Thursday, January 09, 2014

So Why Aren't You Married Yet?

When I was 20 years old dating seemed pretty straight forward. I met a guy, smiled, flirted, chatted a bit, and maybe spent a few extra minutes after a church activity alone with him in the parking lot so that he could ask for my number. He would ask, I would share, and within a week or two we would go on a date. After two or three dates he would either make a move or he would stop calling. There was not a lot of guesswork involved.
I think this is what most of my married friends think dating still entails. But trust me folks, as much as I wish it was that simple, it isn’t. Now I find I have to know a man for several months, talking, flirting, etc, and then still have to tell him, “I’d like to go to dinner with you sometime.” Even then, he doesn’t always get the point.
But what has really changed about dating is the questions I get. This is an issue I never saw coming. Somewhere after my thirtieth birthday men started asking me, “So why haven’t you ever been married?” With the implication quite clear- there must be something wrong with me that I have never been married. This question is usually followed up with, “Have you ever been engaged or in a serious relationship?” I was raised to think that you don’t bring up your past or your baggage on a date. And you certainly don’t talk about your exes on a date. But I find that when I honestly answer, “Yes, I have,” (Both been in serious relationships and have been engaged), that there are invasive questions that follow.
But what I really never saw coming is that some people would consider this to be a strike against me. Having never been married somehow makes me broken or less worthy in the dating world. Some people prefer to date divorcees, over those of us who have never been married. Apparently who I am and what this new person thinks of me, isn’t what is important. It is what all of the other men who came before thought of me that matters to the new men. Personally, I find this perverse and very juvenile thinking, like elementary school politics.
And so dating begins a sort of cyclical behavior where the divorcees prefer to date other divorcees. And the “Never Beens” don’t date at much at all. The repeat brides and grooms keep the cycle going, while Never Beens hold out for their one and only, both sides thinking that the other side is broken.
Is there an answer to this? Probably not, because there is no one size fits all answer.  It’s like the old joke, “When you’ve seen one divorce, you have seen ONE divorce.” It is the same with the Never Beens. If you have met and know one single person, that is all you know. They are not all the same, and no two stories are alike. I am not still single for the same reason your nephew is still single. We are all unique with our own explanations.
I find I could give serious answers to this question. If I tried to my answer would likely be something along the lines of, “I have prayed often about it and feel strongly that the Lord has other things in store for me by way of serving others. And a marriage and responsibilities would hold me back from doing all of the things the Lord has planned for me.” But that is an incredibly personal and private answer that, quite frankly, I don’t feel a first or second date has the privilege to know. Especially since what most of them really want to know is whether or not I am interested in ever having sex, or if it is a lack of interest that has kept me from getting married. And trust me folks, I’m sure as heck not going to answer that. So instead, I prefer to give my favorite answer, “You haven’t asked me yet.” It tends to weed the weak from the strong, and I prefer a man with a good, strong, sense of humor with thick skin.
So I asked my friends, what do you say when someone asks why you have never been married? Feel free to borrow from my arsenal and use these for the next time you get an inappropriate inquiry.
“She was killed in the war in heaven.”
“Prop 8 ruined it for me.”
“Why aren’t you thin?”
“My mother says no one is good enough for me. “
“I suppose it doesn’t help that underneath my clothes my entire body is covered in scales.” (Paraphrasing Bridget Jones’ Diary)
“I’m still hoping for a shot at Miss America.”
“I just haven’t met you yet.”
“I paid for a lifetime membership on eHarmony, and don’t want to lose my investment.”
But seriously folks, why is it a bad thing that someone hasn’t entered into a bad union? I will be the first to admit that there are more than a few singles over 30 who are “Never Beens” with good reason.
And now I turn it to you, Gentle Readers. Is it a plus or negative when you meet someone who has Never Been married? Do you immediately assume they are broken or strange? Share your thoughts below. And if you don’t mind, can you be so kind as to indicate if you are a Never Been Married, Once Was Married, Repeat Offender, or Eternally Bound? Thanks!


  1. (Married twice, 18-year gap in between, and now widowed)
    My preferred answer when someone asked "why aren't you?" was to respond with a smile and reply that it is such a long story we don't really have time to discuss it at the moment, followed by "Maybe I'll tell you someday." If they get pushy, just say, I don't know you well enough to tell you my life story.

  2. Anonymous2:03 AM

    And now I turn it to you, Gentle Readers. Is it a plus or negative when you meet someone who has Never Been married?
    Neither a plus, nor a negative. Just is what it is.

    Do you immediately assume they are broken or strange?
    Nope. Not at all. Other behaviors can lead me to believe they are strange, though.

    Share your thoughts below. And if you don’t mind, can you be so kind as to indicate if you are a Never Been Married, Once Was Married, Repeat Offender, or Eternally Bound? Thanks!
    Never Been Married (in mid-30s).


  3. Anonymous10:14 AM

    I'll take a shot here answering the questions. first the easy one, I'm a never been in fact no engagements no serious significant others and I can individually count each date (not the people) I have ever been on. I am the oddball weirdo neither good enough for the good ones nor bad enough for the bad ones.

    I don't immediately assume that people are broken or strange because of their marriage status though I accept that there are plenty of those who do. It is neither positive nor negative either though occasionally peoples attitudes have been effected by their status.

    Lastly the relative goodness or badness I don't believe is the issue. rather it is a short and quick way to make general statements about the other person they cant commit, they cant keep their commitment, they are gay, they are porn addicted, they are frigid, they are work obsessed, etc. People use it like a short hand to try to make general statements

  4. Mindy7:26 AM

    Change your outlook and your results will change. Seriously. It isn't an age thing. It isn't a status thing. I have the results that you describe having in your twenties in my late thirties. The flirting for months before getting a date is something I did in my twenties. I love dating now and go out much more than I did in my twenties. It is easy and fun.
    I've never been married, but it took me a long time to figure out what I wanted. It may be that you don't really want dating to work for you because you feel marriage would hold you back.
    It isn't a bad thing that someone hasn't entered into marriage. It is a red flag though if they are giving you witty, canned responses instead of being real. Some people just take longer to figure out what want. Others aren't being real with themselves about what they want or why they are dating.


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