I think I was about 15 minutes late to the single woman age bias party as it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I first heard a guy blatantly state that if he knew a woman who was 30+ and never married he would have to assume she was crazy. Yes, I know an enormous amount of shade follows all single women, and truthfully even girls, because essentially from the time a teen is able to date until she gets to the altar she is asked a gazillion variations of the “so why are you single” question along the way. But I was slow to find out people were out here stamping a crazy label on women who didn’t meet that arbitrary goal by a certain age. Old hag, cat lady, lonely maybe, but crazy? No mam.
Fast forward to today when this topic came up again in the office. It may be a sign of the times that the socially acceptable age threshold was pushed back to 35, but aside from that, the basic premise was the same: If a woman wasn’t married by 35 some screws must be a little loose upstairs. The interesting thing was this wasn’t just coming from the male perspective, some women also seemed to follow that same line of thinking. Aside from the caveat of being too focused on one’s career to settle down, it was sort of assumed if you’ve got all the basics going for you — good looks, good job, good credit score, your own place, no kids — and nobody put a ring on it, you must be bat ish crazy.
Try as a might (for what reason I don’t know) I just can’t seem to follow the logic here. Maybe it’s because the line of thinking is completely illogical. After all, we’re not talking about a biological clock and the threat of high-risk pregnancies here, this is a basic assumption that across the board all women are mentally and emotionally ready to be wives by a certain age and that there are an appropriate number of suitors for them at that time as well.
The interesting thing that came up today (and one other time in the office) is that women have now assigned this same type of rule to men. Though the crazy bar was set at 40, it was still assumed men who’ve made it to that point without ever putting a ring on anything other than their shirt collars might be a little bozo. Ummm newsflash: everybody doesn’t want to get married, everybody doesn’t want to get married by 25, everybody hasn’t been searching for Mr. and Mrs. right their whole life long. For some people, marriage is like hoping for an empty taxi to come by while waiting at the bus stop: If they catch one, great, if not they’ll find another way to get on. I mean would it be better if these people were divorced just to say somebody, anybody at one point married them? Stop it.
Call me naive but even though I know there is more than enough single-shaming to go around, I thought we’d sort of gotten past these arbitrary age ceilings. When we talk about those lists of absolute “nos” people have as far as their requirements in a partner maybe we should look at how many people are passing off on those 30 and up who’ve never been married because of an assumption that they’re crazy. In that instance I’d say the person overlooking them is the one who’s loco. And should I find myself single and never married at 30, 35, or 40 I would much rather hope to find someone without the baggage of an ex-wife and kids spilling over into what we’re trying to build. But maybe that’s just me.
Do you believe men or women who aren’t married by a certain age have to be a little “off”?