I Am More Than My Relationship Status: A Single Girl’s Journey to Womanhood
By: Tzipora Zelmanowitz
At what age does a girl become a woman? Does it occur at age 12? Age 18? Maybe it’s 21? Or is there some other age or milestone that must first be reached before a girl earns the moniker, “woman”?
Has the 20-year-old married person been given the elixir for womanhood, while the 30-year-old unmarried person continues to search for entry into the dimension of womanhood?
Will I be propelled to the ranks of womanhood if I just shift my focus to marriage, rather than happiness?
Perhaps I need to uneducate myself, quit my job, move back in with my parents, stop paying my bills, doing my own laundry, cooking my own meals and denounce all of my other responsibilities. Maybe that would help.
Because all I really want, more than anything else, is to shed the skin-crawling label, “SINGLE GIRL”.
I entered the dating-for-marriage world (shidduchim) at the young age of 19. I was certain of who I would be marrying. All that needed to occur was his agreeing to date me. Simple enough, right?
I envisioned our story playing out like this: we would date for a month or so, get engaged and then married. He would work, and set aside time every day to learn Torah. I would be a social worker and homemaker. We would have a couple of children. Send them to the right schools. Do all the right things (whatever that means), and that would be my life.
But when the man I was certain I would be marrying chose not to date me, my world fell apart. I was shattered. There was no Plan B. I never considered that there had to be! I never thought that I would have to date other men. Now what?
Almost a year after that life-shattering “no”, I went on my first shidduch date. He was tall, accomplished, intelligent, and he came from a good family—he checked all the boxes. He took me out for dinner and then ice cream. He kept me out for the requisite 3 hours and then drove me back home. There was no second date.
For the next 6 years, I had many one and done dates with men who, for all intents and purposes, could have been “the one”. None of them were.
During those 6 years, I took the LSATs, got into law school, graduated law school and got my first job working in my field of choice.
I had a great group of friends who I got together with regularly.
I was physically fit.
I was paying for most of my bills.
But none of that mattered because I was still single.
As my friends met and married their husbands, it became clearer and clearer to me that I was falling behind.
My degree, my job, my fun life, meant nothing to me because I was alone.
Then, it happened. FINALLY. My dear friend set me up with a friend of her husband’s. He was tall (so I have a thing for tall guys—sue me!). He was funny. He was fun. He cooked. He complimented me. I mean, what else could a girl possibly ask for? We dated for a month—a whole month! And I thought, ‘This has got to be it.’
I didn’t have particularly strong feelings for him, and I didn’t particularly love that he was lazy, unmotivated and lacking in certain religious “requirements”. I also didn’t particularly love that my parents weren’t huge fans of his. [RED FLAGS ALERT FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO MAY HAVE MISSED THEM.]
I overlooked all the red flags. I overlooked them because I had finally gotten past date 3 and felt like this was my chance, and I needed to make it work. I hyped myself up and allowed myself to be hopeful.
And then, HE broke up with me. That’s right—HE, Mr. Red Flags, broke up with ME.
That was a real wake-up call. I had had enough. I could not possibly go on any more dates. I was done. I was burnt out, disenchanted, hopeless and angry.
I think I agreed to a handful of more one and done dates, before finally taking myself “off the market” for 1.5 years.
I needed time and space to gain perspective. I needed to discover who I was, why I was failing at dating, what I could offer in a relationship and what I truly needed in a relationship.
During my time away from dating, I enrolled myself in every form of self-help available to me. I turned down dates, singles events, meetings with matchmakers, and any other opportunity to possibly meet someone. I focused all of my attention and energy on loving myself so that I could allow others to love me.
I learned to love and appreciate everything I had accomplished against all odds. I grew to feel proud of my achievements, regardless of what anyone else thought.
I fell in love with ME. And you know what I discovered?
I AM A WOMAN.
I am whole and complete.
I am like no one else.
I am a lawyer.
I am an aspiring life coach.
I love to laugh.
I love to travel.
I don’t love to cook.
I have an abundance of love to give.
I am both emotional and intellectual.
But the biggest and greatest lesson I’ve learned—and continue to learn—on my journey is that I AM SO MUCH MORE THAN MY RELATIONSHIP STATUS. That even if I cannot completely eradicate the “single girl” label from everyone’s vocabulary, no one can take my woman card away from me. I have joined the ranks of womanhood, and I don’t plan on ever turning back.
For all the Jewish mothers holding their breaths—yes, I am back in the dating game and have been for some time now. I am hopeful that G-d will send the right man for me when the timing is right. And until then, I will continue to live my life to the fullest, keep my faith, and inspire and empower others to do the same.
lives in Kew Gardens Hills, NY and works as a trusts and estates litigator for a small Manhattan firm. She is also pursuing a certification to become a life coach, with a particular focus on coaching singles through dating. Tzipora loves meeting and connecting with new people, and welcomes any and all outreach and feedback. Tzipora can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Instagram @freetobe_tz.