Busted Halo

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July 18th, 2010

Breaking the Unwritten Latina Rules

The perils of being single, Latina and over 30

 
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Nathalia Ortiza and her friend Lisa Fernandez discuss the perils of being single, Latina and over 30.

If you’re over 30 and you’re single, Catholic and female, there’s only one more ingredient that could make for a combustible “cosmo-mojito” cocktail: being Latina. I was born and raised in the U.S. but when it comes to dating, the fact that I’m technically American means nothing to my very Cuban aunt. Up until a few years ago she and several of the women in my Hispanic family hypothetically shopped for the dresses they would wear to my hypothetical wedding. Whether I had a boyfriend or not didn’t matter, because to my traditional family, romantic life is like the setting on your Facebook account: You’re only allowed to choose from a pre-established menu. And if you happen to fall into the “single” or “it’s complicated” category… let’s just say it may create buzz worthy of votive candle lighting and prayer to the Virgin of Charity in El Cobre (patroness of Cuba).

If you come from the typical Hispanic family, getting married before you hit 30 is an unwritten rule you’re bound to. Older Hispanics don’t usually understand that dating today is not the same as it was in their time. I’m sure other cultures experience generational differences too, but Hispanics are blessed/cursed with being traditional and intrusive. This makes your single status a reason to be singled out.

To my traditional family, romantic life is like the setting on your Facebook account: You’re only allowed to choose from a pre-established menu. And if you happen to fall into the “single” or “it’s complicated” category… let’s just say it may create buzz worthy of votive candle lighting and prayer to the Virgin of Charity in El Cobre.

Our elders forget that today’s generations of singles overwhelmingly come from broken homes (Hispanic–Americans not excluded) making us prone to commitment-phobia. Factor in that, from the time we’re learning to say our “Ave Marias,” we’re strongly encouraged to pursue the American dream our parents left their countries for. Then, our high school guidance counselors indoctrinate us to get a higher education and be career-minded. Add in a little something we want — financial stability and self-exploration — and the pressure is on.

When my grandparents married in Havana almost 60 years ago, the only item to check off their “marriage prep” list was love. In fact they didn’t even have a reception. They married when my grandmother was about 18 and (as newlyweds) took in my grandfather’s elderly mother. Perfect circumstances or not, they’re still at it today; and they’re still in love. That is why they struggle to understand how someone past the age of 25 — especially a woman — can be single. That is why sometimes I struggle with it too. They set the bar high. And sometimes I’m not sure the reasons we give for postponing marriage are anything more than a red herring designed to disguise and rationalize our fears and inadequacies to ourselves.

No one in my family has ever actually said they’ve given up on me getting married. All I know is that my very fashionable aunt’s wardrobe talks no longer include mention of my nuptials. She’s moved on to fantasizing over what she deems a sooner-occurring event: the wedding of my 19-year-old cousin.

 
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The Author : Nathalia Ortiz
Nathalia Ortiz is a TV producer and reporter who has worked at Univision Network and several News 12 stations. She is presently working for the first daily Catholic news show called Currents on the NET network. She is also a young, single Catholic who recently moved to New York City.
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Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
  • Vanessa Gonzalez Kraft

    When I was 19 I worked a summer in a shelter for undocumented women and children. Most of the women were from Central America and their favorite question to ask me was if I was married and had children. I kept telling them, “No, I’m 19.” But that didn’t seem to phase them. Then they realized that I did not know how to cook and took it upon themselves to teach me how to cook so that I could get a man, get married, and have kids. It was a funny experience and one that really taught me just how different my experience is being first-generation Mexican-American.

  • Fernando Duran

    Ladies, senoritas. Hermanitas en Cristo. I can only say from reading this article that you are right and that this pressure you receive from your family members is only a gift from God. See it not as a burden, but as way to accept new opportunities that otherwise you Ladies would be quick to reject. If the next man you meet is interested in you for some odd reason, it wouldn’t hurt to get to know them and go on a few dates. On the other hand, if you find someone attractive don‚Äôt be afraid to FLIRT a little and let the guy you think he is worth TALKING TO.
    You are right again that this is a new generation that not only calls for different times in our lives to consider marriage, but also calls for a new way of communication. Lets face it, we no longer live in the 1950 where the guys open doors for you or throw down their expensive jackets for you to cross a puddle. So honesty and clear sentences will be our new way of showing chivalry. Speaking your mind and owning your feelings with the addition of controlling our ever so raging sexual urges; because as we all very know sex is an addition/bonus, not the foundation.
    So Ladies, say yes to new opportunities. Never forget your morals and always strive for divine LOVE.

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