One of the main differences I’ve noticed between being single at 24 and being single at 30 is that the only men who hit on me now are married.
Sure, there are all sorts of changes to the dating world that have been brought about by the social media revolution – although the technological changes between 17 and 24 meant that the last time I was single I had to navigate the previously unexplored world of flirting by text, so I’m accustomed to gadgets changing the game. But so much has already been written about navigating social media flirting and I really can’t be bothered to flog that dead horse.
I was so naïve when I first broke up with my ex that I didn’t even think to keep an eye out for clues that a man was married. A month or so into being single, I spent a couple of hours in the pub chatting – friendly, not flirty – to an interesting bloke who I then befriended. Several meetings later, over the course of which it became increasingly clear where he hoped the relationship would go, I eventually noticed that he was wearing a wedding ring. And that was the end of that nascent friendship.
Talking to single female friends in their late 20s and early 30s, I’m not alone. It’s as if something happens to our biochemistry around the age of 27 that makes us magnets for men who are already shacked up. One friend spoke of the stack of business cards she’d acquired from men over-keen to emphasise their salary and job title, all of whom had the tell-tale tan line on their left ring finger. Another talked of her shock when married male colleagues started offering themselves for lunchtime quickies.
Apparently, being single in your late 20s and early 30s makes you available. To everyone.
Last year, I encountered a living cliché – the man who spoke in exhaustive detail of his heartbreak over his divorce, the battles he went through with his ex-wife, and the difficulty of getting access to his children. Had I been interested in him romantically, the tale of woe might have earned him a sympathetic shag instead of a bored but sympathetic ear. Luckily, the lack of attraction on my part meant I had nothing to feel guilty about when I met the woman in question – his very much current wife – several months later.
Also? Men, FYI: bitching about past partners doesn’t make you all that appealing to prospective ones. (I believe this is something that works in both directions; I’m not trying to be all sexist about it.)
Back to the task at hand. Because the only men who have hit on me since I became single six months ago are either married or in long-term committed relationships, I have been trying to figure out what the hell is going on. This figuring out has taken the form of discussing the subject endlessly with female friends in a similar predicament, and we have come up with a number of plausible hypotheses:
- Because we’re all old and on the shelf and desperate for a man (yeah, right), we are viewed as an easy lay, grateful for the crumbs from the matrimonial table.
- Because we’re still single at such advanced ages we obviously have no interest whatsoever in marriage and children, so they don’t need to worry we’ll get all attached and try to turn a casual affair into something more.
- Because we’re not burdened with their domestic and family responsibilities we seem more independent and liberated, and are more appealing than the wife as a result.
Married men, what’s your take? Why do you keep hitting on us? And will you please stop?
Kate Walker is F1 Editor of girlracer and Assistant Editor of GP Week. Follow her on Twitter @F1Kate, or read more of her writing at www.f1katewalker.com.