Should we believe the recent New York Post assertion that Brooklyn women are the nation’s pickiest? I’m suspicious if only because this claim manages to cram three of the trendiest of all trend topics—single women, online dating, and, of course, Brooklyn—into a 250-word article. I was shocked that they didn’t manage to squeeze Miley Cyrus in there as well. That was a missed opportunity. But the brief article does offer the standard picture of outer-borough dating with entitled women, lazy men, and the obligatory use of the word “artisanal.” Lurking beneath this generalization is the assumption that single women are a problem and that this problem is the result of our heightened expectations. Why won’t we just respond to the dudes sending us unsolicited dick pics on OKCupid? Why won’t we be chill and engage in a commitment-free non-relationship with a guy who takes voting advice from Russell Brand? What’s wrong with us? Don’t we know that our ovaries aren’t a renewable resource? Haven’t we read the statistics about marrying after 40? Yes we do, and yes we have. But, perhaps, shockingly, some of us would still rather be happy than be married.
Although I’m a fan of marriage—gay and otherwise—I’d like to get married because I’ve found a man whose company I’d like to share for the next fifty years, not because I simply want to check that box off my to-do list. And I’ve dated plenty of men over the past ten years. Men who were fantastic but the timing was off. Men who were perfectly decent but simply a bad fit. And men who best stay on their side of the East River. I’m certainly not looking for some fantasy man who will save me from my sad desk salad and plant me in a brownstone. But I do want a genuine connection, and, sadly, this is rather rare. So the problem isn’t that the men I meet are lazy or that I’m expecting perfection. The problem is that finding a true connection is a bitch. And even when you do find it, sometimes life kicks you in the teeth, and things don’t work out. Apparently, this all makes me one picky Brooklynite.
It may surprise the media to learn that many single women—even those of us over the age of 30—aren’t miserable. I recently went on a yoga retreat in Iceland—a very Brooklyn vacation, I know—and I travelled with an almost all-female group, whose ages ranged from 24 to 50. These women were attractive, intelligent, friendly, and successful enough to pay for an expensive yoga retreat in the land of $12 soup. But not a single one was married, and no one had children. Despite what the doomsday relationship articles would have you believe, we didn’t spend the week crying into our skyr, bemoaning our spinster state. We trekked over glaciers, bathed in hot springs, and ate some fermented fish. We weren’t exactly suffering.
Being a happy single woman is still a relatively novel idea, and it isn’t always easy. Sometimes it’s depressing to feel like you’re perpetually stuck in the first half of a movie, waiting for the tone to change. I certainly get lonely in between relationships, but, then again, I also see plenty of people in relationships who appear equally lonely. I can’t help but get jealous when I see a friend splitting a one-bedroom apartment with her partner, but, then again, I also enjoy the freedom to nest without consulting a man. I have plenty of friends and family members who have fantastic marriages and adorable children. And I still hope to join their married ranks. But if it doesn’t happen, I think I’ll be okay with that.
So here I am—a single Brooklyn lady destined to grow old in my overpriced, illegally converted bedroom with nothing to keep me warm but my Netflix-laden laptop, watching just one more episode of Scandal. I suppose I’m a tragic cliché. Except I’m really not. I’d like to point out that not all single women in Brooklyn are white 30-year-olds with advanced degrees and health insurance. In fact, many women in Kings County are struggling to pay the rent and feed their young children. But instead of focusing on the needs of women who are legitimately under siege, the media continues to grumble about the dating habits of the young and bespectacled. But we don’t need their concern. Our lives aren’t perfect, but we’ll survive. So worry about the women whose food stamps were just cut because of our do-nothing congress. Worry about the women without access to quality reproductive care or maternity leave. But don’t worry about the privileged singles flipping through men on Tinder. We’ll be just fine.