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People who confuse strength and independence with cynicism - anyone else find this depressing?

(25 Posts)
marzipanmaggie Sat 14-Jan-17 12:29:01

This is just for discussion/ranting, as opposed to advice. Just wanted to get it off my chest really.

I'm (nearly) two years separated after an abusive marriage. Has not been particularly easy but I'm absolutely sure I have done the right thing and notwithstanding the usual challenges of being a single mum, am in a pretty good place atm. Am enjoying being on my own and not being bullied, controlled etc and being able to dance to my own tune. Am also dating, nothing serious but generally enjoying it.

Had a conversation about dating and relationships with a colleague fairly recently -- this is who is married and someone I like and respect -- who described me as "extremely cynical" during a conversation about another colleague's marriage prospects. Based on what, I'm not sure. I'm a bit sarcastic. I like being on my own and am enjoying dating. I'm happy I'm no longer living with an abusive man and have no immediate plans to move another man in, let alone get married again. As far as I can tell, I'm described as cynical purely because I'm genuinely happy on my own.

Is it still the case that the vast majority of people find the idea of independence totally terrifying/threatening?

It kind of pisses me off that, having got to a place where I am happy with myself and having built my self esteem back up (which has not been easy), I encounter these sorts of 1950s attitudes from people. I am not letting it get to me. But I think someone who was in a more vulnerable place might. Has anyone else come across this? Is there anything else to be done apart from to smile sweetly and let it go over your head?

Lireal Sat 14-Jan-17 12:31:13

Some people cannot fathom being single and happy. Some people have never been single ever. Just quietly pity them.

WipsGlitter Sat 14-Jan-17 12:33:23

What were you saying about the other colleague? I know when I was single I could come across as a bit hard but it was a defence mechanism.

You only have to read some of the LTB threads on here to see how bad experiences can harden attitudes.

marzipanmaggie Sat 14-Jan-17 13:04:44

wips I can't remember the exact trigger for that comment. We were with a male colleague who has been a bit of a player in the past and who is now in what has the potential to be quite a settled relationship. It hasn't been going all that long. My friend asked him something along the lines of "when's the wedding?". I rolled my eyes a bit and said give him a chance. Then later on the topic of marriage came up and I said I didn't think I would get married again. That was it.

I get what you mean about single people giving off a hard, cynical vibe sometimes -- I think I have the capacity to do that sometimes but I don't think I was doing it then.

It's more that I find it so depressing that every conversation about a relationship seems to have marriage and being "settled" as its ultimate goal. There seems to be no pleasure taken in the happiness within the relationship for its own sake.

I totally respect people for having their own dreams and aspirations and marriage can be a wonderful goal and a noble state. But I also bristle that, having worked so hard to feel good about the situation I'm in, in a difficult situation, people will come along and imply that enjoying and celebrating my independence is the same thing as being a hard, cold cynical person. Because I don't buy into some Mills & Boon myth, basically.

It's rarely meant cruelly. But attitudes like this go a long way to destroy nascent self esteem in women who are struggling to get it back after having had it destroyed in abusive relationships.

user1475253854 Sat 14-Jan-17 14:50:34

I know what you mean. I can't think of anything coherent to say right now so hopefully I will come back later and post. Well done for leaving though and I'm glad you are enjoying being your own person again.

KateDaniels2 Sat 14-Jan-17 15:01:01

But ate you coning across as independent or cynical?

I have friends with all sorts of martial status and some of them are cynical. Nothing to do with independence.

It maybe that you are coming across that way, rather then independent. Rather than she is confusing the 2.

If that makes sense.

TryingToStartOver Sat 14-Jan-17 15:32:13

I know what you mean, my stbxh hasn't even been gone a year and people keep asking me when I am planning on dating again, or wondering do I miss having a man in my life.

No, of course I don't, I'm still only getting used to the fact that I can do my own thing, that I don't have to live in fear of hearing his key in the door, that I don't have to hide things I want to keep so they don't get thrown out.

I enjoy not having him around, I'm working on my self esteem but can see myself being single for a very long time. It is difficult to trust when someone who supposedly loved you treated you like crap and then told you expected too much.

Enjoy your freedom wine

Porffor Sat 14-Jan-17 16:37:42

Really appreciate this thread, not because I can relate, as I can't. I'm one of those 'have never lived alone' and know it's not going to be easy but a small part of me hopes I can cope and appreciate the strength my mum as a lone parent taught me in my childhood.

It's nice to know there is green grass on the other side, I just have to get through the muddy field first.

jeaux90 Sat 14-Jan-17 17:28:07

Great thread! Omg I love living on my own, being financially independant etc I am a single mum 7 year old dd. Been that way since she was 1.

It really grates me that people think your goal should be to be married and I smile and say I'm happy. What I want to say is that I am surrounded by miserable married people who are living in a social construct they feel they can't get out of. But I don't.

After years of being single, very very happily, I am seeing someone who I adore but taking it slow. For various reasons. But I'm grateful for that because I am not sure I could live in a full time relationship again. Ever.

Joysmum Sat 14-Jan-17 17:42:50

I'm in a very good and happy relationship. I'd rather everyone took the attitude that it takes a very special person to make us want to not be single.

Those seeing single people as cynical or having unachievable standards is normal from people who see mediocrity as more desirable than being happily and comfortably self reliant.

Your attitude is the right one. Don't let her shake you in that

HappyJanuary Sat 14-Jan-17 18:19:26

I can't imagine someone being described as cynical for being strong, independent and happy. It doesn't make sense.

I know people who are happy being single, but aren't jaded by their experiences and are optimistic, upbeat people. Why would any of that be described as cynical?

I'm sorry, but I think you probably came across as rather bitter. I think the eye rolling and so on probably came across as if you didn't think the relationship would last, or you thought anyone aspiring to marriage was foolish. I think it's called pissing on someone's parade, and people don't usually like it.

It probably comes down to not saying anything if you can't say something nice, if you don't want to be perceived that way.

And if you're not normally like that then it was a one-off, throwaway remark that you don't need to waste time thinking about.

marzipanmaggie Sat 14-Jan-17 18:31:30

HappyJanuary I think you've misunderstood.

It would have been grotesquely bitter to have eye-rolled if someone had announced they were getting married. That's not what happened. I eye-rolled the fact that someone was asking a colleague who has been seeing a woman for all of six weeks if he was going to marry her. I am not cynical about marriage at all. But I do find it depressing that people seem unable to approach any discussion about relationships without assuming that marriage is the end-game.

And I stand by that. I would never be cynical about two people in love who had decided to get married. But I reserve the right to be mildly irritated that marriage is expected to be the ultimate agenda point whenever two people start dating.

CouldntMakeThisShitUp Sat 14-Jan-17 20:01:37

I think people misunderstand the lack of tolerance for bullshit as cynicism.
After all we've gone through to get here, why shouldn't we call it as we see it?
Why should we allow ourselves to get sucked into playing along with that bullshit game?

I, too, am quite sarcastic which tends to go over their heads a lot of the time.
I'm actually a dreamer and an idealist.....and i believe in faeries grin

trollspoopglitter Sat 14-Jan-17 20:11:32

I don't believe your colleague was actually asking if they were discussing marriage plans at 6 weeks. Most people say that when they are given the impression the relationship being discussed has the potential to become significant for the person, or the person has been particularly "loved up" and enthusiastic despite it being only 6 weeks. In fact, it is usually said in a "goodness, you're head over heels and rushing aren't you" sort of jokey way.

So your mutual colleague must have been pretty happy talking about the new relationship to warrant the comment.

And your response was an eye roll - yup, I'd think you're coming across as bitter too.

Are happy, well-adjusted, independent people not allowed to look for other happy, well-adjusted independent people and wed? Do only needy lonely people marry?

marzipanmaggie Sat 14-Jan-17 23:00:26

trollspoop sorry, I stand by what I said. I think talking about marriage when someone is six weeks into a relationship is really f-ing sad.

Colleague in question wasn't volunteering any of this, hadn't said anything about being loved up at all. Was just discussing the fact that he was in a relationship. Response was "when are you booking the church." If rolling my eyes at this makes me bitter then I'm happy to own this.

HappyJanuary Sat 14-Jan-17 23:11:01

I'm quite cynical myself but surely there are times when we just bite our tongue to avoid being judged a whinyarse.

I mean, what's to be achieved by coming across as disparaging, critical or superior?

For some people, white weddings, soulmates and happy-ever-afters are still their dream, and why not.

Did anyone agree with you, or thank you for enlightening them?

When people announce pregnancies I don't tell them about the pain of childbirth, and when loved up people are all starry eyed I don't point out that 50% of marriages fail.

I'm surrounded by work colleagues at various relationship stages, and manage to keep my thoughts to myself. But of course if you don't mind people thinking you're a realistic, no-nonsense, tells-it-how-it-is cynic then carry on as you are.

marzipanmaggie Sat 14-Jan-17 23:40:09

Happy -- sorry, I get what you are saying... no-one likes someone who deliberately likes to piss on others' cornflakes. I keep having to reiterate this but I wouldn't try to crush feelings or be cynical if someone was getting married.

But surely introducing the subject of marriage to the discussion when someone has been dating someone for six weeks is just utterly nauseating.

I wouldn't say anything to her, but does no one else get this? Am I seriously the only person in the world who gets why this is so tacky and awful? I'm starting to doubt my own sanity. But I would just feel humiliated if I had done this with other people. It's so needy and yuck.

springydaffs Sat 14-Jan-17 23:50:49

Just wondering the gender of the person who labelled you "extremely cynical".

As is so often the case, when people attack is bcs they feel threatened (therefore their stuff) . That was quite an attack there.

springydaffs Sat 14-Jan-17 23:53:59

Plus there's this code out there, the must-be-married/only-legit-people-are-married code - and woe betide you if you break it. I certainly got it when I left my marriage. It was seen as an affront, a criticism.

Their stuff <yawn>

marzipanmaggie Sun 15-Jan-17 00:06:11

springy exactly. I felt in a lot of cases it was implicitly taken as a criticism of their marriages.

Also people would take it upon themselves to read things into my intentions for leaving my marriage. I had one colleague ask me once why I "hated men". I don't and never have hated men, I love men to bits. And haven't given the impression that I hate them. I just reserve the right to choose not to be yoked to one who isn't making me feel happy.

I am a feminist but I try to wear it really lightly. I go out of my way not to shove this down people's throats, not to scare the horses etc. Not to make people feel that I'm judging them. And still I am gobsmacked, in 2017, at how threatened people are by women who choose not to be married.

LoveforPGTipsMonkey Sun 15-Jan-17 01:10:05

is this person who commented, herself thinking of getting married or has just married? If for her it's the holy grail than she was just projecting as you seemed to have devalued her favourite topic/dream.

People in general (in this country for sure) do not feel threatened by divorced women - at all, it's the usual thing as everyone knows the divorce rate. So no need to base your worries on this one woman,. And yes, it was a bit nauseting pushing the bloke onto the subject of weddings when he didn;t even mention it.

AndTheBandPlayedOn Sun 15-Jan-17 07:22:03

I think it was a throw away comment to one up you/have the last word kind of thing. It can be ponied up for anyone who doesn't agree with his/her point of view; or to mask their nosiness to swing the focus off of them and onto you.
A response would be "...with good reason."

DowhatIwanttodo Sun 15-Jan-17 07:34:22

I am very cynical these days about love and marriage and have to make sure I don't eye roll or make a sarky comment. But I have been in long relationships all my life and just been through a messy divorce and it's the first time in my life where I have been happy to be single. In fact it's preferable to me but it's taken me a long time (im 50) to come to the conclusion it's ok to be on my own.

So maybe you are giving off cynical vibes without realising.

Mari50 Sun 15-Jan-17 08:00:38

I'm in the opposite situation, a colleague was telling me how amazing and strong I was and I fear she has mistaken my cynicism for strength and independence!

CatBallou2 Sun 15-Jan-17 08:42:39

I understand, marzipanmaggie. You're experiences are probably different to your colleague's & maybe she doesn't view your reaction as being a lighthearted one. She's overreacted. It doesn't really matter. You know you're not cynical, so don't waste anymore time wondering about it.

I'm newly single and don't want to be cynical, therefore, have become conscious of that. However, I'm not always going to censor how I react or respond.

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