I refer to myself as single. I think of myself as single. The “D” word? My mind just doesn’t go there. Marriage seems like a past life, a distant and foggy dream. Divorce? It was a long and wretched process. Impossible to forget, but I don’t dwell on it.
Does the distinction matter?
“Single” is the first thing that comes to mind, when someone asks my marital status over a drink, or anywhere else for that matter. It goes something like this.
Guy: No ring. Not married?
Me: No, I’m single.
And we carry on from there. We may talk about professions, kids, where we’re from, where we’ve been. If there’s an attraction, we’ve got the requisite eye contact, the lean-in, mirrored gestures.
“Non-married” is the status I seek, and the scent I give off. To me, that means single. And single may mean challenges, but it also means freedom. And implies being beyond the worst of the post-divorce anger, muddle, and re-emergence.
I’m a notorious stickler for words. Their specificity and multiple meanings. Why does categorizing myself as “divorced” get under my skin?
Maybe because I was single for so long. Maybe because I felt single even when I was married. Maybe because it feels “fuller” to me, or just more natural.
I will say that seeing marital status on a form irritates me; the only time I don’t fuss is at a doctor’s office. Perhaps it’s a factor in stress level. Or maybe the reason for it is financial, a red flag that filling out insurance paperwork may involve multiple providers. So I tick off “Divorced,” even if it ticks me off.
- When you introduce yourself – do you say you’re single or divorced? Has that changed over time?
- Distinctions like “living together” or “engaged” – do you make them, and if so, why?
- I even find “girlfriend / boyfriend” a strange way to define my relationships. (I loved the line in the Sex and the City movie where “Big” says “Aren’t I a little old to be introduced as your boyfriend?” Carrie replies: “OK, you’re my man friend.”) Your thoughts on this one?
- Are these relationship statuses something you think about, or just mention naturally, in context?