Why I’m Not Married, Part II.

The first installment in this series can be found here.

In our previous episode, we left off with two possible reasons why I’m not married: independence and strength. Let’s look at three more today.
4. Principled.
Do I have principles? Indeed. When my students beg me to bend rules or violate copyright, they say, “We won’t tell! Who’s gonna know?” I always respond, “I will know.” I try not to shop at Walmart because I disagree with how they treat their employees. I favor CVS instead of Walgreens because CVS doesn’t sell tobacco products. I stopped watching the NFL this year because of management’s laissez-faire approach to domestic violence. So yes, I am principled.

Verdict: Principled is NOT the reason I’m not married.

5. Sweet.
I’m pretty sure my dad wants me to be sweet, even though the article suggests only 19% of fathers really¬†wants their daughters to be sweet. More interesting is that sweetness in wives was only important to 34% of men. I’m not sure what that suggests…do men just expect women to be shrews? I think I’m less sweet now than I was 20 years ago. Too much heartbreak and an acute awareness of my own mortality has made me cynical in my old age. But I know I can be sweet when needed.

Verdict: Sweetness is NOT the reason I’m not married.

6. Nurturing
I’m certain I have this trait nailed. As an adviser, coach, and teacher, I wouldn’t be successful if I didn’t know how to be nurturing. I know how to take care of people. I’ve cared for nieces and nephews, my siblings, and my parents at different points in their lives. And when I think back to all my relationships, I’m positive I was nurturing. Whether it was encouraging this one that he could get certification for career advancement or helping this one manage some incredibly difficult life events, I have always known how to support and care for people.

Verdict: Nurturing ability is NOT the reason I’m not married.

To sum up, of six characteristics listed, still only two are possible reasons why I’m not married. The four remaining characteristics just might tip the balance…

Finally! I Know Why I’m Not Married!

Today I read this article from the Wall Street Journal.

Now, the article cites a survey into which I did not investigate any pertinent information such as sample size or region of respondents or anything like that. Also, Rupert Murdoch owns the WSJ so can I really trust anything I read there? But the article makes for good blog fodder, so I’m just gonna run with it.
The snapshot (and lead) of the survey is that there seems to be a disconnect with how men see what they want in a wife versus what they want in a daughter. So in the next several blog posts, I’m going to analyze each criterion listed and evaluate where I rank, based on the past 22 years of dating.
1.  Intelligent
This is a trait I am 90% sure I possess. I’m smart. I always have been. And while I wish the percentages were more equal between daughter and wife, at least they are both above 50%. One man I was in a relationship with frequently told me that my intelligence was one of my most attractive qualities. So I know there was at least one man that could’ve tolerated my smarts. All other men I’ve dated fall into the 28% of men who aren’t all that keen on having an intelligent wife.¬†
At least the next time I’m told I’m “too smart” to marry, I can pull out this survey and say, “Well the Wall Street Journal says you actually DO want a smart wife.”
Verdict (imagine Maury Povich reading this): Intelligence is NOT the reason I’m not married.
2. Independent
This one is a bit of a catch-22. Was I supposed to work at Barnes and Noble for the rest of my life, live at home, and wait for a man to rescue me from my parents’ home? 66% of men would say yes. But my father is most definitely in the camp of appreciating and encouraging my independence. So…my dad wants me on my own, but no men want me now that I am on my own.¬†
See the pickle I’m in here? At least one man I’ve dated told me we could no longer date because he didn’t feel like I needed him enough. At least one man I’ve dated told me we could no longer date because I was too needy. So I don’t really know what to do with this one.
Verdict: Independence MIGHT be the reason I’m not married.
3. Strong
I’m guessing this is emotionally strong and not physically strong. The article doesn’t say, and I’ve already said I’m being lazy and not going to the source text. The 20% difference between this desired trait as a daughter or as a wife boggles my mind. My dad definitely wants me to be emotionally strong. We Rowses are pretty much all about doing everything on our own and never asking for help unless we are literally dying. And even then, we feel guilty about it.¬†
As I think back on my relationships, this may be my downfall. Only 28% of men want an emotionally strong wife. I tend to pride myself on my stone cold heart and ability to avoid crying in front of people, especially men. I remember losing it once (ONCE!) in front of the man I was dating while my dad was fighting cancer. And once I composed myself, I apologized for the emotional showing. Plus, as I’ve spent most of my life battling depression and getting dumped time after time after time after time, I’ve built up some pretty impressive emotional muscles.¬†
Strength has become a necessity for living a life entirely alone. Another catch-22; is the alternative flitting from guy to guy to be with someone just so I can say I’m not alone? Unacceptable alternative. My dad would say so; the guys I’ve dated must disagree.
Verdict: Strength MIGHT be the reason I’m not married.

So the initial tally–of the ten traits listed, so far two are possible reasons why I’m not married. If I’m asked that question anytime soon, I’ll be sure to respond, “I’m too independent and too strong.”¬†
And then I’ll probably stomp on their foot for asking such an asinine question in the first place.
Stay tuned for the next three traits…

Just One More Dating Rant…

Today I took a survey about the state of singles in the LDS church.

Many of the questions were decent and I could tell whoever developed the survey is seeking to truly understand how the church can better minister to those who aren’t married and breeding.
And then at the end, this question:
“Why do you think you aren’t married?”
That has to be a joke, right? But they asked, so I answered:

If I’m to believe at least four of the men I’ve dated, I’m not married because God told them to stop dating me. (Interesting article about that excuse here.)

If I believe my inner demons, I am not married because I do not now, nor have I ever, meet a physical ideal that many Mormon men think they deserve. 

The real reason? Maybe ask every man I’ve dated in the past 25 years why I wasn’t worth marrying. ¬†

This question is offensive and ridiculous. 

Hey. “We believe in being honest…” (see #13 here.) So I was.

The Dating Blame Game

I watched this short video last week about blame, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. I’ve been doing a lot of blaming the past two weeks, none of it healthy. But first, some backstory.

Last Saturday I went on a date. Usually, I don’t announce things like these on my blog, because my mom reads my blog, and I tend to not tell her when I go on dates. I don’t like to get my own hopes up when I go on dates, but I especially don’t like to get her hopes up. Especially when the dates are with eligible, attractive, smart LDS men.

But in my euphoric folly, I suggested I meet said squire at the Mormon Trails Center, and it just so happened that friends of my parents were there and saw us. And talked to us.

So she was probably going to find out eventually anyway.

Anyway. I had a fabulous time with said squire, and was so giddishly girly afterward that I didn’t stop smiling the rest of the day. And I know I was high on endorphins and drunk on the smittens because as I graded some news stories post-date, I thought to myself, “Wow, these stories are really great!” But they really weren’t. I was just that distracted as I graded. I called my friend Amy and relayed the events of the date, and apologized multiple times for how “gross and girly” I was being, because I was really, really gross and girly.¬†

Being high on endorphins and drunk on the smittens can do that to a girl.

I laid in bed that night, replaying the conversation in my head, convincing myself that I actually did hear him say really nice adorable things about my eyes and ask me in a rather clever way if I’d want to see him again. He said those things, I’m sure of it.

Only now, I’m not so sure.¬†

Said squire has been radio silent since, and I have spent too many waking moments blaming myself.

I’m too ambitious.

I’m too fat.

I’m not funny enough.

I’m not pretty enough.

I didn’t let him talk enough.

I said something inappropriate.

He can tell I’m a crazy pinko feminist and he’d rather not hop in that beehive of angst. Which, I guess, is a fair point.

Anyway. It’s all my fault, I keep telling myself, blaming myself for nearly two weeks, for why I am nearly 42 and still not married.

Doesn’t matter that I just finished writing a memoir.

Doesn’t matter that I was accepted to a journalism adviser institute this summer.
Doesn’t matter that I am a fantastic baker, a talented musician, a good daughter, sister, aunt and friend.¬†
Doesn’t matter that I can be funny and loyal and kind and loving.
None of the things that really make me, me matter in this scenario, because in my crazy head, it all comes down to looks.

I watched The Bachelor for the first time this past season, and in my fine-with-being-single cocoon, I mocked these thin and beautiful women who sobbed and sobbed after not receiving a rose from The Bachelor. 

“These women are so shallow in reducing themselves to whether a man wants them! How pathetic!”¬†

Oh, how pride cometh before the fall…

Which catches you up to the video about blame. 

Brene Brown says that blame is an attempt to expel pain and anger. Okay, sounds good–I am in pain and angry that the squire has gone radio silent. But her antidote to blame is terrifying. We blame, she says, because what we really want is accountability.

For the past two weeks, as I’ve magnified every physical and emotional fault into insurmountable Everests, I’ve ignored that what I really crave is accountability.¬†The question right now for me is, accountability from whom?¬†

In an earlier draft of this blog, I wrote that I wanted accountability from the squire. 

But as I spent the past five days reliving and editing the most heartbreaking moments of my life to finish my book, I realized I need to demand accountability from myself.

Despite my feminist ideology, part of me still falls apart when yet another man doesn’t validate my existence by making me part of his. This behavior is beyond unfair to myself, and frankly, is unacceptable.¬†
I’m not saying I wouldn’t make room in my life for the right man–I absolutely would. But I can’t keep reducing my own mental health to whether a man wants to make room in his life for me. That’s the accountability I need. That when I go on a date that turns me into a puddle of mush, I’m still valuable if I never hear from him again. And the only person who can remind me of that value is me.

I do too many good things in this world for my happiness to be reduced to a random man’s validation of my existence. It’s past time to hold myself accountable for spending way too much time in a self-esteem shame spiral, and just move on with what I’m good at.

That should keep me busy for quite a while.

Scary Demon Thoughts on Halloween.

Sepia Selfie. Sepia = Spookier.
Amy Poehler was on Fresh Air this week, and within five minutes, I was near tears.
Not tears of laughter, tears of solidarity.
Terry Gross referenced¬†the “Demon Voice” in Poehler’s head–a chapter in Poehler’s new book–that says “I hate how I look,” and asked Poehler if she still hears that voice.
“Mmhm. Yeah. Every day,” Poehler replies.
And she goes on to talk about the demon voice and how the key is to learn to live with it; it never goes away. As she says, “It pokes its head out every once in while to remind me that ‘You’re ugly,’ or ‘You’re not as pretty as this person’ or whatever mean thing it wants to say.”
She offers a way to try and deal with the demon voice, and says that she’s made about 15% progress, and she feels good about that.
This whole exchange blew my mind. Have you¬†seen¬†Amy Poehler? She’s beautiful and funny and smart and kind and beautiful, and her demon voice still tells her she’s ugly. My brain cannot comprehend that data.
I’ve been letting the demon voice win a lot lately. In fact, I’ve been letting the demon voice bitch-slap me around for a good two months. It’s partly what led to me quitting online dating and completely giving up any hope at all that anyone will like me enough to date me more than once. The demon voice also likes to tell me that going to the gym is pointless because I’m not an athlete, I never will be an athlete, and even if I try and I happen to lose fifty pounds, I¬†still¬†won’t be able to find anyone who will like me enough to date me more than once. At least now, with the weight, I have something tangible to point to as a reason why I’m not dateable. Take that away, and then maybe it¬†really is¬†my personality after all, and I should just start wearing muumuus and quit wearing makeup and sit on a lawn and swear at kids.
(Full disclosure–I’m coming off a two-week hopefest in which I thought I might actually go on a series of dates with someone. That someone has since disappeared. So I’m irrationally vulnerable at this particular moment in time.)
But there is tiny piece of me–like Jo-Jo in “Horton Hears a Who”–telling me that maybe November is a chance to try something new. Maybe I spend¬†November working on tiny fitness goals, like increasing my plank time or just getting 30 minutes of walking in every day. Maybe I take Sundays in November and pop in my yoga DVD and allow myself time to breathe and relax. Maybe I read something from¬†Beauty Redefined¬†every other day. Maybe a gratitude post here and there can be about the good things my body does for me, and the good things I do for my body.
Maybe these are ways to beat back the demon voice for the time being. I think I have to try. Because I can’t keep letting him (or let’s face it, it’s really probably a her) reduce me to a a dress size, a hairstyle (awkwardly growing mine out right now) or whether I have a date before Christmas (which will not happen).
I’m pretty sure my life is more than any of those these, even combined.