The Single Christian Woman

Growing up, I was interested in romance in a platonic way (in books) but not in real life. I had no desire to be a mother, or a wife, or even a girlfriend. I berated such heroines as Marianne Dashwood for being insensible “fools,” but despaired of ever finding a heroine “sensible” enough to walk away from love, if it was of the wrong kind.

Most stories are, after all, about women falling in love and chasing the wrong boy. “Wrong” in my mind usually amounts to: callous, immoral, selfish. Willing to throw their lives away in pursuit of passion or attraction. I’ve always been a little judgmental about fictional romantic relationships based on passion, because I cannot understand it.

Not much has changed. I am still single, at 35. A fact which causes a lot of people to look at me in confusion. Am I gay? Repressed? Locked in the basement? Crying into my pillow every night because I have no prospects? Emotionally defective? No to all of the above.

In an effort to be “normal,” I tried out online dating last year. I also broke out in hives, because each time the relationship advanced, my brain screamed, “THIS IS NOT WHAT YOU WANT.” I decided to give my skin a break, and those poor men a break, and call it quits. And I have not reconsidered. I hate dating. Fun for other people, hell for me.

Jane Austen: Comparing Sense & Sensibility

I’m going to stay single. Maybe forever. Maybe not. I won’t slam the door in Colonel Brandon’s face if he shows up, but I like my life. I do not ever feel like by not having a sexual relationship, I’m missing anything. I have never cried on Valentine’s Day because I’m single. I buy myself chocolates and watch Pride & Prejudice.

I have never hidden from people that I’m happy to be “alone” in a romantic sense (as long as I have intelligent conversation with friends, I’m good). But I have also not gone out of my way to flaunt it. When you reach a certain age as a woman, society expects you to start dating or get married or have children or in general, give a damn about sex. In Christian circles, there’s even more pressure. It is, after all, a Good Thing to raise Godly Children.

And I completely agree with that. That is a wonderful calling. It’s just not mine. Not yet, and maybe never. A few more years, and I’ll be past my “baby-making” years. That does not send a shudder up my spine. I could care less.

So, why am I telling you this? It’s not to be obnoxious, I promise. I do not hate romantic relationships. I am happy to watch, read, and write them. It’s because I suspect I’m not the only woman who feels this way. Who is not asexual (I am very attracted to certain men) but has zero interest in romantic relationships or being half of a whole. I do not feel defective, or like a freak, or that there is anything wrong with it or me. I am moral. I do not mess with men’s feelings, at least not intentionally (especially not now I know that’s not what I want). So I imagine in a moral sense, God’s all right with me being me.

becomingjane2

And the other day, I found a fictional character who actually did what I would have done in her shoes (except for the falling in love part in the first place; she fell for him, I didn’t; I am not okay with his immoral lifestyle). Jane Austen in Becoming Jane. Many other viewers see it as a tragedy, because she could not have the man she wanted. I just saw a virtuous woman. In the film, though she falls in love with Tom, she walks away from him, because it’s the right thing to do. The responsible thing to do. He has family to provide for, and can’t do that if his uncle disinherits him for marrying her. She chooses not a life of impoverished passion, but to stay single. Does it hurt her? Yes. But she could not allow herself happiness at the expense of others. It wasn’t who she is.

I applaud her for that. She honored herself and others in her decision. I’m sorry for her sake (because she did love him) that they could not be together… but she did not disobey her ethics to be with him. Nor did she marry anyone else she did not love for security. She honored the core of who she was in walking away. I admire that.

24 thoughts on “The Single Christian Woman

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  1. Such interesting thoughts!

    This whole topic is one I’ve been thinking about more often and more deeply over the last year or so. I’m legitimately unsure of whether marriage is in my future, or if I even want marriage to be in my future. But then, at times part of me is sad that I’ve never been approached about a relationship either . . . but that’s tied up in some tangled insecurities and stuff that’s somewhat separate from Marriage & Romance as an actual, practical concept, so . . . yeah. I don’t know. 😛

    I also love children and being with them and taking care of them, but I don’t know that I want to have my own.

    Lots of thoughts swirling around in the brain, basically. 😉 Thanks for sharing your experiences and what you’ve learned from them!

    1. I think it’s important to get to a place of “I am okay with myself,” whether you are in a relationship or not. Then if someone comes into your life that is worthy of you, you can move forward into a new stage of existence. I wouldn’t assume marriage isn’t in the cards for you yet, after all, a lot can happen in a short amount of time.

  2. “That is a wonderful calling. It’s just not mine.“

    You termed that very well. I also believe that marriage (and then parenthood IF parenthood is chosen and/or possible) is a calling. I just never thought about it in those words, before.

    I know several very fine women who are (happily) single. Each of them, however, has been given the side eye and have had folks wonder in hushed whispers behind their backs (or that they are even asked to their face) if they are gay (or repressed).

    That is so over-the-top rude. As if one is “less than” to be single.

    Society also deems it proper that people feel the freedom to ask married couples when they are going to have children. (That’s also over-the-top rude.) Sometimes people *want* to have children but they are unable to procreate. Children are not part of their calling…even if they are married. Not every person marries (and that is beyond okay!) and not every married couple can have children. Not every married couple *wants* to have children, too, which is also okay.

    What isn’t okay is making people feel “less than” if they don’t happen to follow a particular pre-conceived path.

    In the words of the younger generation these days: you do you, Boo. (You are you so brilliantly. You are—and always have been—a bright gem in the Crown of God.)

    You are an amazing example of Christian faith. I’ve always admired that about you.

    1. The “norm” for centuries has been marriage and motherhood for women. Women in the past had not the luxury of being single – they had to marry for protection (usually from other men) or an income, especially when they were not allowed to work. So, that has carried over into the modern age, into a world obsessed with sex. If you are not having it, thinking about having it, or wishing you were having it, people think there’s something “amiss” with you. It’s somewhat normal but yes, rude to ask. Ha, ha.

      I know one couple who does not want to ever have kids; they do get asked about it from time to time. Doesn’t seem to bother them much, though, fortunately.

      Why thank you. I try. 😛

  3. Thank you for writing this. I’m in a place of duality – single as in unmarried, not single single as I’m in a happy lasting relationship and not willing to succumb to society’s pressures to take the next step but rather let any next steps happen organically. I needed these words just as much.

  4. “I won’t slam the door in Colonel Brandon’s face if he shows up, but I like my life. I do not ever feel like by not having a sexual relationship, I’m missing anything.”

    *prolonged slow clap*

    Yes, yes, yes, yes!!!!!! That is EXACTLY my own feeling about romance, right now . . . I just Do Not See the Need to go out and look for it, because I’m happy and content on my own. I genuinely like being independent, and the more independent I become, the more my happiness increases. I LIKE the fact that I have only two major things to worry about in my life: my job & my writing. I LIKE having the freedom to travel and hang out with friends and all the rest of it.

    It’s honestly fun. Which is weird, cause there’s this . . . expectation that I should be sad about it or at the least frustrated??? An expectation that I should pining away over this “missing piece” in my life??? And sorry to disappoint y’all, but, I’m just not. 😛

    1. I think that a marriage works best when two people come together not out of a need not to be alone, but because they choose to bring one another into their life. So I am all for finding contentment in being single! I just never hear much about it, although I hear an awful lot about people desperately craving a romantic relationship, and feeling incomplete without it… and I’m glad those articles exist, because they are necessary — people need them, and to be encouraged if they hate being single… but I LOVE IT. I absolutely love my liberty. I love not having to share the remote control. I love sleeping alone in a big bed. I love not having to tiptoe around the house and avoid waking someone else up. I can make as much racket at 4am as I want! LOL

      1. YES.

        If somebody is actually unhappy about being single, then I want them to feel free to openly express that–but there seems to be this expectation that we ALL feel unhappy, or should; and that . . . is not me.

        I especially love the freedom to explore & experiment, and to form friendship ties with people of all different types, instead of feeling like I owe my first loyalty to one person. You know?

        1. I think there is a societal expectation that the most important thing in life is sex and finding a soulmate (since society develops so much time to it) and a Christian expectation that most women should wind up wives and mothers.

          I have, unfortunately, faced the “worst” of the “there’s something wrong and sinful about you, unless you want marriage” side of faith. When I was fourteen, a friend’s mother forbade her from talking to me — because we’d struck up a conversation about marriage, and I’d said I didn’t believe God’s plan for every woman was marriage. I was a “bad influence” on her daughter and… that was the end of that friendship.

          I naturally gravitate toward prioritizing one person in wider friendship groups, so I would be okay with putting one person first — but I enjoy the freedom that comes from being single.

          1. That’s how it seems to be: it’s taken for granted that sex is The Ultimate Good or The Ultimate Prize or both. And I’m just over here like . . . “chocolate?? have you guys ever had chocolate???”

            Lol.

            Holy crap. That was radical enough to get you banned as a bad influence? Just saying God doesn’t intend literally every woman to marry? I mean, what about all the Christian women who DO in fact live all their lives single . . . are we assuming that God wasn’t powerful enough to arrange for each of them to get a husband? That He just fell down on the job of enforcing “His plan”?

            I do, too!

          2. I’ve been assured it’s better than chocolate.

            I suspect they’re all liars. Nothing in life is better than a chocolate brownie covered in ice cream. 😛

            Given that I’m a hopefully independent thinker, I suspect her mother had been side-eyeing me for awhile since I didn’t really fit into the stereotypical homeschooled Christian kid mode. So, that was probably just an excuse to give me the friendship sack.

            Although, in all honesty, I suspect we are finally living in a time when it’s “okay” to be a Christian woman and single your whole life. I’ve heard “But Paul said it’s better to be single…” mostly used to comfort those unhappy in their singleness; but never just for its own sake. Single people have fewer obligations and yes, more time to devote to self-growth and comprehending God. I don’t see singleness as “selfishness” but as… an opportunity to deepen oneself, since you have nothing other than your job pressing on your time.

            Except cats, of course. Cats press upon your time, all the time. 😉

          3. Girl, you know it 😉 Ice cream is life, and chocolate is life.

            That makes sense . . . It’s sad they would be so narrow-minded.

            The opinion I’m about to put forth is heretical in the extreme, but: I’ve always thought that Paul sounded really UNSURE which was actually better, when he wrote that particular passage. It sounds almost as if he’s thinking it through while writing it. “I wanna tell you guys that singleness is better . . . but then part of me thinks marriage is more practical . . . idk man . . .”

            This is very true 😉 Such demanding little creatures.

          4. I think Paul was secure in his celibacy — and he saw it as practical in the time he lived in. Christianity was very young, and under persecution. Single Christians not only had more time to devote to God and sharing the good news, but also had no one except themselves to think about, if they had to literally flee for their lives. If you had a family at that time, your attention would be (rightfully) divided between the cause and protecting your spouse and children. You would have a harder time of disappearing, if someone wanted you dead, since it’s harder to hide a family (with small children) than one person. But Paul also knew that humans, for the most part, are social creatures; it’s instinctive in most of them to desire physical companionship and sexual intimacy. So in his mind, it was more moral and practical to marry if you find yourself lusting after a romantic or sexual relationship. If that’s what you want / need, then you will only be unhappy to deny yourself that — because God will never give you that purely from a spiritual relationship with him. There’s no arms around you in the night. And Paul understood that not everyone was like him — confident and totally “okay” in being alone.

            (On a slightly related topic, I think Paul was likely a 1w2 social core. He may have even been sp-blind, given how many times he got himself beaten up and half-killed — that sort of recklessness usually comes with an so/sx variant. But in his case, his sx was devoted to intensity, to fiery reform of the world / others, and to boldness rather than a sexual connection.)

          5. That interpretation makes a lot of sense. I like it, too, because if that’s the case, then Paul is acknowledging there isn’t a single path that’ll work for everybody–singleness is better for HIM, but marriage might be better for many of his friends.

            Hahahahahahaha! That amuses me! I could totally see it, though.

  5. I still haven’t seen that movie, but I want to.

    Have you read Hello, My Name is Single by Adriane Heins? I have only dipped into it, but by the bits I’ve read and the description (“a witty book that challenges and encourages single men and women to live secure in Christ, whether they’re searching for Mr. or Mrs. Right or completely content living the single life.” “offers a historical, biblical approach that reminds readers that their identities are found in Christ, not in relationship statuses on Facebook.”), I think you might dig it.

  6. I’m pretty much in the same boat, and have always found Jane Austen an inspiration for the choices she made. Our happiness doesn’t have to be contingent on finding a man, despite what society or the church says. We’ll chart our own course and see where it leads us.

    1. YAS. Content and single ladies unite!

      I feel sorry for Jane in that she remained single when it probably was not what she wanted, but I also wonder if she would have been less happy with far less time to write. In that time (and in ours), once you get married, kids follow… and your free time slips through your fingers.

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