Every Single Woman Needs…:#17 To Be Touched

A dear friend of mine and I had lunch a few weeks ago.  She is not a Single Woman but in a committed relationship.  Long. Distance.  We are in similar places in our lives and living a very similar lifestyle.  That means working a similar lifestyle.  Our days look a bit like this:

7:00 a.m. wake up, make coffee and breakfast (Breakfast is optional.  Coffee is not.)

7:30 shower and dress

8:00 get into car and fight traffic to get to the office

8:30 start work day with email and work to lunch

12:00-1:00 Lunch.  (This entire step is optional.)

5:00 say goodbye to co-workers and continue to work

7:30 work some more or go home

8:00 arrive at home and eat dinner (Dinner is optional.)

8:30 shower.

9:00 bed.


So, one of our optional lunch times coincided and somehow over salads the conversation turned to touch.

It is not often that one thinks of it, but it is very rare that the Single Woman is touched.  She doesn’t wake up to warm embraces or have little ones to kiss goodnight.  Girlfriends’ air kisses in greeting are chaste and protective of makeup and do not involve contact.  Handshakes over business deals are corporate tools devoid of feeling.  And she doesn’t live at home with Mom’s hugs and Dad’s pats on the head.  It was only when a friend of mine, seeing me fighting off a cold before Christmas, took the back of my head in his hands and squeezed some of the tension out that I realized that it had been months since I was last touched.  As I related the story to my friend she remarked on feeling the same absence, being unable in her circumstances to be in the same country as her husband.  The poor married woman is finding herself in a Single Woman’s reality!

It is wired into the human psyche to communicate with our world through our senses.  Our sight, hearing, taste and smell serve us well as we make our way through different environments.  But there is no sense so powerful in conveying and sharing deeper ideas, emotion, appreciation, affection, anger and desire as the sense of touch.  A punch in the face leaves no room for interpretation.  Nor does a slow kiss on the lips.  Even a squeeze of the shoulder says more than a page of written words.

Yet touch has developed a bad reputation.  It is inappropriate in certain settings, between certain parties, and in expressing certain emotions.  Used in anger and to convey emotions related to violence it is more often than not illegal.  So powerful, and, by extension, coruptable is this sensory communication that it is often avoided completely.  Especially in the world of men.  Most male friends do not feel comfortable embracing eachother.  Many men cannot show affection or discipline, even appropriately, to their children.  Social acceptance of any casual form of touching has been left firmly in the domain of women.

And so it is the mother of a family that kisses skinned knees, blows noses and wipes away tears.  It is the wife who rubs the knots out of her husband’s neck at the end of a hard day.  It is the sister who hugs the brother in congratulations on his graduation day. The girlfriend takes the eyelash out of his eye.  Women show love, comfort, help and support in this way.  We have not given up on touch.

Unless we are single.  Then the question is, who on earth can we touch?  Who can touch us?  What is proper and what is not?  But the need is there… the need to be hugged, held, comforted, felt.

This is not an invitation to go touching everyone in your life.  Propriety has its place and there are very real dangers.  I do, however, invite girlfriends to support eachother, platonic husbands to show caring.  Hugs are priceless reminders that there is someone out there who values you.  I invite the Single Woman to shower her friends with real embraces, the children in her life with Aunty’s kisses, and the members of her family with a physical, loving presence.

We are still contributing members of the human family with love and touch to give and receive.  Don’t withdraw and shrink back from healthy affection and the power of sharing your love with the people who are blessed with your presence in their lives.

Reach out and touch…

Why you’re not married… Picking Sense from Nonsense

This week I came across an article that had me hissing and spitting before I’d even made it to the end.  It was Why You’re Not Married by Tracy McMillan (please read).  And she had steam shooting through my ears.  In the article Ms. McMillan has taken the single and yearning woman by the ear and explained her to herself.  In neatly cutting points she has told this woman “You’re a bitch.  You’re shallow.  You’re a slut.  You’re a liar.  You’re selfish.  And You’re not good enough”.  She took no prisoners and allowed for no arguments and pissed me off.

As a lady should, I took a few days to cool down and decided to pick the piece apart.    I gave it to a male friend of mine who laughed the whole way through saying “oh my goooodnesss this is so truuue!” here and there.  Then I had a very balanced girlfriend of mine read it through and she, after a little while, saw some value in the piece.

I still don’t like it.  McMillan is accusing and absolutist and belittles the demographic she is attempting to help.  I mean, how would YOU feel if someone called you a selfish, slutty, lying, shallow bitch who isn’t good enough?  And, by the way, if you aren’t married and you someday want to be, you aren’t just one of these horrors.  No you must be all of them.  So no.  Cooling down didn’t help much.  And her personal qualifications (three divorces neatly packed into one paragraph) impress me none at all.

But.  There are points I would have to say make sense and would be instructive from another angle.  Not just to a woman seeking marriage but a woman looking for fulfillment and growth.  And so, let me re-phrase for the benefit of those who might want to pick sense from nonsense.

Picking Sense from Nonsense

1. You’re Angry. (as opposed to “You’re a Bitch”)

So yes.  Anger scares people.  It isn’t just that female anger scares men.  All anger scares people.  Period.  Anger affects every human relationship – it is hurtful to parents, damaging to children, ends friendships and tears apart homes.

But what I don’t see in this article is where it comes from and how to fix it.  In fact, many an angry woman will see this article as a call to faking it.  After all “most men just want to marry someone who is nice to them”.  McMillan is essentially saying “be nice” not “stop being angry”.

At the risk of sounding like another horror (selfish) my advice to women who are angry would be “learn how to deal with your anger” or “practice forgiveness” or “take a yoga class”.  Otherwise, you fake it.  And if you fake it to trap catch a husband you really haven’t gotten rid of it have you?  It can still scare him later.  Into the arms of lawyers and the “D” word.  And if it happens more than once you might end up like the lady herself with three divorces in the rearview mirror.

So ladies, let’s clean the house before we invite anyone in.  Take a year, start a blog, cut your hair, let’s practice being joyful and contented where we are.  Because marriage is no cure for anger.

2. You don’t want to be bored  (as opposed to “You’re Shallow”)

Now let’s be honest, women get tempted to cheat too.  Not all of us do (I for one don’t).  But we do get bored.  We feel trapped.  Hubby goes to fat and doesn’t make the earth move like he used to.  Is it really shallow to try to head some of that off with a few shallow requirements on your checklist?

Yes.  I agree that character comes first.  But wanting someone with enough body weight to lift me to the kitchen counter isn’t always shallow.  Its practical.  What if I fall down or have an accident or something?

If he has no brawn but is brimming with character I’m afraid it won’t be enough to keep me in his bed for life.  So the muscle requirements stay.  Therefore ladies, in picking sense from nonsense, let’s not volunteer for a life of boredom without the occasional earthquake.

3. The Oxytocin factor  (as opposed to “You’re a Slut”)

Sure.  Now this one I understand!  You meet a guy who checks off your “shallow” requirements (see #2 above) and you jump into the steam without checking the rest of the list.  Oxytocin (aka cupid, or the devil) kicks in and bonds you like a man-eating vine.

Does it make you a slut?  I don’t think so, Love.  Let’s look at this again.  This article was written for the woman who is single but very badly wants to be married.  If marriage is what you’re after then that list is very very important.  The shallow stuff you find out in an instant.  The stuff that moves from a moment passion to a lifetime of compassion is found in the rest of the list.  The things that can’t be rushed.

Let’s be frank about the jungle that today’s single woman is expected to survive in and find a match.  There are predators out there who are in constant pursuit of access to a woman’s body.  They scheme about it, discuss it with their boys, write blogs on it, all in search of the V and closing the deal.  That is one side of the market.

On the other side is the millions of women in the world guarding their Virtue (ahem) who spend their time, their conversations and their blogs on trying to tie the knot and closing a whole other kind of deal.

Both sides have their goal – to close the deal.  The problem is when both sides meet and they confuse their deal with that of the other.  And so many a woman will find herself in the rooftop hot tub with no ring on, in much the same way as many a man will find himself rushed and buffed at the altar with no idea how he got there.

The solution?  Be mindful of the Representative.  Women keep in mind that the first few months of knowing a man is you getting to know his Representative – the guy he shines up and shows in public in the hopes that you will be convinced enough in his value to let him close his deal.  Three months or so in, without letting him close the deal, you’ll either see cracks, he would have disappeared, or you will find that maybe you are actually looking at the same deal after all.


4. You are dishonest with yourself  (as opposed to “You’re a Liar”)

Unfortunately I have to agree with almost every word McMillan says here.  Women, in their fear of “scaring him away” will close his deal at the sacrifice of her own.  Girl, some men NEED to be scared away.  Just… just drop the oxytocin and walk away.

There is nothing wrong with wanting what you want and being honest about it.  The first step toward it is to be honest about it and accept it within yourself.  That will translate to you accepting nothing less from a man than what you want.  And you will be much better at picking sense from nonsense.

5. You are focused on you  (as opposed to “You’re Selfish”)

At this point I completely abandon McMillan.  To be single and focused on self-improvement is not to be selfish.  When the time comes to give all of your life for someone else it would be better for those children and that husband to have a woman who has built for herself a foundation of selfhood.  To be their partner and to be their example.  There are seasons in life when it is healthy to be focused on one’s self.  Seasons of healing, seasons of working towards specific goals, seasons of anger.  What man wants to come into the life of a woman singularly focused on snaring him?  Certainly not a man of substance nor of character.  She needs to not need anyone to be her, to be complete.  He is going to want the freedom to be him without having to complete her.  He is likely to fit more smoothly into the life of someone with her own girlfriends, her own place, who buys her own clothes and sets her own goals.

Do you darlin’.  If he finds you doing you and likes it he will find a way to fit into to your life as you fit yourself into his.

6. Low self-esteem  (as opposed to “You’re Not Good Enough”)

Looking for someone to better you is not what marriage is about – I would have to agree here.  But how many people actually do that?  Isn’t it far more common to find the smart girl with the deadbeat boyfriend?  Much more frequently you will see women go for guys who look up to them, or live off them, or disrespect them while living off them.  Guys who are several steps behind them in the development of the brain.  And the bank account.  And the social graces.

But this is also a symptom of the “I’m not good enough” disease.  It extends to “no one on my level will want me” or to the impatience of “there are so few guys let me grab the first one that flirts”.

“Mejor sola que mal acompañada. ” That’s my answer to that.  Better alone than poorly accompanied.  Some women fear the bliss of solitude.  They fear that they might like it too much and get stuck in it.  They fear that holding out too long will leave them forever alone.  My advice – face your fears!  When you have found fulfillment in yourself the pressure is off.  You won’t WANT to give up your freedom for someone who isn’t worth your time!  Your power to pick sense from nonsense will develop and seal you in a place of strength.  Real strength.  Not powered by anger.

There are millions of amazing, talented, giving, generous, dignified, honest single women out there.  Most of them want, at some point, to be married.  If Ms. McMillan was honest with us she would have defied her own theory with many examples in her acquaintance – as we will all have – of women who are angry, slutty, shallow, lying bitches who are… you guessed it!… MARRIED.