As Latinas, many of us are born and bred to thrive in a very social culture. From weekend cookouts to not waiting for the weekend to celebrate, the Latinx community is an extremely social one. We love a great party, and we love the company that comes along with it, to the point where one being more individualistic is often rejected by members of our community. Being accustomed to such a social culture can lead to huge misunderstandings in independence, especially when it comes to women.
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Y el novio? culture is a huge part of being Latina, one that consists of going to the family parties and promptly being asked where your boyfriend is, whether you’ve never had one, previously had one, they just simply didn’t come with you that day or you’re just not into men! Nosy tias tend to be the ones asking this question, and it can really be an annoying one if you’re on the receiving end.
Choosing to be alone is often criticized, many taking it as a woman not being able to keep or manage having a man at her side. As part of machismo culture it also affirms the idea that your existence is validated as “whole” only if and when a man is in the picture.
One of the main issues with this question is that most of the time, it isn’t coming from well-meaning people who want to know what’s going on with you because they care. Rather, it can come from people wanting to turn around and go chismear with your mom about it, especially if you’re old enough to bear children. The conversation quickly shifts from discussing your single status to reminding you of a biological clock ticking away that will only make it harder for you to find a partner to have kids with, arguably the worst part of ‘Y el novio’ culture.
Choosing to be single is perfectly normal. Marriage rates for all people have been dropping for decades, and the non-married rate for the Latinx community has doubled since 1960. It’s logical that what follows are Latinas who also don’t choose to have children at a young age like many of our mothers and abuelas did. While many chose to have children young, 30 has lately started looking a lot more like the new 20 to Latinas, as many choose to stay focused on their careers and put kids off until later in life (or choose to simply not have any kids at all).
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We need to reject cultural norms that have made it so Latinas are valued for their relationship status. For many Lainas it’s often not enough to be educated and successful. Being happy and accomplishing your goals without a man (or having goals that do not involve one) is still a foreign concept in the Latinx culture but it’s a reality that is becoming more and more present.
Celebrating those badass mujeres in your life who are choosing their own paths is the most important part of building community, so ditch the relationship conversation and simply ask how they’re doing.