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Old maids tell no old wives' tales.

Good advice for all of us spinsters.

My little paperback dictionary defines “Spinster” simply as “an unmarried woman”. That’s an overly-simplified definition for a word that carries such stigma, so I prefer the more descriptive offerings that Word provides for synonyms: “Unattached”, “Bachelor”, and my personal favorite “Free”.

Spinsters today seem to gravitate towards the term “Cougar” when narrowing their entire essence into one word, but that also carries a lot of negative connotations. Based on my own observations, when I think of a cougar (in the non-feline sense of the word), I envision a woman at least a decade older than me dressed up like a woman at least a decade younger than me going out to a bar that I haven’t been to in at least a decade and wholeheartedly trying to bring home a man (boy) at least two decades younger than herself. Not one stitch of me fits that description.

Now that I’ve arrived at an age where people seem genuinely concerned about me simply because I’ve never been married and don’t seem to date all that much, I’m trying to decide what to do about that. How should I feel? Should I feel like a failure because I was never able to coerce some poor sap to marry me, or should I feel triumphant because I can plow through my middle years with complete freedom? Perhaps I should ponder the most relevant question for the here-and-now: Why is it so difficult for me just to find a date? Why is my companionship the least desirable alternative for every unmarried man in this huge metropolis (and beyond, even)? Naturally there is no simple answer, but I assure you I'll look for it.

While I’ve always been a social pariah, I’ve never tried to be one of those women who stands out from the crowd or represents the strong, independent feminist. I want to blend in, I really do! I don't want to be a spinster. I crave affection and company and love. I want to be a part of whatever everyone else is a part of, and – most importantly – I want to be able to talk to everyone else about the same stuff that they’re dealing with.  Instead, I usually feel like an animal at the petting zoo, separated by a fence so they can observe me and touch me and talk about me to their friends, but not have to worry about being trapped in the life to which I’ve been confined. Neither exotic enough to live behind bars in San Diego nor quite appropriate to take home with them, but definitely interesting enough to throw rocks at to see how I'll react.

At the risk of disappointing the fans of the petting zoo, I can say with certainty that I won't be the most exciting creature in the pen. I won't yell or fight or otherwise draw attention to myself. But I will quietly analyze everything and then write about it… so follow me on this journey and you’ll see just what it’s like to be frozen in time, alone as a spinster (with a cat), in a world where everyone else pairs off (with a human) and moves forward together.

Comments

  1. I love your definition of cougar, I really do! I think that as much as we tell ourselves we're evolved, it's hard wired in us to want to fit society's mold, faults and all. I hope you are finding like-minded people online (we tend be be a band of misfits), and that will lead you to what you're looking for. Sounds like your journey won't be boring!

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    1. Thanks! I've never fit into the mold, but I've always tried. I am constantly trying to figure out how to balance that. There are plenty of misfits out there!

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  2. "Instead, I usually feel like an animal at the petting zoo, separated by a fence so they can observe me and touch me and talk about me to their friends, but not have to worry about being trapped in the life to which I’ve been confined."

    I get this. In the opposite way. I'm 30, I've been married 10 years and have 3 kids. My friends think I'm nuts. They envy me, but don't want my life. Kinda like how I envy them.

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    1. It's funny how we always envy the person who has the life that we don't. I guarantee if I were married with kids, I would crave being alone!

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  3. I'm so glad you decided to link up! I love the introspection on this. I refuse to think of you as a spinster. I know you'll find someone, if that's what you want, because you are awesome and fun. In the meantime, enjoy every minute of life doing your own thing.

    Heart you!!

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    1. Aw, thanks Shell! Heart you too!!

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  4. I know quite a few "spinsters" although I'm not sure they would describe themselves that way! It's hard to be heading into middle age without a companion. I think you'll find being the most exciting creature in the pen isn't all it's cracked up to be. ;)

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    1. Fortunately there's more hope for a spinster today than there was 100 years ago. :)

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  5. There has got to be a more positive description for a never married woman than spinster, but I agree cougar probably isn't it.

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    1. I think I'm going to work on inventing a new word for this demographic!

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  6. You're no spinster! It's weird how words/names of things can you help you define how you should feel about something (spinster v cougar).

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    1. So true, and I confess I'm very much influenced by the implications of words like "spinster", rather than just the definition itself!

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  7. I hate the word spinster, you are certainly not one. I love what you say about craving affection and company and love, and you certainly deserve all of those things. Looking forward to reading more of your writing!

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    1. Thanks so much! I'm not a fan of the word either, but I'm so fascinated by it that I could write a thesis on its origin and history! (but I won't.)

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  8. While I have been married for almost ten years, there isn't a day (or at least a week) that goes by where I wish I wasn't a (male) spinster - the freedom to do what I want when I want to do it. Pairing off isn't always what it's cracked up to be. . .

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    1. That's not the first time I've heard that from a married person! ;)

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  9. I think spinster is so archaic and not at all the proper term for someone like you! I'm married, but there's certainly nothing wrong with not being married. I think, in some ways, a little of both might be nice - if there were ever a way to pull that off.

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    1. If you can figure out how to do that, you'd win a nobel prize.

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  10. "Perhaps I should ponder the most relevant question for the here-and-now: Why is it so difficult for me just to find a date? "

    Is this the most relevant question? I am not sure. If it is, have you tried any online dating sites? I am sure opening yourself to one of those would provide fantastic blog fodder and some great dates to boot. Glad you joined us!

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  11. Funny you mention that, I did join a couple dating sites about a year or so ago and blogged about the experience! Not my cup of tea, as it turned out, but glad I checked it out. Here's the link if you wish to read about it: http://thechromephase.blogspot.com/2012/03/how-i-sold-my-soul-to-online-meat.html

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  12. I wonder if people seem so interested in your singledom because a part of us (especially those of us who have strong tendencies towards aloneness but somehow accidentally got married) always wonders what our life would be like if we had chosen a different path...I think that's where my curiosity would stem from, not to give you a label but just to try to imagine the what if.

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  13. I was surprised the definition for spinster was so neutral. It definitely has terrible connotations that you definitely do not fit. I really liked your petting zoo description. I feel apart like that at gatherings quite often.

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  14. Let's make up a new word. Singirl? Bachelora? (Since "bachelorette" has been laden with so many reality TV vibes.)

    I hate to think what kind of "rocks" have been thrown at you. :(

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  15. Someone needs to call the dictionary people and have them add your definition of "cougar". Brilliant. I have tons of single girlfriends in their 30s - some desperately want to settle down and some are loving their independence. I hope you find what you want out of life, and I look forward to reading more about your search!

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  16. Yes, you cougar definition nailed it. Forget them. Enjoy your freedom.

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  17. Read enough mommy blogs and you'll be popping champagne to celebrate your freedom! Great definition of "cougar."

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  18. I think we're wired to want the life that we don't have. "The grass is always greener" and all that jazz. I agree with you though..."spinster" just isn't the right word. It's archaic and it's judgemental.

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  19. I don't like "spinster" either. I have several close friends in their 40s (like me) who've remained single by choice, and they are attractive, interesting and highly social people. Spinster is the last word I would use to describe them.

    The cougar definition was brilliant. Someone should send it to Demi Moore.

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