To give you a little taste of what it's like, here's the first chapter, The Introduction:
I am a bit of a serial dater, so over the years many friends have encouraged me to chronicle some of my adventures in dating, even though most of my relationships have been normal and uneventful. Since those don’t make interesting stories, I don’t really talk about them. The best stories come from the more unconventional relationships, and I have quite a few of those because I like playing there.
My adventures in dating didn’t jumpstart my writing about my life, rather it was an encounter I had with a woman I hadn’t seen in a few years. We bumped into each other at a party, and before I could answer “How are you doing?” she asked “Are you married, yet?” A lot of people ask me that, and I always feel I have to have a quip ready: one that seems lighthearted but hopefully also conveys that I think it’s a bizarre question. I don’t mind being asked if I’m married, but the yet implies that getting married is something I must do. But I never really thought so.
Marriage was never in my plans, and I’ve always thought that was fine. Not everybody agrees, though. When I’m talking to people—usually women—and they learn I’ve never been married, some of them look at me with pity. Others look blank, like they’re trying to hide their real reaction. Still others look smug, which is particularly funny since many of them don’t know where their husbands are half the time, they can barely tolerate being in the same room as their spouse, or they haven’t had sex with each other in an eternity. A woman in a genuinely happy marriage is rarely smug. She knows that marriage has its ups-and-downs, that it can be a lot of work, and that she is fortunate that she and her husband have figured it out. The genuinely happily married wife is not smug because she is smarter than that. The smug ones are often working hard to keep a secret: they’re not that happy.
Other women are supportive and encouraging: ”Don’t worry. He’s out there. You just have to keep looking.” Sometimes I just smile. When I tell them that I never really wanted a husband, the conversation can get awkward. They may be confused, which is understandable, since most people do want to get married. Some become defensive, though, and those are the ones who amuse me the most. It’s as if they think that my decision somehow reflects negatively on them and the choice they made. It doesn’t. So I wrote my first essay about my choice not to be a wife or mother. The dating stories came later.
My choosing not to have kids can also slow down a conversation, and gets a similar reaction: most people want children, so there’s obviously something wrong with the woman who doesn’t. But is there?
Here’s a story I love. One day, AJ, the son of my friend Lorraine, asked his parents, “Is Auntie Eleanore a grown-up?” What I heard was “She’s so youthful, she couldn’t be as old as you two are!” But what he meant was something different: ”…because she doesn’t have a husband or any children.” Even at four years old, he understood that I hadn’t done what I was supposed to do. (Sigh).
Fast forward a few years. The New York Times recently ran an article that talked about the five traditional milestones for adulthood: completing school, leaving home, becoming financially independent, marrying, and having a child! What!? This means I’m stuck at stage three. Clearly, AJ isn’t the only one who doesn’t think I’m a grown-up.
It could be worse. I came across a New York Times article from 1918 called “The Third Sex” that questions whether women who “lack home impulses” (meaning women like me) are real women. So women have come a long way … I think.
Anyway, even though I haven’t done what I’m supposed to do (marry, give birth), I’m quite pleased with the way my life has turned out. The growing number of women in the United States who don’t have a husband or a child made me decide to share why this doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In fact, it can be quite good.
Excerpted from The Spinsterlicious Life: 20 Life Lessons for Living Happily Single and Childfree. Printed with Permission. Copyright 2011. All rights reserved.