Do You Fear Being Single?

So, last week I’m watching Scandal with the rest of the free world. I’ll skip a recap because you probably saw it and know exactly what I’m talking about when I ask you to recall the scene when Liv and Fitz argue the night before the big debate and she points out the difference in running like someone’s chasing him versus running like he’s going after something he wants?’ (If you didn’t see it, sigh, click here.)

Ok. So something about that line that made me think of my favorite episode of Sex and the City which is “Splat!” It’s best known as the one when “Sally” from Third Rock (Kristen Johnson), playing an aging party girl, declares “I’m so bored I could die!” then promptly falls out the window. It’s also the episode when dear Carrie Bradshaw makes the decision to go to Paris with the Russian. Why she makes the (wrong) decision is why it’s my favorite.

The Russian, creator of pretentious “large-scale light installations” (wtf are those?) doesn’t get Carrie, her friends, her city or any of the basic things that make her tick. She’s in love with a fantasy life, one that she wanted with Mr. Big but couldn’t get, so she’s doing her best impression of a do-over. She knows the idea of running off is far-fetched and probably not the best idea, but she goes along with it in the end because:

1) Carrie runs into a “Sally” from Third Rock who is an aging party girl and fears that will be her trajectory if she stays in New York where she will be single again;

2) All her friends, including Samantha, are in relationships;

3) Carrie’s mentor-in-her-head, Murphy Brown (Candice Bergen) turns out to have the perfect career and a non-existent love life, one in which she asks Carrie to hook her up and the best Carrie can do is the guy from the Princess Bride (Wallace Shawn), a balding cheese connoisseur. Oh and in act of desperation, Murphy Brown hits on Carrie’s man and accuses Carrie of “swimming in my pool”

That makes me think of an article I read in the Daily Mail while I was on a 24 hour trek back to the United States. The story was dramatically titled, “I left the love of my life because I thought I could do better. Now I’m childless and alone at 42.” If you can’t figure out from the (long) title, it’s about a woman who loved a man in her 20s but was basically frustrated by his lack of ambition, so she left him. She’s spent the time since in not-so-great relationships and more or less thinks she missed out on The One (and apparently Only One.)

I read her sad, sad tale, even separated the page and stuffed into my carry on for future reference, and in the cramped airplane seat next to an Indian guy with a British accent and the stale body odor of someone who has also been traveling too long, I wondered why articles like this get published. Is it to share an “It happened to me!” that other women readers will find relatable? Is it “just” a good story? Is it fear-mongering? Or is it a genuine cautionary tale for young women who think too highly of themselves or believe they can change time-honored rules and avoid the maybe tragic ending that comes to women who don’t just settle down, but settle too? All of the above?

Then I wondered, how many women, young women especially, who constantly hear how inadequate it is to be single, will internalize some outside factor like this — the same way Carrie was influenced to go to Paris with the Russian — and make a choice to proceed in an unfulfilling relationship not because they genuinely want to be there but out of fear of becoming their worst fear — an aging (and single) party girl, the single girl when everyone is committed, having it all except a partner/husband? Is it really better to have any guy to outrun single or hold out, gamble really, and go for what you think you want?

Demetria L. Lucas is the author of “A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life” (Atria) in stores now. Follow her on Twitter @abelleinbk

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  • Marisa

    I’m 35 and single now and I haven’t dropped through the floor and a house hasn’t fallen on me yet. Sick of the this ridiculous doom and gloom forever heaped on women but NEVER on our male counterparts. Straight males rarely get this unless its certain cultural areas of the world were marriage is practically demanded. The problem is too many people are not good with themselves so how are you to make a decent partner to somebody. There are elements to me as a person that flat out make me not an ideal girlfriend. I can be emotionally distant/cutoff at times, I don’t do vulnerability, I’m not a damsel in constant distress that needs to be rescued.

    I gather that would make any relationship pointless but, same qualities are what will help be get through law school and be a good attorney. Anyways being a lawyer is my life’s dream I do that could careless about anything else. Now if I were a man saying this I would probably be high-fived but, I’m sure CNN/ABC/NBC/Essence/Washington-NY Posts will get wind of this and I’ll end up on one of their lame black women are horrible profiles lol.

  • @Nakia Entirely up to you if you see putting yourself above kids as shallow, or if you discount establishing a relationship with people with children as being judgemental, I was stating my thoughts on the matter. As for parents who seek other single parents to date, that would be one of the main “commonalities” right there – you don’t have to deal with that particular set of …. lets call them issues, when you date another parent.

  • Shelley greenaway

    i’m fine with being single, i just feel that relationships are now becoming shallow as people are just to picky and are so obsessed with procreation! personally i just want to be in a relationship with someone that’s not a pre programmed stereotype, but someone who actually has a spark, otherwise, i think the whole idea of being paired off just to crank out some kids for the sake of biology is just pointless! there has to be more than that in regards to love! or are some people so petty and bickering (not to mention obsessed with procreation) that love is dead or even worse does not exist?! ;_;

  • At 50 and single, it doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with me, which seems to be an acceptable explanation these days. I’m used to the pointed questions at dinner parties, wow you cooked all this, how come you are not married? The funny thing is, for me I never had the fantasy of marriage, mine was kids. I just don’t understand how people cannot see not everybody wants what they want and for the people that know ME, how difficult it is to find someone to fit into what I do.

    Sure I would love to find a man, but it has to be the right man. Until then, adventure and travel will be my companion. One more thing, friends that have waited forEVER for the dream, one of them recently reveal, the dream is not all it’s cracked up to be.