All The Single Ladies

When men decide to stay single, they’re referred to as bachelors. When women decide to stay single, they’re called…far worse than bachelorettes. While researching for this post, I came across the word “spinster” as the feminine equivalent of the word bachelor. In fact, in England and Wales these words were used in official documents for “unmarried men and women” until 2005 when the countries stopped the used of these words.

While the labels are much more luxe nowadays, with shows like The Bachelor and the The Bachelorette, this wasn’t always the case. The bachelor was historically accepted as meaning a “young man who held a bachelor’s degree or followed a knight as his squire,” according to Merriam-Webster. Spinster, on the other hand, referred to “a woman who spins for a living”. Other words used to describe women were old maids. Quite the contrast from the masculine moniker.

As someone with a Masters degree in Communication, I’ve studied contexts and meanings of words at great length. And as a professional writer, I study words and meanings for a living. With that said, I couldn’t help but wonder, what does being single say to us? For those of us who haven’t, and may never make that trip down the aisle, we can be left with the strong impression – from society and peer pressure from our family and friends – that we’re missing out, although this isn’t the case for everyone.

Professor Paul Dolan, a behavioral scientist at the London School of Economics, published research in his book, Happily Ever After claiming that single women without children were happier than married ones. “I had lots of emails from single women saying thank you,” the Author notes, “because now people might start believing them when they say they’re actually doing alright. But more interesting was the reactions from people who didn’t want to believe it.” Imagine that.

For me, personally, if someone comes along who compliments my life, then I absolutely wouldn’t mind being in a relationship, but until that happens, then I’m not willing to settle. But since I don’t feel like a relationship defines me or my happiness, if that (relationship) never happens, then I’m fine with being single. I would love to be in a relationship, maybe even married, someday. But that doesn’t define who I am.

Can I be honest? I don’t know a woman who can’t get a man. Any woman, if she chooses, can get a man. It’s the caliber of men that women are often limited to that influences their decision to be single. Even when a woman chooses to remain single, the idea of couplehood, marriage, or finding a mate is still pushed on by external factors rather than internal. You know, the male to female ratio, availability of viable mates not in prison or living with someone else, bad credit & baby mamas they still “deal with,” you know…

Before you fall victim to the societal standard of living, I think it’s worth exploring what you really want for your life. If you come to the conclusion that you really want to be married because you believe it will enrich your life even more, just say that…I mean, that’s okay. And if you conclude that you’re happy without that, then that’s just as well. In my opinion, women don’t regret being single, some of us regret staying in a bad relationship to avoid the stigma of being single. And not all single women are anti-relationships. Some of us are simply unwilling to yield to what we know we deserve. It’s one thing to compromise. It’s another to settle for just any old thing.

While discussing his book, Dolan claimed that “If you’re a man, you should probably get married; if you’re a woman, don’t bother.” That’s because, after he examined data from the American Time Use Survey to determine the happiness levels in unmarried, married, divorced, separated, and widowed people, Dolan found that unmarried, childless women are the happiest subgroup, adding that they are more likely to live longer than their married and parental counterparts. Of course, there is research to argue the reverse, but I’ll save that for another blog. The author examined benefits between the sexes with evidence to suggest married women live shorter lives due to marital and parental stress. That gives a whole new meaning to the words ’til death do us part,” huh?

Forgoing marriage because you don’t want to die might be a bit extreme, but when asked about the secrets to living a long life, some of the oldest women in world agreed the secret was to stay away from men. Back in 2015, at the tender age of 109, Jessie Gallan, a Scottish woman, offered her advice to longevity: “Eat your porridge and avoid men. They’re just more trouble than they’re worth.” And Gladys Gough, a British woman who lived to be 104, said, “I never got married or had a boyfriend either. That probably had something to do with it. I just couldn’t be bothered with men.” Of course, this isn’t the route that I assume many women would choose, MYSELF INCLUDED, but until the right one comes along, I’m happy to wait until the right one puts a ring on it.


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