“When people ask you that, you should say: ‘I’ve just gotten out of a serious relationship.’ You don’t need them to think there’s something wrong with you.”
I javelin-tossed a wooden spoon in my mother’s direction after she handed me this unsolicited advice on how to deal with the line of questioning beginning with “are you seeing anyone?” and upon my negative reply, followed immediately by: “why not? you’re so [insert complimentary adjective]!”
It’s always a disappointing moment when your family turns on you.
There was a sort of cruel irony in the recent rise of people inquiring into my marital status — when I was dating someone rather seriously, no one seemed to ask. But the minute I went back to being a bachelorette? Well, “are you seeing anyone?” is as ubiquitous in my daily conversations as “hello! how are you?”
Is it the question that bothers me? No, not any more. I’ve learned to read “are you seeing someone” an indication of genuine interest in me. (Between you and me, I’m more troubled by the people who ask about my kids. I don’t have kids. As far as I’m concerned, I’m not even old enough to have A kid… but that’s a blog for another time….)
What gets me about the “are you seeing anyone?” investigation is the follow up question: “why not?”
Flashback to my first annual check-up with my gynecologist:
“Do we need to talk about birth control?”
“Umm…. Not this time.”
“What’s wrong? The boys you hang out with don’t like pretty women?”
I indignantly twisted my head around my knee and stared at the middle-aged man at the end of the table, who was holding a medical device probably invented in medieval times… by a man. Isn’t this moment awkward enough? Do we really need to go there? And do I really need to answer that? And why, all of a sudden, do I feel inadequate, despite the ill-timed compliment?
Every time someone asks me why I’m single, I think of my gynecologist and his exam table. I guess there’s just no way to avoid the awkward.
“I bet you’re stuck up,” said a cab driver to me one late night in downtown Manhattan after asking me if I had a boyfriend. He decided he’d answer the “why” for me.
“I might be.”
“Don’t you want someone to wake up to?”
“Doesn’t everyone? But having someone to wake up to doesn’t necessarily mean anything.”
As I paid my fair he handed me his personal card and offered to fill the vacant boyfriend position, despite the fact I was, apparently, stuck up. I declined and made my way into the night.
Inquiries into my marital status have always felt intrusive to me, but worse is implication that being single means I’m some how falling short. Perhaps its a consolation to know that at I’ve reached the age and point in my career where people stop prescribing a rich husband. Instead, they prescribe qualities in a prospective partner…
…Or a drink with one of their few remaining single friends.
All the world’s a match-maker, after all.