Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Maybe We Have a Life?

In skimming blogs, I ran across this poll:
Among all singles, just 16% say they are currently looking for a romantic partner. That amounts to 7% of the adult population. Some 55% of singles report no active interest in seeking a romantic partner. This is especially true for women, for those who have been widowed or divorced, and for older singles. Yet even among the youngest adults, the zest for romance is somewhat muted: 38% of singles ages 18-29 say they are not currently looking for a romantic partner, compared to 22% in that age cohort who are looking for partners. The rest say they are in committed relationships.


As a single female in the target demographic, I have a few comments.

Primarily, I'd argue the study's verbiage may have skewed the results just a titch. I mean, define "looking?" In school, the process was fairly simple. Unattached, generally intelligent people were all concentrated into a single campus and weekends were spent going out to have fun. You constantly met other single people of roughly the same age bracket, who had the same interests or knew some of your friends. Relationships flowed naturally from those connections.

But now these women have drifted out into something called the Real World. It's a very different place, where most of our friends are in committed relationships, and going to a bar three nights a week might make you want to think about joining AA. Do you want them to post mug shots on one of those online meet markets, where usernames like "ANiceGuy4U" abound and posts reek faintly of desperation and bad poetry? Or maybe they should corner friends and family, following them around like an urban panhandler: "Ya got any single friends? Anything you can spare will help, I've gone six months without a date." How about buying a bunch of "How to Meet Your Mate" self-help books and taking such advice to heart: becoming a Rules girl; learning to avoid who's Just Not That Into You; wearing makeup and a nice outfit to the grocery store, to the gym, to take out the trash? Then there's joining a church and trolling the choir. Maybe scanning the divorce notices for fresh blood? Yikes.

The term "looking" connotes seeking something missing, some lack - as if being single is somehow a personal handicap, a deformity that must be quickly remedied before it becomes a chronic condition. In that terminology, you become defined by what you are not: not a wife, not a parent, not a girlfriend, not a partner. Implicitly, it translates deeper: not wanted, not needed, not loved.

There are a certain amount of intelligent single women who reject that message, and decide to simply live their lives. They run into hundreds of people every day. Statistically, sooner or later they'll meet someone worth seeing. When that happens, they'll go on a date. Until then, they may periodically feel lonely or wish for someone else to share our lives. But they're neither obsessed with the feeling, nor defined by it.

So, yes, you may find that there's a dearth of singles who self-identify as "looking" for a partner. That doesn't exactly translate into a dating drought. They may not be "looking," but they're open. It's not simply a lesson in semantics, it is a lifestyle choice.

UPDATE: Of course, others just blame it all on self-delusion.

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