Monday, October 7, 2013

Single Women in Our 40's - What DO We Really Want?

This blog post is dedicated to my Grandma who is turning 90 shortly and who still kisses, hugs, and acts goofy with my Grandpa, after 65 years of marriage. She is always telling me to “never chase a man”. Her theory, and it’s a good one, is, if a man is interested, he will come to you...he will do the “wooing”, and of course, it will just feel natural. I love my Grandma so much...she is so sweet and prays for me every night to find love. It should be easy then, right?

I’m not sure what 43 is supposed to feel like, so maybe I’m completely off the mark on this one, but I can honestly say that I’ve never felt better than how I feel at this point in my life. Of course, I wish I had all my now-learned insightfulness when I was 20 just to save myself some of the inherent pain of supposed beneficial experience over the last few decades.

I’ve been single for a number of years now, with a few on and off longer-term dating experiences during that time. Some were good, and some were frightening, and after just turning 43 last week, I took some time to reflect and think about why I’m still single, and why a big handful of my girlfriends are single too. By the way, for those of you in the United Kingdom, when I say girlfriend, I mean a friend that’s a girl. When I was in Scotland and Wales last year, I quickly learned to make that distinction. I like men, always have, and always will.

I know so many women my age that are single. Incidentally, the bulk of them live in the vicinity of Vancouver, Canada, and all live within the statistics that show there is one single man to six single women in this city. Interesting. And then the question becomes who is this one single guy? Is he the psychotic maniac that just tried to run you off the road on your drive home? And if so, then what happens to the stats--is it now one single man that’s normal to six single women, making it really one single man to a hundred single women? I know the guys will be up in arms reading this--yes, there are crazy, nut-bar women out there too, but the fact of the matter is, women have a harder time meeting men in this city, period. There just aren’t enough of you.

When I look at all my single girlfriends (and myself for that matter), they are all smart, funny, attractive, somewhat sporty, happy, healthy, independent...whoa, back up. I said independent. We, as women, take that as a complete and utter positive, and so we should. I most certainly do. I love the fact that I can fix a hole in the drywall from plowing my driver through the wall by accident when yanking my clubs out of the closet last spring. I can replace a lightbulb, paint a wall, and change the oil in my car. I can manage my time, my home, and my finances (well, that’s an easy one given I’m a Financial Planner). I make my own healthy meals, I make my own money, and I make my own schedule. I create my social life, family life, and work life. I do what I want, when I want, and how much I want, and answer to no one. I make my very own happiness each and every day, and depend on no one or nothing to do that for me. So if we ditch the term “independent” since it sounds rather callous and cold, what, then, is missing from this fabulous life?

A man. Which man? Who is he and where is he? The old adage of “It will just happen when you least expect it”--one more time of being told that and I think I’m going to puke. Sorry, but WHEN is this supposed to happen because I don’t ever expect it (even though I’m hopeful)! And there’s another nail on the head. I have no expectations of people, unless they are blatantly being disrespectful or if they were hired to do a specific job, etc, and aren’t doing it. When you don’t have expectations of people, they will not disappoint you or let you down--easier said than done. Hurtfulness can come packaged in many different ways, but sometimes we initiate it by placing expectations on people, then we become disappointed when they don’t meet OUR expectations which they had nothing to do with it the first place, yet we get angry at them for not doing what we hoped they’d do!

Feminism is a beautiful thing...I can’t imagine living in a time where I wouldn’t be able to vote, had to quit my job if I got married or pregnant, or not be able to participate in a sport, all because I was a woman. So even though we are so happy to have moved onto a more even playing field as time goes on, I often hear single women in my age group say that they wish (and I’ve said this myself too), that the men in their age would hold open a door for them, pull out their chair for them to sit, etc. Most of those men were raised by first generation feminists, with their mother’s saying, “Son, women are very independent now--they can open their own doors--this isn’t the 40’s anymore. They’ll really appreciate you recognizing that.” So do we? Being a die-hard romantic and a Libra true to form, I want both--the benefits of the feminism movement AND doors being held open for me. And I don’t see why I can’t have it, after all, I’m just asking for a basic show of kindness when it comes down to it. Yes, I’m physically capable of opening a door. But when I’m carrying a laptop case, a purse, a smoothie, my keys, my gym bag, a yoga mat and potentially the kitchen sink, it’s just so nice when that door gets opened for you, especially by a man, and even more so when you’re not carrying anything at all.

In talking to women of all ages that are on their own, they agree with me on what seemingly would be a bizarre concept, of being in a monogamous relationship, but you each live in your own place, have your own money, see each other a few times a week, travel and explore together, and maybe there’s a sleep over here and there, and that way, you have your relationship while still maintaining some independence. The women of my generation specifically are thinking exactly like that, for the most part. Right now men are reading this going “What the f---?” (or maybe not?). I’m sorry guys, but that’s becoming today’s reality of the independent woman.

My father once told me if I don’t “play a little dumb” once in awhile, it will be hard to attract a man in the long run. Sorry Dad, but that doesn’t work for me. I think what he was trying to say, is that sometimes men can be threatened by a strong and powerful woman. Men tend to admire us for our intelligence and our non-dependent nature, but then are seemingly threatened by it at the same time. That’s not my man. I want someone who will stand up to me and speak to me like an equal. I usually make most men cower (not literally of course) and they eventually succumb to my opinions and ideas. I don’t like that. I’ve only met one man in my life that actually stood up to me through our friendship for a number of years and didn’t back down from me--always with respect of course, but challenged me in my thought processes. I think of him often actually, because I miss that connection--it’s so rare to find, certainly for someone like me.

Case and point: when we alpha-females play, we play hard. I love sword-fighting. The last two-handed longsword class I was in, I took the drill one step further and disarmed my male opponent of his sword. Apparently that was not allowed and I was reprimanded by the instructor who then whispered to me as he walked away, “That was awesome!”. I also apparently disarmed my partner of his masculinity given he was quite put out by my actions instead of rising to the occasion and congratulating me for being a good sword-fighter (he was never in danger by the way). However, there are some men who don’t feel threatened by a dominant woman. For example, last year, I went with a friend of mine to her Events and Adventures night for singles at the indoor Go Kart track in Richmond. I’ve been there many times, and I can drive a race car, even if it’s just a pint-sized one. I usually beat most people that are racing against me, it just is what it is. I also have a strong competitive streak in me too, which doesn’t help in situations like this. Sure enough, I beat out most of the men and the one fellow who won against me (he looked very much like the rapper Ice Tea), came up to me after the race and told me how awesome it was that I almost kicked him out of first place (we were nano-seconds apart at the finish). Thank you. That was cool.

What I have discovered through my dating years and experience with men is that just as we women don’t want to be painted all with the same brush, we can’t paint men all with the same brush either. There are a LOT of women who live in crazy-town out there, who drive men mental and tend to cling-on to become el desperado, making our gender synonymous with term “psycho crazy chick”. I’m not one of those women. What scares me is that I’m at the other end of the spectrum. I am doing just fine without a man. But deep down, I think we all want to have that special someone in our lives, and it makes no matter whether you’re a man or a woman. That feeling of falling in love is irreplaceable (chocolate comes close though)--everyone wants to feel those endorphins flowing through them.

Much like many of my girlfriends, I would love to fall in love. As time goes by, the definition of “being in love” changes for me based on my experiences and how I am developing as a person. Love is different to everyone, that’s what makes it so hard to find. And when you find “it”, why doesn’t it stick around? Sometimes it does, sometimes it gets complicated because people make it more complicated than it should be. Another one of my theories is that you can feel anything and everything for a particular man, but if he doesn’t feel the same way back, then let him go--it will never work if you’re not both on the same page.

Of course I’m the one who believes in that Knight-in-Shining-Armour idea--I also need wooing--I must be woo-ed. I know I’m not alone in those thoughts, am I ladies? If guys are trying to figure out what the one thing is that women who are “independent” are looking for, this is it: we want to feel safe. Period. I’ve heard that time and time again. I may be independent to the max, but I want to be with a man who makes me feel protected and safe, but who also gives me my space to be me and do the things that help me fulfill and enrich my life. I don’t want to do everything with a man, rather, I would want us to each have those same fulfilling and enriching experiences for ourselves, and then bring our lives together to help us grow and evolve with each other.

Then the ultimate question is posed to me and to all women alike who are in the same boat: If you’re so busy with everything you’re doing, places you’re going, and people you’re seeing, then how do you have room to welcome Prince Charming into your life? My answer is simply that when the right man comes along, he will fit into your life and vice-versa, and it will be seamless. Compromise is always on the table, but it will feel good, not as if you’re losing something. When it comes to time, you’ll make time, if that special person is important enough to you. So for now, I’m going to have to stick with my Grandma’s advice...after all, it worked for her then, and today, she’s still in love...65 years later. Thanks Grandma, xox.

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