A study at Northwestern University questioned what decisions Americans regret the most. Researchers found that "About 44 percent of women reported romance regrets versus 19 percent of men. Women also had more family regrets than men. About 34 percent of men reported having work-oriented regrets versus 27 percent of women reporting similar regrets." While the study focuses on the "psychology of regrets," I think it's important to analyze the results from a gender perspective. Why is it that women have more romance regrets than men? Is it that more women have romantic regrets or are more women willing to admit their regrets? We live in a culture that punishes men for having emotions, so that may be one piece to the puzzle.
I think this study demonstrates the gender divisions that still exist in relationships and in the workplace. Women are defined by their romantic relationships while men are defined by their careers. This is a problematic association that is apparently still thriving based on the results of this study.
This weekend I went on a hiking trip with a friend (Yay!), and we spoke for a long time about the pressures we feel when speaking with family members and friends about being "single." While the little feminist voice inside my head tells me not to, I have been asked with such a frequency over the last few years that I do feel ashamed for not having a boyfriend. It as if people assume that I'm not a complete person if I don't have a significant other, and while I do think relationships enrich your life, I don't need one to be a "complete, fulfilled" person. I like myself, and I'm waiting for someone who likes me just as much as I like myself.
Another intriguing aspect of this study is that the "typical American" ranked "self" as the least source of regret. Regrets are mostly attributed to romance, family, and education decisions. I think this finding says something about the way people always look to external factors to explain their behaviors instead of looking into themselves. It's always difficult to take responsibility for our actions.