The Limbo State Between Child and Adult: Are We As Singles Part of the Problem?

I recently posed the question on Instagram of whether my single followers feel like they’re treated like second class citizens or less like adults than their married counterparts.

70% voted yes.

And they threw out numerous examples for why, and I can think of many more.

Being seated at the kids table, while a younger sibling or married friend will be at an adult table at an affair.

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They felt their opinions aren’t always heard as strongly, they’re viewed as more immature, as not yet having made it, at being stuck in a limbo state between child and adult, because in order to fully be an adult you have to be married.

And yet, they’re going through similar motions as their married friends. They’re going to work, they’re paying bills, they’re worrying about saving for the future, they’re balancing social lives and work lives. The list goes on.

And it’s heartbreaking to think there are so many people who think that a simple ring on their finger is going to change the way they’re perceived by their friends, family and community. Because that just adds another level of pressure to dating that can’t be healthy.

But at the same time, I can’t help but wonder if we as singles are part of the problem. Yes, other people might make us feel excluded. Yes, it’s often impossible to avoid the fact that you might be the only one at a family affair who doesn’t have a spouse or partner. Yes your younger, married sister or brother might get called Mrs. or Mr. while people refer to you by your first name (and I’m sure that stings even more if you’re a doctor or Rabbi etc.) But let’s take a moment and look inward.

We live our lives post college like vagabonds. We view ourselves and our lives as temporary. We move out of our dorms and into our apartments with our friends, and in the back of our heads we think, I seriously hope I’m not here next year. And it’s not because we don’t like our roommates or our rooms (although that’s sometimes the case), it’s because we’re often thinking, this is temporary. In 1 year, 3 years, 5 years I’ll 100% be married and gone, and this place will be a distant memory.

So we treat it that way. We buy furniture off the guy or girl who lived there before. We scrape together 4 different sets of dishes and silverware. Maybe we hang something on the walls, but often we just paste up a poster or leave them bare. Our couches are cheap. Our windows don’t have shades. Our bathrooms haven’t been cleaned in months. We eat cereal for dinner and bars for lunch. But it’s fine. Because soon, like really, really soon we’ll for sure be married. For sure. Definitely. And that’s when we’ll actually buy a couch without holes. Maybe we’ll invest in a piece of art. We’ll buy towels we didn’t bring to sleepaway camp. Our furniture will match.

And look, I get it. Many of these things are expensive. We don’t have registries. We often move from apartment to apartment and furniture doesn’t always fit. Many of us are fresh out of college with low paying jobs and high rent, or we’re still in school and someone is helping foot the bill. So investing in our apartments is not necessarily at the top of our lists. BUT. We’d be lying if we told ourselves that there haven’t been times when we’ve thought about buying something for our apartments, something we can afford to buy (because hello Homegoods and Target and Bed and Bath coupons) and we think, but is it worth it? What if I meet someone this year?

And therein lies the problem. We are not treating ourselves like adults. We’re feeding into this state of limbo. And if you don’t treat yourself like an adult, why in the world would someone else treat you like one?

I’m not saying we’re to blame for our own problems. I’m just saying that sometimes, maybe these things are somewhat circular, and it’s not just one person or group who is to blame. So maybe while everyone else looks inward and thinks about how they can treat singles more like adults, we should do the same to ourselves.

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