Hello SOTGC Community,
Living in a large metropolitan city you’re bound to find a lot of single people in their 20s and 30s. As I look around at my group of girl friends I realize that almost all of them have flourishing careers, are amazing and loving women with great personalities, and are still single. If I had a dollar for every male or female that has asked us “why are YOU ladies single?!” I’d be able to retire and go buy an island somewhere…preferably a place where people won’t continue to ask us this question.
A few years ago I was at dinner with a man who I was very interested in. He was extremely intelligent, funny, attractive, and had a promising career ahead of him as soon as he graduated his post Doctorate training. At one point in the middle of dinner he looked at me and said, “I don’t get it. You’re smart, funny, attractive, have a good career, what’s wrong with you? Why are you single?” Upon hearing this, my knee jerk reactions were a mixture of running home and crying to my parents, and reaching across the table, grabbing him by the back of his head and slamming his face into his steak. (Yes, I realize that these are two extreme reactions and obviously I did neither).
Instead I proceeded to mildly verbally lacerate him, pointing out the type of women he will probably marry who will be subservient and dedicate her life to his every whim. This too was a bit extreme (at the time I didn’t have a grip on my emotional intelligence…and he had really hurt my feelings), and if you’re reading this, then I send a belated apology for my over reaction to your honest (if albeit tactless) question.
This isn’t an isolated event. I can’t tell you how many times I have gone on a date with a man, or one of my friends has gone on a date, and been asked this same question. Yet I have never heard of a single incident where a man in his early 30s was posed this same question. A couple of my girl friends even get mad at me when we are out at restaurant or bar and I tell a guy what they do for a living. They feel that the second a guy hears they are a surgeon, or lawyer, or Vice President of a software company, that the dude will high tail it and run. This both saddens and infuriates me.
Are we to be punished and judged because we chose to follow our aspirations and strive for the accolades that give us great self-satisfaction? Are we relegated to picking either a career or a happy and successful marriage? Years ago when I was given the chance, should I have picked a man who would have preferred I stay at home while he financially supported us, and my career wouldn’t threaten him?
Why is it that men seem to think that because a woman has focused so much on her career and hasn’t had a lot of time to “settle down” that there is something wrong with her? Is it that they feel a woman who makes her own money is more likely to cheat or leave the relationship?
I found a great article in The New York Times called “She Works. They’re Happy“. The ever pressing question seems to be “if women are allowed careers, will the marriage falter?” One would think that as a woman gains financial independence in the relationship, that her chances of leaving will rise. A 2009 report from the Center for American Progress shows that the opposite seems to be statistically true. The states where the prevalence of working women is low, shows a higher divorce rate. Lynn Prince Cooke, a sociology professor at the University of Kent reports that she finds that “American couples who share employment and housework responsibilities are less likely to divorce compared with couples where the man is the sole breadwinner”.
At the end of the day I’m no closer to understanding why there seems to “be a problem with” a career woman in her 30s because she is late in focusing on romance due to first needing career stability. However, being the hopeless romantic that I am, I still believe my “Prince Charming” is out there. Not in any way a perfect man, but a man who embraces and appreciates all that I bring to the table instead of finding it threatening.
Marney Reid is a Marketing Program Manager for a global industry leader in medical device. She is also the Founder of Stilettos on the Glass Ceiling. She has nine years of sales experience in male dominated industries and is transcending the Glass Ceiling by using her authentic value proposition as a competitive advantage.