5 ways that some married women can annoy a single, divorced woman like me

betty ming liu Inspiration, Relationships 12 Comments

I do a good job of celebrating the holidays because I want my daughter to have a happy childhood. In the process of keeping up the festivities for her sake, I’ve become less bah-humbug. And I’ll admit it, I  have even learned to have fun.

Still, this time of year always makes me think of how hard it is to be single and divorced. Sometimes, people can be so mean. Especially married women.

So I am devoting this post to a few of my rotten memories. Even though most of these events didn’t occur during the holidays, their impact usually hits me especially hard during this time of year.  The memories loom a bit more intensely right now. And the sting of the past is still with me — even though this December, I have a lovely new boyfriend. Having him around is comforting but it doesn’t change the past.

It is so, so hard to go solo. Here are a few lessons that I’ve learned:

Lesson #1: Couples tend to socialize with other couples.

I’ll never forget what one married woman said to me. “I think it’s terrible that you’re not invited to the house parties here in town,” she clucked. “But these get-togethers are all couples and a lot of the wives don’t want you there; they don’t want you around their husbands.”

Up until that moment, it never occurred to me that I was left out of any social gatherings. I had no idea anything was going on! After that conversation, though, I got a little bit defensive.

During those early years, I was seeing a therapist who gave me great advice on this situation. She told me that what couples do is irrelevant. “Hanging out with couples does nothing for you,” she said. “Go out and meet some single men!” She was right. That’s when I started dating and making new friends.

Lesson #2: Even close friends can say mean things.

Right after I went solo, an old friend pulled me aside. She was a woman who had been married a very long time. She told me about a new report that she’d just read, about how divorce ruins children forever. The report, she said, advised parents to stay married.

I listened in shock. In fact, I was so stunned that I couldn’t believe we were having the conversation. Many, many years later when I mentioned this moment, my friend had no recollection of it ever happening. But she admitted that initially hearing about my divorce freaked her out. “It hit little too close to home,” she said, adding that she had often thought about leaving her husband but couldn’t bring herself to do it.

Lesson #3: Some married women viewed me as a second-class citizen.

I found it so strange that a few married girlfriends suddenly started budgeting the time we spent together. A few of them only wanted to lunch or hang out when their husbands were away on business trips or busy doing something else. I really felt hurt — and annoyed — when they’d say things like, “How about next Thursday? He’ll be out-of-town and I won’t have much to do.” I am no longer friends with any of these women.

Lesson #4: Some women talk too much about their husbands.

I have really gotten tired of being around women who have to bring their husband’s names into every conversation. How annoying to have them always mention what their husbands thought about this and that. Their constant use of “we did blah-blah” only reinforced the fact that I had no man.

Lesson #5: It’s no fun being around couples who are into PDA (i.e., public displays of affection).

Do I really need to see married women draped all over their husbands? One of my friends made a habit of sitting in her husband’s lap. Did she ever think about how I felt being around them? And that her PDA made me feel like I’d never ever meet anyone special enough to do that with?


If I think of more things that annoy me, I’ll add them in the comments section. I can’t end this post, though, without saying that some of my married girlfriends have been incredibly kind. They have been my sisters, my defenders, my go-to girls in times of need.

With their help, I’ve come a long way in a decade. It’s possible that I might always feel ambivalent about the holidays. For me, this season serves only one purpose: to remind me of how my own life falls short of the jolly standards presented in the media.

The pressure of it all is just too much.

Comments 12

  1. Post

    i just thought of one more thing that i detest…..why do some married people think it’s okay to ask me how my love life is going? just because i’m single doesn’t mean they have a right to intrude. but maybe what goes around, comes around. because when i was married, i used to always ask single girlfriends — uninvited — about their dating situations.

    these days, people know better than to raise the topic. that’s because every time someone asked me about me about my dating life, i’d turn around and ask them about the state of their marriages. my friends are smart; they got the message very quickly. we all need boundaries!

    so this is #6. does anyone have a #7?

  2. I feel you on this one. While not divorced, I still get invasive personal questions like “Why aren’t you married yet?” or “Don’t you want kids?” Up until I met my boyfriend a couple years ago, my answer was “Lack of candidates.” I like your approach better, though.

  3. Post

    well, glad you found a good man, laura!

    p.s. — a note to my subscribers…some of you might have been emailed twice about this post. that’s because i changed the headline — i should’ve just left things alone! sorry, too much tinkering on my part. ooops.

  4. Post

    a shy guy buddy just emailed me to say that he sometimes sets up single friends. he sounded like he felt guilty about doing that — but he shouldn’t! i was always grateful when people tried to set me up.

    then again, all these years, blind dates only happened twice. the first one was with a 70-year-old rich guy in a mercedes; he was the client of a 70-something friend. nice man but beyond my age-related comfort zone.

    the second one was with a guy who sounded great on paper. i actually went out with him for two months. but he turned out to be the biggest jerk i ever met.

    so my point is that while i truly appreciate the thoughtfulness of my married friends (yes, married buds stepped up to offer both of these bombs), the guys that i met online were much better prospects.

    and again, maybe what goes around comes around because i played matchmaker once for a gal pal. i had her and the guy over for dinner. once she got me alone in the kitchen, her fake public smile turned to fury. “you must have a really low opinion of me to set me up with someone like that,” she said. ooops.

  5. Dear Betty,

    The intense Christmas holidays, kicked off with Thanksgiving and which can hold us hostage for months, can only paralled by the culminating event in February, which marks the end of this yearly cycle — Valentine’s Day.

    Even though I’ve been happily matched for a while I STILL don’t understand the need to plaster every media outlet available with a call for coupledom. And just who is being targeted? Women. Who else buys the greeting cards, or demands them from potential partners, boyfriends, or significant others? Who else feels the pressure to be a part of an “us” as a lifetime achievement?

    Isn’t it enough that supermarkets are packed with “family sized” meals, or dinner for two? Don’t get me wrong. I love celebrating LOVE. My family is big on greeting cards. If there was a card for ground’s hog day they’d probably send it. I’ve even sent my own fair share of Valentine’s Day cards to friends and family.

    My problem is not with the concept, but with with the narrowly prescribed definitions of love we’re force fed for this occassion. There are so many beautiful expressions of love in our world and between people that the idea that it should be reduced to a happy guy and girl on some Hallmark ad is baffling. Love should be celebrated! Love as you experience it and as you define it in your life.

    There’s no better case in point that the girlfriend who admitted your own divorce hit too close to home. It’s safer to be part of “us” even if that “us” is only going superficially strong. My hat goes off to all those women out there who love themselves enough to find ways to make the holidays their own.

    1. Post

      wow, christine, you actually send v-day cards to family and friends? i’m way too cheap to do that! yesterday i was at target and bought a condolence card yesterday for someone. i was shocked that the average price for a stinkin’ paper greeting card is $3.49! which brings me to my pet peeve. all these holidays are based on commerce! okay, so we’re a capitalist society. i get that. but i’m so fed up.

      even though i’m having a nice christmas, i will be relieved to move on to the new year. nervous about v-day, though. i have always been anti-valentine’s crap. but this year, i will have this nice man in my life. i still don’t want to buy into the hype with dinner out and flowers; it would feel like such a betrayal of my roots — and my people. having been single for so long, i can’t forget my brothers and sisters who carry on in solitude! here’s to us!

  6. Betty: I well remember my gradual shock when I realized that the friends of years — nay, decades had simply crossed me off their list or were fading me to black. I had had this vision of my single-hood where I would go back to giving dinners the way I had before (and during when) I was married. But since all my guests declined or were always busy, I realized I had to scratch that. As I didn’t have but a couple of single friends, that made the first years after my divorce especially tough.

    However, regarding the friend who sits in her husband’s lap. That is really gross and really childish. Grown women don’t sit in their men’s lap in public. Laps are for private occasions and for small children. I would never have envied her but felt sorry for her for being so needy & infantile. But overly physically demonstrative people are really part of an odd and rather sad trend, in which there is a need, and even an expectation, that we make all our private lives public. The consequence of that casts a pall on intimacy. Intimacy is demanding and revealing. If we’ve blown our intimacy wad in public, what is left when the two of you are alone? I’m all for deeply intimate and very physical relationships, but there’s something wonderful when most of it is just between the two of you. ingrid

  7. I’m totally with you on 1-4 and 6, but not on 5. People should be able to display affection publicly, ok, within some reasonable bounds. But that’s not about you, that’s about them. If your position is that every public display of affection is about what you didn’t have, then you could just as well say that every couple holding hands or walking arm in arm or just appearing together in public is a reminder of what you didn’t have.

    Personally, I think the world needs more affection between couples, in families, among friends, etc. People are social animals and we don’t get enough positives, including everything from small compliments to hugs and kisses.

    Your valid point is that it’s wrong to treat you differently because you are not in a couple. So then they could have PDA in front of other couples? But then they are treating you differently.

  8. Betty … May this holiday season and the coming new year bring you much happiness in ALL areas of your life … individually, with your daughter, and with your new man!
    Speaking of “singles’ gripes” … why is it that formal invites ALWAYS include spouses, whether the inviting party has met them or not, but a single person RARELY is given the choice to bring a companion, and if given the choice, it is usually assumed that the companion is a love interest? As a middle-age single person invited to a formal event, don’t I have just as much right to feel comfortable coming to your event in the company of whomever I choose, male or female, platonic or otherwise?
    I’ve been enjoying the variety of lively topics you cover and look forward to your continued shares!

  9. My mother had the one-size-fits-all response to intrusive questions like … how’s your love life, how much do you make, when are you going to have kids?

    Look the questioner in the eye and reply sweetly “Why do you ask?”

  10. Post

    thanks all for your feedback. this stuff is so profound for me. i really appreciate ingrid and david’s contrasting takes on pda. ingrid, you are always so eloquent. and david, you make a good case. but… i want special treatment!

    can’t people have a little empathy for the recently traumatized? now that i have a nice bf, i assure you that if i sit in his lap, it’s not gonna be done in front of some sad recently divorced woman (or man).

    and i think rose has come up with point #7. now that you mention it rose, you’re right….i am hardly ever invited to bring a friend to an event. but now that i have a bf, people are always asking me to bring him — even when they’ve never met him. so unfair!

    i wish i had the nerve to be like lil’s mom. gotta work up the courage to be that direct. :)

  11. Well, married women should be very nice to their single friends and include them at parties as well, because their married ones will not stay friends if divorce happen.

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