Lindsey Kelk
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I Couldn't Help But Wonder… Is There a Secret Cold War Between Marrieds and Singles?

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I Couldn't Help But Wonder… Is There a Secret Cold War Between Marrieds and Singles?

Hmm. Now this is a tough one. As a single woman, no matter how awkwardly embroiled in however many torrid affairs, pretty much anything you might say against ‘the marrieds’ will make you sound bitter and angry. And saying you’re not bitter or angry just makes it worse, it’s the sameas Monica telling the answering machine that she’s breezy – you can’t say you’re breezy! It negates the breeziness!

Anyway, I’m not bitter or angry. Honest. I’m terrified. As a child of divorce, I have a very healthy fear of tying the knot and until quite recently, it’s something I honestly never believed I would do. Not that I don’t think marriage is awesome – The idea that someone you love wakes up one day and is sat at work eating a sandwich and just suddenly, pow, he realises he can’t possibly live without you and wants to tell every other single person in the world that you’re his. I think that’s amazing. I also think it’s hard and, having seen the worst of divorce, I would want to get it right and have it be forever. I write romance novels. This is probably one of the reasons I’m not married. That and the fact that my recurringstress dream is me at the church, in a wedding dress, about to marry my ex. Except I haven’t done my hair or make up and I always pass out from a panic attack just before I’m about to walk downthe aisle. There’s a chance we shouldn’t have stayed together for seven years…

lindsey kelk wedding guest
Basically the best wedding and one of the best brides, ever.

But is it true that married people and single people are secretly at war? I won’t lie, there can be a tension. In my life, my married friends seem to fall into one of three camps – those desperately in love with their husbands and just happy to be wed, those who are relieved to have locked something down and no longer be dating and those who started out in the second camp and now spend an awful lot of time looking over the fence at their single friends and thinking that the grass is an awful lot greener over here. Of course, that’s natural. We’re all human, we all want what we don’t have and I would imagine, to my friends who juggle kids and a husband and family obligations and work, my life looks quite tempting. I live alone in a New York apartment, I travel all the time to exciting locations, I meet fascinating people and throw myself into ridiculous affairs and shoe purchases that are not options for them. But while lounging in my singleton sun lounger, I peep over the fence, usually hungover and nursing a Bloody Mary,  and see stability and commitment and support and love and sometimes, when I’m licking my romantic wounds, that looks awfully nice, no matter how many pairs of Louboutins, I’ve stockpiled.

For the most part, there are no tensions with my married friends. Three of my very best friends are married and I can’t say it’s changed them in the slightest. They’re amazing and I love them.  The ones who have altered are the ones who maybe weren’t such great friends after all. As soon as the ring hit the finger, they became someone else. All of a sudden, they’re not the same girl whose hair I was holding back in the street after one too many happy hour cocktails, they’re smiling beatifically and telling me I’ll understand when I meet ‘him’. I’m not sure who ‘he’ is. I assume they mean my future husband but I can’t help but think they’re really picturing the jeweller at the engagement ring store.

Ooh, shiny. But not enough.
Ooh, shiny. But not enough.

The other married vs singles drama comes with women you don’t know, especially here in New York. Marriage is a cut-throat business here in the Big Apple and if you think the girls are bitches in the office, you’d better believe they will fuck you up in the pursuit of a husband. Kind of like The Devil Wears Prada but with diamond solitaires and summer houses in the Hamptons at stake.

I’ve always been a girl that gets along with boys. I love football and wrestling and dinosaurs. I make inappropriate jokes when I’m uncomfortable. I like to make people laugh – apparently, to the women of New York, this means I’m after their men. It’s quite a strange feeling to realise you’re being shut out by a woman just because you’re making her husband laugh. Anyone who knows me, knows I would never, ever cheat on anyone – sisters before misters, ladyface – but I remember one party at a friends house, a party where I was the only single girl in attendance and therefore feeling incredibly awkward and cracking joke after joke after joke, and yes, it was January and yes, it was cold outside but even with the boiling hot Brooklyn heating system, I was frozen to the core by the icy bitches in attendance. They literally shut me down every time I opened my mouth. So I ate my dinner, made my excuses and abandoned them for a bar in Williamsburg with my other friends. My single friends. And that’s when I realised, I had become That Girl. I had become a threat by virtue of the fact I didn’t have a boyfriend, I had nice hair and I’m funny. That hardly makes me an Angelina Jolie-esque home wrecker but still, they had silently decided I wasn’t welcome.

Life partner or dream home? YOU DECIDE!
Life partner or dream home? YOU DECIDE!

It would be a lie to say there aren’t single girls out there who just want to get married. They don’t care to whom but they do care what he makes, how quickly they can quit work and how soon they can pop out a kid. And if that’s what makes them happy in this world, then more power to them. Seems kind of cynical to me. I think these women are naïve to think just getting a ring on your finger makes everything better. Rings come off. Sometimes they stay off. Perhaps they know that, maybe that’s why they’re so afraid of having perfectly nice single women (with lovely hair) around their husbands. If the foundation isn’t stable, it isn’t hard to break.

I have this worrying recurring daydream where a guy proposes and instead of saying yes, I say ‘why?’. That’s not how it goes, is it? Sadly, I can’t imagine me ever saying yes unless it’s overwhelming, blinding, heart pounding, can’t imagine waking up a single second without him, desperate to repopulate the world with his awful tiny babies, devastating love. Maybe I’m the naïve one. Like I said, I write romance novels. But on the upside, I do still believe that exists. Beyonce said, if you liked it they you should have put a ring on it.  Like isn’t going to be enough for me.

(29) Comments

  1. Some days it’s like you’re in my head! Being pretty much ‘the single one’ now out of my friends it’s like they can’t comprehend that I love my single-ness, that I get to do what I want, when I want, how I want without having to compromise or justify my actions – i’m sooooo not ready to give that up! But I am very much over the ‘you’ll find the guy someday’ speech too, obviously if that happens, woo hoo, but i’m not going to sit around waiting for that to happen, there is too much out there to do and achieve, I think I just need to find more single friends to do it with!

    Thanks for this blog, am really enjoying it!

    1. mrs_brightside says:

      Love this response, and totally agree 🙂

      1. Thanks! You response is right up there too! 😉

  2. mrs_brightside says:

    As a fellow single lady with an ever-increasing amount of married friends, I totally relate to this! I think the underlying issue is an inability to see that happiness means different things for different people…there is no one size fits all cookie cutter that defines it. And acceptance that what makes you happy, may not make someone else happy at all. We’re all too quick to judge.

    Happiness for me is ultimate power over the TV remote, the ability to lie starfish-stylee on a Sunday morning and polish off a bottle of Prosecco on an evening without having to share it! I too have a fab job, a fab house and a financial independence that allows me to live a pretty fantastic life. But there’s a slightly patronising attitude from smug couples that unless you’ve got that male presence in your life, you CAN’T POSSIBLY be happy. Erm.

    Also, I think it comes from life experiences. I’m lucky enough to have a circle of friends that represent different walks of life; in age, in relationship status, in having kids/not having kids…etc. Combine that with having experience of not-so-single men in my life on the odd occasion, whom seemingly have everything going for them on paper, and the shiny happily ever after image (Disney, you’ve got a LOT to answer for!) is suddenly tarnished. As you say, rings can go on, and then come off.

    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to come across as a cynic: more that we should all embrace that we’re all different, with different wants and needs. My moral, courtesy of a no less than inspirational friend, is never to accept second-best for yourself 🙂

    PS: Lindsey, I totally have a girl crush on you, even more courtesy of this article! Ha!

  3. absolutely love this – i agree with every point and totally get you! x

  4. Lesley says:

    When my husband (sorry ex husband :D) proposed, my reply was ‘are you drunk’ … destined not to be a happy ever after relationship haha

  5. catherine says:

    completely agreed – but my life is more single girl vs smug friends in relationships-my being 20 and all

  6. Even as a married mother of 3, age 27, I still the odd icy greeting! I’m very happily married as is my husband ha. Think it’s your lifestyle, confidence and sense of humour people may be jealous of, single or married, you’re spot on! Another fab piece :)) x

  7. pallavi bhosale says:

    I loved the fact that u said it as it is ……. U r a magnificent writer…… It was an amazing read!

  8. i love the way you write … though the single vs married war is not as pronounced in my world …but half way across the world ur thoughts still make sense . i married my guy at the age of 32 … for most indian women thats when your figuring kids college and retirement plans – almost every college mate had a baby sometimes a teenager by the time i was saying i do .however i never got the stay off my man vibes from any of my married friends during single times . my thoughts its not whether one is single or married that sends off alarm bells – its how secure the person is in her relationship – and from the sounds of it u certainly are surrounded by some fairly insecure women . so be yourself … and have fun !!

  9. Miss Cee says:

    Dear Lindsey.
    Thx a lot for your opinion on this topic. I’m a hopeless romantic, hoping to get married someday. Basically: I’m Charlotte 😉
    Although I don’t have any married friends yet I am constantly at war with some of my friends who turned into “we” persons. It simply bothers me when they aren’t even able to get a coffee with me without having to ask for permission or without bringing their boyfriends. Another friend is about to be left (that’s why I love being single…no one can leave ME, ha! 😀 )…anyway she just said the most painful thing to me a while ago “You don’t know what that feels like. You’ve never loved”. Thanks a lot. Maybe I have? Maybe I wasn’t lucky enough to spend 2 wonderful years with that person like she did? 🙁
    I think that even though I don’t want it to, I’m in a constant fight with those who aren’t single…having to defend myself, my dreams and ideas and the fact that I like being alone from time to time. So I also agree with mrs_brightside: Happiness means different things for different people!

    All the best,

  10. Jackie says:

    So true Lindsey, so true ….

  11. Hey Lindsey,
    I love your new column!
    You are right, we really are never happy with what we’ve got. But the bigger problem are “the others”, those rather unhappy people who begrudge us our way of living. It doesn’t matter if we are single or married (or something in between), as long as we’re different to them, we’re their enemy.
    My best example is actually not me, but my boyfriend. Since we’ve started living together, his friends have stopped calling and meeting him. That is: male friends without girlfriends. And it’s not even like I ever told him/them not to meet up alone or whatever.
    At least my best friends and me have never had any problems with one of us being single and the other married, etc. If they didn’t like my relationship status, they wouldn’t deserve to be my friends.
    So enjoy being single and one day maybe you’ll find the right jeweller 😉

  12. Megan says:

    Are you a Carrie Bradshaw wanna-be? You should read ‘Gone Girl’ – you’re the definition of the ‘cool girl’.

    1. Hi Megan, the whole point of this feature is to address the questions from Sex and the City ten years on. Apparently you missed that? And yes, I have read Gone Girl and no, I’m not the definition of a ‘cool girl’. I do like football, I don’t play poker, dirty jokes are always funny, I think burping is rude, I can’t play video games to save my life, I never drink beer, don’t ‘love’ threesomes and anal sex but I do eat hot dogs and hamburgers. That’s probably why I’m not a size two.
      But thanks for taking the time to bother to comment…

  13. If I read Lindsey Kelk, does that make me a cool guy. As a side note apart from poker and video games, agreed with all of that.

  14. Oh and just in case yeah there is a secret war, not a cold war, an actual war with lasers that pits us marrieds against singletons. Marrieds are winning at the moment.

    1. I knew I could feel something burning…

  15. Lindsey…. I married young at 21 to an awful older man, my parents who are still together made me believe thats what you did. i *thought* it was love….finally after getting the courage 15 years later, I left him. devastating story, we were in the persian gulf, (i’m a Brit) and had to escape with my kids. anyway fast forward. I met an american sailor on line.. we we married within 6 months I was mid 30’s at this point, i never knew anything like this existed……i truly felt i could not breathe without this man and wanted his awful babies……. TRULY!!! 15 years of marriage now and a 12 year old daughter…I have to say i have never looked at another man..he is my everything.

  16. I thought this was really interesting to read. I was always the single girl who wasn’t particularly that bothered about settling down. Of course, then he went and came along and I had no bloody choice 😉 I, like you, always knew that it had to be exactly right before I made that sort of commitment. I would never have got married unless I couldn’t bear the thought of being without him.

    The only point I don’t agree with you on is that the friends who changed after getting married weren’t as good friends as the ones who didn’t. That’s not true. I’m more concerned about the marriages of those who don’t change. If you’ve got married and are still leading the crazy, single girl life then it does make me question the ‘why’s’.

    I love spending time with my husband. He’s the one, single human being that I decided that I could spend lots of time with for the rest of my life. That often means that I prefer spending time with him over other people, including my friends. I don’t think that’s wrong, I think that means you’ve married the right person.

    1. Hi Danielle, thank you for this – I love it. Just to clarify, I didn’t mean to imply my friends who haven’t changed are still ‘crazy, single girls’ I just meant their attitudes towards life and their friends haven’t changed. Of course you should want to spend time with your husbands- I’m worry more about my friends who don’t want to than those who do!

      1. Oh phew, I was a bit concerned for them!

  17. Angelina says:

    So true!!! I have been married and I am now single. I can honestly say that if I were to do a pros/cons list of marriage and singledom the singledom pros list would be way longer than for marriage! I look around at most of my friends who are married and I can honestly say there is not one I would want to trade places with! I love my life now and don’t get me wrong I was devastated when I divorced but looking back like you said if the foundation was stable it wouldn’t have broken like it did. It would take a real miracle for me to marry again. I am a romantic and would like to think that true love really does exist but it is like the lottery. Some people hit the jackpot (very few) and those who do sometimes make it last to the end of their lives while others blow it fast.

  18. FRenchy Jen says:

    Its startling How much I can relate to this post.Most of my closest friends got married last year and im the only single lady now.From where I stand im fine with it from where they stand and the community (jewish) I grew up and lived in most of my life its a true sob inducing drama apparently.But when I look at it between the ones who got married by society pressure and the right thing to do, the ones like you said you married just for the ring pop kids and stop working and so on.One is already divorcing, one is moaning crying and telling me everyday to not rush or never do it and How lucky i am to be unattached and a shit load of them changed from girls I grew up with to over jealous protective wives seeing me as a threat .The rest pretty much look at me with sympathy bordering on pity and expressed well meant little comments like ” there is one for each it Will be your turn soon dont worry” or “poor honey its wonderful being married you Will see one day” followed by caring smile and a pat on the hand .Im 29 and really enjoying Life who said I was worried?

  19. I’ve had a totally different experience as a man. I’m the bachelor amongst a sea of marrieds and now they’ve started breeding. The guys might shake their heads at me in front of their respective spouses, but I do get a sense of envy from them. I have one self-righteous friend that has intoned that “i just haven’t found the one,” but he has toned it down in recent years, escaping his growing family at the slightest opportunity to get drunk with me, the man-child, of sorts.

    I’m totally with you on your last paragraph. Every time I’ve ask myself, “why,” I’ve concluded that I had to get out. I still have a glimmer of hope that one day, I’ll meet someone that I can’t live without, but it’s difficult to not get jaded.

  20. […] I Couldn’t Help But Wonder… Is There a Secret Cold War Between Marrieds and Singles? ( […]

  21. I’ve really enjoyed reading this. As a child of divorce myself and a used-to-be hopeless romantic before that, I am really skeptical when it comes to marriage. It’s hard work. And I reckon you always end up losing something in the process, whether it’s yourself, your friends, your career..Hats off to those who manage to have it all though, that’s inspiring. I reckon the silent war that goes on between singles and marrieds strikes more from the married side, because as a single person, if you put a bit of effort into it, you can always find somebody to marry (no standards applying in this example). It’s a vicious circle.

  22. i totally agree with all the points u made and I also think it happens when your friends are in a relationship as well. As I have some mates who don’t like the fact that I can easily talk to their boyfriends about football and what not, even though I’m not interested in them.

    I think its something that happens whenever someone is in a relationship they think the ‘single girls’ are going to come after their guys even if we tell them that we aren’t that interested in being in a relationship and are happy with the way that things are.

    hopefully that makes a bit sense.

  23. Maya says:

    That last paragraph explains my mindset PERFECTLY. Thought it was just me!

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