Congratulations! You Put a Ring on It

by Sarah on May 9, 2013

Engagement RingI was in a G+ hangout the other night with some women when one of them noticed a ring (with a large rock) on one of the other one’s fingers.

“Are you engaged?” she asked.

“No, married. I just celebrated my 5th anniverary!”

Suddenly, my headphones were echoing with the sounds of women congratulating her.

While this is a perfectly normal occurrence, I still find it odd and somewhat unsettling.

After all, what does a person need to do in order to get married that is worthy of congratulating?

You don’t even need to pass a blood test anymore.

On the other hand, when people ask if I’m in a relationship and I tell them I’ve been single for 8 years, I rarely hear the words “congratulations.”

More often I hear sounds of sympathy, condolences or vagaries meant to reassure me. “Awww,” or “I’m sorry to hear that,” or “Don’t worry. You’ll find someone.”

As far as I can tell, I deserve the congratulations at least as much as the married folks. I’ve held down good jobs, started my own business, had my own one-bedroom apartment for the last three years, covered the cost of my own health insurance, traveled around the country on my own for six months, and more.

Not even counting my business and career-related accomplishments, keeping a roof over my head and food in the fridge as a single person in one of the most expensive areas of the country is certainly a feat worthy of acknowledgement or maybe even accolades.

Adding to that, I’ve somehow managed to defy the public opinion that someone of my age should be thinking about getting married. I’ve done the self-work and figured out what kind of living configuration is right for me. I’ve pushed back against peer pressure of all varieties, not allowing other peoples standards or expectations to influence how I choose to live my life. I maintain wonderful friendships and shiops of many varieties. I’m happy, dammit. Doesn’t that count for anything?

To be honest, I sometimes wonder if it would be easier to get married. I’m not trying to devalue the challenges of navigating sharing a life with another person, but having two paychecks would be really nice. And although starting a business is never easy for anyone, regardless of the circumstances, it’s hard to feel too sympathetic for friends who are starting businesses while living on their husbands’ incomes and health insurance.

All that notwithstanding, I will happily pay my way to keep the freedom and independence I get to enjoy as a singler.

But I’m not holding my breath for the day when “congratulations” is the response I get.

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