Last night I was out having drinks with a nice guy I’d met online, and we were going through the usual getting-to-know-you type stuff. Likes, dislikes, dating experiences, past relationships, and a few gripes about how tough it is being single. Yes, men complain about this sorry plight as much as the women, so since we all agree there are some pretty foul things being done to each other and we always chant about being “drama free”, why can’t we all just get along?
As the discussion continues on he says “you know what we are, right?” I’m thinking yeah – over 30, single and pretty much stuck unless we settle, and he says “we the leftovers”. Not knowing where he’s going with this, I just sat there waiting for what came next. The guy elaborates by stating “everyone else is either married, engaged, in a relationship or just shacked up, so we are what’s left. We are just here”.
After a minute of letting what he’d just explained to me sink in, I laughed uncontrollably at the thought of it all and realized, damn, he’s right. I am a leftover. Now of course, once I started really thinking about it, the $hit wasn’t so funny anymore. It’s actually pathetic and a little depressing.
Think about it – Leftovers are the remains after everyone is done and sometimes thought of as waste, sometimes not good enough to be taken home. If the leftovers do make it to the doggy bag, who is really excited about something that has been touched and picked on and reheated? Leftovers aren’t really appealing to anyone.
So after what ended up being a very nice date, I went home and went to the must trusted source for information – yep, I Googled “leftovers”. Initially, I only found items related to food but once I changed the search to “leftover singles” baddabing viola’, I had my “ahhhhhhhhhhh” moment.
I stumbled across this article (http://www.cnngo.com/shanghai/life/shanghai-leftover-women-hit-back-085575) written just a few weeks ago by a CNN International editor, about the leftover women in Shanghai. I still feel like I belong on the short bus for not having heard this phrase before that night, but apparently it’s actually a phenomenon that is widely discussed in China. The women over 25, who are single, and born in the 70’s are considered stuck and referred to in a Chinese term – shengnu (剩女). A “leftover”.
The “shengnu” was only introduced in the last couple of years and while no one really knows its origin, it is known that China is pretty hard core with their bias against these women and of course, many of the negative statements about singles are from those who are NOT single. A leftover woman is thought of as lonely and a failure regardless of her success in life and happiness; marriage is the true measure of success in the eyes of the Chinese.
“Love yourself, then love the others” is the motto of the Singles Club, one of the most active online single women communities in China. Thanks goodness these women have an outlet since they’ve being ostracized as losers simply because they’re single and are branded as being too picky, focused on their careers, over-educated and more. All of the same ignorant commentary we have to hear in the U.S., which often times comes from the non-single.
I’ve been telling myself (though sometimes it seems like I’m trying to convince myself) any time I’m in between relationships, I am single by choice. So when I think about the conversation with the nice guy who enlightened me on the term, I think I like what the founder of the Singles Club in Shanghai said – “most leftover women are decent…”