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Why Isn’t HE Married? The Age Old Signs To Look For…

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urlWhile I never wanted it at the time, my mother (whom I call Mummie) had some interesting dating advice when I was a teenager. Once when I was complaining that I didn’t have a boyfriend and whining that cute boys didn’t like me, Mummie casually turned to me and said, “You’re 17. Why on earth would you want a boyfriend? Men should be like handbags, just get one to match your outfit.”  My response to this was intense eye-rolling, sulking off to my room to call my best friend and continue my complaining. Looking back, it was pretty fabulous (if not dramatic) advice. I was a typical 17-year old, Mummie has never been typical. Mummie is larger than life.  She is charismatic in a way often not associated with the word mother. I’ve long thought Mummie is the love child of Auntie Mame (the Rosalind Russell version of course), Alexis Carrington (Dynasty fans anyone?) and Mary Tyler Moore (she’s resourceful). She once threatened to go “Terms of Endearment” on a nurse when my sister was in labor. I love that my mother threatened a Shirley MacLaine tirade. 

When it came to dating and relationships, my mother is quite the traditionalist. There is a lot of talk about ladylike and gentlemanly behavior when it comes to dating. One of her absolutes, and something she firmly stands by, is the list of five. Mummie believes if you meet a man that isn’t married (after a certain age) and one of these five reasons doesn’t apply to why he’s single, then the reason he’s single is something you don’t want to tangle with. Mummie explained that she learned these rules from her mother (the original Mummie).  Back in the day, an unmarried man was somewhat suspect. You must remember that Jane Austen’s words (“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”) held true for centuries. However, these days the focus is always on why a woman isn’t married (think Tracey McMillan’s scathing article and book). The plight of the single woman and the difficulties of dating are all over television, movies and books, but we don’t seem to invest as much scrutiny towards men. When I was single, I was asked a million times, “Why are you single?” but I always wondered, were my male friends questioned similarly?

Why aren’t certain men married? Of course, today’s complexities of modern relationships are a world my grandmother (and Mummie) will never know or understand, but I find her ‘list’ fascinating. I understand that men and women are getting married later in life – I myself am part of this statistic. But back in my grandmother’s time when raising her young daughter, she had a set of five rules. If they didn’t apply to a man, then there was a reason, and it wasn’t an acceptable reason. I guess in the 60’s mothers were more concerned with married men preying on their daughters (think Don Draper), than slackers and Peter Pan-type men who didn’t want to grow up. While these are a little dated, they mostly stand the test of time. Mummie swears by them, and maybe it’s a good thing to keep in mind when you meet a guy that seems great on paper, but you wonder, why are you still single?

Mummie’s ‘Five Reasons A Man Isn’t Married’ used to make me laugh, but when I was talking recently to Mummie, they started to sound fairly reasonable. I’m not saying there is something completely wrong with unmarried men well into their 30’s and 40’s, but it is fair to keep your eye open in an age where we have more access to potential partners but are not as discerning as we should be.

THE FIVE REASONS WHY HE ISN’T MARRIED

1. He’s Been Tied Up With Studies 

Mummie categorized advance degrees, PhDs, law school, medical school, or starting a business/intense career as “studies.” I understand this one. It’s totally understandable that ten years of your prime dating life can be swallowed in career building and make maintaining a relationship very difficult. I think this one still stands. I can’t count the number of guys I dated in my mid 20’s in LA who wanted “to focus on their career” (even when few of them really had one). But those years are considered the big push years to go out there and make something of yourself, especially from parents who have helped shell out a ton in college tuition. I’m going to back up Mummie on this one still being a totally acceptable reason.

2. A Longtime Relationship Just Ended

I have a friend who started dating her boyfriend as a high school junior, at 31 they broke up. Telling someone in your 30’s that you haven’t been on a date since you were 17 is definitely daunting, and explains a lot.  Long-lasting relationships that end, luckily without the devastation of a divorce, also leave both partners scared and freaked out by dating someone new. Yep, Mummie, this one still stands the test of time. 

3. Caring For A Parent or a Sibling

Okay, this one seems fairly dated. According to Mummie, some men have spent years looking after a parent while holding down a full-time job, which obviously makes meeting someone difficult. I can’t think of ever meeting a single man in this situation full-time caretaker. But who knows, maybe there was a weird epidemic in Australia circa the 60’s and 70’s striking older parents and keeping men off the market? Okay #4 might be weak and antiquated, but admirable and shows a kindness.  

4. Lives With Their Parent & Not Fully On Their Own

Unless someone was just recently hit very hard by the economy and forced to move back home, or are from a very strict cultural background that doesn’t approve of moving out from their parents place until marriage (which is still weird to me in 2013), this is more of a red flag to me than a reason he’s not married. I really don’t understand people that still live with their parents but work and earn a living. My parents were leading the victory parade after college to get my older sister and I out of the house. Luckily for everyone, we couldn’t wait to move out and neither has returned since. I do understand that college and high school graduates face a much harsher employment and economic world than I did upon graduation. However, I have little sympathy for those lacking the initiative and drive to get off the family dole. Yes, this is absolutely a reason a guy isn’t married. I know Hollywood can make this type of thing seem adorable (think Matthew McConaughey living at home in Failure to Launch), but I see it as a red flag. But I guess it explains their status and is something that can be easily changed. 

5. He’s Gay

I’m proud that my conservative Australian grandmother was aware enough to recognize gay men in the 60’s and 70’s and was able to talk about it with her daughter. Back then, women marrying a closeted gay men was a situation my generation and the younger generation don’t really have to deal with. I was in a conversation recently about a guy all the girls knew peripherally. He’s almost 40, never married, very Catholic and someone just said, “I think he’s gay.” I’d like to think that everyone who is gay is out and proud, but I know some people aren’t and don’t want to be. I can’t imagine their struggle, but it’s something to think about when you meet that “awesome” guy who just wants to hang out with you all the time. Mummie is big on not wasting everyone’s time in relationships. 

Obviously, these are broad generalizations and lots of amazing people are single and available whatever their age. But I’m reminded of my mother’s random sayings and ‘rules’ the older I get. Maybe they start to make sense, or I’ve seen a lot more of life to make them more applicable. But Mummie’s lesson was this, if these five reasons don’t apply, then ask yourself why isn’t he married and if you want marriage in your future, are you going to waste years on a man that will never give you what you want.

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One Response to “Why Isn’t HE Married? The Age Old Signs To Look For…”

  1. September 17, 2013 at 3:26 am

    Bugga… I wish I read your blog a few months ago.
    I learned the hard way that there is a good (I mean bad) reason for a guy in his 40s not te be married. In my case he was 45 year old anomaly with serious life skills deficit :-)

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