My Friends’ Expectations Of My Singleness Are Driving Me Crazy
Ask any of my friends why I’m (still?) single and they’ll likely tell you I’m not open and don’t put myself out there enough. Ask me why I don’t put myself out there as much as they’d like and I’d tell you it’s because every time I go out with my married friends I feel like a rare animal species being studied by experts critiquing how I behave outside my normal habitat.
There she is, the elusive 30-something single Black female. Confident, unassuming, suspicious…Let’s watch what happens as she interacts with the rare breed of single Black male I’ve determined is perfect for her when thrown into this hyper-stimulated social habitat. Will she pounce like a tiger and bring home a prize to appease her pact or will she remain coy, opting for a lone existence in this time of feast or famine? Shhhh! There she goes!
That’s the commentary I imagine goes through my friends’ minds — in a stereotypical Australian accent of course — every time we step out of the house together for what’s supposed to be girls’ time, but ends up being, let’s find someone for you to f-ck/date/marry time. It’s a conundrum I picked up on earlier this summer when meeting a married couple for a barbecue. I was just trying to not be lame and spend another holiday enthralled in a Law & Order SVU Marathon and I assumed they wished as much for me as well when extending the invitation. But their definition of not being lame and mine were drastically different. I was out of the house: Win. They wanted to know within 26 minutes of my arrival who I thought was cute and in whose ear should they put a little bug about my interest. Suddenly, every interaction with a man was no longer casual. I found myself sizing up everything with a penis for potential. Did that man with obviously no home training not offer me his seat just so he could see my booty? Did ol’ boy burn the third hot dog on the left on purpose so he could give it to me and make small talk? Was the host who sat next to me for all of 35 seconds before going to entertain his other guests just playing hard to get? It was nonsensical! But the fear of my friends ever-watchful eyes drawing conclusions about why I was single based on my behavior drove me to try to make connections where there were none. And in the end, I felt lamer than that Benson and Stabler marathon I’d avoided as I left the gathering empty handed with a pride level of about 0.2.
I recently found myself in that situation again when a long overdo catch-up brunch with one of my girls turned into a not-so-fun game of go find a f-ck. Sitting in the sun sipping margaritas at the equivalent of a day party, I could already tell where the afternoon was going based on my past experiences with married friends and the unfavorable ratio of men to women, which was somewhere in the 1:12 range. So I tried to be proactively defensive. “I hate New York men,” I exclaimed, hoping that would eliminate any impending pressure and I could simply enjoy casual conversation and people watching. It did not. And so I went from bopping my head to “Panda” to breaking my neck looking for one suitable man to find me equally enticing and get it popping in some way that would be meaningful to my onlooker friend who advised if she were in my shoes, “I’d just screw different men for fun.”
(Promise me if you ever get married you’ll never forget that screwing a bunch of different men actually isn’t all that fun.)
And neither is spending hours acting like something out of an Aaliyah lyric watching men like a hawk and they were your prey just so you can feel like a vibrant, socially competent, attractive, non-loser, single person in your heterosexual, off-the-market, female friend’s eyes. To be honest, it took way too much time for me to realize I wasn’t actually enjoying making conversation with men I didn’t even find remotely attractive, giving out a fake number, and being pressed for a connection I knew would last about as long as the remix to “Bands a Make Her Dance,” which was regularly teased by the DJ. And yet, somehow, I still felt like I’d failed at the end of the night when I realized I wouldn’t be getting one of those generic “Hey beautiful” texts in the morning from some man who half remembered who I was. And it was that feeling that nearly drove me down an unacceptable path of reaching out to men of my past with no good intentions just to feel validated in some sort of way (the phenomenon also known as drunk texting). I realized I was letting my friends’ expectations of my singleness and what that was supposed to look like — not to mention what I was supposed to do about it — drive me absolutely crazy.
While I know their hearts are in the right place, and I could stand to get out of my head a little more and at least try to get into the relationship game, I can’t take another night of being mad the funny looking boy who works at the sneaker store didn’t call after my friend sneaks him my business card when I didn’t even want that man to begin with. But it’s one thing to be inadvertently rejected on your own. It’s another beast of embarrassment to constantly be asked, “Did he call?” “Did you get his number?” “Did you see that man over there? He’s fine! Go talk to him,” and be met with disappointed faces when the answers to those questions are:No, no, and yes, but no.
I take some responsibility for routinely lamenting my singleness as a problem — and not speaking up about the fact that my friends’ suggestions aren’t really solutions. But for now I’m going to have to pass on any future outing invitations that are just carefully disguised baewatch parties. My sanity won’t allow it.