Americans are remaining single for longer and embracing the single life after divorce, and rather than a negative spinsterhood narrative lurking over their heads, there is a newfound, or renewed, embrace.
According to a recent survey from the Survey Center on American Life, 36% of single adults say that having more important priorities is a major reason they are not currently dating. This is heard from 45% of single women, and just 29% of single men. The fact is more and more single people are comfortable as they are. Busy with friends, travel, work, and things that are important to them, bending their life to accommodate a potential partner isn’t their top priority. They are single and loving it.
This isn’t a new assertion. A story almost a decade ago challenged us to not even call single women fabulous, as it was a trope even then. And yet, Sex and the City fans may remember the episode where Carrie oversleeps and her big moment on the cover of New York magazine gets twisted from confident and proud to tragic with the insertion of the question mark… Single and Fabulous?
Consider the question mark gone.
Marriage has been getting less common for a while. A Pew Research Center report published in 2021 found that the share of American adults ages 25 to 54 who are married fell by almost 15 percentage points between 1990 and 2019, from 67 percent to 53 percent. This trend is also visible in reports showing that single women confidently hold enormous purchasing power.
Bella DePaulo has been single all her life, and as she says, don’t expect her to get all apologetic about it. She loves living single.
DePaulo, in her now-famous TedTalk, shares how a close look at the best scientific studies shows that people who get married do not end up happier or psychologically healthier than they were when they were single. She has spent much of her life dispelling that myth and sharing the untold stories that help us understand why so many people choose single life and thrive there, often finding meaning, fulfillment, autonomy, mastery, rich and varied personal relationships, and sweet solitude in their single lives.
Unlike the stories of spinsterhood in the past, women today are owning their independence in a way we haven’t seen before. With female empowerment, there is a deeper understanding to not put up with anything that you don’t want to endure. Women are no longer suffering in silence and no longer wish to settle for less than they deserve.
Michela Di Carlo, founder and chief editor of Crunchy Tales, shared on her blog that “Either through choice or circumstance, many of us at 50 are alone. But that doesn’t mean we feel lonely… We thrive on our own and with friends, enjoying doing what we want, when we want, without having to consider a partner, embracing the spontaneity that being single affords us.”
For similar reasons, singledom is intriguing for the newly divorced, too.
For some people, divorce can be a liberating and empowering experience, allowing them to regain a sense of independence, self-discovery, and personal growth. They may appreciate the freedom to focus on their own needs, interests, and personal development. Additionally, if a previous marriage was unhappy or unhealthy, divorcing and being single may bring relief and bring a sense of well-being. There are many reasons to embrace a suddenly single life, and this is changing our entire cultural perception.
Pride and Prejudice showed the alarm of women getting older unattached with the line “I’m twenty-seven years old, I’ve no money and no prospects. I’m already a burden to my parents and I’m frightened.”
This mentality is firmly a thing of the past.