Why does it seem that unmarried women in their 40's are so distant?


#1

What I mean by this, is that at my church, there is a single group of ladies in their 40’s that have never been married. These women are distant and not overly friendly. I always say hi to them and have small talk, but they all seem to have this huge wall around them. I would love to be friends with them as I don’t see being unmarried as an issue, but I find that these women are just not interested in having married friends with children. They have married friends without children.

I have always wondered why these women almost seem bitter or maybe just uninterested towards married women with children. They are all wonderful women, and they all love children b/c I see them smiling at the children from afar.

I am good friends with one of them and she loves my kids, but all of her friends are very unfriendly and distant. They say hi to me and all that, but there’s just this huge wall around them.

Is it just me? Why do these women seem so distant? It’s almost like they are suffering inside and dont’ want to share it with women who are married with children. That just seems to be my perception anyway.


#2

I'm not in my 40s, but I have been single for a long time (at least until I met my boyfriend), so my advice might be moot.

Being single is hard, and you have to have very tough skin (being hit on by loser after loser). If I appear too friendly, people might take advantage of me. I also live in a large city, and being a woman is like wearing a bullseye. And this strength can come across as coldness. So now I have to break down that wall of "don't hurt me or I'll kick you in the groin" now that I'm in a relationship.


#3

I certainly cannot speak for the group of women to whom you are referring, but I can say that being unmarried, in my 40's, is not always easy in the Catholic Church. The married ladies in my very conservative Parish consider me a bit subversive because I live alone and work in an office. They tend to be quite judgmental and a bit harsh to any unmarried woman who attends our Parish so we have learned to keep to ourselves. Perhaps the ladies in your friend's group have had similar experiences. I hope that you will continue to be friendly to them. You seem like a lovely person and I'm sure they would enjoy getting to know you. Perhaps you could organize an informal social event like a picnic where you could take you family, and these ladies could join you. It might be a nice "ice breaker".


#4

If you do a search you will probably find several threads started by single Catholics who wonder why married people with children, and parishes in general, seem so cold and unwelcoming to them. Perhaps those single people in your parish are simply reacting to what they have experienced.


#5

[quote="puzzleannie, post:4, topic:201170"]
If you do a search you will probably find several threads started by single Catholics who wonder why married people with children, and parishes in general, seem so cold and unwelcoming to them. Perhaps those single people in your parish are simply reacting to what they have experienced.

[/quote]

I second that. I assume that if a married woman comes up to me in church, I wonder what they could want THIS time. Otherwise, they are very cold to me.


#6

I am 40 (just turned 40 in April) and I am single. I do have married friends with children – I also have a group of single friends. While I always love having new friends, our lives are very different. I love being able to be spur of the moment – call up friends and say “let’s go to dinner” or something like that. I can’t do that with my married with kids friends because they have to arrange child care or they have dance class or softball or… You get the picture. Another “problem” is that our topics of conversation can be very different. While married with children people don’t intend to, they can alienate the single with no kids people in conversation. It can be that the ONLY topic of conversation is kids and family – which I have no frame of reference to – or if I do have an opinion, it can be dismissed because what do I know? I don’t have kids therefore I can’t possibly know what I’m talking about – despite the fact that I have seven nieces and nephews and have been around kids my whole life.

Those are kind of generalized statements and I’m very blessed that my married with kids friends are not like that mentioned above, but it can be very intimidating for those of us who don’t have kids or are not married interacting with those of you who do have kids and are married.

Just some thoughts and observations.


#7

I think NannyPK is on to something!

I am married with "kids" now. I sometimes find it hard to be friends with other people that HAVE kids. I have many other interests besides my family that we can talk about, but some people only want to talk about their kids. I love my family, but that is not all there is to me! If we can't talk about other things too, then it is not going to work out.

The result? My women friends are of varying ages, and have many interesting hobbies and backgrounds! :)


#8

Yes, that has been my experience, as well. The topics of conversation and the range of interests are often very different. I tried to organize an outing recently and it caused unintended friction because the single ladies were excited about “making a day of it” but the married ladies got upset because they couldn’t arrange daycare for the suddenly expanded slate of activities. It turned into a bit of an e-mail war :slapfight: That was never my intention, I just wanted us to all get together and have a pleasant outing. sigh


#9

I'm single, never married, no kids, and waaaay past 40-- 61.

It has been difficult to convince people that I am:

1) not gay
2) happily single
3) don't need to be a whole person by adding a man to my life
4) don't want to dance with you


#10

I'm single-meaning 'never married and no kids'-and am in my mid-50s. I go to a small TLM chapel where the congregation consists mostly of older married couples and families with young children.

Sometimes I feel out of place because I'm the 'token single'. It was like that in my early years of traveling to Europe, when I went on group tours. It was always couples, families, and 'the token single'-me. Then I 'wised up' and traveled alone after that. ;)

Our congregation only sees each other at Mass-the chapel is a 'mission' type, where the priests come from outside and are only there for confessions and for Mass. The only exception to this rule is a 'parish picnic' that is planned for next month. But other than that, there are no 'parish activities'.


#11

[quote="Nanny_PK, post:6, topic:201170"]
I am 40 (just turned 40 in April) and I am single. I do have married friends with children -- I also have a group of single friends. While I always love having new friends, our lives are very different. I love being able to be spur of the moment -- call up friends and say "let's go to dinner" or something like that. I can't do that with my married with kids friends because they have to arrange child care or they have dance class or softball or... You get the picture. Another "problem" is that our topics of conversation can be very different. While married with children people don't intend to, they can alienate the single with no kids people in conversation. It can be that the ONLY topic of conversation is kids and family -- which I have no frame of reference to -- or if I do have an opinion, it can be dismissed because what do I know? I don't have kids therefore I can't possibly know what I'm talking about -- despite the fact that I have seven nieces and nephews and have been around kids my whole life.

Those are kind of generalized statements and I'm very blessed that my married with kids friends are not like that mentioned above, but it can be very intimidating for those of us who don't have kids or are not married interacting with those of you who do have kids and are married.

Just some thoughts and observations.

[/quote]

I think you are onto something here.


#12

I'm new here but will turn 40 in a less then two months. I think every single has it tough these days. It's just hard to meet quality people in general.


#13

[quote="Katrina5, post:9, topic:201170"]
I'm single, never married, no kids, and waaaay past 40-- 61.

It has been difficult to convince people that I am:

1) not gay
2) happily single
3) don't need to be a whole person by adding a man to my life
4) don't want to dance with you

[/quote]

Hope you don't mind a single man's perspective :)

With all the excellent answers above as a backdrop, and citing Katrina5 for the sake of responding better to our OP, I will say this:

Serap, when you say "Hi" and try to make contact, I am almost certain something like this is probably going through their minds: "Oh, so this young married woman with kids is trying to be friendly and reach out to us because she feels sorry for us and wants to make us feel better and maybe set us up with a man so that we can be "happy" in life. Well she can take her pity and stick it!"

This may not be your motivation, but this is what they think. And to be honest, I think part of your motivation is pity and that you want to help them "feel better" about their single state.

These women are probably thinking that you believe they are not (2) "happily single" and that (3) you think they need to add a man to their lives in order to be a whole person.

So your chances of breaking through at this point are probably slim. There are ways you can do it, but it must be more natural and as long as you feel any pity and act accordingly, they will detect it and continue to push you away.


#14

For every person who is married and has approached single people and been rebuffed, there is a single person who has longed to have someone from the church be welcoming and inviting, yet has been disappointed. And for every single who is feeling alone, there is a married person with a new baby who is feeling bereft because all her single friends have dropped her, she no longer feels welcome at any "young adult" events. For everyone like her, there is an insecure married woman who feels threatened when approached by singles, as if they are after her husband. Short answer, there are as many reasons for why people act as they do as their are people who have been hurt for whatever reason.


#15

I started to respond to this post earlier but could never quite finish it.

After mulling it over and reading some other posts I am now wondering why you are approaching them?

Do you just generally go around and try to make friends with everyone? Are you wanting more friends for yourself and since you know someone in the group you are looking at them as potential friends? Are they involved in some activities that interest you? Do you want them to have the opportunity to fit in with your friends/activities?

I can only tell you that my experience with trying to make friends at my parish has been a mixed bag. Some groups just have people who, frankly, aren't very nice; in such cases it doesn't really matter how much you otherwise have in common. Other groups seem to have reached an optimal number of 'members' and unless someone drops out there just isn't room for anyone new.

Some groups have limited need for small talk and then want to move on to pre-existing topics of conversation; you have to pay your dues for a few months before you are allowed to initiate new topics of conversation. Those topics may be highly tied to marital status and presence or absence of children.

I've found that friendships at my parish have developed out of shared involvement in various activities. In my case that mostly means choir. It has also come out of activities for my children. Sometimes the activity has been the only thing I shared with the other people. But other times I have discovered that we share other common interests. But even then, we have not always been able to bridge the differences in our family situations.


#16

Nanny PK, Michael Saint and puzzleannie all have valid points to what may be happening in this group of single women.

Serap, ask your good friend that is a part of this group for some insight.

I think we all need to be "challenged" to think outside of the box from time to time and find out what other people might be experiencing, especially when their current station in life is different from ours. I'm sure we all have something in common if we just took the time to find out what that is.


#17

I’m always impressed with someone who can zero in on the human condition and then put it into words as you have done here.

And, 'cause I left ‘husband stealer’ off of my list!:smiley:


#18

[quote="barb_finnegan, post:10, topic:201170"]
Sometimes I feel out of place

[/quote]

DING! DING! DING! We have a winner!


#19

[quote="SMHW, post:15, topic:201170"]
I started to respond to this post earlier but could never quite finish it.

After mulling it over and reading some other posts I am now wondering why you are approaching them?

Do you just generally go around and try to make friends with everyone? Are you wanting more friends for yourself and since you know someone in the group you are looking at them as potential friends? Are they involved in some activities that interest you? Do you want them to have the opportunity to fit in with your friends/activities?

HA HA! No, they are my good friend's friends and I like them and wish they would let me in, so to speak, but I have realized that they are not going to and perhaps I HAVE talked too much about my kids. I didn't think about it before.

I can only tell you that my experience with trying to make friends at my parish has been a mixed bag. Some groups just have people who, frankly, aren't very nice; in such cases it doesn't really matter how much you otherwise have in common. Other groups seem to have reached an optimal number of 'members' and unless someone drops out there just isn't room for anyone new.

I think that this is it too. They have their comfortable number and like it that way.

Some groups have limited need for small talk and then want to move on to pre-existing topics of conversation; you have to pay your dues for a few months before you are allowed to initiate new topics of conversation. Those topics may be highly tied to marital status and presence or absence of children.

I've found that friendships at my parish have developed out of shared involvement in various activities. In my case that mostly means choir. It has also come out of activities for my children. Sometimes the activity has been the only thing I shared with the other people. But other times I have discovered that we share other common interests. But even then, we have not always been able to bridge the differences in our family situations.

I don't share any activities with them b/c I am always busy with my kiddies, so I don't get the chance to know them better.

[/quote]

They probably just feel that they have nothing in common with me. My life is very different and perhaps I come across like I'm gloating about my kids all the time.

I would NEVER feel sorry for them. Being single doesn't make anyone less happy. I know many unhappy women who are married with children.


#20

I am 40 single and no kids. I totally sympathize with a mohter's busy scehdule. However, it is becoming a REAL drag to always plan a friendship aorund someone else's kids. And it is also no fun having coffee with a woman whose attention is always on her kid.

As much as I am sure a lot of moms make for good friends, I am at the point where a mom would have to be a super person to try to develop a firendship with her

CM


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