The Happy Single’s Manifesto

This depressing letter came to me via Kansas.

Every once in a while, an “older single” publishes a letter about how miserable she is, and how her married friends just make it worse, what  with rubbing her face in their children and never setting her up.

These letters make me sad. For starters, they perpetuate the angry old maid stereotype. I do not want to be pitied, however much these letter-writers do.

But mostly, I’m sad because there are single women who are unhappy with their lives. Yes, you want to move on to the next stage. But appreciate what you have while you have it!

As a very happy (too happy?) single, I feel compelled to write a brief guide to happy singlehood for all those miserable women out there.

1 – Move out. You’re a big girl now. Looking after yourself is surprisingly gratifying. I mean everything from making sure you’re fed (or eating out if you’re not) to coming home at midnight because “things came up” and not having to answer to anyone for it. Even housecleaning is more fun when it’s your own carpet that you’re vacuuming.

If you’ve got independent means, you should enjoy the fruits of your labor. Live like an adult. You’ll start to feel like one.

2 – Make single friends. Good4 says that for an introverted misanthrope, I have more friends than anyone she knows. That’s because I keep making them. And I do it very deliberately. Sometimes a little stalkerishly. It took me weeks to hunt down my first single when I first moved OOT. And when I finally came face-to-face with her, I actually blurted out “I’ve been looking for you for weeks!” To her credit, she did not back away slowly while fumbling for her phone.

3 – Hang out with your friends. You’d think this one was self-explanatory. Is that not the purpose of friends? But you’d be surprised.

In both OOT communities I’ve lived it, I’ve noticed the same pattern. Singles go to work, come home, eat supper, surf the net, and go to sleep, all while feeling sorry for themselves.  They know there are other singles doing the exact same thing. But it never occurs to anyone to pick up the phone and say “Hey, wanna come over and play Bananagrams?”

Which is how this introverted misanthrope wound up being the social epicenter of a singles community. For lack of anyone else doing it, I organize game nights, trivia nights, Chanukah parties, Chinese+movie outing, creek walks, bike rides, birthdays, and a dozen other excuses to spend time with people I like.

I’m also very friendly to newcomers to the community. Not because I’m a selfless welcome wagon. I’m just ensuring myself a steady stream of single friends to make up for those lost by attrition to marriage.

4 – But don’t lose MFs. Letters like the one in the link put MFs in a difficult spot. Somehow, they’re at fault, discomforting singles just by existing. That’s unfair. If you’re single and you want to drift away, the ball is in your court. But chances are you were friends for a reason, not just via geographic proximity.

Maybe MFs are busy with a different stage in life, but you can still talk to them. I value the perspective my MFs provide on marriage and singlehood both. And one day I hope to be a young mother, and able to benefit from the years of experience they can provide for me on such topics as diaper brands and Time Out procedures.

5 – Host your own Shabbos meals. Spending Shabbos with a proper nuclear family that does things by the  book feels like the best way to “do” Shabbos. But sometimes, you just don’t want to feel like a fifth wheel. Or the single invited because, nebach, she has nowhere else to go. Or just the person without a table of her own. You have a table! And If you don’t, buy one!  Then fill it up with people you like and have a rollicking good time.

And 5b: host your MFs. Yes, your table is just as worthy as theirs. And if you’re worried about the awkward, host multiple MFs so their husbands can congregate at the end and talk about mishnayos or football or whatever.

6 – Invest in some real household goods. Maybe a nice set of dishes for your Shabbos meal, because nothing screams “Just passing through” like a table full of paper plates. Maybe a comfy couch or two sets of color-coded anodized-steel cookware. Your life has worth. Treat it right. And these are all just fewer things you’ll have to buy when you get married.

6b – Just spend some money on yourself. Savings accounts are great, but you can’t save every spare penny for yeshiva tuition. That’s a miserable way to live. Go on vacation. Buy yourself a nice toy. Save for the future, definitely. But occasionally splurge on the present.

7 – Take up hobbies. One day, you will have to be home at 5pm to warm up supper. One day, you will have to be home whenever you told your spouse you would be. One day, you will have to be home simply because someone has to be there when the kids are. One day, in short, you will be tied to your home and your spouse by a short leash. Your recreational hobbies will be limited to things that you can do indoors while being interrupted by crying children.

But now you are free as the wind! You can use this opportunity to level-up your skills in anything. So take a course—in cosmetics or Gaelic or carpentry. Learn a new skill, like kickboxing or rock climbing. Join a book club or sewing circle. Experience the joy of fitness: buy a bike; join a gym; run a race.

If you are the type of person who sees everything you do in light of the marriage you hope is to come, trust me: it will all come in handy. Knowledge, skills, and good health will always come in handy. Plus, you’re more interesting with hobbies.

Imagine you’re sitting across the table from a guy who admits that after work he comes home, stares at the walls,  and waits for a shadchan to call. Now imagine you’re opposite a guy who speaks enthusiastically about steeple-chasing, or who shows you pictures of the longbow he carved himself. Or who is a fount of information on the history of Jews in Omaha. Or who uses a 3D printer to make mini-you action figures as customized birthday presents. Who would you rather see again?

Nothing is more appealing than joy and enthusiasm. Get some!

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25 thoughts on “The Happy Single’s Manifesto

  1. Best you’ve ever written. (And I fully believe, as a married parent, that a single with this attitude will be more likely to find a compatible spouse, better prepared for marriage, and better prepared for parenthood.)

  2. To me, vacuuming will always be drudgery; whether the rug is owned solely, jointly, or by my parents, there is no thrill associated with dust control.

    The Society of Introverts has found you wanting, kindly hand in your credentials. We find no shame in lacking an entourage, nor need apologize for keeping socializing to a minimum. Overstimulation of synapses remains our abhorrence, and so we peek out from separate doorways to banish you from our card-carrying club.

    As introverts, we feel no lack in our day-to-day bliss of solitude; that is not to say we spend our waking hours mourning our spouselessness, but find contentment in the primary company of self or a select few companions, family included.

    Another perk of being single: Spending a day doing . . . nothing.

  3. This is lovely. The ‘get out and do some physical activity’ gave me a twinge…I’m b’h pregnant for the first time and thrilled, but now I realize how much I took being able to try just about anything for granted. So yes, get out there and rock climb!

  4. Hear hear! Those who are interesting before marriage will be interesting after. Those who sit around and wait for life to happen, well, please stay away from me. Your boringness may be catching.

  5. I wish I could favorite this article!!!!
    That letter made me sad and mad at the same time. Sad because the letter writer is in such a self centered and bleak world and mad because, as you said I don’t want to be represented by her attitude.
    At the same time, I felt like reaching out and giving her a big hug and telling her it’ll all be ok and would she like to come and play bananagrams or join me this Friday night for Shabbos dinner at my place.
    Thank you b4
    Sending some love to all my fellow singles out there,

  6. Totally agree. Stephen Covey’s first habit: Be Proactive.

    The girl’s feeling of helplessness also made me resent this kind of shidduch system where you can’t ever meet a guy on your own. The wonders of coed events and online dating.

  7. Was this in the Yated? Me, in the Readers Write. Wouldn’t that be fun… I could do that. If they have an email address. I’m definitely not licking an envelope for the Yated.

  8. I literally laughed out loud. 🙂
    Yes, the source that I was originally cited was the Yated. I doubt they have an email address though, but hey lets do some research.

  9. Google is a girl’s best friend!
    Go to http://www.yated.com and click contact us. There you have the option of writing a letter to the editor.
    Go for it girl!
    Please inform those of us who are not Yated readers when your letter gets printed.

  10. Well, the full text is over 1000 words. I doubt they’ll print that. But maybe a pared down version is worth a shot.

  11. Definitely worth putting out there! More people need to live this way.

    Also — hosting Shabbat meals is one of my favorite things to do, but I would support using disposable plates and utensils. Just because I like hosting get togethers does not mean I like doing a ton of dishes afterwards! :p

  12. Ah, but do young married couples serve on disposable plates? (Maybe they do; I have no idea. I thought that they got wedding china and all, or at least a decent set for Shabbos guests).

  13. As an NMF, I wish I spent more time with my single friends. Part of it has to do with geographical differences, true. But not everything. In fact, some live quite close to me. and some are working full time plus and are too busy to hang out. And some just seem to assume that I spend all my time either with my husband or with my married friends. While my husband and I have some great times together, some things I would rather do with my friends, and I doubt I’m the only married person who thinks so. And some things are just group activities not couple activities. As for married friends, I don’t have that many. They don’t suddenly appear after your wedding. As single friends don’t disappear. Friends of mine who are also newly married do seem to make less of an effort to keep in touch, I’m not sure why. Maybe I am also making less of an effort.

  14. How do you get your married friends to think it’s normal enough for you to invite them over that they’ll come? And where do you find all these single people you’re friends with? Can I have some?

  15. word, word, word. i lived exactly like this. then, when i finally got married, i already had a kitchenaid and china and a whole bunch of other stuff. and i was ready to settle down- there’s no feeling of “i wish i had…”. one caveat- i was too content, and it did make it a lot more difficult to face the major changes of engagement and marriage. i needed a fire lit under me to leave my comfortable single life behind.

    and to echo shira, now i just stare rather wistfully at my road bike…getting there…

  16. Some of my MFs won’t come. One of them kept inviting me over, alone, and it was awkward, just the three of us. But when I invited her and her husband over to my parents, she demurred, citing “awkward.” I gave an ultimatum: You come to me or I never go back to you. Needless to say, I haven’t been there in years. And I don’t feel like I’m missing anything by it.

    Others are more chilled. It helps if you tell them there are other married couples attending. Then the husbands calm down. (Although it was quite clear, at one meal, that the husbands arrived jittery. And it turned out to be such a successful meal that they left raving with surprise about how enjoyable it had been.)

    Single people are not easy to find, especially as you get older. But trust me, they’re there. You just have to ask around. People tend to be vaguely aware of singles around them, and if you are persistent enough, you can land a serendipitous sighting in the wild. Go over, say hello, invite them over. Often they’re too shocked to refuse.

  17. 5- I have hosted married friends for Shabbos meals, cooked (yes, men cook), cleaned and all. It was just as enjoyable and fun as going to them and plan on doing it often. Something to keep in mind, that when having married friends over with children, they will not likely have toys for them to play with. Unless you are Bad4 who I imagine has prepared for such an eventuality 🙂

  18. If a married friend thinks that you hosting a meal on your own is ‘not normal enough’ and wouldn’t come because she thinks it’s weird, then you’re probably better off not having that friend at your Shabbat table. :p Just my opinion. I’ve had married couples over (none with children though) and each time the meal was enjoyable for everyone.

  19. Thank you for this! I’ve been trying to excuse myself for being this way and I really shouldn’t have to. Thanks again.

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