Over the past decade I have forgotten many encounters; however, I’ll never forget the time when I was told that single women are emotionally needy and need counseling. That moment happened when I was single, living in Asia and in the midst of putting together a dinner programme for groups of six people. Single and married people – about 80 in all – signed up for four sessions of dinners with four or five other people. The idea behind the events was that participants could meet new people within their social circle. As the coordinator, I matched people up according to the general vicinity in which they lived. I also tried to have a balance of single and married people, male and female.
During my childhood years my parents had always been in the habit of having many single men and women come over to our house. They dined with us, visited us when we were in different countries and even traveled with us. I had always assumed that it was a perfectly acceptable proposition to have a social event with equal numbers of couples and singletons.
My idealism was shattered when I received a call from one of the married female participants. She informed me that she was calling on behalf of a group of women who met regularly. The mostly foreign women were married to expatriate businessmen. These “oh so busy men” worked long hours. When they had a few precious hours off they would be joining their wives for the dinners I was scheduling. These women did not want to schedule their limited time together while dining with single people. No they wanted to dine with couples exclusively. (If there were specific characteristics of single people that made them feel threatened, I never found out; however, it was clear that they didn’t want to meet “singletons”.) I tried to explain that the single people I had lined up as dinner guests were fine individuals but my plea fell on closed ears. My telephone partner was having none of it. This is when she informed me that she had invited single people to her home in the past and the results had been disastrous.
“Single women are emotionally needy and need counseling”, she informed me. In one of the best delivered comebacks of my life, I calmly replied, “You know – it’s a funny thing. I’m a single woman and I am not emotionally needy and do not need counseling.” I could hear that she did not bat an eyelash when she heard my response. Neither did she apologize or attempt to retract or revise her statement. She continued to drive her point home and I eventually ended up rescheduling all of the dinners.
Following this unpleasant interaction, I mostly felt terrible for my fellow diners. I did not reveal to any of them what had happened. They were so charming and gracious when they came to the dinners I attended. They had strong “social masks” – not an emotionally needy “rain on the parade” person in the bunch. I was horrified at the thought that any of them would know what had transpired.
I can confirm from personal experience that there are married women out there who are emotionally needy. As for their busy husbands – I hear burnout is a common problem in the busy investment banking set. Who doesn’t have needy moments or moments when they need a ready ear? How is it that single people can be placed under such sharp scrutiny?
Recently I decided to read up on this “needy and in need of counseling” phenomenon. Is there any evidence that it affects single women more often? The literature indicates that emotional needs and related difficult times that require counseling are prevalent across both genders and related martial status categories.
So what if my fellow dinner partners did have dark corners in their lives. Would the details have come out between the first and second dinner courses? Would it be terrible to befriend someone who has difficult areas to traverse in their daily lives? Don’t we all have out jagged edges, and dark corners?
Over the years I have told people feeling badly about the details of their lives that there isn’t an adult person I know well who does not have a nasty skeleton that could be dragged out of the closet. If we were more honest with each other and ourselves about the imperfect nature of living in an imperfect world, we would not be so selectively harsh about others. We would take a softer approach when assessing our own lives. We also would not feel the need to over analyze the situations of others, or our own for that matter. We would feel more confident to stumble forth in life with confidence, chin held high - ragged edges et al.
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Daily Dish Archives: Pamela Chan/Publisher, BCfamily.ca