I'm surely not the only woman who applauded Sara Eckel's "Modern Love" piece in the New York Times the other day. For the first time, I heard a sane, lovely-sounding woman proclaim to all and sundry that she found a wonderful man later in life than her mid-twenties -- and no, she didn't settle for something less than butterflies, and yes, it was worth the wait. To a generation plagued by self-help books espousing the virtues of lowering one's standards, her article was a breath of fresh air.
I had one issue, though. I have a diverse array of friends, from all walks of relationship life -- single, married, with and without children -- and some of them have suggested to me that I'm single because I've "got it all too figured out." I've always found that remark vaguely disturbing, but have never been able to articulate why. The paragraph in Sara's article, where a male friend says, "Sometimes you see a woman who has her act together so well that you think, 'What does she need me for?'" therefore really struck a chord.
For as long as I've been an adult (if not longer), a variety of bloggers and writers have counseled from the internet/book/magazine ether that I need to love myself before love will find me. Well, here I find myself, loving me and my life. My job is what I dreamed about in college; I somehow managed to find an amazing rent-stabilized apartment in an area of Brooklyn that that I adore, and, in a drunkenly sentimental moment, I admitted recently to a close friend that after three years, I finally love New York, because I found the friends I want to enjoy it with.
I'm blessed, and filled with gratitude every day for those blessings. And I have many friends in similar positions, male and female. Why we've been single for a while is attributable to many factors, but the fact that we've created fulfilling lives for ourselves shouldn't be one of them.
And yet I frequently hear friends say that it is, or might be. So essentially, women are creating their own happiness and men are trying to find women to make feel completed. Why do women sagely nod their heads in agreement that this is the way of the world, instead of challenging it? It seems that there is a serious disconnect going on here.
Men, please chime in. Are these frequent comments I've been hearing totally off the mark? Are most men (as I hope) searching for partners, and not charity cases?
As a woman, I know that creating a life I love hasn't made me automatically swear off men. The more I fill my life with wonderful people and events, the more I want someone to share it all with. Sara's already written the post on why wanting love isn't something to be pitied -- thank goodness I don't have to cover it! But as she said, wanting to find love and being genuinely happy with your life are not mutually exclusive. And being enjoyably self-sufficient doesn't preclude wanting a partner along for the ride.