Why Aren’t You Married Yet?

I like being the only single columnist at Prodigal for the moment, because it means that I have a corner on the dating advice market. Unfortunately, you all have to listen to what I say, because I’m the Dating Expert! (Note to Editors: When does my Expert raise kick in? Editors? Anyone?)

Perhaps no other topic captures the attention of twenty-somethings more than dating stories, relationship how-tos, and opinions on coffee dates vs. dinner dates vs. study breaks. I don’t think this is necessarily bad. Our twenties and thirties are a time of significant decisions, all of them involving relationships. We’re making big choices about our selves, coworkers, roommates, family, friends, neighbors, and significant others. I know I’m more likely to make better decisions in all of these areas after talking with and listening to those who know me best and want the best for me.

But then there are those times when you get cornered at an extended family reunion or a work party or after church and someone says, “You’re so (handsome, nice, smart, spiritual, great with kids, good at cooking, whatever), why aren’t you married?

Have you been ambushed by that one recently?

I think those backhanded compliments are particularly grating because they take something genuine about you and reduce it to a commodity. They imply that we’re not valuable in our own, only in pairs. They assume that I’m miserable because I’m not married.

In an attempt to prepare a wittier comeback in these situations, I’ve written down a few of the reasons why I’m not married:

  • I didn’t learn to flirt til I was 24
  • I have trouble being vulnerable
  • I’m really picky
  • I’m highly independent
  • Everyone in my generation Kissed Dating Goodbye
  • I weave the merits of the Harry Potter series into most conversations
  • The other Emily Maynard won that reality TV dating show
  • I own fifty-four pairs of shoes… (Yeah. Fifty-four).

Then I found myself listing some more substantial insights on this topic. And what sort of Dating Expert would I be if I didn’t share my discoveries? Here are three legitimate reasons why I, Emily Maynard, am not married:

I don’t think marriage is a prize for being awesome.

Isn’t it funny how there are basically no qualifications for marriage? There are traditionally attractive people who get married. There are socially unkempt people who get married. There are world class communicators who get married. There are people with terrible people skills who get married. You can’t use a magical combination of good character and charm and grilling prowess to create Mrs. Right out of thin air.

Good communication, grace, and a lot of prayer might help you to stay married, but you can’t earn a beloved through good behavior.

Relationships aren’t a reward for living the right type of life, they’re your whole life.

And they aren’t in some video game hierarchy where you work your way up to Romance because you’ve conquered the Colleague and Friend and Sibling levels. Realizing this took some of the pressure off getting married and allows me to passionately live my life, whatever adventures and relationships it contains.

Being awesome does not directly cause the state of being married, so we can worry less and just, you know, be awesome for the sake of being awesome.

I value relationships, even if they don’t end in rings and vows.

While I’m still open to a giant lifetime commitment ceremony/feast/dance off party in my future, I don’t think that marriage is the ultimate goal of my life. And marriage isn’t even the ultimate goal of all my dating experiences. It’s a complicated connection because it’s hard to get married without dating, but that doesn’t mean that every date I go on is an interview for the future Mr. Speaking Up.

The best dates I’ve been on are about fun activities, learning someone’s story and telling yours, and making hilarious puns.

I’ve dated some truly intelligent, generous, funny, and high quality men. Each of those relationships has enriched my life, even if I didn’t end up with a giant rock on my hand. Some people will tell you to “date intentionally,” and I agree, but I think your intention should always be to enjoy, learn, grow, and honor every relationship in your life, not just to lock one down.

Once we understand that all relationships are valuable in their own way, it takes away the pressure of finding one and frees us to enjoy the unique challenges and beauty of every one.

I am kind of afraid of marriage.

Here’s where all those vulnerability issues kick into high gear.

Pledging yourself in complete partnership to another human is pretty scary. We’ve all seen marriages that end up exactly the opposite of what they hoped for and what we want: broken ends, terrible situations held together by apathy or dogma, and unexpected challenges. Some days it just seems easier to stay single than committing to something that has a record of ending poorly fifty percent of the time.

I’ve got a pretty great life:I’m building a career I love, I have fantastic family and friends, and I usually have enough cash left after meeting basic needs to add to my shoe pile. But when I think about what I really want my life to be built on, who I really want to be, and what drives my decisions, it’s always love, not fear.

Married or not, we will all be presented with opportunities to grow, change, and walk through tremendous challenges.

It’s foolish to think that I’ll never have to work through fear if I can just hold commitment at bay. Realizing this has helped me see that my real enemy isn’t marriage.

My real battle is against fear, and Love will win.

My married friends assure me that even once you’ve got the spouse question answered, it doesn’t stop the intrusive questions from people. The territory for awkward encounters just expands: ”Are you pregnant yet?” “When are you buying a house?” “Are you getting chubby from eating all those tacos?” “You’re pregnant again?”

So, maybe I’ll get married and maybe I won’t. Much of that is actually outside of my control. But I can build my value in God’s unwavering love for all humans, regardless of marital status. I can work on loving others well and treating all relationships with respect. I can choose to work through my fears willingly and patiently. And I can cultivate kind responses instead of biting retorts to awkward personal questions.

But please, don’t test me on that last one.

Speak up! What’s the most awkward question you’ve ever been asked? Have you asked someone an intrusive question in public? Why are or aren’t you married?

[photo: ashley.santiago, Creative Commons]

  • Michaeleen

    Loved this post. I have always been a firm believer in embracing the single life for what it is and not putting too much pressure on dating and relationships. I wish more single people realized how valued they were on their own. Two Christmases ago I remember leaving my Uncle’s house after a family dinner and him telling me that I could bring a date next year if I wanted, basically wondering why I wasn’t dating anyone yet. At that point I was 23 and had been single for…23 years. However this year, I’ll be going back to that same get together with a husband (who I will be marrying in 2.5 months!). Be encouraged, because marriage and commitment scared the heck out me too. I was afraid my life would change drastically or that I wouldn’t be able to continue doing what I love or serving who I serve. But what I’ve learned in this relationship is that I have only become a better version of myself since I started dating this guy. Funny enough, he and I share the same passions and have been able to start ministering to other together.

    Moral of the story: You are awesome for being single. I respect you and the things you have to say. Thank you.

    • http://www.caitlinmuir.com Caitlin Muir

      CONGRATS!

    • Emily_Maynard

      Thank you so much! Love your story.

      I had a friend share with me recently that she’s never been happier than during her one year (so far) of marriage. And still, at the altar on that day she pledged to her match, she was thinking “You can still do it. You can still run.” hahaha I loved that! I think the beauty of it is that she knew she had the freedom to choose or not choose marriage to this man, so she got to choose YES with her whole self, out of love, not obligation or pressure.

      Hope you have the same freedom and blessings in your choice! Congratulations!

  • http://messymiddle.com/ Amy Young

    There is great societal pressure in China to get married around age 30 (for the educated, for peasants it’s much earlier). Well, I blew past that societal norm a long time ago :) … oddest question/comment came from a taxi driver who asked about my family. I commented (this is all happening in Chinese) that I wasn’t married. He looked right at me in the rear-view mirror and muttered to himself, “but you look so normal.”

    :) . And I am!

    • Rina Maduro

      Hahahahaha :D I’m very normal too! Almost 29 and not married yet.

    • Q

      I’m 31, Chinese and in Canada, believe me, the pressures are still the same!! In fact, they’ve made up a category for females like us. It’s a Chinese word play on the phrase “heavenly woman”, said in another way with a change of tone means “left over woman”….

    • http://www.transparencymag.com/ Kevin Howell

      Lol, that’s hilarious. You only can laugh at that. But even in U.S., people may not say it, but I have a feeling they’re thinking, ‘something must be wrong with him.’

  • http://twitter.com/bwitt722 Brianna DeWitt

    Some of my most awkward questions have come from my 3 year old niece–almost all the adults she knows are married, so it’s a foreign concept to her that I’m technically an “adult,” but not married. She means nothing harmful by saying, “You need to get married so you can have kids like me,” but sometimes those innocent statements still sting a bit.

    Also, love this: “Being awesome does not directly cause the state of being married, so we can worry less and just, you know, be awesome for the sake of being awesome.”

    • http://www.cross-platform.org John Hanan

      I’ve seen the same thing from little kids. For many, adult = married, so it doesn’t quite make sense my being 29 and single.

      • Emily_Maynard

        This is our chance to explain to a new generation that all people are valuable regardless of marital status. :)

  • http://twitter.com/ljcolle Laura Colle

    I love this! Without fail, every time i go to church I am asked when I am getting married. Their intentions are pure (I hope) as much as their execution is terrible. But when someone said they would pray for me and my lack of marital status, I just had to add “I don’t have a disease”.

    This was very encoruaging to read. thank you.

    and yes- EVERY ONE KISSED DATING GOODBYE. stupid.

    • http://twitter.com/RinaMaduro ღ ℜᵢⁿₐ ♏ₐᵈᵤʳₒ❣ ღ

      29, single, Kissed Dating Goodbye: still hope left?? People must stop to make their own conclusions and be careful what they’re saying because as you said, single people don’t have a disease. It’s just not their time yet. Gosh!!

  • http://www.cross-platform.org John Hanan

    Side comment: the 50% divorce rate, while accurate, is a little misleading. That number takes into account all marriages including second, third, fourth, and so on. Divorce rate for first marriages is something like 25-30% the last time I saw it, and begins to increase dramatically for each subsequent failed marriage – to the point where anything beyond a fifth marriage (I think) is almost guaranteed to end in divorce. Just thought folks might like to know.

    • Emily_Maynard

      Thanks for clarifying that, John. I wasn’t trying to make a statistical analysis of first marriages, more about marriage in general and my fears. Glad you’re still reading after the modesty post. :)

      • http://www.cross-platform.org John Hanan

        I figured as much. But I’ve also seen some folks use the 50% divorce rate as a justification for their fear of marriage. Largely informational and semi-irrelevant comment, is all. ;)

        • Emily_Maynard

          John, I also think it’s good to note that I doubt those entering second or third or fourth marriages hoped for or planned on divorce. The end of anything is a huge disappointment and pain. I never want to discount the pain of having a marriage fail, no matter how many times it has happened to someone. The 50% statistic is valid in the sense that each of those marriages mattered to the people involved, their friends, family, etc. Each situation is vastly complicated and simply being married before doesn’t CAUSE a divorce or lessen the pain of a broken end.

          • http://www.cross-platform.org John Hanan

            This is true, and it’s certainly not my intent to trivialize the people or pain involved when a marriage ends, or to assume expectations when people get married.

  • http://www.jrforasteros.com JR. Forasteros

    Fantastic post. You’ve nailed what I’m preaching about this weekend – our culture (and our Church) has idolized Marriage. We think that Marriage is the ultimate expression of full humanity, that Marriage makes us whole and complete. When in fact Marriage can do none of those things.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Emily_Maynard

      Hi JR, thank you so much for sharing this. I’m curious to hear you develop your point. Send me a recording of your sermon once it goes up or feel free to post a link here!

  • Q

    When I was “younger” I really did think marriage was some kind of prize for being hot/slim/rich/etc. Now that I am all those *coughs* and saved, I realize that marriage is really about partnership in the ministry God has for the couple together. I’d like to think that the man God has in mind for me is not ready for me (cuz I’m so excellent pfft). I always think back to Genesis about why Eve was made, to be a helper of Adam.

  • http://twitter.com/ashprettylady a. santiago

    My single years have been the best years of my life. Marrying early or later in life shouldn’t be that big of an issue. After all, God’s primary purpose in our lives is not for us to find “the one”. There’s quite a lot that you can accomplish on your own, until the moment comes, if it comes, when serving alongside another accomplishes more.

    my case has been quite the contrary. My country values not being married over being married. They are constantly pushing me to “be a professional, have my own house, travel the world” and then marry by age 30-40. It’s been a struggle to actually have a relationship headed for marriage and have so many against it.

    • Emily_Maynard

      Wow, A, thank you so much for sharing this! It’s interesting to realize that there are more pressures are culturally based than just the ones I’ve experienced. I hope you continue to find the strength to live YOUR life, not the one others script for you.

    • tams

      wow, i hope i live in your country ashley LOL

      • Ashley Holstein

        Interestingly enough, God had other plans for me and I am now married. His plans transcended my cultural background & upbringing.

  • http://twitter.com/RinaMaduro ღ ℜᵢⁿₐ ♏ₐᵈᵤʳₒ❣ ღ

    Somebody from another church ask me a few months ago what I’m going to
    do about the fact that I haven’t met someone yet (except from praying).
    This person had to left suddenly so I didn’t have to answer the
    question. :)
    Marriages @ church: I thought for sure that you would catch the bouquet … (Catch and then what?? He would arrive then automatically???) You’re the next one over 6 months?? So like you said Emily, REALLY have to “cultivate kind responses instead of biting retorts to awkward personal questions”.

  • http://www.deliciouslyyourslo.blogspot.com/ Deliciously Yours

    Yay! This was the kind of dating advice I needed in my younger years. Thanks for sharing. I think too often people (Christians especially) are told that you have to be at a certain place in your life, or a certain age etc. I used to stress out about dating because I felt such a pressure to only date for marriage. While that was always my intention, I learned how to do exactly what you have expressed in this article. And now I am in a happy, wonderful relationship leading towards marriage. I didn’t turn into a certain type of person, or have to learn huge life lessons before, I just took a chance and happened to meet the right person at a specific time in my life. All you need to do is give people a chance while dating, and live up being single while you can!

  • lyn

    awesome writing…i have enjoyed reading this..thanks alot….:-)

    • Emily_Maynard

      Thanks, Lyn! I’m glad you’re here.

  • http://www.transparencymag.com/ Kevin Howell

    Great article Emily. It’s funny, I had been so content being single for a while, but in the past year or so I’ve gotten discontent. I think much of it comes from looking at peers who are married, or taking to heart those “why aren’t you married yet” questions that come at the WORST times.
    Articles like this help me relax and keep my peace. I particularly liked the part on valuing all relationships and not thinking every date is “the one.”

    • Emily_Maynard

      Hi Kevin,

      Thank you for sharing so honestly that your contentment varies. Life is rarely static where we just “are fine” or “are not fine” with anything in our lives and it’s encouraging to know we’re all working through various stages of satisfaction with relationships. It’s so hard not to take comments to heart, though.

      Sometimes, I see peers who are married and realize I’m glad I’m not. :) Ultimately, my life isn’t defined by “single” or “married,” but by my life. It’s filled with the love of God, so much learning, and amazing relationships and THAT’S why it matters.

  • Brooke

    I, straight up, got asked if I was a lesbian once. All I could think was, “Really? So, not dating/sleeping with anything male that has a pulse makes me a lesbian? Wow. Thank you for your insight to my life.” But, in all seriousness, thanks for this post. It’s always encouraging to be reminded that God’s way of working things isn’t the same as our’s or anyone else’s. And it’s better than what we can plan for ourselves.

  • http://twitter.com/henreckson Michael Henreckson

    Everyone kissed dating goodbye… ain’t that the truth.

    • Emily_Maynard

      I’m also not married because I went to a tiny little midwest college…

      • 09 Charger

        Hillsdating… ugh.

        • Emily_Maynard

          Haha. It did force me to learn to ask guys out, though! Saying what I want has served me well in post-hillsdating.

      • Ashley

        well, Emily, I went to Liberty–world’s LARGEST (Christian) university, and I still managed to graduate without a ring on my finger ;) I’m 25, and though I look forward to marriage one day, I honestly wouldn’t trade the last few years for ANYTHING…I’m thankful for the experiences I’ve had (while single) that continue to shape me into who I’m created to be (living in Uganda for a year, lots of traveling, touring the U.S. with an international children’s choir, etc.) Thanks for your honest article, Emily. loved it!!

  • http://christymcferren.com/ Christy McFerren

    I think so many marriages fail because people, especially in our late teens or early twenties, still find identity and personhood in the acceptance of another person, so they marry really young. I don’t know about everyone else, but it was my experience that my 20′s were the time in my life when I really began to understand who I was, what my dreams are, what I want out of life, some things I don’t want, and what my career+ministry was going to look like. It’s not to say I have it all figured out, for sure, because I don’t, but it took some time to just get to know myself, and it would have been a lot harder with the distraction of a relationship that was all up in the mix of those formative things. But after some time, I began to understand what a good “fit” for me was in terms of how much freedom I’d need, and I also saw where my personal shortcomings were going to be so I could look for a spouse that would complement those things and make me stronger. I think there’s a lot to be said for spending some time on yourself, and then when Mr. or Mrs. Right comes along, you don’t have to spend as much time “figuring it out”. You’ll know if they are the one or not pretty quickly. I think the question you’re posing in your article title is asked by people who really might not have been that intentional about ensuring they marry well, if and when they do.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bethany.vancamp Bethany Richetti

    This is marvelous. And so true. No matter what we’re up to, being awesome for the sake of being awesome, and learning to embrace love rather than fear is good. And yeah, good work on coming up with good answers to “why aren’t you married?” That is one bad and ubiquitous question. My personal favorite response: I was seeing someone, but he left me for my sister. (Not true. At all. I don’t even have a sister. :D )

    • Emily_Maynard

      Thank you, Bethany! Glad to have you reading.

      One very wise and hilarious woman I know said she’d like to answer this question, “Well, I’ll tell you, but then you have to answer my question about YOUR biggest vulnerability and lifelong struggle with God!”

      Also, that sister thing sort of happened to me once. Fortunately my sister told him he was a jerk and let me know he was chatting her up. See ya, dude! She’s a good woman. :)

  • http://KatieAxelson.com/ Katie Axelson

    Emily, I’m 23 and not married. One of my friends (and former youth leader) always gets on my case about it and tries to hook me up with her cousin’s sister’s best friend’s neighbor. The funny thing is, she’s a few years older and not married either (though she is in a serious relationship). Another friend (and former youth leader) finally told the two of us she’s not allowed to ask me if I’m dating anyone and I’m not allowed to ask her when she’s getting married. Really, I would only ask when she’s driving me nuts about it. I hate the “Any boys in your life?” comment. I kind of feel like when there comes one, people will know.

    Katie

    • Emily_Maynard

      Hi Katie,

      My response to the “boys” question is always to say, “yes, lots!” I have absolutely amazing male friends, brother/brother-in-law, kids of my friends, etc. It always throws people off and instantly reminds me how lucky I am to have ALL the relationships I do, not just that I’m missing out on a particular one. :)

      • http://KatieAxelson.com/ Katie Axelson

        Oooh! That’s a great answer. I’ll have to keep that one in mind. Although, they’ll probably find a way to misinterpret it since anytime I mention the same boy’s name more than once, I get a suspicious, “So who is this?”

  • http://www.caitlinmuir.com Caitlin Muir

    Love your thoughts, Emily. Especially about all relationships being valuable in their own way. Thanks for keeping it real. And let’s go shoe shopping some time.

    I’m not married because right now, being single is the best thing for me. Oh yes, I’m throwing in the sovereignty of God line in because I think it’s true. I used to think it was my acne, my insecurities, my older brothers, my personality, and half a dozen other things that I wanted to micromanage. But it wasn’t really those things. It was God. I can look back my early 20s and see where there was no way I was ready for marriage, even when I had the chance for it.

    God had placed so many hopes in dreams in my heart that I needed to do with only Him by my side. So many dark moments where I had to let Him sustain, guide, and lead me. If I was leaning on a man, I’d be missing out on some of the miracles that God was doing in my life.

    I’d love to be married but until then, I plan on rocking being singular.

    • Emily_Maynard

      Hi friend!

      Love you and love that you’re willing to share your story here. I think you’ve definitely got the skills to rock life, singular or plural. (p.s. I’m stealing that word usage)
      Thank you for sharing that you used to try go “micromanage” all the things you thought were keeping you from marriage or a romantic relationship. Once again, we’re back at control vs. trusting in Love and just living life freed by Jesus. I think everything comes back to that for me!
      Every time I try to pat myself on the back and think I’m BETTER or STRONGER for being single through my twenties, I realize that I can’t really do that either. I’m amazed that some people learn these important lessons that I’ve learned single while in committed romantic relationships! God is at work through all circumstances, in mystery and glory.
      I’m not better for being single, I’m just me, in my life, right now.

      And I think that’s all God asks of us, every day.

      Let’s hang out soon, even if it’s just online shoe shopping together. :)

      • http://www.caitlinmuir.com Caitlin Muir

        //Every time I try to pat myself on the back and think I’m BETTER or STRONGER for being single through my twenties, I realize that I can’t really do that either. I’m amazed that some people learn these important lessons that I’ve learned single while in committed romantic relationships! God is at work through all circumstances, in mystery and glory.
        I’m not better for being single, I’m just me, in my life, right now.//

        You communicated this so much better than I did. I kept trying to figure out a way to say that but then my lunch break was over and I had to get back to work. Thanks for always being so encouraging!

        And yes. Shoe shopping.

    • http://www.nateonamission.com Nathan

      Caitlin, this is so great. This really puts into words what I have been feeling lately.

      “God had placed so many hopes in dreams in my heart that I needed to do
      with only Him by my side. So many dark moments where I had to let Him
      sustain, guide, and lead me. If I was leaning on a man, I’d be missing
      out on some of the miracles that God was doing in my life.”

      Love this ‘lil bit.

  • http://twitter.com/palindromefaith HannaH

    I really appreciate this article, Emily. You are so insightful and clever.

    Your understanding of “intentional dating” is so good and exactly what I learned about dating when dating. Dating, or any relationship for that matter, is not just about some goal (e.g. marriage), but about people and learning and growth.

    • Emily

      Love you, pumpkin! I’m so proud of the way you’ve matured through travel, friendships, dating, school, etc. You are a beautiful woman.

  • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

    My battle is against fear too. I’ve watched so many “screwed up” marriages that it scares me to death to consider doing it.

    • Emily_Maynard

      Sundi Jo, I totally hear you! I think it helps me to remember that I get to live out my own story, and whether or not that includes marriage or that marriage ends up “screwed up” or not, I am still loved infinitely. You are too!

  • http://www.facebook.com/actionavery Ashley Baldwin

    Wonderful article! I am married, but you are right, the questions never stop. I met a girl when helping a friend move and when she found out I was done with college and had been married for 2&1/2 years she asked when were going to start “trying.” Questions like this always amaze me. Unbeknown to her we’ve been “trying” for a year. What a painful question! Can’t you just ask “do you have any children?” and leave it at that? Ugh.

    • Emily_Maynard

      Ashley, I’m so sorry you were put in that position. “Do you have any children” is a much better suggestion for those wondering how to be involved in your life without forcing what for most people, is a very sensitive and personal topic!

  • Beth Ridings

    Emily – I was just talking about marriage today with a good friend & enjoyed every minute of this article! I am a newly wed ( so not really in the same boat) but I can relate to you so much! i think you have beautiful words of truth. Heck, the day I got married I had family members asking when I was planning on having kids – 10 years I replied. People never know if I am joking or being serious – I am mostly being serious! haha. THE REASON that I am commenting has to do with your Harry Potter comment. I spent my honeymoon at Harry Potter world in universal studios running around like a child with my husband. You may be a HP nerd – but that is a huge plus to some people out there :) In a weird way, our love for Harry Potter brought my husband and I together! It is the best. I am excited for your life. I know God is using you in GREAT ways! I put the link for my blog – not to make you follow it but so you can see pics of us at Hogwarts! I am so nerdy, I want to share my joy with people who understand :) lol! http://bethjoyridings.blogspot.com/2012/09/hogwarts.html

    • Emily_Maynard

      Hahaha, Beth, thanks so much for sharing. I know there are plenty of other HP fans out there so I’m not too worried. Looks like your honeymoon was awesome! :)

  • http://twitter.com/HotTuneTx Melody Burns

    Good job Emily! I am proud of who you are and what you have to share! God is good to us!

    • Emily_Maynard

      Thank you!

  • http://intentionaltoday.com/ Ngina Otiende

    I agree with your married friends! The awkward questions don’t end once you get a ring. Am in my 5 th year of marriage. My A.Q (awkward question.)? “when are you getting a baby?”

    Questions never end. Best thing is to just learn to live your own life, be happy, be nice.

    • Emily_Maynard

      Thank you for sharing, Ngina!

      Sometimes I think our society is constantly in need of validation: we have to validate our existence by someone choosing to marry us, but then we have to validate that marriage with having kids, then we have to validate those kids by having them go to a good school/be successful, etc. It’s a no-win cycle for everyone! I think that when we let God validate us, we’re free from this trying and get to fully live!

      i love what you said: “learn to live your own life, be happy, be nice.”

  • Kenya Rose Feldes

    Ooh man, Emily. I am SO glad I stumbled upon this. It is exactly what I needed to hear this morning.
    Thank you so much for your wisdom and honesty.
    I think this is definitely the mindset that I and most people my age need to have. Everyone (me included) is so obsessed with finding the right guy or girl. It takes over your life.
    It’s nice to know that it doesn’t have to be the ultimate of ultimate goals–that I can live freely without this heavy burden.
    Aah. Thanks again, friend. You’re wonderful.

    • Emily_Maynard

      Kenya! Thank you so much for reading and saying hi. You’re wonderful, too. :)

  • Ella

    As a children’s pastor I would have kids ask me all the time why I wasn’t married yet. Sometimes I would just reply… “Well, I suppose because no one ever asked me!” I figured that was simple enough and seemed to work :) It was definitely harder when I’d get a comment from teenagers like,”You’re still not married? What are you a lesbian or something?”
    It definitely takes strength from God to put up with all the comments through the years. When I kissed dating goodbye in high school I didn’t realize I was kissing it goodbye for good! I would have kissed longer!!

    • Emily_Maynard

      Hahaha, Ella, thank you so much for sharing. Love this.
      Oh, and “How To Get a Date Worth Keeping” was a fun and practical read that helped me learning to kiss dating hello. :)

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  • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

    Great post, Emily.

    • Emily_Maynard

      Thank you so much!

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  • Allison

    Love this. So eloquently put and the same message I tried to tell others who were worried about not being married at 25. And even though I’m getting married soon, I don’t think of it as a prize or reward. I just met someone I happen to like enough to hang out with for a long time. I was a perfectly happy and fulfilled single person. I’m not more complete because I’m getting married. I just fell in love.

    I truly believe in everything you’ve written here. Thanks for sharing. And for being awesome.

    • Emily_Maynard

      Allison, I love this: “I just met someone I happen to like enough to hang out with for a long time.”

      Congratulations and may you have many great years of hanging out, having fun, and growing alongside each other! Thank you for reading!

  • http://sarahjbaker.com Sarah Baker

    i have a theory when it comes to my generation (the grew up in church 20 something’s) and dating… I think “the church” and our youth pastors convictions kinda screwed with a lot of us. Maybe that sounds bad, but I honestly can’t think of a better way to put it.

    for me, i grew up in a great youth group. had great mentors and people in my life and community. the kissed dating book came out and it just validated everyone’s already rigid legalist ideas of dating and how it should and should not look for “the church.” How we should date (actually court) with a purpose and in the BEST case scenario, the first person you date you should marry. i mean, if you’re really hearing from god enough to enter in that relationship then you’re probably gonna hear from god on marrying them. Or so I was told.
    It was like this unspoken expectation between you and your peers and what you’ve been fed to believe is true.

    I thought I was gonna be that typical girl in my youth/college group. Id find someone I loved and was “in ministry”, id be married between 18-20 and wrap up the last year of having kids by 25.

    I think “the church” needs to get its story straight when it comes to dating and the doctrine/convictions we choose to communicate to the generations coming up. I believe that divorce is high in the church, specifically my age range – because you have people that feel like the right thing to do after dating for 8+ months is getting married. That that is what’s expected… because geez, if you’ve dated this long SURELY you’ve heard from God that you’re supposed to marry this person. You wouldn’t want to have WASTED those few months of your life, right?

    We’ve created fear and shame for couples that do break up, those that don’t find “the one” the first or second time around, and for those that are told having coffee or going to dinner is leading someone on and you need to KNOW they’re the one by this certain time in your relationship…

    And I know there are variables to situations and there always will be, but the trend I notice within the culture I grew up in is pretty evident. As I know plenty of people my age that got a divorce and can pin point certain issue to the pressure they felt to get married after they dated awhile.
    I personally think its very misleading in gods real intentions and design for human relationships. The journey and the process of knowing and learning someone is discounted, because you haven’t arrived yet until you say I do.

    • http://www.prodigalmagazine.com/speaking-up/ Emily

      Sarah,

      This is RIGHT ON! Thank you so much for bringing this up.

      Marriage is no more the solution to our problems than avoiding marriage. When we stop seeing relationships outside of marriage as “time wasted” and place a high value on learning, growing, and respecting each other, I think we’ll find better relationships.

      It’s tough to change the ideas you grew up with, but I’m grateful for a community – both in person and online – that allows me to grow.

      Thank you for your insight!

  • Alicia

    Emily, you expressed this so perfectly! I’m 19, and I’ve wanted to get married for just about my entire life, but I’ve never been in an even remotely serious relationship. So I’ve learned throughout the years to love myself for who I am and not depend on others to make me happy or to tell me who I am. And I feel confident and happy knowing that when the time comes, and I find the guy that I’m supposed to spend the rest of my life with, I’m still going to be me – only with someone else – rather than defining myself by the person I’m with.

    • Emily_Maynard

      Alicia, you’ve hit on something crucial: you will be YOU through your whole life. Congratulations on realizing this truth so young! Enjoy growing and learning and being yourself, no matter where life takes you or the people who stand alongside. Thanks for commenting!

  • Kerry Dwyer

    Emily!!! A facebook friend posted this and I love it! Then I realized it’s YOU!! Lets meet for HH soon. I miss our quick little chats when I use to bring rent up to the 9th floor. (Use to work on the 7th floor) :o )

    • Emily_Maynard

      WHAT? Omg, the world is so tiny! How funny! Thank you for reading!

  • Sol Eufracio

    Emily, I think you’re great, and not just because you love tacos as much as I do.
    I’m learning to speak up! Here goes: I’m 24, somewhat new to the city I live in, and single.

    Reasons why I am not married: I’m 24 and somewhat new to the city I live in. :)
    In all seriousness, it hasn’t been until this past year that Jesus’ healing work in me has become stronger than the brokenness of my parent’s marriage, hurtful encounters with men, and almost-romantic relationships. So one of the reasons I’m not married is because I haven’t been in an emotional place to even consider being in a healthy relationship, forget marriage. Additionally, many misconceptions about marriage are being broken for me. Misconceptions that marriage will make life better, fix my areas of brokenness…
    Lastly, I fear marriage, too. My heart has been bruised and broken in seeing too many broken marriages, and dysfunctional families. I fear putting my heart on the line for something that may not work out. I am learning that marriage is a choice you constantly make, but most days I don’t feel courageous enough to enter into something that has caused so much pain in my 24 year history with life.

    Thanks, Emily. Let’s hang when I visit Portland again.

    • Emily_Maynard

      Sol,

      Thank you so much for sharing your story here. I’m so sorry that your experience with relationships has been full of pain. There are no words to fix this and I can’t even try. But I hope you know that you are not alone and you are not forgotten. Jesus doesn’t cause this pain in our lives, but he constantly works through it to transform it to something beautiful. Not in a way that diminishes or masks our pain, but redeems it. I’m glad you’re experiencing this.

      And yes, please get in touch next time you are in the NW!

  • http://www.devotionaldiva.com/ Renee Johnson Fisher

    Holy freaking crap Emily. This is AWESOME. Thanks for sharing!!!

    • Emily_Maynard

      Thanks, Renee! Wanna tweet about it? ;)

      • http://www.devotionaldiva.com/ Renee Johnson Fisher

        Done and done. I did a better one too and am linking it to a piece I’m writing on another site this December because I loved it that much :)

        • Emily_Maynard

          Thank you! So exciting!

  • Guest

    I actually just wrote a post on my blog (seriously, this is not a promotionary comment) about this exact thing! I love your thoughts about why you are single. These are all the things that I am thinking, right now. I am going through this battle of whether or not I want to actually be married. I have realized that I am afraid of screwing up. I was in my first relationship a couple years ago at the age of 25. I was to finally conquer my fear of being a girlfriend. Or at least I thought. I broke up with him 4 months later. Granted, I truly do not think that he was someone that I was going to marry but that’s not why we broke up. I broke up with him because I couldn’t stand the thought of being with someone who did not stimulate my love of learning or was able to pursue a passion of his own.

    • Emily_Maynard

      Thank you for sharing your story. I’m proud of you for making a tough decision in this relationship and putting your love of learning above the validation we get from society for “being a girlfriend.” You don’t have to have unrealistic expectations that there’s a “perfect” partner out there for you, but you don’t have to settle or shut down part of yourself! Hope you keep growing and learning.

  • http://thisblankpage.com/ Timothy Snyder

    After reading this, I have decided I’m making my own list of witty comebacks for why I’m still single.

    • Emily_Maynard

      Please post them here, Timothy!

  • Oksana

    Great post! Insightful and factual. Although out culture has changed much regarding proper marriage, marriage still carries a status card. I am 24, college graduate, active in church, tall, statuesque, competitive with leadership traits … and single. Right now marriage is more on my mind than ever, although my single life is busy enough and it is sufficient for me. But it seems I never have time for spending time in prayer or studying the scripture, as a “proper hopeful young woman” should. I also get constant questions from relatives and friends, when I’m getting married and if I have “someone” in my life. I reply that I’m happy by myself, I’m daily busy and don’t have time for a relationship. However inside I do feel

  • http://ear-sword-miracle.blogspot.com/ Miles O’Neal

    I don’t get the whole fascination with why someone isn’t married yet, or hasn’t had kids yet, or got married already, or had that many kids or… I also find it interesting that a lot of people in the Church are quick to throw out Scriptures as to why you need to be married or have kids or whatever, but gloss over the “be content with where you are” passages. (Those can be abused, too, I know.)

    If I don’t know you very well, I won’t be asking such a question unless I am 100% convinced God wants me to. I can’t recall that having ever happened. If I do know you, I’m probably going to have some idea, anyway, just from being in relationship, because we’ll discuss the things we long for, fear, etc.

    • Emily_Maynard

      Miles, this is particularly insightful: “If I do know you, I’m probably going to have some idea [of why you aren't married], anyway, just from being in relationship, because we’ll discuss the things we long for, fear, etc.”

      Thank you.

  • Stephen Hudson

    Speaking as a guy just turned 35 on Saturday, single and about to give a best man speech at my YOUNGER brothers wedding in two weeks time, this article is lovely Emily. I think it has something to do with being an artistic personality too. Being in love can be the best feeling in the world. It can make you feel so happy and comfortable and that might be where it goes wrong for some people then the vulnerability kicks in and it can all get quite irrational from there on in. It strips you of your independence gene! I’m living in London UK and don’t get me wrong it would be beautiful to meet the right person but at the same time being single can be liberating knowing we can make friends with whoever we wish to be friends with, shop with whoever we want to shop with. Take the good advice and the bad advice, CREATE, be passionate and love to live alone. For now! :)

    • Emily_Maynard

      Stephen, this is lovely. Thank you for sharing.

    • Ronnie Sommers

      I agree. If God is not leading then don’t control and try to make things happen! God’s work is always better than man’s work!

  • http://twitter.com/MBrookeO Brooke O

    thank you thank you thank you for this! girl, you speak truth. “Isn’t it funny how there are basically no qualifications for marriage?” Thank you for pointing this out. I’ve previously bought into the lie that I can basically get into the club on good behavior and I just haven’t figured out the ‘right’ way to live in order to get there! awesome article.

    • Emily_Maynard

      Brooke, I’m so sorry you were told this! There’s no marriage club and no secret password to get there. I hope you are learning that your life matters, no matter your relationship status. Love!

  • Maggie Lotz

    I love how you put this, Emily! I am only 22, and so often I get the questions too, “You’re so amazing! Why are you still single?” My answer up until this point has been that I do not settle. I want to be married just as much as the next person, but I do not seek out a husband in every guy that I meet. I feel like people see it as such a game, meeting people of the opposite sex and immediately sizing them up for marriage. Jesus calls us to treat men as our brothers! It blew my mind in high school when I realized that it is my job to treat them as such until it is evident to me that there really could be something more. It completely changed my view on men.

    My struggle now is that I have a great career path, I’m finishing my degree in nursing, and despite the success, all I want is to be a mother. For me it isn’t about filling the loneliness or “achieving marriage”. I want to raise a family to share the joys of life with and teach my children to share the love of Jesus! And even though I am seeking God and working on being totally content with where I am, I feel like I was MADE to be a mommy, and I absolutely cannot wait for that time in my life! It is especially hard when I see teenagers having babies and starting a family, who may not have done it the “right” way, but they are happy! It makes me sad that I have to wait, even though I know that God’s timing is best. Any advice here? Thanks!

    • Emily_Maynard

      Hi Maggie, just now saw this comment. Sorry for the delay in response!

      I’m sorry you’re getting questions from people who are trying to define your singleness as the most significant part of your life. I can assure you, it’s not! It sounds like you have a full life full of school, career, and healthy friendships with men and women. This is beautiful and fulfilling!

      I love that you have such a strong call and passion on your life and I want to affirm you that God is for you. Your desires may not be realized exactly the way you plan, but they will be realized in a beautiful, redemptive way marked by God’s love for you! I too, have struggled muchly with not having things I want. But over and over again, I come back to the truths that I am loved deeply and that God is good beyond life’s pain. Those truths help me walk through so much loss and pain, joy and having what I want.

      I’d love to talk with you a little more “off the record” so feel free to email me: e@ prodigalmagazine. com

      Thanks again for sharing!

    • Hannah

      Hi Maggie!
      Reading this is like reading my own life story! What I find has helped IMMENSELY is realising that the desire to get married and have babies is GOOD, and every good and perfect gift comes from our Father. I have seen many women before me who desired to get married and I have seen each of them get married – each story is different, but we serve a God who created marriage and who isn’t stingy or cruel. I am not afraid to ask Him for a good thing because I know He doesn’t withhold good from His children, and though I am waiting, I wait in joyful expectation because I know the answer will come. So be excited, the answer is on its way :) God is GOOD.

  • Taylor M.

    This isn’t really the same as the “why aren’t you married yet?” question, but I always get the “why don’t you have a boyfriend yet? You’re so (fill in the blank.)” I’m 17. Seriously, start asking that when im 35 with 6 cats. Not now. I’m okay with my singleness. It kinda hurts (and it’s really annoying) that apparently no one else is.

    • Emily_Maynard

      Taylor, I am so sorry you’re experiencing this question already! It’s okay that it hurts and I want you to know first of all that you are not alone. There is incredible value in being married and there is incredible value in being single because there is incredible value in being YOU. The You-Are-Valuable part never changes, no matter what sort of relationship adventures are in your life.

      I’ve really enjoyed having a boyfriend at various times in my life, but through those relationships I also learned that dating someone never really fixed all my problems or made me some new fantastic super-person. I was always me.

      The best relationships in our lives celebrate the me-ness, the you-ness. I hope you find relationships with God, yourself, and others that ensure that you are so much more than your current dating status. Love!

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  • Sara B

    Emily. Thank you. You took so many of my thoughts straight out of my head and articulated them perfectly! You are awesome.

    • Emily_Maynard

      Thank you, Sara! Love the grace and glitter you spread around.

  • Allie

    Oh man…I’m not married yet because two weeks after I got engaged (this past March), someone wrote my fiancee’s parents an anonymous letter claiming I was leading a double life, full of hard partying and lesbian relationships, *and* that I was just marrying their son to get certain things I wanted out of life, like a wedding, and a baby. They never bothered to ask if any of it was true (which it certainly, absolutely, positively *isn’t*) or try and figure out who sent the letter (I have reasonable suspicions regarding a girl who works with him); instead, they broke up with me for him, and not one of them has spoken to me since.

    Praise God in heaven I didn’t marry that guy. There were many disappointments that went along with the dissolution of the relationship (obviously), but the biggest was having to let go of the joy I’d thought I’d found in finding someone willing to go to the mission field with me. I feel like I have a very clear calling on my life, and when most men find out, it’s game over. Which is fine, I have no desire to drag someone along to the field that has no calling or inclination to go…but I also don’t want to go alone. And in many places, I wouldn’t be allowed to. So. That’s why I’m not married to *that* person. Other than that, I couldn’t tell you…and it’s prompted a most massive theological crisis in my own life. It’s fun. Really. Because I’m having to sort out what I really believe about sovereignty, and predestination, and freewill, and so on and so forth. But I always remember a question a good friend told me she posed to herself in similar predicaments…”Is God good?”

    Well, of course He is. And that almost settles it. Settles it enough, anyway, that I can carry on another day.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Viktor-Mihaylov/100001748560024 Viktor Mihaylov

      Aouch …thats hurts !! You are not a lucky girl .

    • Ky

      I’m so sorry that happened to you, but you are exactly right, you dodged a bullet – not only with him but also his parents.

  • http://dsimmer.com/ Dean P. Simmer

    For what it is worth, this question doesn’t end when you get married, it just morphs into “why don’t you have kids yet?” And the concern from those asking is equally as great because they throw in health and sexual concerns to the mix. Some people…

  • Kristy

    I really appreciate what you’re saying here. I’m in my own version of this, where I’m in a long term relationship with a wonderful man but I’m 22, just out of college, starting a very demanding career (as is he) and perfectly happy where my life is at right now. However, every holiday and get together (for at least the last 2 years) I have been repeatedly asked, when you guys getting married? Answer: I DONT KNOW! When we are in a place where we feel we can support ourselves as a married unit… people don’t understand why we choose to wait to get married. Recently the heat has been turned up because several of our good friends got married this past summer, and now they too are asking, when is the wedding, when are you getting engaged? I wish people would understand that marriage is “not the ultimate goal” and that it will happen for each person when God wills it to be so.

    • Emily_Maynard

      Kristy,

      This sounds really wise! I’m glad you and your BF are pursuing the broad spectrum of life and careers and learning next to each other, not JUST each other. I hear this from my married friends (and I’m so grateful, because they don’t let me get away with self-pity or wishful-thinking) that MARRIAGE DOES NOT FIX EVERYTHING ABOUT YOUR LIFE. It’s good and lovely and absolutely the right choice at the right time, but it’s not your whole life. There’s no magic formula to avoid growth or pain or learning. I hope you’re able to resist the pressure and make good decisions about your life and future and enjoy your romantic relationship in the process! Thanks so much for sharing here. I’m really glad you’re reading. :)

  • http://www.actionofwaving.blogspot.com/ Keli

    Good ol’ intrusive questions.
    So, I go to the salon to get my hair done for a friends wedding. Halfway through my up-do I am in over my head in hair spray and bobby pins. Trapped in the chair with no where to escape to. It is then that the questions start flying out.
    The stylist asks, “So are you seeing anyone?”
    I reply with a solid no.
    She proceeds to ask the following questions, “So have you dated anyone since (insert ex boyfriend’s name from 5 years ago)?”
    I respond, “No nothing besides a date or two” I could feel the pitty starting to pour out as she asks the last question,
    “So have you kissed anyone since him?”
    “Are you freakin kidding me?!?” that was the response I wanted to blurt out, instead I respond with the truth.

    When I see people from home, friends, family I would hope that they would want to ask me something deeper more relevant to who I am and what God is doing in my life. At the moment there are so many more blessings that have been given to me than a relationship. I am single and someday I may marry and if I do that will be fantastic, but for now I’m learning and growing and serving God as a single and that is fantastic as well.

  • http://www.actionofwaving.blogspot.com/ Keli

    Good ol’ intrusive questions.
    So, I go to the salon to get my hair done for a friends wedding. Halfway through my up-do I am in over my head in hair spray and bobby pins. Trapped in the chair with no where to escape to. It is then that the questions start flying out.
    The stylist asks, “So are you seeing anyone?”
    I reply with a solid no.
    She proceeds to ask the following questions, “So have you dated anyone since (insert ex boyfriend’s name from 5 years ago)?”
    I respond, “No nothing besides a date or two” I could feel the pitty starting to pour out as she asks the last question,
    “So have you kissed anyone since him?”
    “Are you freakin kidding me?!?” that was the response I wanted to blurt out, instead I respond with the truth.

    When I see people from home, friends, family I would hope that they would want to ask me something deeper more relevant to who I am and what God is doing in my life. At the moment there are so many more blessings that have been given to me than a relationship. I am single and someday I may marry and if I do that will be fantastic, but for now I’m learning and growing and serving God as a single and that is fantastic as well.

  • Anonymous

    The main reason I haven’t gotten married is a total lack of interest.
    Didn’t date in high school or college, no one was interested (including me).
    Relarionships are not IT for everybody. That is a majority view, definitely, but not without a minority.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mariah.schmidt.372 Mariah Schmidt

    In the past few years, it happens in waves: the engagements and weddings. Then a round of babies, followed about six months later by yet ANOTHER wave of engagements and weddings. Wash, rinse, repeat. Two summers ago, I went to FOUR weddings, and knew of another three. Most of these couples I’m happy for ( a few fall in the “Its About Time” category), but there are a more than a few that smack of desperation. Desperation that, in Christian circles, is all too familiar. The near-omnipresent-yet-silent pressure to get married. The pause and blink when meeting someone and they realize that there’s not a “Mr.” in the picture. Feeling slightly awkward at ministry BBQ’s because you’re the only one that is not only single, but has no kids either.

    I once worked with a guy who believed (wholeheartedly, may I add) that since he had sexual urges, he obviously was meant to get married. Because if he was supposed to be single, he wouldn’t have them…? Everyone, even the married people, was taken quite aback. FAR aback.

    I admit, I haven’t been the most…friendly, when it comes to the idea of getting married. My parents own failed marriage, coupled with the ill-advised marriages I’ve seen in the past few years, left a rather sour taste in my mouth in regards to the whole thing. And, frankly, I like being single. I’ve jetted off to different parts of the country because of school or a job and didn’t have to worry about a significant other being left behind, or dragging a husband and kids along with me. I think that so many people my age, women especially, race to the alter and totally miss the awesomeness that is the single life. (I say “women especially”, because there’s a special pity, ESPECIALLY IN THE CHURCH, reserved for single women over the age of, like, 12.)

    The past few months, though, I’ve been thinking that it might be nice to be married. One day. A long time from now. Or maybe not so long. But until that day, I shall remain happily single.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Viktor-Mihaylov/100001748560024 Viktor Mihaylov

    There are many reasons but …first to be married you have to have a Boyfriend !!!!!!! Get it ? Boyfriend !! Not a pal ,not a Gay men at work who you go out with for a coffe to feed you with lies and compliments . You have to find Alpha male . To do that you have to be atractive !!! If you are not atractive female than is very hard obveosly . You are going to work lettle harder . You have be a good cook . Just honest !!! Im European so…we are more honest . Cheers ladies. Or you can watch “Oprah ‘ and live in fantazy land . You choice.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ariel-C-McGlothin/1411058189 Ariel C. McGlothin

    Emily, I have really enjoyed reading several of your posts. Thanks for writing them. In relation to this general subject, I think you may enjoy reading a post written by my good friend Seth.

    http://www.ontheroadwithseth.blogspot.com/2013/01/my-apologia-for-my-koinonia.html

    It is time consuming, coming in at 14 some pages, so it’s more like a small book than just a post. I think he thoroughly covers a few ideas and perspectives that most people have never thought about. I really do think that most of Christianity is wrong on how they have handled this aspect of relationships, and from reading your writing, it seems we may agree, so I thought I’d share this.

    Getting to this strong of a belief in the particular area has been a lifelong process for me as I’ve been challenged by other Christians and looked at Scripture and tried to compare that to how I see people implementing loving relationships.

  • http://www.facebook.com/amber.roseberry.16 Amber Roseberry

    Dearest Emily, I love your article it is so witty and so very true. I am also a happy single. Don’t get me wrong I wouldn’t mind a date once in awhile but I am also fine as a single. As my junior high girls would say “you don’t need a man, you are an empowered, beautiful, and independent woman.” I try to remind myself of that when I get the single girl slump. LOL.
    I have been a victim of the ambush many a time. I’m 27 years old and watching all my friends getting married and working on having kid number 2. At some of these weddings I have been put at the singles table and than have people approach the table and ask that dreaded question. LOL. One of those times I was sitting by a dear childhood friend and someone asked when it would be our time. That was a little embarrassing, because I was just about to ask him if he would dance with me. Another time was at church and I was talking to my Pastor about me building up my relationship with my dad and how he and I were going to the movies almost every weekend. Well a church lady overheard me saying I’ve been seeing “him” every weekend, she came up to me and asked so you have a special man in your life now. “I heard you say you see him every weekend.” I told her it was my dad. She said “Oh”, than asked “well are you seeing anyone?” I just smile in those moments and say Mr. Right hasn’t found me yet or God is still preparing him for me.
    I am trying to live out my single years to the fullest and following God and where he wants me. I have had a hard time in the “dating world”, I didn’t start dating till I was 25 years old. I was used as a practical joke in middle school and was continuously teased by boys in school. So I have a very hard time telling whether or not a guy likes me and I push them away thinking they are playing a joke on me. The joke in middle school was a few boys trying to convince me that this popular boy liked me; they wanted to see how long it took me to realize it was a joke. I wasn’t catching on; my best friend figured it out and told me. So now I realize I still need to let God work on that part of me. You also have given me new insight on the whole dating world, to not put pressure on your dates in your mind with is this “the one”. Instead have fun getting to know a new person. I tend to have those thoughts running through my mind on a date “is he the one for me?” I like this new insight.
    So from one happy single to another, thanks for the article. It’s to the point which I like since I’ve read a lot of dating books and they have nothing one your story. Also I am in the process of finding my voice and you have given me some inspiration

  • http://www.facebook.com/amber.roseberry.16 Amber Roseberry

    Dearest Emily, I love your article it is so witty and so very true. I am also a happy single. Don’t get me wrong I wouldn’t mind a date once in awhile but I am also fine as a single. As my junior high girls would say “you don’t need a man, you are an empowered, beautiful, and independent woman.” I try to remind myself of that when I get the single girl slump. LOL.
    I have been a victim of the ambush many a time. I’m 27 years old and watching all my friends getting married and working on having kid number 2. At some of these weddings I have been put at the singles table and than have people approach the table and ask that dreaded question. LOL. One of those times I was sitting by a dear childhood friend and someone asked when it would be our time. That was a little embarrassing, because I was just about to ask him if he would dance with me. Another time was at church and I was talking to my Pastor about me building up my relationship with my dad and how he and I were going to the movies almost every weekend. Well a church lady overheard me saying I’ve been seeing “him” every weekend, she came up to me and asked so you have a special man in your life now. “I heard you say you see him every weekend.” I told her it was my dad. She said “Oh”, than asked “well are you seeing anyone?” I just smile in those moments and say Mr. Right hasn’t found me yet or God is still preparing him for me.
    I am trying to live out my single years to the fullest and following God and where he wants me. I have had a hard time in the “dating world”, I didn’t start dating till I was 25 years old. I was used as a practical joke in middle school and was continuously teased by boys in school. So I have a very hard time telling whether or not a guy likes me and I push them away thinking they are playing a joke on me. The joke in middle school was a few boys trying to convince me that this popular boy liked me; they wanted to see how long it took me to realize it was a joke. I wasn’t catching on; my best friend figured it out and told me. So now I realize I still need to let God work on that part of me. You also have given me new insight on the whole dating world, to not put pressure on your dates in your mind with is this “the one”. Instead have fun getting to know a new person. I tend to have those thoughts running through my mind on a date “is he the one for me?” I like this new insight.
    So from one happy single to another, thanks for the article. It’s to the point which I like since I’ve read a lot of dating books and they have nothing on your story. Also I am in the process of finding my voice and you have given me some inspiration.

    • Emily_Maynard

      Amber, thank you so much for this comment! I just read it and it totally made my day. I’m glad you’re finding your voice and learning new things about yourself in dating and out of it! Dating books are the worst, no? ;)

      • http://www.facebook.com/amber.roseberry.16 Amber Roseberry

        They are the worst. Like the ones giving you dating commandments or finding your Boaz and not the Bozo. Some of it is good advice but until your living through it and really seeing how things work you can not go by what these books say alone. Because it so easy to just keep reading those books and get drawn in on their perspectives and only want what those books are saying and forgeting reality. I am guilty of this before I started getting myself out there. But now I’ve taken the rose colored glasses off and seeing things for real. LOL

  • Lindsay Snyder

    Sweet girl, I hear you, I was scared of marriage (like really scared) for more than 31 years, it was a bad idea in my mind, I saw so many marriages end in PAINFUL, UGLY, devastating ways and I could not wrap my mind around WHY anyone would get married…. UNTIL our gracious God started to shine a light into my heart about 5 years ago, and then over the last 2 years He has confirmed to me in CRAZY ways that He does have a mate for me. I will be 36 in a few months, WHAT. How did that happen, I am not trying to promote my blog, but I recently wrote a blog about praying for your helpmate, maybe it will help maybe it won’t…. I am def not a traditional 36 year old, I have not prayed for my husband since I was 20, the self protecting fear I use to carrying around held me captive until rather recently, but God is showing me how to paint a picture of my future husband, my future marriage in my prayers to Him, it’s not a list (although I have done those, LOL) it’s just my heart to God, my hopes and dreams for a marriage that goes against the ODDS and that Glorifies Him… I believe He will answer and I believe it will be soon… Don’t ask me why, I can’t tell you I don’t know why I think that, but I do…. Thank you for sharing your heart, if you want to read my recent post see here…. http://lindsaysnyder.wordpress.com/2013/01/25/praying-for-your-future-helpmate/

  • Sarah

    I certainly hope I have never posed an awkward question to someone. Recently I DID ask my little sister if she and her spouse of 2 yrs had planned as far as children were concerned. There was a great bit of conversation about careers and future outlooks that lead up to this question, however, and I made sure my word choice left no doubt as to the simple curios nature of the question. I didn’t want her to think I was telling her to kick it into gear or anything, just making conversation.

    On the flip side of that, and as a 27, single woman with no set-in-stone career and still living with her parents (though I shouldn’t say ‘still’, since I lived on my own for a few years during/after college and had a blossoming teaching career), I have definitely been asked my fair share of embarrassing, and sometimes hurtful, questions. The run-of-the-mill marriage questions I’m used to by now, but it’s still a slap in the face each time someone asks me what I ‘want to be’ when I grow up. They often say it with a little smile, as if it’s funny that I am nearing 30 and still have no career or husband (not for a lack of trying in either realm, mind you). The fact that I graduated college at the height of the recession doesn’t seem to occur to anyone. It rarely even occurs to me as I ask myself some of the same questions. But several years ago I made a choice that completely changed the direction of my life and, I believe, has made me an infinitely better person. My mom called me in tears one afternoon as I was driving to my second job as a waitress. Grandpa had fallen down again, and the hospice nurse was advising us to either put him in a home or find full-time help for him. Naturally, my mom wanted to go care for him herself as she had for my grandma several years ago, but circumstances were such that she simply couldn’t. She was not asking me to go, simply calling to talk because she was distraught. In the past I couldn’t have imagined putting my own life on hold to care for the dying, especially when it was someone I loved. It would be too hard, right?

    This is where I believe God stepped in and changed my heart. Before I hung up the phone with my mom, my decision had already been made. Before the day was over, I had given my one-week, family emergency notice to both jobs. And before the next week began, I had packed up all my belongings and moved back home. From there, I packed all the essentials into my car and made the three hour trip to the Chicago suburbs, where I lived with my grandpa as his secret, in-home caregiver (we pretended I was just there for an extended visit because we didn’t want to hurt his pride. I think he knew why I was really there, but he never argued).

    Shortly after that, I made an even wiser and more edifying decision: I ended the very destructive relationship I’d been involved in for over two years with a guy from college.

    It has now been two years since my grandpa passed away. I like to think that while most people in their mid-twenties were ‘finding themselves’, I was abandoning myself to care for someone I loved. Now I’m just making up for lost time:-)

    • Emily_Maynard

      Sarah, thank you for sharing here. It seems to me that the question for your sister was appropriate because it fit into the context of the relationship you have with her, right? I’m learning that context and relationship make such a difference.

      I love your story about choosing to switch up your life to care for someone you loved. It’s really beautiful and I’m proud of you for making that choice. Sometimes those crazy decisions lead us to the best adventures. Even if they’re not the grand, flash ones; choosing to love someone is always an adventure.

  • Ronnie Sommers

    Well, I am 37 years old and not married and still see myself as a valuable asset to God! I want to have a bigger vision than just marriage for my life. I want to live for God and fulfill all that He wants me to do! I must admit to painful experiences in relating to men as young girl and am scared to trust. But i think God has a bigger vision for us than narrowing it down to one thing. Lets let God use us in whatever way He chooses.

  • disqus_Syyg39gCo7

    i find your articles so encouraging,becky x

  • Shirley

    Awkward questions are:

    1. Part of quality relationships, so learn to live with it.

    2. Payback for all the awkward moments children put their parents through growing up! (Mommy, why is that lady–right next to us–so fat? Lol)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Viktor-Mihaylov/100001748560024 Viktor Mihaylov

    All those women here making poor choses and poor excuses .First you have stop living in denial and stop listening to Feminists .They have tire own agenda . I dare you to find something better to live for then a family !! I dare !! Get of your lazy buts and go out there and say ‘Hi ‘ to a cute guy and act like a lady .Don’t act like a pig . Have some manners. Ya , manners . Attraction , Thats how life works . If you want a good men than you have make your self little be attractive and sexy .Make up helps ,going to the GYM helps, not eating a lot of junk food helps , not cursing like a sailor will help !! Why can’t he be attracted to me like that . Who likes a fat chick who sits on the couch all the time . Yes, you can be your self and act like a lady . If like a guy a lot, then ask him out .. I was ask out and now we are married . Its not that scary ..Ellen was a good cook . That did it for me . I propose with in 3 mounts. The truth ladies is that men are pissed because you have all the power and women enjoy sex more then men do . Its 21 century . Don’t you see that 90% of all homeless people are all men . Are you blind . Who lives longer .Women do !! What I’m saying is step up your game . When your are 35 and alone in the condo with a stupid cat and paying those ridiculously high maintenance fees watching fake TV shows …ask your self ‘ What the hell happened to me ??!!’ Why did my mother lie to me ? Why was I born in the first place ?? Just to eat and shit and watch TV ? Sad cases !! The truth ladies ,the truth . I’m European so…. I know there is not much freedom of speech left here and people are very phony in North America but ,not me . You are welcome ladies ,your are welcome .
    Asian women are not like that though !!

    • JustPlainBee

      As a single 39-year-old who takes good care of herself, loves her cat dearly, and has excellent manners, I can simply say that every day I meet men who make me thankful to be single. I am glad that you have found a wife who gets along with you, Viktor, but I for one will not be taking your advice. Any man who who can only be lured in if I make myself look a certain way and aggressively pursue him is probably not the man I want to spend my life with.

      “Why was I born in the first place?” This just really isn’t a question I go around asking myself, since I can think of so many amazing, wonderful reasons I’m glad to be alive – none of them are contingent on being married.

  • http://www.facebook.com/brandon.roberts.146612 Brandon Roberts

    Thank you very much for your post. As someone that went to rush into marriage because that’s “what you do” as a young Christian, & seeing the fruit of that mindset being more damaging than loving & healing, I found this very insightful & personally encouraging. God bless!

  • Swiftii

    Jusr read this and it put into words what i sometimes want to say- I am 40, never been on a date and havent had the opportunity to say no or yes to anyone. I have learnt over the years that my security cant be in wanting to be with another person. My value, my worth and my security is in all that God says and is. The hardest time for me is when 20 and 30 somethings are discussing too late ages to have babies or when well meanig friends and family think it is something i dont want or i am too pi9cky- i am picky and i know the type of man i want but i havent had a choice yet. I am enjoying my single life, i love children and babysit for my friends, i love treating me and i have amazing friends both married and single, i love socialising and making dinner for people, yes there are days when i want someone to love and care for me and it hurts when tv shows make fun of 40 year old virgins. For now though, i will continue to be all that God wants me to be as a single and my story is being written. Thank you again for your blog.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jomona.williamson Jomona Williamson

    It looks like this was written awhile ago, but since I just stumbled onto it, thought I’d drop my two cents. I just turned 40. Yes, I’m single. Yes, I’ve struggled. But today, I am rockin’ this journey God has given me. :-) This is God’s A-game for me (NOT plan B, C, D, etc.); when in eternity past He designed the perfect journey for this beloved one, THIS was what He planned. And therefore, it is a good gift from Infinite Love to me. And when I learned this–but moments ago, it seems–so much of the pain and heartache was washed away. Heartache over words like this, spoken (repeatedly) from my beloved (but clueless) grandmother: “But don’t you WANT to get married?” Ah, yes, as if all it took was my desire. ;-) God knows, though, how to heal every tender wound and more, to draw us to His heart in the process. I wouldn’t trade one single day on this journey, no matter my marital status at the end of it. God has always been good, and His loving plans are the best possible ones for me. Amen.

  • Ivan

    You are not married yet because you are not good . Because you are scaring men . Because you are snotty. Because you don’t say ‘Hi’ to guys. Because you don’t cock good . Because you are feminist . Because your mother is a Feminist ,that’s why !!! The truth ladies , the truth !!! No gay BS!!

    • Emily_Maynard

      I’m leaving this comment up because we need to recognize that this attitude exists. It exists like this and it exists in many more subtle and “funny” ways, even in the church.

      It is not okay.

    • Ben Moore

      You must have a lot of insecurities if you find Emily scary, and find it necessary to project your fears on to her. That’s sad, and as she said, not okay.

    • http://twitter.com/sharideth Sharideth Smith

      Excuse me, Ivan? I feel pretty confident that you would have no idea how good Emily cocks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/maria.walker.568 Maria Walker

    This was the greatest article. I too get tired of the barrage of question thrown at me by my friends who at this stage are all married with Children. The worst is I don’t understand why your still single if I was a guy I’d totally marry you. Or the if you lost some weight, didn’t act so independant or smart. As if there are not fat, smart and independant women that are married. lol Love the tag line marriage is not a prize to be won. It is also not the end all be all of life. Yes I wanna be married, but that does not define my life nor does being single. So married people next time you talk to a single person, ask how their life is going? If we are dating someone we will offer it up. lol

  • Sarah Shipman

    Thank you for posting, Emily. This is beautiful. I struggle with a lot of the same fears and have the same emotions and problems. It’s reassuring to hear your simple take on this–and I will probably be stealing your smart comebacks for the next time I find myself in a discussion about marriage with some naive friend!

  • Itsa_lisa

    I like you Emily. I think we’d get along. #singlegirlsFTW

  • Cegeiger

    This is fabulous. I like to do long distance endurance events (Ironman races) and people tell me it’s my way of not dealing with my real fears or facing relationships. When in fact, I just really like racing. So until I find someone willing to try and keep up, I keep doing what I love and staying single.

  • Bertha

    This post is quality. Now that my peers are pairing off like we’re preparing for the ark and they’re not considered “too young” to do so, people look at you at a little longer when you say you haven’t had a boyfriend in six years like they’re trying to figure out what is wrong with you. For me the “Why are you single?” question isn’t nearly as bad as questions like “Aren’t you worried that of the good ones will be taken?” or comments like “Don’t worry, just give it time. You’d be much better as somebody’s second wife or as a single mom anyways”. What does that even mean?!?

    Unfortunately the answer to their question is boring: Right now my need for love and commitment is being met by other relationships (your level analogy was superb by the way) and I’ve devoted most of my time and energy to school and work over the last six years, trying to build a sense of stability for myself. Also I just really like to wear sweatpants and TMNT t-shirts in public, which apparently does not attract the gents like one would hope it would.

    Ultimately marriage is the biggest decision you will ever make in your life. You will likely spend more time living and sharing with that person than with your parents, your siblings, your friends and your children. And you don’t have the related-by-blood connection to motivate you. Why would you rush that decision? Why isn’t it okay to just choose yourself for a while and wait to make a more informed decision later on? Who knows but I feel better for having read your post and all of the comments here.

  • Destiny Marira

    I’m only 21, but some family has already started to question why I’m still single. Since I’m not in a serious relationship, some suspect I’m pregnant (no buns in this oven)! A lot of my cousins near my age are in relationships or married, so I’m the odd one out. My younger cousins are lecturing me on how I need to be a lady and find a rich man to pay my bills and take care of me. I don’t know where all these questions are coming from, but it’s gets stressful at times.

  • Karem

    Singleness= Happiness in my book. Have I felt left out? Sure, but I’m still a complete human being.

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  • Britt S.

    Thank you for writing this! I grew up in small, Christian community where most of my friends were married off by age 21 and, for the longest time, I was angry that I wasn’t one of them. I’m starting to see the positive aspects of not being one of those people. I am able to build a life for myself and become a whole person on my own before I have to share it with anybody. I am able to travel, go back to school, do things I want to do, things that I probably would regret not doing if I had settled down right away into my 20′s with a husband and job. Thanks for sharing that it’s not a bad thing to not be married right away, that it doesn’t mean I wasn’t “awesome” enough or that I did something wrong. :)

  • Cliff Harald

    I’m 38, I’m a chronic single person and I’m happy. The “You don’t know what you’re missing” line doesn’t take with me, sorry. I travel all the time, meet new people, and feel that life has so much to offer me. And contrary to some may alredy think, I actually have two children. I never married, the mother of my children was really not who I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. She’s now married to somebody else and probably happy with who she’s with. (He seems like a swell guy anyhoo). I often travel places in the world with my kids and we have the best time ever. Do I sometimes think how it would be to be married? Yes, of course. Will it ever happen that I get married? Who knows. At this time though, I am in no hurry. Marriage to me has always felt as something optional, not a requirement.

  • Maggie

    I really, REALLY appreciated this post. Your ability to weave in Harry Potter, a tasteful amount of God and religion, and validation was b-e-a-utiful. Thank you for writing this.

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