Living Your Best [Single] Life

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?

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16 Responses to Living Your Best [Single] Life

  1. Yes. This post in EVERY way. Needs to be translated in several languages.

  2. Tracy says:

    I had a wonderful experience this holiday weekend when I went to visit my family in another state. My sister-in-law and a married friend of hers told me they are envious of and inspired by my single life. They said they have lived for others all their lives and while they are happy with their husbands and kids they think my unencumbered life is romantic. And it is. I’ve been married, now recently divorced, but never ever did I want children. I’m as poor as I’ve ever been but I’m happier than I’ve ever been. I own my own house. I do what I want. Have lots of friends. Sleep with two giant dogs. It isn’t always rosy but I call the shots in my life. I think the folks who scoff at unmarried, childless women are jealous, (at least my SIL can admit it). I also think they’re threatened that their husbands may stray but they don’t understand we don’t need or want their husbands, because we have choices and above all…class.

  3. Lisa says:

    It’s so great you continue to push this message. It really is an important one and I think it’s becoming more and more important to impress this upon young girls and younger women. So many times the message of “being single is great” is confused with “marriage is bad and you should be promiscuous”, but it couldn’t be absolutely further from the truth. The message you’re spreading is about generating self-esteem from within and choosing your own path, a message that needs to be sent to girls early on in life. They need to learn that getting married and having babies isn’t the only option for happiness out there for them.

    I say this now, because I was scared and confused talking to my 10 year old niece a couple of months ago. She said that she would never be happy, never get married and no one would ever love her. I couldn’t get the words out fast enough, telling her that she has a great wonderful life yet to lead and there’s so much more than getting married. However, getting this message through to a 10 year old is proving to be something of a challenge.

  4. Rhona says:

    wonderful post. I totally embrace my single life and will continue to do it until the day I leave this planet.

  5. y0la says:

    Carolyn

    There’s an online community of happy single women here that I run ……

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/footloosefemails/

    Feel free to join – we’d love to have new members!!

  6. kk says:

    E,
    Thanks for this particular post. I follow your posts often but somehow this one created a rather unsettling feeling for me as I have recently, at almost 36, decided to entertain the idea of marriage. The post made me question if I would give up all these perks or if it would be possible to have all these perks and still be married if one had a partner of the same mindset. More of a rhetorical thought really, but a thought nonetheless. Thanks again.

  7. Carolyn B says:

    If you really want to enjoy your spinster life, go directly to not dating and no sexual activity. You have then annihilated any potential problems with birth control or “future in-laws”. It really can be done….and this life is a wonderful one.

    E, do you have a group within this community who are non-dating, celibate never-marrieds (not necessarily virgins)? I’d like to make more friends with this mind-set. Thanks.

  8. Megan says:

    I have always been on the fence about marriage and kids, but assumed that one day I would get married and have a family. I recently turned 30 and am now coming to the realization that I may actually stay single and childless. I broke up with my boyfriend of 5 years a year ago. I have never been happier. I now travel on a whim, have amazing friends, and I love sleeping alone. Sometimes I struggle with being single, there are lonely moments when I wonder if I only say I am okay with being single because I am afraid no man will ever love me enough to want to be my husband. I have no friends or family members who understand my views on marriage/children. Your blog has helped me remain positive and in control of my single life, but mostly it is knowing that I am not alone in this that has really improved my outlook. Thank you Eleanore!

  9. Cheri says:

    Having been both married and now single, I’ve learned that being unmarried and happy beats being married and unhappy any day of the week! And I agree with you, Eleanor, being able to just up and run to town or sleep until noon or have cereal for dinner are just a FEW of the many, many perks of being single. Also, this time of the year, I am soooo glad to not have to fight about attending or endure spending the holidays with in-laws who I did NOT enjoy being around. The holidays were always dreaded having to spend hours on my precious days off with people that I had very little in common with and only talked about everyone else the whole time, which is not my idea of a good time. As a matter of fact, after my divorce, I was so traumatized by years of dreaded holidays and friend/family gatherings that were so bad for one reason or another (catty family members or other females, awkward conversations, the gossiping, being around annoying children, etc. etc.) that I decided future relationships would exclude that aspect. My boyfriend of over 4 years and I have now never met (or endured lol) each other’s friends or family and it is wonderful!! Taking that stressor out of a relationship is such a relief. We can always choose to go along with the other to the events, if we want, but to date, neither one of us has ever exercised that option. lol My married friends are envious.

  10. Krista Ketterhagen says:

    I just wanted to say thank you for giving me silent support when people ask me why I am not married and why I don’t have children or want them. I truly believe it isn’t for everyone and I think it is fabulous you speak so openly about your experiences. More women need to be open about what they want in life, not what is expected of them. I am glad I found you and Spinsterlicious to help me on this crazy discovery of my life.

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