Don’t Point Out the Bright Side

I, personally, do not mind being single. It is something I mention every so often, though it scandalizes not a few. Just a couple of weeks ago, I found myself sandwhiched between two high school girls who were analyzing my hashkafos and concluding that something was deeply wrong, because of this attitude of mine.

My argument is that a person can do a lot while single. Both ordinary, worldly fun things, and religious/spiritual things. I pointed out that it was possible to fulfill a spiritual tachlis without a husband – look at Sarah Schneirer – and that I enjoy my unburdened, footloose lifestyle (well, between semesters, anyway).

I don’t go around trying to proselytize singles to my views. I only mention them here, and and when someone asks, “But don’t you want to get married?” My answer is: “I guess so. I don’t think about it much.” Why focus on what you don’t have when you have so much?

But apparently, my ideas are only shocking to singles and high school girls, and maybe long-married women. Either that, or they’re lying through their teeth out of pity. Apparently, because Bas Melech, over here, is annoyed by marrieds telling her to enjoy being single because it’s so much more fun than being married. Bas Melech finds the whole thing very irritiating, which I can understand. When you’re not in a lamentable situation, telling someone who is that “it could be worse” is among the more fruitless modes of cheering them up. (I wonder if she’d be just as annoyed if another single said it to her? “Hey, Bas Melech! Buck up – you’re in the best years of your life so why don’t you just enjoy them and forget the rest?” Let’s see what reaction that brings.)

I personally have never heard this from anyone, but then again, I don’t get much sympathy having, as I mentioned, a fundamentally flawed hashkafa. Is it a common comfort offered to singles? What other annoying attempts at sympathy do you get?

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19 thoughts on “Don’t Point Out the Bright Side

  1. funny that you’re mentioning it… whenever I tell a friend that I’m in no rush… I get such a long speech that it’s not worth it!
    I love the independence of single life… my friends try to remind me that married life isn’t so bad…

  2. Frankly, I love being single – I like being able to do what I want when I want!

    Er, that doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t set me up.

    I find that expressing an attitude as above makes people question whether or not you’re fully committed to getting married. Sigh. It’s all such a catch-22. If you say that you’re happy being single, people think you aren’t serious about getting married. If you say you wish you were married already, people tell you to lighten up and enjoy being single.

  3. “Bas Melech, over here, is annoyed by marrieds telling her to enjoy being single because it’s so much more fun than being married”

    Yes, I’ve heard that often from the marrieds. And Yes. It is VERY annoying.

  4. Why must it be discussed at all?
    Being married on unmarried does not two sides of the “fun – no fun” spectrum. One can enjoy both, or dislike both, or be subject to both emotions. So what’s the conversation? I know it’s very hard for many not to look at the world without single/married tinted glasses, but can’t people just talk about the weather or fabulous shoes instead?

  5. I don’t see why it can’t be both. “I enjoy being single, and I’d like to get married.” Why must someone be miserable to want a change? (Hmm, see post above.)

    If you say you wish you were married already, people tell you to lighten up and enjoy being single.

    I think that’s more along the lines of many people seeming desperate to get married, so it’s a warning against being like that. i.e. Sure, want to get married, it’s great; but enjoy being single, too.

  6. Love Ezzie’s comment= “I enjoy being single, and I’d like to get married.”
    It shows a positive attitude on life, and an ability to adjust to whatever situation in life they’re in.

    Being single was great- and being married is great too. What a brilliant concept!
    If more people in the frum community might say that- then there might not be such a “crisis” out there- as everyone would be happy!

  7. I was actually discussing this with my husband the other night. What is so frustrating to me is that you, and some of my other single friends, and even myself when I was single, have an attitude of “Marriage? Eh. I’ll like it if it happens, but I’m perfectly fine being single.” And I’m like, “Being married is so incredible, fulfilling, rewarding, and just all-around fantastic. Why the heck don’t you want to try a little harder to get it?!” It’s the lackluster attitude of many singles that frustrates people who are trying to help them. Of course, you don’t know what you’re missing if you don’t have it. But I almost want to shake you people and say, “If you even knew what was waiting for you, you would try your hardest all the time, and you would adjust your attitude, and do everything you possibly could to get married. So stop telling me that you’re happy being single – even if you are. You could be so much happier if you just snapped out of your comfort zone and got moving.”

  8. Anon – And therefore they should be miserable as singles? I’m sure that almost all are doing plenty of “getting moving” in terms of dating and what not, but it’s not something that should take over your life. (I’m married 4.5 years, if that makes a difference.)

  9. I’m referring to those singles who (as I mentioned) have a lackluster, lazy, almost unwilling attitude towards dating. Not only are they not helping themselves, they frustrate and anger the people who are trying to help them by brushing off suggestions, not talking anything seriously, and almost ridicule married people for their “annoyingness” (aka happiness).

  10. i didnt read all the comments so sorry if im repeating ppl.

    i really do want to get married, but im still enjoying single life! im very happy where i am in life right now. ppl need to chill out and have fun during this time! those girls that got engaged pesach time in seminary- yea everyone thinks theyre so lucky- but they were never single! they were never able to just live and experience the world!

  11. Anon – And therefore they should be miserable as singles? I’m sure that almost all are doing plenty of “getting moving” in terms of dating and what not, but it’s not something that should take over your life.

    Exactly! You have to be happy no matter what stage of life you are in. I don’t think anyone would accuse me of not wanting to get married or not trying hard enough (at least I hope not, because I am) but I have a very full, happy life right now. No one wants to marry a miserable, desperate person who just wants to get married for the sake of being married. I want to get married when I find a wonderful person with whom I would like to share my life. I don’t need a ring on my finger to be a happy human being.

  12. Just by the way (an interesting piece of history left out of most Jewish history books) Sarah Schneirer was actually a divorced woman when she began to set up the first Bais Yaakov….also, I think she remarried close to the end of her life.
    \
    Not that that has anything to do with your main point, Bad4, it is a very salient point and I agree with it. I’m not a *young* single person, imagine if I’d spent the last ten or so years concentrating on what I don’t have–I’d be miserable, angry, and bitter. Married people don’t approve of those kind of singles either (though sometimes, honestly, they seem to enjoy pitying them). I’d rather just get along in my life, and be happy with what I can do/do have.

  13. I’m lovin my single life but I’m definitely serious about getting married and working hard on it. Some might say I should be working harder…..

  14. Hey, buster — you know perfectly well that I’m enjoying the good life 😀

    However, that’s just because I’m OK where I am and see no reason to be miserable with it. I still do want to get married and I have no interest in doing the “sour grapes” bit.

    The point of the piece I wrote was just to underline how absurd it is to say that being single is more desirable because it’s easier. Being unemployed sure is easier than having a job with real responsibilities, but for some odd reason many people don’t choose that way of life. For some it’s just the money, for some it’s the added element of stimulation and fulfillment. I look at the single/married thing similarly: I understand that you’re working harder than I am, but don’t try to convince me that I don’t need to try for more. I know what I want and what it entails and I’ve made an informed decision, thanks.

    Am I a grouchy old maid? Not yet, at least. Do I want to get married? Heck, yeah!

  15. I did find it kind of ironic that my sister’s former co-worker who told her many times, “You’re smart for not getting married young. It’s better to have a few years to be single and fun. Why rush into having so many responsibilities” etc. is now divorced.

    In my experience, people just like to complain. They want to feel validated in their feelings of how hard they have it by having their listener agree with their complaints. Quite a lot of my married friends do this, but not all. The ones that make an emphatic point of not complaining, but giving loud, martyred sighs over the phone when saying things like “look, that’s just the way it goes” “everybody has challenges” get on my nerves a bit, probably because they are so trying to make the point of not complaining because I have it so much worse, at least they are married/have kids–it can really grate. (Though at this point in my life I try to listen to these type of conversations with half of my attention, while I’m eating or reading or something so that I just make occasional interjections without actually following their monologue. The ones that don’t do this, but who genuinely do have tough situations that they want to talk about, I give my full attention.)

    I guess I have to admit that I went through a time period (in my late twenties) when I did feel bad for myself and complained a lot to myself at least (if not aloud to others) but hopefully have gotten past that. It’s just too draining. Anyway, though I’m still not married, in certain ways things have gotten better in my life. Who says the best years of your life have to be when you’re young? One of my co-workers has told me a couple of times that her forties were the best decade of her life (admittedly that was when she was a stay-at-home mother raising her kids, but still).

  16. Every time someone married tells me “it is better to be single than to be in a bad relationship”, it is all I can do not to ask “Wow, is your marriage so crappy? I am so sorry.”

    Of course, it also drives me up a wall when people assure me that OF COURSE I will get married (there is NO of course about it–these things are simply not in my hands) or when people exhort me to “try harder”.

  17. Pingback: Friday Repost: You Don’t Want To Be Married – Say the Marrieds | Bad for Shidduchim

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