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At What Point Do We Become Bitter? June 4, 2013

Posted by Onely in As If!, Food for Thought, Marital Status Discrimination.
Tags: , , , ,

jess_walking_away_by_raiyel-d5i0jnsCopious Readers, we at Onely (Lisa and Christina) hate the stereotype of the Bitter Single Woman who has become older without finding a partner. We have fallen victim to this stereotype ourselves, most often when we have spoken too vehemently about marital status discrimination. Have you–male or female–experienced this?

We started this blog with a “Rah rah rah, gooooo singles!” attitude. And we continue to insist that the solo lifestyle (which often isn’t so solo after all!) is a valid one that needs to be more recognized in our culture and especially in our laws.  Single women, single-and-seeking women, and especially even older single-but-seeking women, are not necessarily bitter and sometimes they’re the very opposite.

(You’ll notice I say “women” and not “men”. Although “bitter” is more often applied to women, we would love to hear from men who have been called bitter for defending their unpartnered lifestyles.)

A very close friend of mine whom I shall call Renata said she was worried that if I stayed single, as I grew older I would become “bitter and alone”. Renata remains my close friend only because normally she is an otherwise sensible, giving person. I think her “bitter” comment happened just because I caught her off guard; she told a story and my reaction was not what she expected. Copious Readers, how would you have responded to her tale?

When the army shipped (a verb I always find sort of stupid and scary) Renata’s male friend to Japan, his civilian girlfriend got left behind. But wait! Her army love guy pined and pined for his girlfriend. So he went back on leave, proposed to her, and then they were married! Awww. And then they both got “shipped” (eewwww) to Japan together. ‘Cause they were married.

Renata smiled at the story. And I freaked out.


See, I had forgotten that Renata was not my co-blogger Lisa. If she had been Lisa, I could have inserted far more expletives into that rant and Lisa would have nodded her head in rhythm with the beat of my fist on the table.


Renata’s eyes were huge. But I needed to keep going. I had to.


Renata suddenly had to go to the bathroom. (To cry? To throw up? To reconsider the overblown role of marriage in our society?)

Later that night as we parted ways after seeing a movie, she dropped the “bitter and lonely” comment on me.  Then with a solemn shake of her head, Renata said, “I’m just saying, when you say stuff like that, people notice and remember.”

Exactly, Renata. Exactly. Though as happened with Renata, unfortunately they don’t always notice and remember in a way that we progressive singles advocates would like them to. In this case, it was probably because I went ballistic.

Copious Readers, do you find the proposal romantic, or a logistical necessity, or proof that the couple is more committed and therefore more deserving of extra plane tickets (we very much hope they were coach)?  And with that in mind, how should I have reacted to the story? What would you have said? The situation becomes even more awkward when talking about the rights of our troops.


P.S. In this post we have decried the stereotype of the bitter single (man or woman). But in the interest of presenting both sides of the story, we also acknowledge that yes, some singles are super bitter–just as anyone with a failed dream might be bitter.  So in the interest of showing all sides of the story, in our next post we will present

 The True Tale of The World’s Bitterest Single Woman.

Stay Tuned for this Shocking Expose.

Photo Credit: raiyel.deviantart.com


1. Beth O'Donnell - June 4, 2013

Last summer, two friends I’ve had for 30 years were discussing someone. One friend: Whatever happened to…? Other friend, “She got married. Yeah, she didn’t end up a spinster.”

How did I handle it? I dropped about 15 f-bombs. According to them, I am not a spinster but she, who was somewhat less than gorgeous, would have been. I am a cougar. Because that is so much better, right?

tehomet - June 5, 2013

// How did I handle it? I dropped about 15 f-bombs. //

Ha! I would have, too.

Onely - June 6, 2013

HAHA I would love to see you and Tehomet get together and drop f-bombs on people who treat single women like trash.

2. Kimberly - June 4, 2013

It sounds to me like Renata took your rant as a personal attack against her. There are many insecure ways I’ve seen people respond to a personal attack, whether that attack was real or imagined. Two common ways are to: 1.) attack back with insults and/or expletives, or 2). pretend to take the “high road” by outwardly expressing pity for the other person. That way, if anyone is listening, they’ll believe that you’re just showing “how much you care” instead of recognizing that your real motive is a put-down. I.E., anyone who truly cares doesn’t express pity for another’s status or lifestyle choices; they listen and nod and ask sincere questions to find out more so they can understand your choice.
I don’t believe you attacked Renata, but I believe that she saw it that way because HER response to the story was so vastly different from yours. Not only was your reaction foreign to her, but it was angry, and that intimidates folks. People back away from angry people, regardless of what the anger is about.
In most societies, I think we see anger in women a little differently than we see it in men. Men are supposed to be commanding, take charge, be in control, the aggressors, etc…..so anger is kind of okay much of the time. Whereas women are supposed to be demure, fragile, nurturers who are here to make everyone feel good about themselves. So, we cringe and notice more when a woman shows anger. I’m not saying anger is a good response. I don’t think it’s a good emotion to practice, regardless of the gender of the person practising it, and no I don’t believe that “letting it out” is healthy, because it’s not like we have exactly 19 gallons of anger in us, and once we let a gallon out, it’s gone. It’s a chosen response that turns folks off, and causes them to hear the anger, not the message.

Onely - June 6, 2013

Thanks Kimberly–I hadn’t thought Renata felt is was an attack against her, because to me I was so obviously attacking the institution (“fight the man” and all that, heh), but of course she may have felt that way. Now I feel bad. I will have to explain it to her, though maybe the time is past as it happened a while ago.

I also agree about the differences in gender affecting how our interlocutors accept our levels of aggression…

3. Alan - June 4, 2013

I think instead of shouting expletives you might want to have asked why the military couldn’t have gotten the girlfriend a plane ticket before she was married? Or if they would do the same with a close family member? Always better to get them questioning their original assumptions.

4. tehomet - June 5, 2013

//See, I had forgotten that Renata was not my co-blogger Lisa. If she had been Lisa, I could have inserted far more expletives into that rant and Lisa would have nodded her head in rhythm with the beat of my fist on the table… Renata suddenly had to go to the bathroom. (To cry? To throw up? To reconsider the overblown role of marriage in our society?)//

Oh, you do make me laugh. 😀

But seriously, regarding this issue of free airtickets for spouses: The way the army could make this fair is to offer each soldier a free airticket for the person of his or her choice.

Would they be likely to do that? Free airtickets for spouses (and other related things like ‘married officer quarters’ and so on) are concessions to the humanity of the individual. Admitting that each soldier is not just a replaceable weapon-carrier pawn but an individual in a web of relationships (as we all are, married or single, unavoidably as human beings) is something that the leaders of hierarchial structures hate to do, in my opinion, as it means that they have to deal with the fact that their soldiers are human beings. It’s understandable that they’re going to restrict that concession as much as possible, i.e. to spouses only. Imagine if they had to treat each soldier as an unique being with individual feelings that had to be taken into account, beyond a bare minimum! That would make it a lot more difficult to maintain the hierarchial structure that treats people at the bottom as less valuable, and ultimately to send soldiers into battle.

Onely - June 6, 2013

OOh, I had not thought of that. If civilian society has trouble equalizing the whole marital privilege thing, then it must be doubly hard for the army. I think this requires another f-bomb.! = )

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[…] know I promised in my previous post to follow it up with The True Story of the World’s Bitterest Single Woman, but this news […]

6. teresa - June 6, 2013

I am not alone I always thought this.

7. Chris - June 8, 2013

I think men are more likely to be called ‘sad’, the implication being that they have no friends and nothing of any significance in their life.Which is as untrue in many cases, as it is also untrue for the very many happy and independent single women.
I’ve recently had the question “why? What happened?” when I told someone I wasn’t married and had no children.

8. The World’s Bitterest Single Woman | Onely: Single and Happy - June 23, 2013

[…] post is a sort-of sequel to a previous post about bitterness. It’s a long one, but we hope you bear with […]

9. The Serious Truth - October 13, 2017

The very sad thing is that most of the women always look very sad and very bitter altogether now unfortunately which i really think that they have very severe mental problems nowadays as well to begin with.

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