Editor’s Note: This article focuses specifically on the ways in which society makes assumptions about single women who date men. This does not mean that people with other sexual orientations or identities are not also bombarded with annoying questions, but rather, that those questions often look different. Stay tuned for more nuanced articles, addressing different marginalized group, on this topic.
Back in January, we published an article about things you shouldn’t say to single women. That article was a much-needed wake-up call for those who ask those questions or make those comments.
However, we also understand that a lot of the folks reading our magazine aren’t the people asking those pesky questions. They are the single women targeted by them.
We’ve taken the liberty of providing you with some appropriately sarcastic – and sometimes poignant – responses to such interrogations.
Because, as we know, the only things women ever wants to talk about are love and romance! You need go no further than any grocery store magazine aisle to be bombarded with quizzes, horoscopes, and advice on love.
We have difficulty envisioning a woman who isn’t driven by romantic aspirations.
Surprisingly enough, women can also be the source of romantic scrutiny towards other women, even though we all probably experience it as much as (if not more than) we dish it out.
Dating culture is very specifically targeted towards women. Social conformity for women hinges upon finding a partner (assumed, of course, to be a man) to claim social legitimacy.
Women who dare to live independently, non-heterosexually, or follow their aspirations on their own are stigmatized.
This fixation implies that a woman’s worth and value hinges on her ability to find a man, which is, of course, problematic as hell.
Women can and do accomplish things and love themselves and feel complete without a partner (or with one who isn’t a man!).
Even so, there are some who will dismiss the prejudice of such logic by insisting that romance is a universal human desire and therefore fair game as a tool to connect and relate to others. This is also not true.
We have to account for those who identify as aromantic and are perfectly happy never looking for romantic love. Additionally, many others aren’t looking for love right now at all, and that’s totally acceptable.
Projecting your own standards for social norms onto each other is never okay. It’s a form of social violence. No one should ever feel pressured to seek out romance or a relationship just because someone else decides that that’s what they have to have to be perceived as normal, and yet it happens all the time.
So next time you feel the urge to play 20 questions about why someone is single or if you have the misfortune to be on the receiving end, let’s talk about the most popular dating interrogation Q&A.
1. Why Are You Single?
Answer: Because every time I date someone new, they eventually see past my physical beauty and realize that there is something horrifically wrong with my personality and run away as fast as they can. Consequently, I’ve spent my entire adulthood waiting for the perfect, most noble person – who would magically knows how to handle all of my difficult personality traits – to come along and rescue me from my self.
Sure, folks might try and pass this off as flattery, but it’s basically the most polite way to ask “What’s wrong with you?”
Single women are treated almost as though they have a disease. If she’s not in a relationship, it must be her fault. She has to have some baggage or some other undesirable quality.
Yes, even supposedly interested people treat our availability as a potential red flag!
Being single does not automatically indicate lack of ability to have a successful relationship. There are a myriad of reasons to be single. Maybe you’re busy with your career or your kids or maybe, shockingly, you just want to take some time to focus on yourself.
The most intimidating thing about a woman being single is that she knows how to be on her own and is comfortable making her own decisions. She is much more likely to prioritize herself above others and go after what she wants.
Being single is not a scarlet letter! You’re single because you know that you’re confident within yourself and you want to channel that energy into achieving other goals.
Don’t allow other people to tarnish your independence by implying that it’s sad or indicative of a problematic personality trait.
If anything, it indicates the strength of your personality!
2. When Was the Last Time You Went on a Date?
Answer: Funny you ask! I just quit my job and gave up my hobbies so I could pursue dating full time. I mean, finding a partner should be a priority, right? When else will I finally get to live my life-long dream of making sandwiches for my husband while naked from the ankles up (naturally, I have to wear stilettos when I cook naked).
Dating culture is really bizarre because we expect women to approach dating like a regular maintenance chore to complete. No effort means no husband (which is exactly what you should be looking for)!
I guess it’s true that you have to date around a little bit if you want to find a partner. But ultimately, it shouldn’t be some mandatory, laborious task of sifting through frogs to find a prince.
Date someone because you want to get to know them, not to force a relationship.
At the end of the day, you’ll date when you want to. You don’t have to worry about locking someone down before a certain deadline. You the rest of your life to find a partner – if that’s what you want.
Further, there’s no shame in finding fulfillment in other things. Being single gives you the opportunity to learn things about yourself without having to constantly respond to the needs and desires of another person.
We think of single women as being “alone,” but in reality you’re giving yourself a lot more freedom to be social. You can hang out with your friends as much as you want and make your own schedule.
Take yourself out on a date. Buy yourself wine and chocolate. You’re fierce and flawless, so bring on the self-love and appreciation!
If you’re not seeking a partner, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have your priorities straight. It just means that you have free time to pursue your other passions. Rock on!
3. Shouldn’t You Lower Your Standards or Be Less Picky?
Answer: OMG! You are absolutely right. Sigh. Thank you! Things like agency and self-awareness and autonomous desires and boundaries and assertiveness keep getting in the way of fulfilling my one true destiny as a woman – finding someone, any one, with whom to be in a partnership (regardless of how they treat me or how I feel about them).
Ah, yes. Nothing boosts a girl’s self-esteem like telling her she should aim lower to have any hope of finding someone who wants to be with her!
The scary thing is that this one often comes from our female friends. They may mean well, but what’s actually happening is a lot of gender role policing.
A distinct distaste for female agency is at play here.
Women are raised to actively seek out and even depend upon male validation, so the notion that a woman wouldn’t eagerly jump at the first man who gives her the time of day feels disconcerting.
Newsflash: Ladies have a right to be selective in who they date. We’re potentially talking about lifelong partners. You should absolutely take the time to ensure that you’re compatible in all the right areas before you commit to a long-term relationship.
And um, hello, you’re a total catch. Make people work for your attention. Remember, perfection shouldn’t have to settle.
4. Why Don’t You Date Him? He’s So Nice!
Answer: What would I have ever done with out you? It’s so hard for me to figure out what qualities I want in a man. It’s so hard for me to know what I think about anything really. I wonder if he would be nice enough to do the thinking for me – once we’re together and all.
Inevitably when you’re single, the mention of that one nice guy in your life will creep into the discussion.
Basic human kindness and the ability to carry small talk are apparently the only qualifications a man needs to be perfect boyfriend material.
First of all, unsolicited matchmaking is one of the most irritating things that a single woman can put up with. Particularly if you’re pushed towards someone you already know.
If I wanted to date him, I would have already pursued him myself. No amount of teasing from family or friends is going to magically convince me to see our ~true potential~.
I’m an adult, and I can choose my own relationships and make my own mistakes.
The most awkward situation is when it’s a male friend who’s known to have feelings for you. Suddenly you’re skating on thin ice of the friendzone: Everyone thinks his crush is a sign that you should be together, and you just feel really weird about the whole thing.
No matter how many times this is said, it bears repeating: You are not obligated to date anyone you’re not attracted to just because they have feelings for you. You are not responsible for their feelings.
He might be a nice guy, but that doesn’t make him Mr. Right or even Mr. Right Now.
5. Don’t You Know Men Aren’t Going to Like That?
Answer: I didn’t know! Let me change every single thing about myself so that I can be the thing that men want. They do all want the same thing, right? Because I really, really want their approval.
I never have enough middle fingers to provide an adequate response to this question.
Women are taught to always anticipate the male gaze, to the point where it moves beyond a performance and becomes an obligation. Single women are especially warned against doing anything that might turn a man off.
You can name pretty much any whim of any man and before you know it, women are cautioned against doing whatever men don’t like. How many articles have you seen about trends men hate?
Men hate beanies. Men hate hand warmers. Men hate leggings. This applies to behavior, too. Men don’t like it if you call them first or if you’re over opinionated or if you try and “deceive” them with makeup.
Every supposed taboo attempts to dictate a woman’s appearance and behavior. Ultimately, having such minute preferences is ridiculous because no woman is going to take the time to reproduce a man’s fantasy of feminine expectations around the clock.
It doesn’t matter what men don’t like. A woman’s body is hers to do what she pleases with, and no one should drastically alter their personality for anybody.
Instead of worrying about what men don’t like, women should focus on what they like and find a partner who appreciates them for who they are.
6. Your Biological Clock Is Ticking – Shouldn’t You Settle Down Soon?
Answer: I’m so happy you pointed that out for me. I need to settle down right away and have as many babies as possible while this clock keeps ticking. Because, you know, if I don’t have babies when I’m told and the way I’m told, I wont fulfilled my purpose as a woman – and that makes me worthless.
The correct answer is, “I’ll only settle down if and when I want to settle down.”
Women should not limit themselves to finding a partner based upon their timeline for having kids – and definitely not your family’s timeline for when they think you’re going to have kids.
Maybe you don’t want kids. That’s cool, you do you. And if you want kids, it’s 2015. There are treatments and IVF and adoption.
Take some time to enjoy yourself. Relish the single life. Don’t let anyone else pester you for refusing to measure your life in heteronormative benchmarks.
7. Liking Women Is Just a Phase – When Are You Going to Get Serious and Find a Man?
Answer: You are so psychic because right before you said that, the phase ended and I suddenly started craving men. It’s like some kind of gnarly heteromagic. YOU CURED ME! Let me tell all the other queers!!!
And for the queer ladies out there, some of your loved ones will never let go of the idea that being into women is just a zany experimental phase you had in college.
We associate heterosexuality with adulthood for women. At some point, you’re expected to stop playing house with other women and get yourself a man if you want to reap the rewards of heteronormativity, such as social privilege and financial stability.
You need a man to establish yourself as a grown-up and to be able to relate to your other female peers.
Except that’s not true at all!
The gender of your partner has zero bearing on your maturity or your potential to achieve success in life. Date whoever makes you happy and do your best to avoid negative vibes from your family and friends.
You deserve an inner circle that supports you unconditionally. If necessary, cut toxic people out of your life.
When you’re single, you might feel like everyone around you wants to put you in the hot seat. Remind them that your personal life should remain that way – personal and private.
No one else should feel entitled to interrogate you about decisions that probably don’t even affect them! The people around you need to respect your boundaries.
You’re single. You’re empowered. Be your own babe. Dress up and take yourself out on the town.
Show everyone that you can live life to the fullest on your own.
Erin Tatum is a Contributing Writer at Everyday Feminism. She’s a feminist, queer theory lover, and television enthusiast living in Pennsylvania. She is particularly interested in examining the representation of marginalized identities in media. In addition to Everyday Feminism, she’s also a weekly contributor to B*tch Flicks. Follow her on Twitter @ErinTatum91 and read her articles here.