Getting a Job to Find a Man?

I may need to get this brown corduroy vest as part of my new work ensemble.

I seemed to have developed a certain amount of ambivalence with regard to my dating life which may be why this New York Times Article resonated with me. Sure, I still have my profile up there on OKCupid, and I answer the odd email that looks interesting, but my heart’s not really in it. This article gave me some insight as to why that might be.

I’ve gotten pretty cozy in my single life, even though with kids I’m never really alone. But I do I worry that I’m turning into stone. I watch The Bachelor (living vicariously much?) on a Monday night without having to jump back and forth to a football game. Do they still even have “Monday Night Football”? I wouldn’t know. I may be getting a little too cozy spooning with the dog (hey, don’t judge me. She’s small and likes to sleep under the covers). And despite my attempts to “Call in the One” by clearing out my closet, my skirts and dresses are slowly invading the empty spaces like stubborn weeds.  I gave up long ago my attempts at meditating in order to envision the relationship I hope to draw forth from some secret place in the Universe.

But it’s true what the article says: I might fall and there would be no one there to pick me up. I like the author’s conclusion that men have an instinct to protect and provide and thus need a partner to take care of the nest while they are out cavorting around the forest. Women, instinctively take care of the nest, and retreat there when the going gets tough. So, OK. I’ve retreated. No doubt its a widow’s instinct – a way of protecting themselves when they have lost their protector.

See? I have an excuse. It’s instinctual widow behavior. Yes, I’ve just played the widow card.

But the truth is, I’ve grown to love my single life. I like taking up the entire closet with nothing but my clothes; I like not being judged for watching the Bachelor (who needs a guy for that?); And I love spooning with the dog.

Recently, I’ve begun looking for another full time job. As much as I would like to finish my book, my lifestyle of leisure is not particularly sustainable. At least, not until my book becomes a best seller.

I’ve been a little surprised by the reaction I’m getting with my news that I’m looking for full time employment. Just the very act of putting it out there has elicited some interesting information from my friends and family. Apparently it’s unanimous that “it will be good for me to get out there.” And I know that it will, which is why I’m looking. I know to them though, a big part of “good for me” equates with my finally meeting a great guy and settling down, happily partnered and no longer living the lonely, widow life.

It’s interesting to me that society at large pushes us to be coupled. And sure, it would be nice in so many ways to find a partner. In little ways I know I’ve forgotten about: A wink from a partner across the room at a party; a slap on the ass as you’re loading the dishwasher that’s not meant to annoy the crap out you; a calm voice when you get that call from the school telling you need to pick up your child; someone who can pick up a gallon of milk when you run out in the middle of making dinner.

But I think getting a job will be “good for me” for other reasons: expanding my horizons, gaining new skills, challenging myself, earning cash, getting health care, teaching my kids independence, buying some new clothes. But doing it as a dating tactic is hardly my objective.

So, yeah, I’m “getting out there.” But its not so I can find someone who will pick me up if I fall, its to prove to myself and the world that I can pick myself up when I do.

 

 

 

 

12 Comments

  1. Kristine January 10, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    I had just read that same article just about an hour before reading your post. I feel the same way… loving so much about being the master of my own home… no one to judge what I eat when, or to need to compromise with about what show to watch. Knowing what I put someplace will be there when I go back to look for it. Still, I do wish for some collaboration sometimes… neither state is perfect. But this societal pressure to partner does seem to favor the men more than the women… which is not what culture would have us believe… so interesting!

  2. annie January 10, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    There is a lot to be said for being single. Aspects of it are not all awful and I remember them vividly. Comparing single to coupled and preferring one to another is probably personality driven but also a lot about where you are in life, what you’ve experienced and what you still need/want. Odd that people equate employment with finding a mate. I think perhaps that is true of very young people but not so much of older ones. I keep a curious eye out for employment b/c it might be fun, but working was all about paychecks and bills for me. I want to be in the position that a co-worker once talked about – being able to take a job just to do the job with the knowledge that I could walk whenever I wanted. He claimed it was a freeing experience. He was a teaching journalism and was constantly being sought out by headhunters in his old profession and I could see that this did indeed free him to be the teacher he felt his students needed rather than always teaching from a place of self-preservation first. If I were going to work again, I want that kind of autonomy. Good luck with the job hunt.

    1. Abigail - Site Author January 18, 2012 at 9:47 pm

      Oh yes, Annie, working with that kind of freedom would be wonderful. I can hope that might be the case for me, though as it stands right now, I won’t be completely free to walk away if things don’t work out. It’s a difficult balance to maintain. Thanks for your comment.

  3. Susan January 10, 2012 at 10:26 pm

    I’m totally spooning with the dog. She has become my best friend and constant companion. We went through a period of adjustment when my husband died suddenly – he was the alpha, and I was the “girlfriend”. I’m now the alpha and in charge of her, at least – if nothing else. I’m so early on. Five months tomorrow. Just trying to find my way.

    I can’t even imagine recoupling. We had such an awesome life. I just hope for grandchildren some day! I feel they could help to fill the giant gaping hole in my heart.

    I admire your spirit – good luck on the job hunt.

    1. Abigail - Site Author January 18, 2012 at 9:52 pm

      Five months I think gives you the leeway you need to spoon with the dog. I of course, have no excuse.

      I really just always assumed after my husband died that I would remarry. It seemed logical and with little kids to raise, I would have appreciated the help. But it wasn’t to be. I had someone tell me that widows who wait until the kids are raised and out of the house go on to have more successful marriages on the whole than those who marry right away. I don’t know if its true, but it makes me feel a little better.

      I guess you never know what might be just around the corner. Perhaps your gaping hole will be filled without having to prod your kids into having kids. They may not fill the hole the way you think they will.

      It’s hard doing the work to fill the hole on one’s own, but in the end, that’s usually the only way.

      Thanks for commenting Susan.

  4. Jill Schacter January 11, 2012 at 12:33 am

    Abby, I am also re-entering the working world, slowly, and moving toward being the solo breadwinner I never thought I’d have to be. In the meantime, in the 6 years since my husband died I’ve gone from believing that I MUST marry again to be happy to having more of a “whatever happens, happens” point of view. Good luck to you out there, and in your nest as well.

    1. Abigail - Site Author January 18, 2012 at 9:53 pm

      Jill,

      Yeah, I’m with you on the “whatever happens, happens” front. We just never know what this life has in store, do we?

  5. Kim January 12, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    Abby,

    You are my widow hero. Each post I read is the voice of reason. I’m not there yet, but I long to be. I also long for male companionship. At a little over two years out, I see myself having grown from I must get remarried, to maybe I will someday, but it has to be right for me. I have to keep telling myself over that I’m not about to expire on the shelf. Thank you again for your wisdom.

    1. Abigail - Site Author January 18, 2012 at 9:56 pm

      Oooh, wow. A widow hero? I am honored, thank you! I used to long for male companionship too, though its waned as the time passes. I suppose what I wrote was my attempt at coming up with an explanation for that.

      You are right. We don’t expire (as much as it feels like we do sometimes) and who knows what awaits.

      Thank you for the fine compliment, Kim. I so appreciate your readership.

  6. BigLittleWolf January 15, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    I am not a widow, but I have spent the past decade as a single/solo mother, with no family to assist, and struggling with a lousy economy.

    There are issues of time and energy – physical as well as emotional – when you’re carrying the full load of kids and staying afloat. Even more so, as we get a little older.

    What I find interesting is the way society not only wants us coupled, but coupled in marriage, as if that’s the only way we can be packaged up and recognized. Personally, for me, the ideal would be about 4 days with a man, and 3 days without.

    That said, there are pros to being on one’s own, and obviously, cons. One side of the balance sheet may weight heavily at certain times, and the other becomes more insistent as circumstances (and our own selves?) change.

    No simple answer. Meanwhile, decent paying work helps everything. Especially with kid costs constantly on the rise.

    Good luck with the job search – and whatever “side benefits” may arise – no doubt when you least expect.

    1. Abigail - Site Author January 18, 2012 at 10:01 pm

      BL Wolf. I read your article in Huffington Post about divorce vs widowhood. So interesting. From the outside, it often seems to me that the loss from a divorce is so much more complicated, where widowhood (for many) is a little cleaner in terms of the prolonged pain.

      I love your long-weekend man model. Too funny! Maybe that’s the solution to perfect, wedded bliss.

      Yeah, the economy thing has sucked for sure, especially as kids seem to get more and more expensive as they get older. But it will be nice to see the world again.

      Thanks so much for your comment.

  7. Pete January 31, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    Much to relate to for me. It’s approaching 3 years for me since Lisa died and I’ve also become pretty cozy with single life, in part because I also have kids and therefore don’t really feel alone and in part because I guess I still feel married. I worry that the longer I’m on my own, the more set in my ways I’ll become and the less willing I’ll be to compromise if/when there’s ever someone else in my life. It used to be tough to see myself on my own for long and now it’s getting tough not to, though I really do miss the companionship.

    I’ve worked for most of the past 3 years, typically around 30-40 hours a week as an independent consultant. It was initially a good distraction and now it’s more of a means of keeping the mind sharp and of course generating income, however I find that it’s too much at times. I recognize that my mindshare is spread across many things and I just can’t focus on work the way I did before I was widowed. Part of it is the nature of the work I do which can (for me) be somewhat intense at times. Finding the right balance of good work, good pay, and flexibility is definitely the trick.

    Work doesn’t seem to be too helpful to me in meeting women, but I work at home so meeting new people face to face is a rarity. My kids wonder why I can’t wait to go grocery shopping on Saturday!

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