Single and no buts about it
Waiting for Mr Big to come along is so dated, says Hannah Betts
Published 17/06/2010 | 05:00
Somewhat disconcertingly for a Wednesday morning, I woke yesterday to discover that I had joined the SAS. Not, happily, a regiment in the British army, but part of the "Successful, Attractive, but Single" brigade, identified by model and "personality" Lisa Snowdon.
In fact, I am MSPAS: Moderately Successful, Passably Attractive, AND Single -- for like the majority of single men and women of my (late 30s) generation, I respond to La Snowdon: "What's with the 'but'?"
Snowdon (39), a long-term lamenter of her single status, opined in She magazine: "I haven't had a boyfriend for five years. Now I'm thinking not when it's going to happen, but if . . . It's scary to imagine that maybe there'll be no husband, no baby, no wedding -- and that's it.
"Where can I go to meet a guy? I go to parties, but you don't really meet people there. So this might be it. I may never meet someone; never have kids."
Much as one feels for her, there is something curiously anachronistic about her remarks. They smack of '90s bleating that teleports one straight back to Bridget Jones and the heyday of the Sex and the City heroines, whose libertinism was a frenetic auditioning to find 'The One'.
For a woman so au courant in her embrace of trends, Snowdon sounds (forgive the pun) dated. Perhaps she is suffering from some Miss Havisham-style post-traumatic stress disorder in the wake of having once dated George Clooney.
The majority of my peers are single because this is the state that suits them. According to the Institute for Public Policy Research, a quarter of women of my generation will be childless, and few of us are bemoaning each passing ovary.
For we 21st-century lone rangers are realists rather than whingers. We have made -- and continue to make -- choices that dictate our situations. We have our friends, our work, our families, our thrilling sex and social lives. Life is rich -- not least when compared with the oft-expressed wretchedness of those in nuclear families. "Are they called nuclear because they're catastrophic?" inquired a friend of late.
Many of us uphold comedian Lizz Winstead's axiom: "I think, therefore I am single." There would be no triumphant: "Reader, I married him" for today's Jane Eyre, who would surely deem that Rochester had "issues", sleep with him, but not hostage her fortune to him. Just as it is very far from universal truth that a single man, in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. What he wants is an Xbox and Red Dead Redemption.
The fly in the ointment is, obviously, children. It may sound self-evident, but singleteers who want to spawn should create the circumstances in which this can occur. Snowdon maintains that her friends are married and only know couples.
My reaction is first: what tunnel-visioned friends, and second: make new ones. Women can be prone to The Rules-style, self-imposed misogyny that dictates that nice girls wait for men to do the running; a passivity they would countenance in no other area.
Moreover, despite their protestations, they will still be making choices. Writer and bachelor-about-town Harry Mount observes: "Most women in their late 30s could get married tomorrow, if they really, really wanted to. There are gazillions of men who would marry them at the drop of a hat -- but the feeling probably isn't mutual. The Lisa Snowdons of this world didn't get married in their 20s because they didn't want to and were picky. Now they want to, but they're still picky."
Indeed, one becomes ever more picky over time. Lori Gottlieb's Mr Good Enough exhorted women to stop being choosy and bag themselves something less than a catch. However, there are more justifiable non-negotiables for both parties at 39 than there were 10 years earlier: independence, maturity, something between the ears and more, much more, to lose.
If I meet the love of my live tomorrow, terrific. If I don't, terrific. Meanwhile, if Snowdon would like to be part of a coterie of dashing, non-lamenting individuals, who take responsibility for their own lives, she has only to get in touch.