Societal Pressures and Relationships

At AAUW we spend a great amount of time discussing ways to combat the gender pay gap, end sexism, and stop oppression. Yet there are deeply ingrained aspects of society that are complicit with the subjugation of women and often overlooked. These are common place, everyday statements, generally used as standard small talk, such as:

  • Are you married?
  • Who are you dating?
  • You need to start dating, let me set you up with (insert relative or friend) You don’t want to be single forever.
  • Aren’t you lonely?

There is an unbelievable amount of unrelenting pressure to be in a relationship, any relationship. As a single woman in my 30’s this is an issue that I regularly encounter in both professional and personal settings; most often by people who are near strangers and honestly have no business asking anyone these types of questions. Single men probably also face these questions, and it is just as invasive for them. People think this shows they care, but in reality they’re putting their own definition of norms onto other people. Even more disappointing is, I feel the most pressure from other women. 

While this is an ongoing battle in our society that will not be changed overnight, there are things you can do. 

Actions You Can Take:

  1. Ask different questions during small talk
    1. Talk about the weather (good, bad, hot, cold, sunny, overcast)
    2. Ask about hobbies or volunteer work
    3. Share an exciting and positive news headline
    4. Talk about an adorable animal video or story you heard
  2. Don’t assume that your experience with relationships is the best practice or only option. 
    1. Many people are single by choice, whether they are asexual, are recovering from an abusive ex, or just enjoy their own company.
    2.  It is not up to you or society to pressure them into changing their relationship status. 
  3. Everyone deserves a healthy relationship of their choosing. Need help getting out of an abusive relationship? The National Domestic Violence Hotline is here to help: 1.800.799.SAFE (7233)