Still Single on the Upper West Side

A kindly old man in my UWS building elevator asked me if I was married. I politely said no, I am not now, and have never been, married. He looked genuinely shocked. “What is wrong with all the boys today?” he asked.

What is wrong indeed! I have my theories. But let me tell you some of my experiences and you can judge for yourself.

Maybe you will decide it is my own fault— that I preferred my independence, I enjoyed the singles scene too much; maybe I didn’t try hard enough, or that I was too picky; Or…well, you can check with my Mom for more on this line of thinking…

The truth is that I have dreamed of getting married for as long as I can remember. Fiddler on the Roof was my favorite story. I identified with the three daughters’ obsessions with finding a match. I was inspired when all three married their true-love matches; even if they had to defy cultural expectations, move far away, or break with tradition.

Maybe, you’ll think I am single because I have “issues.” Well, yes…but don’t we all? And I’ve done my share of introspection and self-development. I’ve read all the books, followed all “The Rules.”

So, the question lingers…why am I still single?

I moved to the Upper West Side in 1986, as hundreds of other young Jews do, to be part of an exciting and active Jewish community and – of course – to ultimately meet my “bashert,” or soulmate. Someone really special was waiting for me; so I went looking.

I attended the usual synagogue dinners, lectures on obscure topics, wine tastings (I don’t even like wine!); everything from Orthodox Shabbatons (bought some nice long black skirts) to Club-Med vacations (bought some skimpy bikinis). Israeli dancing seemed a good bet for meeting available Jewish men. It wasn’t!

With all the time, energy, and effort I put into this I could have gone to law school. But this seemed more important, somehow. Where was my bashert hiding? I worried (only half-jokingly) that by the time my “bashert” showed up, I would be so angry at him for making me wait so long that I would want to break it off immediately.

The numbers were not in my favor. There seemed to be five women for every man. And the men? They were looking for a woman exactly like their mother, looking for a woman the exact opposite of their mother, or just looking for a mother… and most had looks that only a mother could love.

The men who were considered “catches” had scores of women inviting them to homemade Shabbat dinners, free vacations, and who knows what else? I couldn’t compete…and truthfully, I never thought I would have to. Wasn’t a nice prince supposed to come and save me from all this?

So, I hung out with my girlfriends, all of us in the same boat. We commiserated, shared our birthday dinners, and planned our holidays together. Later, I joined a synagogue for a sense of community and support.

I grew stronger and more confident; an independent woman with strong social ties and support networks. My friends and I enjoyed everything NYC had to offer. I joined a gym and learned to eat well. I became more fully committed to my work and I spent my time and energy on hobbies and volunteer activities.

And, so, now I am at a point where my life seems complete. I am productive, engaged, content, and still single! So, what about marriage? Well…all I can say is..not unless he’s a matchless match!

This story "Still Single on the Upper West Side" was written by Evelyn Levine.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.

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