Social safety for singletons

19 Apr

When you’re single, a dinner invitation from a married friend can be much the same as a bikini wax: you accept no one’s forcing you to go, you know you’ll have to nod and smile your way through the pain and one way or another, you know you’ll pay. We’ve all lived our own versions of the scene from Bridget Jones’s Diary (sadly minus Colin Firth/Mark Darcy at the table) where we find ourselves wondering why we’re doing something that only makes us feel bad about our lives.

Luckily for me, most dinner parties are just for the girls, or there are enough singletons to balance the gravy boat. But the other night at a surprise party I was on the receiving end of a new level of thoughtlessness. I was insulted before I’d even crossed the threshold.

Gathered in a side street waiting for the other guests, someone hurried over to hand me a balloon. She greeted me with:

Hello, where’s your husband?

not “Hello, how are you?” or dare I suggest “Hello, thank you for coming.” Standing alone in the dark, clutching my balloon, I automatically went into ‘polite and socially acceptable’ mode, laughing that I didn’t know and I had been wondering the same thing for some time.

When I accepted the invitation I knew I’d be the only single person there, but being a party, I thought I’d be safe. No awkward seating of odd numbers at a table or being trapped in one place most of the night. Parties are supposed to be the gentler option for singletons. As it was, I wondered why I’d bothered. I would’ve had a happier night if I’d hit a few pubs with my single gals.

So what do you think? Is it acceptable to decline an invitation based on romantic status? Given that most of us are time poor, can we simply say, “Sorry, I can’t attend events where everyone else is paired up.” We might not meet the man of our dreams elsewhere, but at least we won’t be subjected to thoughtless people who haven’t been single since last century.


5 Responses to “Social safety for singletons”

  1. Lucy April 20, 2010 at 9:26 am #

    Hi Lucie,

    Thanks for this page, you make me feel like I’m not alone!

    I too have had the question, ‘where is your husband?’ or ‘will your boyfriend be joining us?’. It fills me with mixed emotions when I hear these questions

    1, Yay, I’m not the dog faced woman! People think I’m attractive enough to HAVE a boyfriend/husband.

    2. Then I say to myself, come on, you don’t need to be ‘attractive’ to be in a relationship. Look at Charles and Camilla, you just need to find your matching puzzle piece.

    3. Then I start thinking, why DON’T I have someone? Seriously, the wheel can turn for days on end asking myself this one. Where along the line did I wind up being alone, is it my fault?

    4. Where and HOW do people MEET other people to be IN a relationship with. I mean, how do you decide that this random stranger should be the person you spend a good chunk of your time with. I mean, people even travel to the other side of the world to be with the one they love?! What’s that about?

    5. Am I just picky? I mean, that guy that flirted with me at my grandmothers funeral, sure, the timing wasn’t the best. But man, I’m an ugly crier, he’s seen me at my worst. But should I just take what’s on offer and stop whining? Or, do I hold out.

    6. Is it me? Or IS there a shortage of men in this city. My standards aren’t that high. Are they?

    I ask these questions of myself daily, so I can’t say enough, get the manmap up and running so we can get these questions answered!



  2. Lucie Stevens April 20, 2010 at 9:25 pm #

    I’ll do my best Lucy! It’s always reassuring to know we’re not alone in our situation.
    I must admit, my brain did automatically think points 1 and 2 of your comment when the charming question was asked of me. Even though I know it’s more of a reflection of the asker than the asked (asker being baby boomer, full time housewife and mother, probably never part of the work force, world ends at her doorstep no doubt) I was still angry.
    Why should I feel awkward and embarrassed when she was the tactless one? If I’d had more guts, I would’ve told her I was a lesbian just to ruffle a few ultra-Catholic feathers…maybe next time….

  3. Fiona April 23, 2010 at 2:20 pm #

    Hi Ladies,

    I strongly agree with all the points that has been discussed, because I can honestly share with you that I have been in the same boat myself.

    Events after events and outing after outing without any success of meeting the “right” guy or even a man to take me out for a feed. I decided to take drastic measures, by being more open minded with what I want and also showing obvious intentions of what I expect from a man.

    I suggest by revealing more skin and not allowing the word “no” exist in our vocabulary would sure reduce going home on a Saturday night alone.


  4. Lucie Stevens April 25, 2010 at 3:39 pm #

    Hi Fiona,

    Thanks for stopping by. I think you’ve put some good strategies in place. Keep us updated on how you go.

    Something I’ve discovered through my surveying is that most guys are happy to chat to you if you initiate contact. So far I’ve survey about 200 guys in person. Only once has a guy outright ignored me. There’ve been a few guys who’ve declined to participate (fair enough – I am essentially interrupting their social time) but most guys are happy to oblige. I’ve found that a smile and a simple ‘hello’ is enough to start a conversation.

    I don’t think it’s fair to put all the initial onus on guys. Few people are comfortable going out on a social limb. I think that’s something single ladies need to keep in mind.

    Hope you’re all enjoying the long weekend!

  5. beachblogger May 11, 2010 at 7:55 pm #

    Hi Lucie,

    I meant to reply to this ages ago but got so caught up in my own blog … You remind me of when I was in my thirties. Weddings were appalling experiences. I was always put next to the single guy and there was an expectation that, as we were both desperate, we would hit it off. It never happened.

    The worst party experience I had was at a friend’s husband’s 40th … my friend’s dad hissed in a stage whisper “She’s so beautiful … how come she doesn’t have a boyfriend?” Kind of an inverse compliment.

    And it took me 10 years to work out why I wasn’t invited to dinner parties any more. I thought it was something I said … it turned out to be something I didn’t say … ‘I do’ … Women are suspicious of singles of their own sex once they’ve got a man and only the closest friends will continue to invite you to couples events if you are without partner after about 35. However, single men are always welcome at couples events … funnily enough, they are not seen as a threat by the wives, who of course do all the inviting …

    Keep hunting and good luck!

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