Anyone Looking From Up There?

Question of the weekend: “So is there an age after which people look down on you if you’re not married?”

There’s a loaded question. I mean, I hear the rumors of it all the time. Everyone “knows” that people do. But I dunno. Maybe I just don’t hang out with the right ones.

Excepting the high school kids. They have a slightly twisted perception of expiration dates. I remember when I was in high school I thought 23 was kind of old to still be single. Funny how it doesn’t seem that way now. But the current crop of high school kids, being on the younger side of 20, still feel that way. It must be a perception thing. Kind of like how I think my parents are old because they’re over – well, over a certain age. Let’s not go there.

Not that being looked down upon by high school kids is anything to be sniffed at. A neighbor of mine has taken it into her youthful head that the only reason I’m not married is because I’m not dying to be married enough. (This is a peculiar assumption seeing as she’s been dying to be married since about 9th grade and she’s still single.) Every now and then she buttonholes me and earnestly lectures me on the importance of marriage to a Jewish woman and everything I’m missing by not having a husband at my side. And having a somewhat perverse personality, I respond in a way that convinces her even more strongly that I am actively avoiding marriage with all of my facilities.

Seeing as she’s my sister’s friend, when I say buttonhole I mean she pulls some pretty aggressive tactics. The two of them once descended on me on a Shabbos afternoon when I was reading in bed. One sat on the blanket on one side and one sat on the blanket on the other, effectively pinning me between them. By the time the indoctrination session was winding down I was ready to strangle her, so I guess it was good that my arms were pinned.

But people who aren’t in high school? I don’t get that feeling so much. Well, except for people like the segula ladies of the world just dripping in sympathy. But they’re not looking down. In fact, just this very same weekend I got into a related discussion when I said that the vast majority of my high school class was married. “Are they?” the querying woman asked. “Because I get the impression that in some communities, being unmarried at 23 is now normal.”

Mental puffed-cheek exhale. External pellucid good humor.

“Yep,” I nodded. “23 is the new 21.”

“Oh, more like the new 20,” she corrected.

Twenty! Twenty is just barely old enough to date! Surely I’m not such a fledgling at life?

Suddenly I felt very young… and perhaps a bit… not looked down upon, but minimized. Three years of life experience, just stripped away like that. Why on earth would anyone lie about their age?

12 thoughts on “Anyone Looking From Up There?

  1. If you consider that in Israel, most girls of your communal and educational association are marrying between 16-18 your neighbor may have a point. However, at the same time it quite annoys me how many people who have barely started living life, feel so free with telling the rest of us how to do it right. I am planning a rant about this. It just never ceases to amaze me how those who have experienced so few of life’s many problems and obstacles feel they have all the answers to life’s problems and obstacles.

  2. It’s amazing how many people “know” (or if they’re more polite, assume) that the reason someone isn’t married is b/c he/she “doesn’t want it enough.” Wanting it enough is a psychological thing that coaches use in sports, but when dealing with individual ppl one on one, it becomes less useful.

    Perhaps there are those who want to get married but don’t want to date…

    But even so, those who say dumb ideas like this one should be told “No, I am serious enough about it that I don’t want to do it wrong.” Or the famous insulting rejoinder, “I’m looking for the perfect match, so I don’t have to settle like you did.”

    PS pellucid? I had to look that up. First time in a long time.

  3. Um, Mekubal, I’m in Israel and most girls here do NOT get married at 16-18. The only community that does that is the Chasidim, and even there they only start at 17. In other communities girl’s start dating at 19, and hope to be married by 20.

  4. What is perceived as young or old always depends on where one stands at present. My own daughters (not yet of the age of shidduchim B”H) do wonder a bit about their single teachers.

  5. so someone asked me information about a friend whos 23 for her son: “do you know why she isnt married yet?” my friend said i shuda answered her that im sorry i didnt realize her son was looking for someone married

  6. I agree with Yosef, even as an English major, I had to look up “pellucid” to confirm my guessed definition (I picked up on the “lucid” part, and have had some experience memorizing Greek and Latin roots from high school).

    It does stand to reason that getting a few more years (of experience in life and in education) under your belt makes you a much finer candidate for marriage. Being 23 is really not over-the-hill at all! I think a 23 year old certainly has the greater capacity to fully function in a marriage, run a home, and potentially contribute income (whether partially or fully – within a kollel system) than anyone who is 18-21 who are either fresh out of high school or fresh back from their year in Israel. The two types simply don’t compare in my mind – and I think this may be responsible for men focusing so much on getting a wife the newest batch of girls starting to date, thus adding to the effects of the ongoing “shidduch crisis.” People should simply date people their own age, maybe a year or two older/younger at most.

    There WAS an article on one of the Jewish news sites earlier this year talking about kids getting married young. I couldn’t find it (did Bad4 link it?), but I found a similar article here: the Jewish news article focused on the settler-Tzioni groups.

  7. “Wanting it enough”?? Doesn’t that sort of bypass the whole belief in Hashem thing?? Oh and re the dating age thing, I don’t buy it. Not everyone finds someone compatible their own age. It is much more important to find the right person for you, which is dependant on a wide variety of factors.

  8. It totally depends on your community. YU, 23 is not too old at old. Brooklyn yeshivish? Yes, it is. And the girls themselves reflect that as well. A 23 year old WH girl is fresh and smart and ready to start dating and get married, usually free from parental pressure. A 23 year old Brooklyn girl is burnt out from dating for at least 4 years, getting set up with losers, and being urged to “settle” and called “picky”. So yes, 23 can mean lots of different things.

  9. Age is totally just a number, unless you become depressed about that number. Lots of guys are willing to date “older” girls (whatever that number might be), but guys are not exactly lining up to date miserably single 21 year olds.

  10. I’m 21 tonight!!! And so happy about it. The older you get the riper and hopefully the more mature, intelligent, developed, aware, nice etc etc. Have fun! And know that you can marry someone you actually WANT to be with.

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