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Single +1

Sarah Fowler

Desperation can do strange things to a woman. A woman who is normally cool, calm and collected can turn into a crazed, manic deranged shell of her former self seemingly overnight if driven by the right amount of desperation. Fueled by society’s pressure, our mother’s disapproval and the increasingly loud “tick tock” of our biological clock, we are lowering our standards without even realizing it. Suddenly we are settling for men that we wouldn’t even have considered dating before we hit 30, before we gained those extra ten pounds, before that one lazy ovary finally stopped working or before our best friend got married and left us all alone. We’re settling and the worst part of it is is that we’re delusional about it. I personally have the ability to rationalize any situation to my advantage and can convince myself that the ogre under the bridge I’m currently dating is Prince Charming in disguise. I’ve never considered myself desperate before and quite honestly don’t like the sound of it now but I yearn for a partner, a “soul mate” if you will and that desire is growing stronger by the day. I can suppress it most of the time with wine and unhealthy amount of chocolate but at 26 years old in Small Town, USA my dating pool is decreasing at an alarming rate and I can’t help but notice that everyone around me is getting married. Is it possible that everyone but me has magically wound up lucky in love? Or is that we’ve gotten so desperate to get married that we’ll say yes to the first person who asks?
I got my first kiss when I was 17 years old and remember it like it was yesterday. I was standing in a driveway, leaning up against a car talking to a boy that I had known since Kindergarten. He had a cigarette in one hand, a “40″ in the other and as he leaned in to kiss me, reeking of tobacco and cheap booze, I remember thinking “This kid used to sit across from me and eat paste.” Had this boy magically transformed from that glue eating kid to a handsome, funny, charming teenager? Decidedly no. Unfortunately though, he was my only option at the time. I was a senior in high school and the last one of my friends without a boyfriend so I figured I might as well. To this day the thought of kissing someone who smokes makes me cringe. Desperation definitely came into play at that moment but the older I get and the more I date I realize that the reason we’re so desperate is because the smaller the town the fewer the options.
One of my best friends is recently divorced and if you hear it from her she will tell you she is “Very, very happily divorced.” They were married for nearly ten years and lived more like roommates than a married couple. She knew she had made a mistake less than an hour after the ceremony. The blushing bride had just changed out of her wedding dress and as I knelt down on the floor to buckle her shoe she put her hand on my shoulder, looked down at me, eyes wide with terror as realization hit her and whispered “Oh my God, I have to sleep with him, don’t I?” Less than a year later they were sleeping in separate bedrooms. I asked her once why they had even gotten married in the first place. She explained to me that after six years of dating they had broken up for two months and after seeing what the dating pool was like, she ran back to her ex because “I wanted to get married and have a family. He’s not perfect but he’s better than the rest.” I can’t help but wonder how many women wake up each morning, roll over, look at their sleeping husbands lying in bed next to them and think the exact same thing.
As recently as last week I was dating two men at the same time I liked both of these men and if I could have combined them to make one man I would have gladly done so. One was fun and exciting yet at the same time offered a comfortable familiarity that made me feel safe and secure. The other was more reserved but kind and attentive and every bit the gentleman. Yet it didn’t feel “right” with either one of them. I realized that while both of these men are perfectly nice and will each make some woman very happy one day, for me, it was just passing time. I didn’t see a future with either one of these men but I knew that if I didn’t get out as quickly as possible, I could very easily get caught up in a relationship that I had no business being in. I can end a rocky relationship and be confident in my decision to leave if they guy is a jerk or if we fight all the time. It’s not as easy to walk away from a relationship that is steadily coasting along even though there is a nagging feeling in the back of your mind telling you that this isn’t the man for you. I want to get married one day and as selfish as it sounds, maybe there is a part of me that likes the idea of keeping a man around as a “just in case.”
We all know that couple that fits into the “How the heck did he get her?” category. She’s funny and smart and he’s that guy who gets drunk at parties while yelling some tired story about how he made the game winning play in a high school football game at least 15 years ago. Or the man who is a loving father and a faithful husband but has a witch of a wife who does nothing but constantly nag and complain. Somewhere along the way, they each made the decision to settle. Maybe she was pushing 30 and panicked realizing that this man may be her last shot at having a family. Or maybe his high school sweetheart broke his heart and he married the next girl that came along because it didn’t matter who she was, she would never be his first love. I look at couples like that and realize that my biggest fear isn’t being single and alone. My biggest fear is being lonely while I’m with someone. I can’t imagine that a marriage of convenience, one entered into because I was desperate or scared would offer me the hungry, passionate, comfortable, married to your best friend kind of love that I need. And until it finds me, I’m not settling for anything less.

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6 comments

  1. Single -3

    I’ve never in my life read such a whining, sad sack of a pitiful piece in my life… if you are having trouble finding a man, I just don’t get it. Have you seen the cartoon of the female SKELETON sitting on the park bench with the caption which reads, “waiting for the perfect man”???….don’t become that skeleton. Find yourself a man than you can stand to be yourself around, without surrender, and marry him.. Or your next article will be about you looking at all the 40 year old rejects, or God forbid, older.

  2. Louise

    I enjoy reading your articles but can’t understand why you would put yourself out there for people to really just dislike you. You make it sound like every woman who is married “Settled”! I find this offensive and I find you to be very arrogent and petty! With your attitude you will never find a man who can put up with you. Pretty is as pretty does and lady you are not very pretty. Please stop judging others by your sick standards and seek some professional help!

  3. Amazed

    You are an excellent writer, and you definitely have a way with words. It’s almost “Carrie Bradshaw-esque.” However, while I have enjoyed most of your columns, this one leaves me feeling flat.

    I appreciate that you are interested in finding your soul mate and one true love. Most of us feel that way. However, serial dating, as it appears from your articles, has not given you your prince.

    I, myself, took a one year sabbatical from dating to spend time working on me. It opened my eyes to what I really wanted, and shortly thereafter, I found my prince.

    Good luck to you.

  4. Shaking Head

    Sorry folks, but not only is Sarah not an excellent writer, she’s not even a mediocre one. And to say she’s “Carrie-esque”? I’d call her more of a Carrie-wanna-be. These articles seem to target a college-age audience, when they could be so much more.

    The life of a single mother is not easy, or so I gathered while being raised by one. I would thoroughly enjoy reading something provocative from her stand-point, as opposed to these articles that seem more like a whiny college kid’s diary entries.

  5. SlowDave

    Dear Sarah,
    I do not normally comment on these type of articles, but you seem to be focusing on the wrong traits as far as men are concerned. You should be looking for someone who stimulates and challenges you mentally. Of course, there has to be a physical attraction, but those attributes fade over time. Mental attraction, however, gains strenth with time. That being said, good luck finding someone in this town that isn’t just another mudslinging, animal slaying, pick-up truck driving, small minded redneck.

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