I have a pretty good life: great relationships with my family and a fabulous circle of good friends, an active social life, good health, lots of travel, and I support charitable organizations with my money and time. I adore my 13-year-old Yorkie, Danny. Despite all this goodness, though, I still come across people who look at my life and feel sorry for me…because I’m not married. (It happened again just the other day with a woman I met in the dentist’s office.) And I don’t get it.
Marriage is not for everyone, and the high divorce rate corroborates this. And the U.S. Census says that while only 28% of U.S. adults were unmarried in 1970, that percentage rose to 47% in 2010. Plus, a 2011 study by the Pew Research Institute found that the number of U.S. adults who are unmarried is now 49%, a record high. So, there’s a lot of single people out there, and I’m a little baffled why people act like being single is such a bad thing. It’s not.
I’ve been single all my life. In fact, I like the word spinster, though a lot of people don’t. I want them to get over it, because being single –a spinster—is just fine, and I’ve learned a few life lessons for making it work. So, for those who still aren’t quite sure that “living single” can be really good, here’s a few things to think about:
1. Revel in Your Freedom. Being single, I’m not encumbered with many of the restrictions that come with having a husband and children. My time and my money are my own and I can spend them however I want. I love to travel and so I do. I’ve traveled the U.S. and the world, and plan to continue doing so. I can sleep in on the weekends. I can dash out of the house at a moment’s notice –without looking for a babysitter or discussing it with my husband– if someone rings me up and says “join me”.
2. Have Adventure. Pushing the “freedom” thing a bit, I recommend adventure…pushing the envelope…stepping out of your comfort zone from time to time. I want to make sure that I can look back at my life when I’m 90 and say “well done, girlie.” Being single means it’s okay to indulge in a few unconventional behaviors on occasion. I quit my corporate job and started my own company before I had a client, I found myself in the hotel room of an A-List actor, and I took off for a two-week trip to Europe alone after thinking about it for just a week. Had I not been single, these actions could have seemed a bit irresponsible. Instead, they were just fun.
3. Use Birth Control. This is an important one and nothing to be casual about. If you’re not deliberately trying to change your spinster status by having a child, then be very careful. Otherwise, your new nickname could be “Mom”. And all those freedoms you used to have will disappear.
4. Don’t Re-Date the Jackass Ex-. Sometimes being single can get a little lonely. Then, we look around to see who’s available and the ex- starts to look a little better. Don’t do it though. It’s important to remember that this loneliness usually doesn’t last, and is often about something else going on in your life. Figure out what that is and deal with it, because if he was a jackass the first time around, he’s still one. I know this for a fact, so I’m saving you the trouble. A word to the wise should be sufficient.
(My book, The Spinsterlicious Life: 20 Life Lessons for Living Happily Single and Childfree has more on this subject).
My hope is to remind every unmarried woman out there that her life should be celebrated. There is something empowering and rather brave about not marrying or having children if you’re not 100% sure. Admittedly, some single women wish they were married, but since they’re not at the moment, I’d like them to focus on what’s good in their lives. A spinster may or may not eventually marry but, in the meantime, she certainly owes herself a great life.
What are some of the life lessons you’ve learned that make being single work for you?