I’ve been single for so long that it’s not even funny any more… but have I got any chance at all of finding a single man at work?
There are three times a year when I miss having a boyfriend more than most- my birthday, Valentines and Christmas. With the post-Christmas blues in full swing, Valentines looming and my 30th (arrrrrrgh!) birthday coming up in March, the stars are aligning in a holy trinity of rubbishness at my tragic singledom.
Since I caught ‘he who must not be named’ cheating on me two years ago, the advice has been coming thick and fast from my nearest and dearest about how to find love.
My Nan (always my greatest cheerleader) repeatedly tells me how beautiful I am and that the love of my life will find me when ‘the time is right’. Well Nan, I turn thirty this year and have already contemplated Botox and lip fillers… so now is as good a time as any!
My Mum doesn’t comment on it. At all. She remembers how upset I was about the wedding being called off and still thinks I carry that pain with me.
Dad grumbles about how there are no gentlemen left these days. He manages a lot of men in their twenties and probably has good grounds for his feelings on the matter. I once visited one of his building sites when I was 18 and, not realising I was the project manager’s daughter, one of the scaffolders wolf-whistled at me.
I’ve never been allowed to go on site since.
My sister’s advice feels snidely patronising. She’s got the kids, marriage, cushy office job and suburban detached new-build townhouse she always wanted. So her advice about how to meet the perfect man (lifted more or less word for word from that month’s Cosmo) come across as disingenuous.
My friends’ views vary, sometimes on an hourly basis. There’s a sliding scale that runs from ‘This time I know it’s for real’ (a la Donna Summer’s single from the year I was born) to ‘All Men are Liars’ (Nick Lowe: 1990). Their advice on the subject will consequently change depending on their current attitude towards men.
One day I might get insightful play by play commentary about the minutiae of communicating with a man I’m messaging at the time. Right down to the punctuation and how long to leave between responses.
Another time I’m likely to get told to not even bother shaving my legs for tonight’s date as it’s certainly not going to be worth the effort.
The common theme in advice from all quarters of my ecological support network (SWT said I must make my writing relevant to social work!) is that good single men are hard to find.
Nan thinks I’ll have to wait for one.
Dad thinks that all the good men have gone.
Mum doesn’t even want to think about it.
My sister doesn’t know any so relies on churning out advice from magazines.
My friends either think they’re so rare they need to stage manage every little detail of my interaction with them (like fledgling relationships with decent men are some sort of exotic plant that requires specific care to avoid dying out), or they simply don’t exist.
There we have it then. The common consensus is that decent single men are hard to find.
I’ve just confirmed this theory with the ever so scientific method of Googling ‘single men are hard to find’. There are 1,030,000,000 results.
Over a billion pages asking where the good men are or telling us that there aren’t any out there. Thanks Google.
And if these people think it’s hard to find a decent single man, then what the hell do they expect us social workers to do?
I work in a team that is all women. My manager is a woman. The two senior social workers are women. I’m one of six female social workers. Our two students are women (one from the local university and one from a fast-track course). Our administrator is a woman.
My service manager is a woman. The director is a woman. Our principal social worker is a woman.
The professionals I work alongside are at least 90% female too. Midwives, health visitors, primary school teachers, support workers and school nurses making up the bulk of multi-agency care teams. All female dominated careers.
It is a barren landscape. I am bereft of options.
And people wonder why I’m on Tinder
At 25 I was all about “I’m going to go out there and find myself a man”. Now I’m more like “If it’s meant to be, the love of my life will find me sat here in my own home as I watch Netflix while flirting on this app”.
To save me from this fate I really could do with finding someone in the ‘real world’ whose idea of courting is more than one sentence efforts at conversation on Tinder or presenting his genitalia like it’s some sort of grocery on display at Tesco.
Is there any hope for me finding the love of my life at work thouh?
Where are all the single men in social work?
Maisie Macdonald is an English Child Protection social worker. She writes under a pseudonym.