Just Because I’m Single Doesn’t Mean I Want Your Man
It’s not exactly breaking news to say single girls get a bad wrap. Not only does everyone assume we’re lonely, bitter old maids just one more dateless Friday night away from being cat ladies; we’re also routinely shamed for not having a partner (or children) as if there’s no way variables outside of our control — or the lack of a desire to settle down — could have anything to do with our relationship status. But there’s another way in which single women are unfairly categorized that’s rarely talked about: everyone assumes we’re after their man.
A few weeks ago I was at an event and ran into an old male acquaintance. Immediately we greeted each other with the equivalent of a church hug and I was introduced to his wife who gave me a bit of a dry “hello.” You know the type of greeting that’s a bit standoffish but not enough to be considered rude. When the wife stepped away to use the ladies room, the guy and I caught up on mutual acquaintances as well as our own lives since we’d last seen each other a few years prior. When his wife returned, she rounded out our semicircle and hit us with a sternly inquisitive: “How do you know each other?”
I allowed my friend to respond, as I felt his wife’s tone was less about getting the answer to that question and more about establishing an aura of “why haven’t I heard of this woman you’re ki ki-ing it up with before today.” As the saying goes, sometimes it’s not what you say, but how you say it. There was nothing inherently wrong with the wife’s question, though I felt it would’ve have been better asked of her husband in private, but her cold delivery let on that she didn’t take too kindly to strangers chatting it up with her man and she preferred if I knew that.
Instantly, her demeanor took me back to an interaction I had with the now-wife of a good male friend of mine a few years ago. While in town to visit some friends, my boy’s sister suggested we stop by her brother’s house after I touched down. With more synchronization than an Olympic swim team, his then-girlfriend pulled up to his house at the same time we did to “introduce” herself in a manner that gave me the impression her arrival was less about meeting me and far more about making her presence known. Several other behaviors throughout that weekend would confirm as much, to the point where I was quite close to telling her, “Girl I do not want him.”
To be clear, I’m not a flirt; some say I’m barely friendly, though I’d disagree. In fact, I make it a point to be overly friendly when meeting women who date my male friends or acquaintances just so they know I’m not that girl. And yet, they still think I am. Whenever I find myself in the presence of a man and his girlfriend or wife, I tend to get the cold shoulder from the woman who seemingly assumes just because I’m single, I’m on the prowl. I could almost stomach that assumption if it weren’t for the inherent offensiveness of thinking I’m so desperate I would stoop to setting my sights on someone else’s boyfriend or husband.
After several of these incidents, I texted a newly married friend, “what kind of wife are you?” as I relayed my frustration and the monitoring I’d routinely witnessed from women in relationships. The friend, the same one who’d sent me texts before about being glad she’d shown up to random gatherings with her husband because there were too many single women around, told me: “I mean when it’s some creole-looking single women around then I’d monitor too.” Her “lol” was faintly believable as she added, “I don’t monitor, but I’m observant…. Trust and believe somebody else gone want your man. May not be all the women in the room but somebody does.”
Okay, but does that somebody have to be me? At times I want to wear a shirt that reads “If I was as hot of a commodity with men as you think, I probably wouldn’t be single right now.” While I’ll never knock a woman for being aware of her and her man’s surroundings, there’s a difference between keeping your eye on things and keeping an eye on a woman just because she’s unattached and you think that means she wants to pounce on anything with a penis within a five-mile radius.
The cold shoulder treatment I’m often given reminds me of how people find out a friend, co-worker, or acquaintance is homosexual and suddenly worry they’re going to hit on them as some point. We don’t want you! The ignorant side of me would let these women know how far from attractive I find their partners. The logical side just watches as the insecurities manifest themselves and I vow never to behave the same way the next time I’m in a relationship or when I walk down the aisle.
I’ve never been a fan of women who stay glued to their partners’ hip to keep him from straying, and I most certainly take offense to girlfriends who insert themselves in innocent conversations being had between their man and another woman simply because she’s single and the assumption is she’s obviously ready to mingle and be messy. I enjoy talking with couples all of the time but what I don’t enjoy is experiencing a woman insert herself in a conversation her man is having when she brings nothing more to it than a side-eye and over-protective aggression. Perhaps it’d be too much to ask that I be thought of as more than a thirsty temptress by women who don’t know me; but at the very least you should think more of your husband and your place in his life to fear the mere presence of a single woman could make him stray so quickly. You can leave me out of that mess.