met my husband, and I am still very happy, I'm just happy in a different way. Everyone has life choices that they make, and the choices that are right for me, i.e. husband and kids, are not the choices that are right for everyone else. As a matter fact, I never really envisioned myself as a mother before I even met my husband, so until five years ago I was pretty certain I would be single and childless, and that made me perfectly content. Don't let those assholes get you down, they're just judgmental and dicks.
Posted by strangebride http://strangebride.wordpress.com on August 19, 2014 at 5:07 PM · Report this
59
next time they "suggest" you're a serial killer, ask them how they sell your name so you can "add it to the list", then wink and walk away. If they say you're gay, then tell her "you should hear what he says about you when we're 'together'."

Turn that hit around on them.
I'm currently forced to live with my sister (disability) and an ex died a few years back, before this situation. She dissed me right in front of the late ex's sister "OMG! You haven't gone out since middle school!" The sister and I exchanged confused looks, then she threw away a semi-freshly lit cigarette and excused herself to go back inside. To top it off, my sister insisted on driving me home, then went on about "we need to be closer together!" I got out of her car and slammed the door and didn't hear from her for several weeks after.

She apparently thinks I sit on my asexual ass all day for the last twenty-odd years and probably still a virgin. I guess it beats the alternative work gossip that I'm a bigger manwhore than Liberace, George Michael, and Elton John combined. I actually have a photo of the graffiti to prove that shit. Or the fact she had THREE potential "babydaddy"s when she got pregnant. yeah.
Posted by brain on August 19, 2014 at 5:20 PM · Report this
60
next time they "suggest" you're a serial killer, ask them how they sell your name so you can "add it to the list", then wink and walk away. If they say you're gay, then tell her "you should hear what he says about you when we're 'together'."

Turn that hit around on them.
I'm currently forced to live with my sister (disability) and an ex died a few years back, before this situation. She dissed me right in front of the late ex's sister "OMG! You haven't gone out since middle school!" The sister and I exchanged confused looks, then she threw away a semi-freshly lit cigarette and excused herself to go back inside. To top it off, my sister insisted on driving me home, then went on about "we need to be closer together!" I got out of her car and slammed the door and didn't hear from her for several weeks after.

She apparently thinks I sit on my asexual ass all day for the last twenty-odd years and probably still a virgin. I guess it beats the alternative work gossip that I'm a bigger manwhore than Liberace, George Michael, and Elton John combined. I actually have a photo of the graffiti to prove that shit. Or the fact she had THREE potential "babydaddy"s when she got pregnant. yeah.
Posted by brain on August 19, 2014 at 5:23 PM · Report this
61
**how they SPELL THEIR name
my fingers have a mind of their own, and theys riddled with alzheimers.

and logging in didn't show it posted so apologies for the double posts.
Posted by brain on August 19, 2014 at 5:25 PM · Report this
62
I'm a 38 year old chick. Decided at 10 years old I didn't want kids. No reason, other than I love animals more than humans. It stuck. Throughout my 20s. Even through the constant barrage of, "you'll change your mind," or, "you're too selfish." This leads up to my lack of desire to get married. In my early 20s in college, I was hoping beyond hope that I would find my future husband. Never happened.
Posted by christ-i on August 19, 2014 at 5:53 PM · Report this
63
To elaborate. I don't regret a thing. Happily in a relationship, no kids (and chemo has put an end to those people saying, "you'll change your mind," since it's put me in premature menopause). Who knows how things will work out? But I'm happy with my life as it is now. Which is the most we can ask for, right?
Posted by christ-i on August 19, 2014 at 6:12 PM · Report this
64
I had a therapist - a fricking therapist - tell me that the decision to have kids was "a very emotional issue" when I very logically explained my rationale for choosing not to have them. (I brought it up in therapy because my rationale for being childfree is that I don't want to create more people in a world that is already overpopulated and systemically fucked up. My point in telling her this, which I articulated at the time, was that I felt sad that I had to weigh in how hopelessly dysfunctional the world is when making a personal decision, and it really drove home how disappointed and hopeless I felt about the quality of future life on this planet - human and non-human alike.) However, she seemed to be more concerned about my (to her?) "flippant" attitude towards reproduction. I did not have a response at the time, but if I could go back in time I would say, "How can I get emotional about people who don't even exist? I'm more focused on what DOES exist and what IS happening in the word. This is not an emotional choice, it's an ethical one." Ever since that point our relationship was tarnished (although we both tried to make it work) and I'll never go back.
Posted by wildblueheron on August 19, 2014 at 6:30 PM · Report this
RainMan 65
As another middle aged, never married, no kids straight guy I made my way through this thread with interest. @52 had by far the best response and put my thoughts, as someone who has been there, better than I ever could. Thank you for your insight.
Posted by RainMan on August 19, 2014 at 6:35 PM · Report this
66
LW
Maybe start identifying with your position a little more strongly.

Autonomous living is a virtue.

I way prefer funerals to weddings.

I don't mean funerals for those who died too young, but those who have lived a life, and the the ceremony one of "celebrating" that well-lived life. Two funerals in the last year where the people gathered were real with each other and talked about what "really matters for meaning" in this life.

Meanwhile I've had friends who once bemoaned their relationship status during a drought or never-ending slump--now they have children and guess what their fb updates are about?
How tired they are.
And here's a new pic of Mikey.
And the six weddings I went to in a period of three years--by the last one--i couldn't differentiate between any of them... Same sings, same trendy gimmicks... Same bullshit optimism... Same bollocks speech from father of the bride excited about the prospects of grandchildren and this being their proudest moment.
I can no longer hear an acoustic version of "Somewhere over the Rainbow" without puking. And these are weddings of people I am fond of.
Why would you want to sign a contract that gave away all your autonomy?
We know now that 2/3 of these contracts get ripped up.

The Dutch have a proverb. To...

Marry once, is a duty
Marry twice, is a folly
Marry three times--madness.

So I would add:

To marry never: absolute freestanding critical thinker of the highest honour.

And: who gives a fuff about what people think of us?
Posted by 4th Wave Coffee on August 19, 2014 at 7:05 PM · Report this
67
Sometimes I, a 48 year old married woman with 11 and 9 year old kids, am simply astounded by how many of my friends, both gay and straight, have never been married or "partnered". I sometimes wonder if it is part of our generation - although that seems pretty random. My friends and family members are, for the most-part, well educated, have interesting (and in some cases mind-blowingly successful) careers, travel frequently, have great relationships with family and/or friends, and some even have adopted children. They are not weirdos or serial killers. As a rule: Don't listen to Talk-Jocks. As a married person, my single friends are a great resource of much needed perspective because they are living rich amazing lives very differently than my rich amazing life with a family.
Posted by Bisskitt on August 19, 2014 at 7:16 PM · Report this
68
Not judging, and I am not saying this is the case with SNAP at all because I do not know SNAP, but I do think that narcissism can cause this problem. I have seen it in friends and family members who think they deserve to be with a perfect (non-existent) person, and their expectations for the type of person they think they should be coupled with (supermodels) far exceeds the type of person they could actually attract/be in a relationship with (a normal, not unattractive, moderately interesting person like themselves). So since this nonexistent, perfect supermodel person doesn't exist, and if they did, they would not be interested in a relationship with said narcissist, the narcissist remains alone.
Posted by Fuzzywuzzy on August 19, 2014 at 7:34 PM · Report this
69
surprised Dan didn't comment on his complaint of being labelled "either a serial killer or gay". It's a huge sign anyone critiquing you in this way would be an imbecile.
Posted by voscerote on August 19, 2014 at 8:03 PM · Report this
70
I hear it all the time as a 35 year old single, childless and mexican woman. Its almost like ita more expected from me because im mexican and we love making babies. Its an ignorant way to look at things. Most recently a friend asked about having kids and i said "i dont want kids." She responded w the usual "you will when u find the right guy." Im seeing someone great right now and i made sure i told him up front that i dont want children. He doesnt either.:) My friend w the rude question kept pushing the kid and marriage subject until i responded by saying "i dont want kids. Kids are life ruiners. You have to feed it and make sure u teach it not to be an a-hole." That made her laugh then shut her up. If she feels ok w asking her rude question, im not going to feel bad about my response.

Keep living ur life SNAP! Be happy and do what you want.:)
Posted by Mecca on August 19, 2014 at 9:11 PM · Report this
sirkowski 71
Assholes love to project. They're probably miserable parents with shitty kids. Fuck 'em.
Posted by sirkowski http://www.missdynamite.com on August 19, 2014 at 10:45 PM · Report this
72
People make judgements about everyone's choices. If it bugs you, that's probably because you are not entirely comfortable with your life and the choices you've made.
Posted by samanthampls on August 19, 2014 at 10:47 PM · Report this
73
No one can make you miserable without your consent. Tune the idiots out who feel it's their place to judge you. I was single for decades and perfectly happy, I have a great life doing volunteer work and enjoying my friends. Completely without warning a beautiful, lovely woman came into my life and I have the best relationship of my life with her! I definitely was not looking for anyone in my life, but it happened nonetheless, so never give up hope. I'm 62 years old, by the way. Hang in there, and don't let the buggers get you down.
Posted by Bunnyman on August 20, 2014 at 8:54 AM · Report this
74
Yeah, Dan, just like I'm used to tuning you out when you get nasty about people's weight. I like most of what you have to say, but you really have a blind spot there. Your judgmental garbage on this topic is shallow and ignorant, and I'd think a lot more of you if you didn't indulge in it.
Posted by LeslieC on August 20, 2014 at 11:29 AM · Report this
Downlow 75
If you are partnered, it means that at least one person out of all the billions thinks you are okay. If you are single, the assumption is that NO ONE in the entire world thinks you are fit to be with. How bad must you be if not even the desperate will stomach you? That's the assumption. Not knowing you, it's a quick way for us to gauge how safe we feel around you.

Or, we married people are just insanely jealous. Could be either one.
Posted by Downlow on August 22, 2014 at 6:53 AM · Report this

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