Why She is Still Single

There is a lull, a social interlude, in which one finds herself around this time of life. Around the time she is 38.

Most of my friends are married. Most have a kid or two. We, as a group, are more or less done with weddings. (With first weddings, anyway.) Imagine my surprise, then, to have recently been invited to not one, but two weddings. Two. And stuff like that, it always happens in threes. It is suppose to happen in threes, and so I expect another invitation in the mail. It should be any day now.

Know, however, that I do have a handful of girlfriends who, for one reason or another, are single. Some of them love it. Some don’t. Some are ready to get the show on the road. They anticipate it, just as I anticipate that third, embossed invitation. They think to themselves, with guarded hopefulness, It should be any day now.

These friends of mine are amazing women. Educated. Witty. Interesting. Beautiful. The reasons they remain single against wishes to be otherwise, I’ll admit, are as complicated as the women themselves. I know one reason, though. One possible reason. And since it is the snarkiest explanation I can offer, I’ve bumped it to the top of my list: the perfect man, as he roams the earth in unsightly cargo shorts, bares little resemblance to the “perfect man” in the minds of my friends.


She imagines he is…

“…a little bit nerdy,” but “cute in an endearing way that she ‘gets.'” (Note: This is a look that basically every woman “gets,” and it isn’t “nerdy” in the slightest, but conventionally handsome with with a pair of dark-framed glasses.)

second jglPaul Rudd

He dresses in multiple layers: a t shirt, which covered by a button up. Which is covered with a crew neck sweater. Which is topped off by a blazer. There may even be a tie or scarf involved. He is an onion of wool, this guy. And he mixes prints and textures – a style that is meant to look haphazard and thrown-together (but, in truth, is carefully cultivated).

His hair is a little bit “messy.” The kind of “messy” that takes products, skill, a blow dryer, and maybe even a flat iron. Think seaside, not bedside. And central to this vision is that the man have an “average” build, which is to say he has an ideal build – a very low BMI, but without appearing scrawny.

In reality…

…he is wearing contacts. Glasses give him a headache, and they aggravate the bridge of his nose by the end of the day. Or he has perfect vision. Or he, like my husband, wears the cheapest sunglasses he can find at the drug store, style be damned, because he is never more than three days away from losing them or mistakenly running over them with the truck.

He is also wearing a golf shirt. At best. God bless him. He is not rocking that “put together” look, and the reasons why outnumber the layers she expects him to be wearing. Too hot. Too stuffy and confining. Too expensive. Fears he looks homosexual. Then there is the issue of body type. One must have just the right frame for such a look, and any deviation from that frame, a short inseam or a pencil neck, could grind the whole thing to a halt. So he goes with the golf shirt. He finds it “safe” – neither too casual nor too dressy.

His hair is clean. That is worth something, right? But his hairline is changing. This makes him less certain than ever of how to style it. He just goes to Great Clips and requests that the stylist do “whatever [she] did last time.”


She imagines he…

…likes all the same bands as she, plus some really good ones she has yet to discover. Chill indie bands. Bands that play the kind of music one enjoys while driving around in the rain contemplating mortality.

In addition to being current on the right sort of music, he, himself, is a musician. He plays the guitar. I mean, maybe he plays the bass or something adorably quirky like a banjo, but most likely he plays guitar.

In reality…

…he listens primarily to outdated stuff. The music he loved in high school and can’t get over. Third Eye Blind or Dave Matthews Band. Musical comfort food. The truth about this guy is that he puts in a lot of hours at work and doesn’t really have a lot of free time for discovering new music.

Is he, himself, a musician? The answer to that depends on whether or not playing the trumpet in middle school makes a man a musician.


She imagines he is reading…

…the classics. Beautiful, leather-bound editions of the classics. And did I say “reading?” because I meant “re-reading.”

In reality…

…he is reading whatever best-seller was cheapest at the airport. It is non-fiction. So help me, I think it is about financial planning. He half-hardheartedly glosses over it while watching “Red Dawn.”


She imagines he is holding on to…

…strikingly beautiful black and white photographs his grandfather or great grandfather took while stationed overseas during WWII. Africa. Germany. Switzerland. From such an ugly war, such beautiful photographs. They are tied loosely together with a sash from one of his great grandmothers aprons, and they are closed up in an old tin or possibly a cigar box. The tin or box is on the top shelf of his closet.

In reality…

…he is still holding on to his Pokemon cards. They’re in a zip-top sandwich bag. He doesn’t know where that bag of Pokemon cards is off the top of his head, but when he runs across them, he will probably get them out and play with them. Because why not?


She imagines he is…

…actively involved in church. His flavor of Christianity is remarkably similar to hers. He has probably even been on a mission trip this year where he either built wells (if handy) or dressed wounds (if trained in healthcare).

In reality…

…he went to church as a kid and continues to believe now as he did then but cannot be bothered to get up and go to a service on Sunday morning. Sunday is his day off, and he wants to sleep in and then clean the gutters. Additionally, he finds church rather boring. He will go back when someone makes him, though. He will go back once he is married, should his wife request it.


She imagines he is…

…passionate about whatever he does. She has a good job and is not worried about how much money this guy makes, so long as the job doesn’t involve fast food or a big box office supply store. But if he were to be a documentary film maker or own a successful rickshaw business in a trendy area of downtown, that would be good.

In reality…

…he does something with computers that is too dull to comprehend, let alone explain. It is important to someone somewhere in an office of some kind, though.


She imagines…

…he has one. A great one.

In reality…

…he does. Of course he does. If he is introverted, though, it will take time to bubble up, and if he is extroverted, his brand of funny will carry with it an element of unpredictability that is anxiety-provoking. What if he goes too far in front of a friend or family member?

The bottom line, I think, is that finding the “right” person is not unlike finding the right prom dress or house. You will know it when you see it. That being the case, there isn’t really much to do but keep walking around with your eyes, and mind, open. If you’re reading this, and if you’re one of those women, I hope you’ll continue doing that. And if I’m to be honest, I hope something in this post sets off a series of events that leads to a third wedding invitation. Stuff like that should really happen in threes.


28 Comments on “Why She is Still Single

  1. anyone who falls into the “she imagines” categories is welcome to contact me, except I can’t get behind a rickshaw business.

  2. So in my (ever so humble) opinion, a woman should look for only 3 things (in no order): 1) is he goal-oriented, 2) does he make me laugh, 3) is there any chemistry there at all, any.

    I believe that if a woman can find these, then everything else can be nurtured or it will otherwise develop on its own. (Wow, a serious comment from Rob!)

    Oh and as for my humor and my wife’s feelings about it,

    “What if he goes too far in front of a friend or family member?”

    That is me! (And yet she stays)

    • And out of curiosity, are those also the three things you’d suggestion a man look for in a woman? If not, what would you tell a man to look for in a woman?

      • In a woman I would recommend number 1 and 3, but she doesn’t need to make the man laugh. Instead, I’d recommend looking for one who has a different ‘side of the brain’. For example, if the man is a musician at heart, he needs someone who is analytical. Vice versa – if the man is strong in mathematics, look for an artist, a woman who is great with her hands.

        The different thinking styles will drive each other nuts at times, but will compliment each other very strongly and they will recognize they are stronger together as a unit.


      • (groan) That is what I thought you’d say.

        I agree that there is something to complimentary personalities – that each person should augment the other’s weaknesses and be filled and completed by the other’s strengths. As my husband once told me, “If you were like me, we would be boring. If I were like you, we would be broke.”


        It always perplexes me that a man who thinks of himself as funny, a man who enjoys making others laugh, thinks it is optional for him that the woman in his life have that same skill. There has been a lot of research on the subject, though, and what you describe is pretty normal. Many men, when they say that they want a woman with a sense of humor, actually mean “I want a woman who appreciates how funny I am.” Sarah Silverman has written about it, and it is fascinating and sort of disappointing. And obviously this is coming from a woman who prides herself on her ability to make others laugh. I’m not bitter or anything – obviously I’m married, and there have always been guys around who thought I was worth their time. It just seems like a waste.

        Thank you for reading and for your honesty.

      • ? Of course it was optional for me. What I hoped you would pick up on without my writing it is this:

        Men are stupid and women are smart! I thank my lucky stars that I was able to find someone that helps prevent me from doing ‘really’ stupid stuff. That’s what I was hinting at. If the woman’s funny too, BONUS!! In terms of someone who would find me funny, I never, ever gave that any thought. Everyone found me funny while growing up. Some girls found that part of me to be juvenile even though they laughed. Other girls liked being around me because I made them laugh. So naturally then, I gravitated towards those who didn’t consider my antics juvenile. I didn’t have a choice.

        So the net is that I think in general women have more common sense and they help balance us out. We’re indestructible and we take stupid chances. Women will tell us when we’re about to make a mistake…..and if we’re smart, we’ll listen

      • Okay, I gotcha. ๐Ÿ™‚ Again, thanks for the feedback, and I’m glad you aren’t broke, dead or friendless.

  3. This is awesome! Of course he’s real, with quirks and history and all that makes us individuals and human. I get the imagination too though. The fantasy is fun, but the reality is satisfying.

  4. What you’re saying by this is that most of your single friends are looking for someone insincere and shallow to hook up? Someone like me? I’m so insincere and shallow, I won’t even tell my wife about them, if you promise not to tell them I’m already in a relationship.

    • If you have an interesting accent (ie interesting to an American ear), and I’m assuming you do, that will work on your favor as well ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. I’m laughing so hard right now! With the exception of the religion and musician thing, you just totally described my husband! We’re active in our church but didn’t even go to church when we first met. And he is a musician – guitar – but his musical tastes are right on track!

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