Being Single


This was prompted by an article in the New York Times, about why men can’t stand to be alone.

I’ll admit the article is a little confusing to me. First the writer said men feel they need help when they’re down and out whereas women get on with things. She also says men are hard-wired to feel danger,  but women aren’t. I can’t get on board with that. Most of the personal safety tips you see and hear on the news and elsewhere are directed at women (don’t walk alone at night, have a friend walk you to your car, park in a well-lighted area, be aware of your surroundings, carry pepper-spray, take self-defense classes, etc.). I strongly disagree that women “do not walk around alert for danger.” If you as a woman don’t, you should. Women, she says, are ‘hard-wired to read the signals that keep us from danger”, yet a sentence above that says women don’t walk around alert to danger. Either we’re alert to it and reading the signals, or we’re not.

Men I’ve talked to about this issue have NEVER incorporated those things into their existences. It is a foreign idea to them that they should ever feel threatened when out in public. They are men. They are strong. They can handle whatever comes their way. They’re not even aware of the safety precautions I mentioned above. It’s never occurred to them. The article makes it sound as if men walk around frightened all the time if they’re alone (i.e., single).

But I agree that men can’t stand to be alone. This may seem counterintuitive, since women in their younger years are the ones looking to get married and settle down, not men. The switch comes after people have been in a long-term relationship. I’ve seen it, and experienced it, first-hand. Most women do not remarry after divorce (yours truly is a case in point. My ex had hooked up with someone before our divorce. He’s since moved on to someone else. I’m still single). Men, however, can’t seem to remarry fast enough. They want someone to take care of them, do the child-rearing, the cooking, the baking, the cleaning, the shopping. I watched one manager where I work get involved with someone before he divorced his first wife. The new Mrs. Manager now does all those things for him (although she still works as well).

A second co-worker whose marriage had a spectacular melt-down, was terrified of being alone with his kids. As we were chatting about his situation one day he pointed out how Mr. Manager had his then-amour to help him out, and he didn’t know how he could manage on his own. He also hooked up with someone not long after his divorce was final (if not before, still not clear). They are now married.

Yet a third co-worker who had been divorced for a brief period confided to me one day that he wanted to find someone and remarry because who was going to take care of him when he was old? Women outlive men most of the time, and he was probably going to need someone to nurse him in his old age. Hand to god, I am not making this up. This is why men marry. Not for love, or even the sex. They want a nurse-maid. It’s not out of a sense of fear for their personal safety, they want to know who’s going to wipe the drool off their chin when they’re old and incapacitated, should they live that long. I believe that guy is still single, but he’s in another part of the country now so I can’t be sure.

I was on a first date with someone years ago, and one of the first questions he asked as we sat chatting over dinner was was I a good cook. “Are you looking to hire a cook?” I asked. Needless to say, I did not see him again.

Marriage used to be a social construct, two people banding together to survive. One did the nesting, the other did the hunting. It’s hard for one person to do it all. These days it’s more about… well, I’m not really sure. Read an article the other day defending the idea of dating after marriage. Umm… so why get married? So you always have someone to fall back on if you can’t find a date for Friday night? What if the other person does? I’ll never understand that one.

Would I ever get married again? :::grimace::: Not sure.

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36 thoughts on “Being Single

  1. Berit says:

    Lots of interesting thoughts here.

    I’ve asked a some of my male friends if they are ever worried when they are outside late at night. Most say they are not and they don’t think about safety issues like parking close to the entrance and walk in lit areas etc that most women do.

    They are aware that other men may start trouble when they are out on town and drunk, but that’s confrontation, not assault. Yet I know a few men that are nervous, especially around large groups of drunk men.

    In many ways I think women manage single life after a long term relationship better than men do. Maybe because the women have other close relationships in their lives than the significant other.

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    • D. D. Syrdal says:

      I think that’s a good point, that women have other relationships to fall back on for moral support, whereas men typically leave the couple’s social life and events up to the woman and have few friends of their own. Couples generally get together because the women will plan something. (My ex and I were an exception. Since we didn’t really like the same people, it made it very hard to have a social life).

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  2. jmgershom says:

    Interesting article and post. It can misleading when an author lumps all gender issues to the group they are talking about. I find that everyone is a bit unique when it comes to the topics just discussed.

    As for your explanation why men marry, I can only speak for myself. My first wife and I divorced after our 10 year anniversary, when I found out I couldn’t have kids. My second marriage lasted for 7 years, and resulted with her abandoning me and her sons after she had a nervous breakdown. I’m a cook by training and I loved to cook at home. We would clean the kitchen together, laundry…etc. It was a team effort, but it was just fun to do things together. I don’t need someone to take care of me, the Army trained me to be self-supporting, but it would be nice to have someone to do things with and grow old with. I’m not looking to remarry, and my mom jokingly says, “Jeff, you just need to find a good woman and just live together.” She’s a widow and told me long ago that she wouldn’t remarry, but would like to only have friends. I guess that’s why I’m like my mom, considering she went into labor with me on her birthday. 🙂

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    • D. D. Syrdal says:

      Oh sure, there are always exceptions, especially these days when things are more egalitarian than ever before in history. But I admit I was not at all surprised to hear that co-worker talk about wanting to find someone to take care of him when he was old. Listening to the guys in the office talking one day about all the stuff their wives do for them and all the stuff these women handle around the house, another female co-worker and I looked at eachother and said in unison “I gotta get me a wife.” It wasn’t just the chores the wives did, it was the way these guys phrased it like their wives were some kind of appliance. I think one actually said his wife was “useful.”

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  3. tmso says:

    Generalizations are just that – generalizations. But I do agree with you and Berit in regards to safety/danger – men are more likely to seek it than fear they would be the victim, whereas women fear of becoming the victim.

    In regards to why they marry? That’s up to the individual. There may be trends, but overall, I’d just ask the guy.

    (I’m still in my first marriage – 18 years.)

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    • D. D. Syrdal says:

      Thanks, tmso. Of course not everyone is the same, and I clearly disagreed with the writer on many points.

      Congratulations on staying married so long, it’s a rare thing these days.

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  4. rosie49 says:

    Terrific post! I chuckled out loud when I read your response to “Are you a good cook?”
    You know the old chestnut? “A woman looking for a husband clearly has never had one.” I’ve been married to the same guy for almost 29 years, and there are still some days I’m gaga about him and others when I look at him and wonder, “What was I thinking?” (I suspect he thinks the same of me, too.) But any long-term relationship is like that.

    Years ago, when our younger daughter was around four, the three of us were cuddled up in bed one night reading a bedtime story when she just calmly announced she was never getting married b/c a “husband was just too much work.” (Hand to God: those were her exact words.) Her stricken Dad asked her who told her that and she just calmly replied that NOBODY had to TELL her that.

    But I take this article with a big grain of salt. I’m sure a great many of us have female family members who were widows for a longer time than they were wives, and they flourished during their widowhood. Ironic, but I can’t recall many of my male relatives outliving their wives. Is is nice to have companionship? Absolutely. Is it scary to think of being incapacitated and alone? You betcha, but a marriage is making a life together as partners, not finding live-in help.

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    • D. D. Syrdal says:

      Thanks Rosie 🙂 That’s hysterical about your daughter, she is one sharp cookie!

      Many widows do just fine. My own mother buried two husbands, and lived a good ten years after the second one passed. I agree that marriage should be a partnership, working together to make a life. Hopefully the love will remain, though it is surely tempered and matures through the years.

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  5. maryjblog says:

    “Men are hard-wired to feel danger all the time. I know there must be science around somewhere to back up this assertion, but seriously, that’s what makes a man a man.” Wow, that’s the laziest construction I’ve seen in ages. If there’s science around, why doesn’t Dominique Brown cite it, instead of falling back on sweeping, gender-based generalizations? I have fallen on my butt spectacularly 2x in my adult life: once, when I was a single woman, walking to work, and once, as a married lady whose husband was at his office in another city and state. Both times I got up slowly, brushed myself off, and hobbled to where I was going (and both times, a man half a block away was nice enough to stop and call over to see if I needed help, which I didn’t really.) In neither case did I start wallowing around in a lonely self-pitying need for attention from the opposite sex. That, to me, is the core of it – some people, of both genders, are in a hurry to marry and re-marry b/c they need somebody to pay attention to them; they fear or don’t enjoy their own company. In the case of that one guy DD describes, he doesn’t even enjoy the company of his own kids. I’ll be married 18 years next month and it was the smartest thing I ever did, but I think one of the biggest reasons that I didn’t get around to it till I was past 30 was b/c honestly, I come from a big family and I kinda treasure my solitude now and then.

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    • D. D. Syrdal says:

      Hahaha 🙂 Better to shave a year off than to think it’s been twice as long as it has!

      That line about gagged me, too. Maybe she wrote the article when she was feeling especially low and/or had been drinking. If she’s so worried about falling and not being found for weeks she needs to sign up for that Life Alert: “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”

      It would be hard for me to give up my solitude as well. I’ve read and heard so many times that the worst reason to be in a relationship is because (for women) they’re afraid of growing old alone, because in most cases (I won’t make up any statistics here) they’re going to be alone anyway. Women outlive men the majority of the time (although there are no guarantees either way). I think the co-worker who feared divorce and being alone just didn’t know what to do with kids.

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  6. submerina says:

    Men are hard-wired to feel danger? BWAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!! Maybe she meant: Men are hard-wired to feel impervious to danger?

    The writer obviously has no concept of Schrödinger’s Rapist, or she would understand why her entire hypothesis is a load. I wish I could find the blog I originally read SR on, because there was a comment hread by a guy who was the poster child for just how badly guys don’t. get. it. He kept going on about how, if a woman would just let him talk to her, he would make her see what a great guy he is. Entirely missed the point that he was exhibiting classic male privilege.

    I come from a place where you learn as a very young girl about the terrible things that can – and statistically, will – happen to you because you are a woman and you have no rights in the eyes of the predominant male culture.

    Sorry. This gets my back up like WOAH.

    Women definitely seem to deal better with being alone and I wonder how much of that gets passed down from mother to daughter. I think of my father without my mother and my heart breaks; I imagine him fading away (even though my father isn’t one of those “let the woman do it” types). I think of my mother without my father and I am pretty sure she’ll be okay, as long as she’s still able to look after herself. My grandmother is alone now and the only reason she is starting to fade is because she doesn’t have good health and is completely isolated from the world – despite being in a care home – as a result.

    I also think that having a good, solid hobby does a lot for keeping you going in the absence of a partner. All of the Little Old Ladies I deal with keep it together because they keep busy, with hobbies, with charity work, with group outings.

    Um. And I should probablys top there 🙂

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    • D. D. Syrdal says:

      Hahahaha! 🙂 Oh god you ladies are killing me tonight! Exactly, they tend to think “I’m the man, I can crush a beer can on my forehead, ergo, I am invincible.” Obviously not all men are cretins, we’ve all known wonderful men who are vastly more enlightened, but sadly it doesn’t seem to be the norm. (present company excluded, Jeff and tmso).

      That guy sounds scary. There was a similar thing making the rounds on Twitter a few weeks ago, having to do with online dating. The link was to a blog that had reposted the email a woman received from a guy she had been out with once and subsequently had ignored all his attempts to contact her. He had gone as far as tracking down her email address, and sent her this rambling missive on why he thought they were a great match, and citing all her behaviors from their date that clearly were signaling to him how into him she was (smiling, being polite, twirling her hair) and how many common interests they had… it went on and on. Seriously, if she ignores your texts and doesn’t contact you, GET A CLUE! Do they really need to hear her say “I’m not interested”? She shouldn’t have to explain WHY, just deal with it. Reminds me of my ‘stalkers’ on the train who can’t seem to get the hint either. Like Lora (startingoveringermany) commented to me about that, they try to wear you down with persistence.

      Sorry to hear about your grandmother’s failing health. The isolation can really take a toll. Any chance of getting her moved closer to other family? Or to a facility that has more activities for her to engage in?

      Don’t ever feel like you have to stop, let it all hang out here! We’re just here to have a conversation 🙂 Thanks for all that, I’m going to look up the Schrodinger’s Rapist thing.

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    • maryjblog says:

      Did you see the discussion on Schrodinger’s Rapist at Kate Harding’s Shapely Porse blog, maybe? I remember there was such a big hugh & cry about it over there – ridiculous acrimonious comments from all sides of the debate – that she finally closed it to comments.
      I used to enjoy Kate’s posts, but some of the people she permitted to fill in for her seemed to think that they OWNED the topic of feminism, and would get really testy with anyone who disagreed w/them.

      D. Brown’s generalizations about the way men are “hard-wired” appear, IMO, to be based on the kind of action movies that are favored by primarily male audiences – you know, the ones starring the tough, shrewd, man’s man who always senses danger 5 minutes before anybody else, and knows just how to improvise a solution. Of course, if a woman smells danger from a mile away, and starts taking steps to protect herself, fans of those movies tend to poke fun at her “intuition” and joke about all the stuff she carries in her purse (mace/flashlight/banaids/aspirin to ward of a heart attack/chocolate to treat diabetic shock) in case of emergencies.

      It seems to me that we are all afraid of something; everybody has different ways of expressing it and dealing with it.

      How do you guys feel about people who are afraid to eat out alone? As much as I love a dinner date with Fang, I also love a nice quite lunch at the coffee shop, with a copy of the Daily News for company. Are men or women more likely to enjoy this?

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      • D. D. Syrdal says:

        Submerina’s link to Schrodinger’s Rapist was the one at Harding’s blog. It was an excellent article, but I didn’t get into the comments at all (I believe there were something like 1200) so I don’t know if one of those was from the guy Submerina talked about, exhibiting male privilege attitude.

        As far as eating out alone, my guess is men would be more at ease doing it. Same with bars. Very few women would go to a bar by themselves for a drink, and yet it’s almost expected that men should with no judgement. To see a woman alone at a bar *most* people are going to assume she’s either waiting for someone (a friend, or her date), is looking for a hook-up, is a hooker, or just a lush. It ‘s not a socially sanctioned activity for women. Eating out alone doesn’t have that much stigma anymore, with so many women in the workforce and single now who have to grab a bite on their own. There was actually an episode of “Sex and the City” that featured dealt with that. In the final scene Carrie is seated at an outdoor table, alone, and had to explain to the waiter who asked if she was waiting for someone “It’s just me.”

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  7. gypsyscarlett says:

    “Read an article the other day defending the idea of dating after marriage. Umm… so why get married? So you always have someone to fall back on if you can’t find a date for Friday night? What if the other person does? I’ll never understand that one.”

    I didn’t read the article, but was it about open marriage? I won’t go into details as it concerns my private life, but such an arrangement works very well for my husband and me.

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    • D. D. Syrdal says:

      I’m not sure it was intended to be about open marriage, the writer just seemed to be ruminating on the idea of why people should quit dating after getting married.

      If it works for you, that’s your life and that’s great if you’re happy with it.

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  8. gypsyscarlett says:

    Wanted to add that the article about women not being afraid is really weird. Huh? I wish we didn’t fear so much, or have to fear so much. The statistics are so sad and horrifying! But also wanted to comment on this: “don’t walk alone at night”. This is one of those myths that forever keep circulating. It’s not whether it’s day or night. Just as many women are attacked in broad daylight. The dangerous factor is if one is in an isolated area/situation. And a woman is much, much more likely to be attacked by someone she knows and believes she can trust, than by a stranger.

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  9. D. D. Syrdal says:

    Oh my goodness, thank you Susannah! I’m not sure this would work in a magazine since it references another article, but possibly if I reworked it a little… Also I think once something is published even in a blog like this, publications will consider it ‘published’ and therefore won’t touch it.

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  10. Angie Richmond (@write_me_happy) says:

    I remarried 5 years after my divorce. I met the man I’m currently married to, 3 months after my split, at a time when I was not interested in jumping into another relationship (first relationship was 10 years in total). My parents are also divorced. My dad remarried quickly (he was engaged before the divorce was even final) and my mom remained single for years. Eventually she did remarry (7 years later) and has been for almost 4 years. In that time my dad went through another divorce (wife number 2) and into a new relationship within months (wife number 3? I guess we’ll see.) So yes, I would agree that men find it much more difficult to be on their own. At least from my experience.

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  11. maryjblog says:

    I have no hard facts on this, but it seems to me that one of the reasons 2nd marriages are not prone to last is BECAUSE of all the folks who rush in, either because they’re afraid to be alone, or because they are afraid their partner will get away if they don’t close the deal. A long time ago I worked with a very nice woman, stable/normal in every way, except that well into her 40’s, she was still boy-crazy: she’d been married, divorced, remarried to and filed for divorce from the same man, and before the 2nd divorce was final, she was standing on her head trying to maintain the attention of ANOTHER guy who was still married. When I suggested, gently, that the odds might be better if she focussed on men who were unattached, she explained with a straight face that single men get snapped up so quickly, that she felt you had to start working on men while they were still married, so that when the divorce was final they’d be ready to marry whomever they were seeing at the time. I stopped arguing after that; just letting her talk gave me less of a headache.

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  12. D. D. Syrdal says:

    Dear god, what a nutcase. I have heard the reason 2nd marriages fail is because people go into them thinking “I’ve been married before, I know what it’s ALL ABOUT. I can do this, piece of cake.” They think they have it all figured out. The fact is, these are still two individuals trying to learn to live together, and what works with one may not work with another. It’s still marriage, and it’s still hard.

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  13. startingoveringermany says:

    I had to smile reading this, my mom and I was just talking about guys and marriage a couple of days ago. How some guys get married because they can kick back and just focus on work while the woman focus on work, family, and the house. Not saying that some guys don’t do the same.

    My father once told me he got married when he was sick one day in the house for a long time and no one notice. He said he could of been dead. So he got married to this lady who took his mother all the time to give to her daughters behind his back and told him he must work the last day of his life because she was not going to look for a job. He dealt with all her bs so he would not die alone.
    And mess up thing was he did not 10 years ago. My mom told me the same pastor who buried my father is the same man who married Mrs. Rose (my dad wife). God know what number husband this one because she was married a couple of times before my dad and still did not work. My mom said she killing them all off, lol, each one is dead.

    Now so why get married? If there is love there I would get married again in a heart beat. No one told me it was a lot of work but after one see that it is not all fun and laughter and it takes a lot to keep the relationship going and not even talking sex wise it is truly worth it to be with the person who you love and who love you back with their whole heart.

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    • startingoveringermany says:

      Hi DD, I just seen an error, it should be take his money not his mother, lol

      Thank you DD, I hope love find you and sweep you off your feet and never let you go because love will know he has someone special in his life and no else will be a comparison or come close!

      I am an old soul, I believe love is out there for everyone. Ask me what I thought when I was in my early 20’s I would told you I believe in lust what is that love thing, lol. What can I say…I am evolving 🙂

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