Single Women of Marrying Age: Society Doesn’t Know What To Do With You
You’re not Keanu Reeves — there is no escaping the matrix
I’ve always envied how men can remain eligible bachelors for as long as they’re single.
It’s not just that men get to remain desirable well into their sixties. Women can do that too. I think anyone breathing can agree that 52-year-old J.Lo can still “get it.”
My envy for these “eligible bachelors” is more nuanced than the fact that people are willing to have sex with them. It’s that these men can remain single forever without being rendered broken.
This is not the case for women. Particularly women of childbearing age who remain single. (God forbid a woman passes 45 without ever donning a ring or birthing a child.)
We’ve made many a stride as a society, but single women between 34 and 44 years old confuse people. To be honest, having stepped into the bracket myself, I’m a bit confused.
There seems to be no real place for us among the living. We’re not spinsters. We’re not partnered. We’re not exactly young. Yet, surely not old. There is nary a magazine that speaks our language. Rarely a movie that quite articulates our struggles. Many of us find ourselves on a remote island that we did not choose to inhabit — stuck in a matrix not of our making.
At least that’s how it feels to me every time someone clears their throat to ask whether I mind them asking my age.
Yes, I mind. Can’t you just make a logical guess based on my LinkedIn profile like you would any other stranger?
Instead, I answer them and prepare for their response. A response I know well since, sadly, I used to give it.
“Oh, I wouldn’t have thought that.”
They wouldn’t have thought it for the same reasons I wouldn’t have 10 years ago. When I was younger, I knew exactly where society told me I was supposed to be by my mid-30s. I knew of the partner, the 2.5 kids, and the white picket fence. Although I was progressive enough to buck the suburban dreams, I held tightly to “first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby — ”
You get it.
When a woman reaches her mid-30s and is still unpartnered, we don’t know what box to place her in. And our society loves a box.
There is a part of me that wishes I could make it easier on people. I wish I could declare how I don’t want marriage or kids. If I had chosen this particular lot in life, it feels like self-determination led me here versus having picked the wrong pill. If my status were of my own volition, perhaps then I could alleviate the concerns of my mother, who enlists her Bible class to pray for my soulmate. I could let that friend who insists on being my wingwoman off the hook. I could even join the couple vacations instead of forcing those couples to rack their brain, thinking about who else they know that is also single.
I imagine it is different for men.
No one seemed to question whether George Clooney was sane, had a working penis, or could “keep a woman” when he spent 20 years unwed after his first four-year marriage.
Single and married women alike are obsessed with the 45-year-old, single Idris Elba and continue fantasizing about the 49-year-old married one.
Jared Leto at 50 could easily snag a ripe 20-something. (Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the man looks like he chugged the fountain of youth.)
And to this day, there are entire fan pages dedicated to the unicorn that is 55-year-old Keanu Reeves, who spent most of his career single.
I thought about these men when J.Lo and A-Rod parted ways. Before Bennifer 2.0 became public, people speculated what caused her and A-Rod to break off their engagement. I saw friends, social media, and think pieces assume Jen herself was the problem.
“Sis really can’t keep a man.”
“J.Lo got more rings than Tom Brady.”
“The common denominator is J.Lo but some of y’all still gonna think it’s men.”
I am not on J.Lo’s PR team but damn. A-Rod’s affair was well-publicized. So was Marc Anthony’s drug problem. So were Diddy’s indiscretions and that whole nightclub fiasco…
If a celebrity like J.Lo could be in the wrong for “not keeping a man” — what about the rest of us? What about the regular smegular ladies who have never gone ring shopping? Who have not birthed the babies? Who are simply unpartnered single women of marrying age?
While I question J.Lo’s choice in men, I think society has continued to put an unfair weight on the role she plays in matters of the heart because she’s a woman. Women are still expected to stay in situations that don’t serve them for the sole purpose of making it to forever.
When we don’t, we see people like Kevin Samuels question our true happiness, as he has with Tracee Ellis Ross. And we see women start to blame themselves for weak moments in relationships, as Gabrielle Union did when she publicly blamed herself for Dwyane Wade cheating.
Being a thirtysomething woman who seeks partnership and kids is stressful enough. We are well aware of those ticking biological clocks. We do not need the added judgment from society on what is possibly wrong with us because of our single status.
All it does is create noise. And sometimes, too much noise can allow women to question their dopeness.
At least that’s my truth.
In these dope-doubting moments, I think about my counterparts. Single men who have stepped into their manly good looks. Who are now considered “zaddies.” Who have their fair share of partners to choose from (as long as they’re over the age of 21, right?). I think how nice it must be for those men to move without the weight of societal expectations.
And then I shake it off.
Because this patriarchal world we live in will always find something wrong with how I move as a woman. And honestly, it’s none of my business what society says about me, my relationship status, or why or why not I’m caught in the single gal matrix.
And that, too, is my truth.
Simone Keelah is a creative writer, podcast host, and lover of love — who is fiercely committed to living out all expressions of herself. She’s on Instagram @SimoneKeelah.