HuffPost author tells single women: “don’t be so picky”

Yesterday I followed a Google News alert link to an article telling single working women how to increase their chances of getting a partner. I definitely wanted to express an opinion about the article, but when I tried to write this as a comment on the column itself, after multiple frustrating tries, it simply didn’t allow me to post my comment. So I’m writing here on SWWAN.

Holly Sidell, author of the Huff Post Women section, does tend to write about dating, so you might expect this sort of thing. But still I was surprised to find her suggesting that some impliedly-significant percentage of women are “still” single because they’re too picky. She writes about how she decided to negotiate her “deal breakers” (I can’t be with anyone who…) with her latest flame and how she has now found love. She then suggests that perhaps if other women would do the same with their deal breakers, they, too, might find the perfect mate. My thoughts:

A) Seems wrong to write as if being paired up is the state to which all women aspire. Not every woman feels that way.

B) Regardless of  what boundaries a woman creates, it seems just as reasonable to assume that deal-breakers become negotiable not when you randomly decide to negotiate them, but when the circumstances fit and the feelings between the two people are strong enough to allow, or even compel, them to work such things out.

That’s one thing I don’t enjoy: lectures about ways to get un-single.

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Singles: Loving life–but paying more!

Robie House (designed by Frank Lloyd Wright), ...

Image via Wikipedia

I’m a fan of Frank Lloyd Wright‘s work. He designed some of the world’s most unique architectural designs back in the early 20th century—a time when thinking out of the box was still unusual—and his work has survived the test of time. He lived in Chicago for a while, and there’s an active preservation society here. My sister and I visited his studio out in Oak Park a few weeks ago and enjoyed it immensely.

Today I received the below inviting me to attend a 4-day tour of Wright’s works on the North Shore. And I was sad to see—as Bella DePaulo has often pointed out—that singles pay more for the privilege of participating in this tour. Since the price for the tour is all-inclusive, how would the tour operators make more money from people doubling up in rooms? Is it because the hotel might not have enough rooms if too many demanded single rooms?

In any case, the “single room supplement” (see the last line below) equals an increase of more than 13% in the price. Hmmm. Anyone out there get paid 13% extra for your work because you’re single?

Ultimate Plus℠ Package

Extend the magic of Wright Plus to a unique long-weekend experience, including accommodations. Immerse yourself in six spectacular events in four unforgettable days.

Featuring:

  • Invitation-only Chairman’s Reception in the spectacular lobby of Chicago’s Rookery Building, and Private Tour of the Burnham Library.
  • Private Passage to Wright’s North Shore, a delightful all-day excursion with a tour of privately owned Wright-designed homes located in Chicago’s exclusive North Shore neighborhood. Ultimate Plus Exclusive.
  • The celebrated Wright Plus Housewalk. You will enjoy a Housewalk Fast Pass – allows immediate access to all Housewalk homes. No waiting in lines.
  • A private lunch and lecture exclusively for Ultimate Plus guests on the day of the housewalk.
  • Exclusively Wright Dinners, private dining at an exquisite Wright-designed home.
  • A gourmet breakfast at the hotel and a private tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Frederick C. Robie House.
  • Three nights’ accommodation in a deluxe room (double occupancy) at the historic Carleton of Oak Park, Official Hotel of Wright Plus 2012. Includes welcome basket.
  • Transportation to and from all events as well as a Sunday drop-off at Chicago’s O’Hare airport (directly from Frederick C. Robie House Tour).

Ultimate Plus Weekend Package: Purchase Tickets Now

$2350 FLWPT member; $2600 non-member
Single room supplement: $325

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Singles: loving, fearless and free

Saw a great quote today in my HeartMath daily dose:

“The more you are motivated by love, the more fearless and free your action will be.” ~ Dalai Lama

Gendun Drup, 1st Dalai Lama

Image via Wikipedia

A beautiful thought, indeed. When you listen closely to someone else’s problems, when you respond thoughtfully, when you express understanding without judging or telling them what to do, that’s love at work.

When you respond to a political situation by getting all the facts and looking at both sides before you react, making sure your sources are as unbiased as possible, that’s love at work.

Too many people assume that if a single woman lives alone, she doesn’t love. How wrong that is! There is ample documentation that shows the exact opposite. Singlism expert, Bella DePaulo, says “research shows single people are more connected to friends, siblings, parents, neighbors” than marrieds. Which only makes sense. Human beings are social creatures. When you don’t have just a single person with whom you live and share your life, you’re more likely to reach out to others.

Women in particular tend to create communities of friends, relatives, coworkers, and others to whom they can turn to relax, go adventuring, describe frustrations and joys, discuss ideas and just generally share their lives.

Single men, thanks to powerful strains of homophobia in our society, are a little less likely to develop a strong community of fellow males. But some men have no fear of that kind of judgment and simply go forth, sharing time with male friends, attending men’s groups, and so on.

The point: as love grows, so do our hearts. And as we single women continually reach out with love to others, we also tend to feel more fearless and free—and often look that way to others. I like that idea. ” )

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Book review: Singlism – Proof positive it’s rampant

days Elena Kagan since 2010

Image via Wikipedia

Did you know you pay more for most things in our society just because you’re single? Are you aware of the tax disadvantages you live with because you’re single?

Did you realize that single women—even accomplished, high-profile single women like Elena Kagan, the 112th Supreme Court Justice—are often subjected during interviews to intrusive questioning about their dating life and their feelings or intentions about marriage and children, that single men almost never encounter?

And OMG, I am freaking out. I just realized something. As I’m writing this post Zemanta, which is a very cool service that scans the words you’re writing and brings up various “related” images you can use in your blog posts, brought up the picture you see at right of Elena. However, most of the other images it called up are pictures of mental health institutions.

What in the world do Zemanta software writers (probably mainly young men as most software writers are) think a mental health institution has to do with being single?

Bella DePaulo, who writes the Living Single column for Psychology Today, would love it. In the newest book she edited, Singlism, which holds a compendium of posts on singlism from her PT blog, you can enjoy the unshakeable logic, solid research, and pithy comments with which she skewers the many instances she finds of the stereotyping and prejudice singles endure. She also edited the brief contributions from others who write with enlightened voices about singles issues.

DePaulo actually coined the word singlism when she first began to realize the stigmatizing that goes on, and she wrote her first book Singled Out. I like the format of the new book—short items, quick reading, hard-hitting. It’s a good one to keep on hand in case you want a quick reference to keep you fired up.

After all, it took women being fired up for more than hundred years to finally win the vote.

P.S. In one of her posts, DePaulo laments the fact that marriage is the occasion for out-of-control gift buying. Yeah, and anniversaries, too. Not to promote the idea that singles should become avid gift-hoarders, but hey, that’s one of the reasons we created Single Working Women’s Week, and now Single Working Women’s Day (August 4). So mark your calendar for next year and either buy a single friend something you know she’d love, or give her the gift of time and energy—cook her a dinner, take out her garbage, babysit her pet, whatever.  But celebrate!

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Living alone means…

Margaret Mead, American cultural anthropologist

Image via Wikipedia

Was searching for the source of a quote about how sharing with someone doubles our joys and halves our sorrows (there are so many different sources mentioned that I can’t determine where it actually originated) when I came across this one:

“Having someone wonder where you are when you don’t come home at night is a very old human need.” – Margaret Mead

Reminds me of a wonderful reflection on living alone that appeared in this blog a few years ago. And my comment on it: “As author Alice Walker so aptly puts it, when you have a live-in, that’s at least one side of you that’s covered. When you live alone, you’re vulnerable on all sides.”

So let’s see. What does she mean when she says “sides,” and which one is supposed to be uncovered when you live alone?

Financial is one side. Though it may also be true for a single partner in a percentage of married or cohabiting couples, we singles mostly bear the full costs of everything we do and are solely responsible for maintaining our home, clothes, etc. We don’t generally have people  volunteering to throw in a percentage of their salary to help.

Social. We may, and if we’re lucky, do have enough pals or friends we can go places and do things with. To have company out in the world is usually a blessing; to have company at home can be a mixed blessing when you’re not in the mood! But in any case it can take extra courage to pursue life’s little adventures when you have to do it alone.

Physical. When you live with someone, you have another person to share a hug with when you need one. In romantic relationships you’ve got regular opportunities for sex. Singles must work to find hugs among friends or relatives, and/or we can get and give physical affection with a pet.

What else? Spirituality is something we all choose and experience alone.

Emotionally could be where she’s suggesting the “uncovered” side occurs when you live alone. You may have one or more close friends you can turn to for support, but you always have to find them first. They’re not there to see and hear your pain when you get the devastating phone call about a lost job or the death of a close friend. They’re not wondering where you are when you’re late, and they’re not there to be glad when you get home (another thing pets can help with!).

Do you feel vulnerable on all sides? If you believe that life is a series of lessons, then it’s easy to see that living alone can be the larger context for the kinds of lessons you never have to face when you always live with someone. Just as living with someone gives you lessons you can’t get any other way.

There are joys and freedoms to being coupled just as there are unique joys and freedoms to being single. When the day comes that society values both equally, there will be no need for organizations like SWWAN.

Cropped screenshot of Rosalind Russell from th...

Image via Wikipedia

Ever notice how the most interesting and exciting stories (in books and movies) usually involve an independent woman, generally unmarried? think about it–even in the day of Rosalind Russell. Read my review of her movie, Sister Kenney.

[Many thanks to Wendy and Rosemary for helping me sort through the issues for this post. And check out their website: www.mysinglespace.org]

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Burn away the negative

(c) FreeFoto.com

The mystery and wonder of fire. Photo supplied by FreeFoto.com

We forget sometimes the unprecedented miracle that occurred when humankind first discovered fire—and learned how to make it and preserve it. What a long way we’ve come today to nuclear power, wireless connectivity and the extraordinary power of the Internet.

But the magic of fire is as mysterious and moving as ever. Meditators recommend gazing at a candle flame to set your mind free of daily disturbances. Working fireplaces command a premium on the housing market—despite our radiators, forced air and electric heat sources, there’s no denying the warmth and comfort a fireplace can bring. Winter solstice celebrations center on using fire to consume the negative things we want to forget about from our past year; acorns represent the great good in store for the year ahead.

As with the winter solstice, fire is an important part of celebrating the new year in many places. In Scotland, where for ancient religious reasons people were for many decades prohibited from celebrating Christmas, they celebrate Hogmanay with fire on new year’s eve.

I got together with another single working woman friend last night and ate hummus and peppers and drank wine while we talked the evening away. We’d already done the fire ceremony on the solstice but we talked about doing the ritual regularly as a way of reminding ourselves to let go of the unwanted.

So whether you went out and partied last night or stayed home—with or without a friend or a fireplace—think how good it will feel to truly release any negative thoughts and energy from this past year. Write those things down on slips of paper, then light a candle and let the fire burn away those thoughts, habits, memories. If you’re wanting to change a habit, make sure you’ve got a different one to put in its place. We are, after all, creatures of habit and if we drop one, there’ll be a big hole in our routine. So better fill it with something better. Naturally, that’s easier said than done. Here’s a cute post from the PsyBlog on how long it takes to form a habit.

Like, let’s see, I spent nearly 30 years doing aerobics almost every morning of the week. In the last 10 months I’ve gotten out of the habit because the chiropractor asked me to stop (we’ve been working on repairing and rejuvenating my body after hip replacement surgery). Hmmm. I’ve got at least 61 days left to get in the habit of my newly allowed exercises…

Here’s a lighthearted bit to usher in the spirit of 2011. Hope it brings a small smile on this first day of what promises to be a momentous new year for you and for me—and the fifth anniversary of SWWAN!

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Never quit adventuring

Seattle, Washington, USA.
Image via Wikipedia

By manleyaudio (originally posted to Flickr as Sunset in Seattle) [CC-BY-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Guess between going and recovering from the vacation in Seattle and the new heart issues I’m up against, I’ve been directing my attention more inward lately. But today I want to talk about living life as an adventure. My trip to Seattle was to visit someone I met and bonded with almost instantly more than 15 years ago—my dear ever-single, adventuring friend Barbara.

Seattle is set in the middle of the mountains, is very near the ocean, close to the desert, and loaded with rivers, lakes and other random bodies of water. It’s on the side of the mountains that gets all the moisture (read: fog, mist, rain), so there are tons of green plants everywhere. It’s a great place for a person with a sense of adventure to live—you can visit a cosmopolitan city in the morning and be in the mountains by afternoon.  It seems like a perfect place for my friend to live.

Something so soothing about spending quality, unhurried time with a soul sister. I hadn’t seen Barbara in 13 years, and we don’t correspond much by email or otherwise. But I knew—based on how delightful our last visit was when we spent several days driving up and down the magnificent California coastline—we’d have a great time. And indeed we did.

Barbara not only has the same first name as me, but she’s read and studied many of the same books and ideas in her life as I have. She also holds similar positions on many social and political issues. Plus, we’re very close in age, and our birthdays are only a day apart—both Aquarians. How often do you meet a friend like that—and click completely with?

Barbara was very close with her mom, who just died about 3 years ago. She essentially has no family left and is looking at retiring soon, but she’s not the least daunted. She’s approaching the last segments of her time on earth with the same sense of adventure she’s always had about life. She’s put a downpayment on a regular-car-parking-space-sized RV that she plans to travel the country with when she retires.  She’s checking out all the informational and support groups—thank God for the Internet for us single women!—like WomenRV. And look, I found this one for single RV women!

All I can say is, we single women have been living the adventure of navigating life on our own for however many years. It only makes sense that we’ll find something challenging and exciting to do in our later years. I’m looking for adventures close to home—like finding the forest preserves in the Chicago area so I can take a walk in the woods even though I live in a huge city. I’m trying to get my brother to bring his tent and camping equipment and go with us on a weekend camping adventure.

A photo I took of a lion at the Lincoln Park Zoo.
Image via Wikipedia

Spent the afternoon at the Lincoln Park Zoo yesterday—they’ve really fixed that place up since I last saw it 40 years ago. What a treasure to have only 5 bus stops away from my apartment.

I’m sorry; I know I’m rambling. But you get the point. Don’t quit having adventures, no matter how old or tired you get. They don’t have to be far. Just make sure they’re somewhere outside your everyday routine.

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Angels among us

The first few hydrogen atom electron orbitals ...
What does quantum physics have to do with angels? Image via Wikipedia

It’s been inspiring reading our guests’ thoughts during this Single Working Women’s Week. I want to end the week with something equally inspiring.

I’m thinking of a post I wrote years ago when I first started blogging. I used to write a personal blog called AngelsandFrogs. It’s gone now, but because it was early in my career as a self-employed copywriter and marketing consultant, I had a little more time to devote to thinking poetic thoughts. One of my favorite posts from that time—and I wrote it on a Saturday morning also—seems like a good way to end this special holiday week.

Long pause…like 24 hours.

Well, did you ever think you were going to find something, go looking and realize that whatever it was you were looking for is buried so far you don’t know if you’ll ever see it again? I had to start manually digging through all the 3 years of backups of my AngelsandFrogs blog. Needless to say, I didn’t get far enough before I had to interrupt for an errand.

Since I haven’t yet found the post I was thinking of, I’ll share this one from 2003. Just as relevant today (though it’s now Sunday instead of Saturday when I started this post).

Angels among us

“It is impossible to create any action that does not have value. You may not see it, but that is irrelevant. Live in the trust that when it is appropriate, pieces will fall into place and you will see clearly.” ~Gary Zukav, The Seat of the Soul

Gary Zukav studied quantum physics in order to present it for the layperson. Five years later, because he had been so profoundly moved by what he’d learned while he studied for that book, he wrote Seat of the Soul, another book in which he takes the lessons learned and applies them to the oldest, most insoluble questions of mankind–why are we here? does evil exist? what about “sin”? how can a “good God” allow suffering?

The answers he comes up with offer a kind of comfortable certainty previously available only to staunch adherents to various religious creeds. Hmmm. Gary Zukav admits he’s had great guidance from “non-physical guides and teachers.” Sounds a lot like old-fashioned “angels,” doesn’t it?

Our guest bloggers this week are just a few of the wonderful single women who could be said to be angels walking here among us. Thank you so much, ladies.

Ever ask a single woman, what can I do for you? Her automatic response is almost always, oh, I’m fine. Our next project ought to be helping single women learn how to let others do things for them! ” ) We’ll work on that for next year’s Single Working Women’s Week.

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Ever “defend yourself” for being single? Listen to Dr. KGL

Dr. Karen Gail Lewis is a great supporter of SWWAN. She’s been working with us for the past 3 years in many ways. We are thrilled to have her share one of her articles as our first Single Working Women’s Week guest blogger. Love to hear your thoughts on this tell-it-like-it-is post.

“Single Women, Stop Defending Yourself!”

“Proud to be single.” “Single by choice.”

Why do people who have not signed a legal document of marriage need to proclaim their feelings about their life position?

It is a shame women have to take a stance one way or another on their feelings about being single. Wouldn’t it be great if there were no more value judgment about being single than about the length of your fingernails? Sometimes they’re long and sometimes they’re short. But you aren’t treated differently because of their length. You don’t have to sing to the world that you like short nails or you’re proud of your long nails. Unfortunately, that non-judgmental thing is not the case in our society.

People who have signed the legal document of marriage don’t say they are proud to be married or married by choice. People in a majority (whether this is economics, racial, gender, or life position) take their place of privilege for granted. It’s only the minority [note from BP: Society’s conventions and rewards are designed mainly for marrieds and thus tend to make singles feel like a minority even though single women are now actually a 51% majority in America!] who may feel the need to sing out the praises for “not being married.” It sounds like what it probably is: a defense against others’ expectations – that everyone should be married. Too bad others often hear it as “Me thinks thou doth protest too much.”

Think about this: why do you need to laud your life position? If it weren’t that you are fighting off what others think you should do, would you need to?

I understand, though, I write as a woman who just turned 64. I write as a family therapist who specializes in singles (always single and single again). I also write as someone who has researched and published a lot about singles (see With or Without A Man: Single Women Taking Control of Their Lives). One of the many things I’ve learned is that singles of different decades view their life position differently.

Prior to age 30 people feel free not to have to follow society’s traditional rules. Women and men no longer feel compelled to find a mate in their 20s, get married, and start a family. There is more freedom to explore their social world, focus on career, hang around with the opposite sex, have sex – all without expectations that you must “settle down.”

“Settle down.” What a stifling phrase. It sounds like you can be yourself up until the time you “settle down” and have to stop being yourself. Settle down to what?

After age 30, though, women are continually warned about the “ticking clock.” While they may not feel pressured about having children at this point, others certainly are wanting to pressure them. And, by the end of their 30s, most women have given in; that ticking becomes deafeningly loud.

Once women enter their 40s, they either have to change their song or they have to put on a good front. It’s hard to sound proud of something that you don’t feel you have any choice about—the fact is, you can’t make an appropriate man appear in life. Or, you can put on a good front while you sing the old song, knowing it may no longer be in tune.

Women in their late thirties and older need support for not falling into the trap of having to take a stand on how they feel about being single. They need support for the variety of feelings they have—sometimes it’s great and freeing being single, sometimes it can feel sad or lonely [BP note: just like being married!]. And sometimes it’s not an issue at all. Women need support to avoid the self-blame for why they don’t have a man. Mostly, they need support to push back against our culture that pressures women into how they should be feeling as a single woman.

If you want information about a source of great support, check out my Unique Retreats for Women weekend. And, be sure to get your 15 Golden Rules For Being An Emotionally Healthy Single Woman.

Dr. Karen Gail Lewis, author of With or Without A Man: Single Women Taking Control of Their Lives, and other books for singles, is a marriage and family therapist (39 years). Her most recent book is Why Don’t You Understand? A Gender Relationship Dictionary She has a practice in Cincinnati and in Washington, DC. She is available for phone consultations, 513-542-0646.

A “Single Working Women’s Week” meditation

It’s a candle kind of morning. Dawn came gray, then suddenly lit by a strange light, then darkened with heavy layers of cloud. I love the morning. So peaceful. So full of possibility…

Started reading The Artist’s Way last week. It’s a book that’s been calling to me for years, since I first heard someone talking about it. It’s a book that—should you accept this mission—forces you to think. About things you may not have wanted to think. About things you may not have bothered to think much—like what do you  really want to do  with your life? Things like what did you like and what didn’t you like about your childhood…stuff that you may have already—if you’re over 50 like me—thought enough about, thank you, and have no desire to revisit.

Rebel Yell
Creative Commons License photo credit: Rohit Chhiber

An interesting exercise. List five lives you would have liked to have led if you didn’t lead the one you have. My list came fairly easily—rock singer, motivational speaker, painter, biologist/physicist, lawyer. Then the next part asks what can you do in your life to honor that part of yourself? Hmmm.

I realized that I’ve unwittingly been doing something significant during my present life to include some aspect of all those other dream lives. It was a curiously gratifying feeling.

Rock singer – For thirty years I’ve been known as the “crazy lady in the back who sings” in the aerobics-to-music class. It’s been one of the greatest joys of my life to sing and “dance” that way.

Motivational speaker – I’ve been been invited to do many presentations over the years of my career. For each one I’ve always done my best to inject my passion about the subject and my wish to share important information. Takes a lot of work, can be a little nerve-wracking (depending on the audience), but it’s a powerfully satisfying feeling when I know I’ve reached the minds and/or hearts of those to whom I speak.

Painter – I loved to draw when I was a child. I dreamed of being an artist, but my parents firmly discouraged me and suggested something sensible for making a living. While I was married and raising my kids, I was fortunate to be able to study drawing and watercolor painting. Talk about a lot of work! Talk about nerve-wracking—having my first one-woman show was the most frightening and exhausting experience of my life. Even though I am an excellent salesperson, I’m much better at selling other people’s stuff. It’s weird when it’s your own work out there. Anyway, I’m happy to say I sold many of my paintings, and I’m pleased to say I still have a few on my own walls.

Biologist/physicist – I had an immensely inspiring nun teach me sophomore biology. She was a powerful example of a single woman who wasn’t afraid to exercise her individuality. How she got away with it as one in the order of nuns of  the Blessed Virgin Mary that taught us is beyond me. Suffice it to say, when I got to my first college biology class, I realized this was going to be way too much work. Still I read voraciously about pscyhology and metaphysics, and then branched into actual physics for the layman. I am passionate about the subject. And 30 years after that failed biology class, I became involved in writing to the Cleveland Clinic development department, and the flame of my interest was rekindled. I started writing a blog about bioscience, BioMedNews.org.

Lawyer – Ah, this one’s tricky. My very first job out of high school was as a legal secretary for the second largest patent law firm in the city of Chicago at the time. I loved the whole “lawyer” thing, loved their intelligence, their command of the English language. What I didn’t like was the way they seemed to view me as a second-class person, not worth their time or attention. I had come out of an all-girls Catholic high school where you were judged on your performance alone. By the way, it’s an experience I’d still recommend for any girl who’s been held down or made to feel less important than the males in her family or who needs to get out of her own teenage hormones and focus on her work.

Anyway, I ended up marrying a law clerk who worked at the firm—we actually had arguments about the meaning and use of words. What fun for a writer and a lawyer! I adore courtroom dramas (think I’ve seen every passable one ever made). And I write medical-issue-related blogs for a wonderful public-service-spirited attorney. Writing Mesothelioma-Advice.org lets me exercise my understanding of using language properly in a legal context. All interstingly gratifying exercises for my legal tendencies.

Now during this special holiday, Single Working Women’s Week, maybe it’s a good time to ask yourself those questions. What five lives would you like to have led if you didn’t lead the one you’re leading? And what are you doing now to honor those parts of your soul?

I hope you like your answers. And if you don’t, this is the perfect week to imagine into being some new ways to have fun with your dream lives. My way of bringing my painter back to life now is to join the Art Museum. I’ll be scheduling monthly visits with my sketchbook.

I’m wondering if being single lets us honor more of all our parts? Has it been true for you?
Creative Commons License photo credit: Rohit Chhiber




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