Friday, May 8, 2009

What you Expect VS What you Accept

It's friday morning, and there's bagels and doughnuts up for grabs in the break room. I insist on enjoying my coffee in a "real" ceramic mug, where the heat of the liquid seeps into the nerves of my hands, enhancing the electrical impact of caffeine induction. Thus, I am nuking the cup...when the attractive, 30 something divorced blonde walks into the room and peers down at the carb selection in front of her...
"I shouldn't eat this..." she begins, plucking a cinnamon raisin half bagel from it's cushy home, "it's so bad for me..." she finishes it with a little light cream cheese and takes a little nibble...then adds "this is why I am single."

I am so tired of hearing women say and make similar remarks, giving themselves and their audience the message that their food choices are "bad" and indicate a lack of self-control, and thus leads to something that might be detrimental.

Does she really expect that a bagel is responsible for her being single?

Men may offer side remarks at christmas parties to approaching being capable of substituting for Santa while downing some Eggnog, but there is an absence of recrimination in such follies.

I am so sick of these remarks that I've chosen to speak up when experiencing them. I said simply, "If that half bagel really satisfies you, then I think it's good for you to eat it."

As single people, as women perhaps, as a culture, there's this expectation to always be striving for self-improvement (often via self-denial and self-control) that we often miss the ways that we are already good enough as we already are. Efforts to enhance ourselves can sometimes negate the presence of fulfillment and joy and health. We want to continually surpass ourselves and do more because the effort may falsely promise fulfillment. When I 'get married' 'run the marathon' 'get a promotion' 'read the book club selection' 'start doing yoga' that's when life will begin.

Well, I've never had a guy who rejects a woman for eating a bagel, or even a Big Mac, on occassion. But I do know guys that leave women that convey "nothing is ever good enough for you, is it?" Maybe she should eat bagels more often...

Maybe she should lower her expectations...

and accept what is...rather than what is not.


  1. Amen. Wouldn't society be so much easier to live in if people went into courtship and relationships thinking "Hey. I'm not perfect, but I'm okay. And [insert prospective partner here] is also imperfect. Maybe if we have stuff we want to work on we can do it together, rather than having to do it alone before we'll even try to reach out to another person!"

    I have no problem with aspirational thinking - but when your aspirations devalue the person you are today then you're on a path to misery.



  2. Wow. I have never associated my singleness with my food choices. But I do associate my happiness with my skinnyness. Good point you make. The time to be happy is now (no matter what size I wear). Happiness doesn't begin at size 4 OR on my wedding day.

  3. Yeah, Krystal, this is a good point. Self acceptance is a pretty tough thing for women, it seems. Guys are a lot better at it than we are. I have a theory about partner selection (marriage) and I'm still making observations, so it's only a theory...You should have a list of characteristics that you think are important, actually crucial in a mate. Obviously these should be thought through, not just tall,dark,and handsome. When you find a person who meets the criteria, plus you're crazy about him/her, and the feeling is're there. Your point about lowering expectations can go too far the other's dangerous to think, this one's almost Mr. Right, I can fix up this part and he'll be perfect. Not likely. We arent' perfect. I don't remember everything that was on my list, but Ted has worked out pretty well as a partner so far. The changing expectations is on a day to day basis. If you expect someone to behave like you're in a movie romance for the rest of his/her's unrealistic. Adjust expectations to a real life, or just date. Don't give up on romance: practice it. jules

  4. I believe the same way you do about acceptance of ourselves the way we are. The pressures of society are even greater than I thought they were, and it shows everywhere from commercials to social gatherings. Hats off to you for posting this! :)

  5. I'm afraid I don't have much insightful comment to add to your blog, other than "Yeah, that's right, eat that bagel!" You know I don't get the concept of real food denial. Self improvement can be a nice campaign that isn't always a struggle in the form of control or denial, and should certainly not be a source of unrealistic expectations or lowered self-esteem

  6. But if she's single, isn't there something she is doing "wrong" if she really wants to be in a relationship?

  7. This is a valuable topic - my friend and colleague Jess Weiner dedicated her second book to the issue you bring up here ("Life Doesn't Begin Five Pounds from Now"). We have to carry that torch forward for all of us, not only in our own thoughts, words, and actions, but in how we relate to others who openly disrespect their bodies and themselves, and in the process provide us all with incorrect information (is that bagel with cream cheese really "bad for you" - carbs plus protein, both of which the body needs on a daily basis). Good job - lots of great dialogue we can have here.

  8. Amen! It's more than time we start to realize that our happiness depends on us, and that we need to start living our lives today, not put it on hold until we lose weight, get married, have a better job, etc. What a great post !

  9. It is interesting how you point out the difference between men and women when it comes to these issues. Women are taught since birth, that health and/or self-improvement is all about deprivation and what is wrong with them- don't eat that, you shouldn't be hungry, etc. Men on the other hand are taught to be proactive- you should hit the gym and gain 10 pounds.

    It is really sad that it is so common place for women like your coworker to actually believe she's single because she eats bagels. A man would never see things that way. How do we change this as a society?

  10. Also, have you ever noticed how in our society, it is NEVER ok to not watch your weight? that EVERYONE is supposed to be on a diet? I have a friend who is perfectly normal-sized. No one would ever look at her and think she's overweight. But every few months, she goes on a full-on diet. If you say to her "why are you on a diet, you're not overweight" the answer is "no, but I could be thinner." And don't realize then how this thought process is so common. What's the deal?


About Me

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PhD in clinical psychology. Single. Pushing 30. Suffering Whiplash from the Roaming 20s...Who am I? What do I want? Where do I belong? Welcome to my self-induced treatment, a testament that we can all be a little crazy in our search for significance.