The Real Difference Between Single and Married Women



8151554773_4e0b0fc41a_sLast week, I was honored to take part in the filming of a documentary by the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) on single people around the world, called Flying Solo (to be released, Fall, 2013).  As you probably know by now, there are more single people than married people, for the first time in U.S. history.  What you may not know is that this trend is happening all around the world.  In just about every developed country, the number of single people is rising.  (As in the U.S., some are single for life, some marry later, others are divorced but at any given point in time, the percentage of singles is trending upward.)

Scott Harper and his crew showed up at my apartment around 8am to set-up. IMG_0388We filmed for 3-4 hours, including a lunch I had with some girlfriends at Eolo, an Italian restaurant in my neighborhood.

It was at this lunch that I was reminded of one of my favorite blog posts by another blogger.  Scott asked us something about the difference between single and married women.  I paraphrased a line from a blog post by  Jen, at Sheality, a blog written by five women: “It’s about what you’re willing to tolerate; being lonely -or- being annoyed.”  Here’s a lift from the Sheality post:

“I have a theory. There are only two kinds of people in the world: lonely (and single) or annoyed (and in a relationship). I think we all have a higher tolerance for one – either you’re better at being lonely or you’re better at being annoyed. But they are really your only options.  Either you’re lonely or you’re annoyed.

I mean sure – early love is great and you want to be with that person all the time. When you live with someone, you can get a hug at the end of a long day, or someone to make your coffee in the morning. I have been there. But sooner or later, the lust wears off and their annoying habits and idiosyncrasies start to surface – like I don’t know –  their breathing – in and out, in and out, in and out…

When you are alone, sometimes it is awesome – like when you are so comfy because you have the whole bed to yourself. Or no one is around to judge you when eat an entire can of frosting or don’t wash dishes for a week. But sometimes you want someone to talk to, or make you tea when you’re sick, or have sex with you.”

The first time I read this, it was like a lightbulb when off in my head.  Aha!



That’s it!  It is a perfect description of me.  I, a single woman, am much better at tolerating the occasional loneliness I feel than I would be at tolerating the frequent annoyances I feel I’d have to put up if I lived in the same house with my (non-existent) husband.  One of the other single women at the lunch agreed that this description also fit her well.



And the married ladies? They also thought it fit them.  They acknowledge the continual annoyances they must tolerate when sharing living quarters with their husbands, and also acknowledge that they’d choose those annoyances over living alone.

I love it! I think this is the perfect analogy. (Actually, I’m not sure it’s a true analogy…but you get my point.)  I now have the answer I can give to concerned people who like to ask why I’m not married:  “I choose loneliness over annoyance.”  To me, one’s not better (or worse) than the other, they’re just different.

Can you think of any other non-scientific comparisons that explain this whole “single vs married” thing?  Make it fun!





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29 Responses to The Real Difference Between Single and Married Women

  1. Donna says:

    I definitely prefer single over annoyances. Even when dating someone for awhile, I get to the point of “am I going to have to do this forever???” I start getting close to dating someone and think, “ugghhhh…. do I really want someone who is going to demand my time?”

    I don’t know that I ever really feel “lonely”. If I do, I just go workout, watch a movie or go to bed. I also have a daughter living in the house, so I wonder if when she moves out, I’ll feel differently, but I certainly can’t imagine bringing a man into my home while she’s living here. I’m definitely not in favor of blending my family.

  2. moh says:

    I hate to be the one to say this, but i think i fall in the category of the ones who prefer the annoyances over being alone. I’ve been into 2 serious relationship and though they were rife with problems especially at the end I still miss being with my partners sometimes… coming home to someone, talking over issues and event the annoying fights..sadly being alone takes its toll on me, coming home sometimes to an empty home and no shoulder to cry on….I guess for me the worst part is the switching that i experience, i really don’t have a one particular go – to person, but a few of them, and some of them are not always available.. especially at dawn when i cant sleep due to deep worries… having said this I suppose if I had a better job it may have reduced my need for external sources of comfort and advice. Sadly when one expresses to people that you prefer annoyance to being alone , people tend to judge you as incompetent/weak because you cannot handle being alone……

  3. Mark says:

    I’m in a relationship now. And it definitely fits description of “Annoyances and in relationship”. Infact, it will be annoyances with anyone you’re with… sooner or later. I’m seriously considering “lonely and single”, realizing there’s nothing anyone can offer me that I don’t already have within me.

    My biggest lesson: I’ll NEVER be a complete free expression of consciousness that god has given me… as long as I’m in a relationship.

    Why? Because relationship take focus away from YOU, and puts it into satisfying the other. All the while, sacrificing your own happiness, being-ness…. and true expression of who you are.

    EG: If you love to give to others because that’s what makes YOU happy, and your partner doesn’t appreciate that, then you’ll obviously stop giving to make your partner happy, at expense of your nature/happiness.

    And yes, I realize everything I’m saying is my point of view, and it may change over time. However right now, after being in a relationship, this is what my intuition is telling me.

  4. Stacy says:

    I am actually glad i never got married, I have been with losers and creeps in relationships over the years and I could never imagine me marrying any of the guys i have been with over the years, my longest relationship was 4 years and i am so glad i never married the loser. Single is sometimes better than being married, better being free and happy than married and miserable.

  5. marie says:

    I think the real question is which will offer you with the most peace. For me, it is single, completely alone. Can you stand the silence? Most people cannot, oh well to each his or her own.

  6. Ella says:

    Thanks for posting this – I’m enjoying reading your blog about the single life at 50. It’s so interesting, and definitely necessary in today’s marriage-is-the-end-goal world.

    I’m struggling a bit right now… I am 24. Young, budding career. Smart, driven, ambitious.

    I’m in a serious relationship, we’ve been dating for years and living together for over a year. I love him, I really do. I’m still very attracted to him, and we compliment each other and fulfill each other’s lives on a daily basis. I still have an independent life and we share a good balance. Sometimes I’m lonely within my relationship, and it’s work, but all-in-all I love him and I’m happy here.

    Buuut… Sometimes I wonder about this other part of me: I could totally see us getting married and spending forever together. And, yes, that would make me happy. But what would I miss? The other part of me sometimes thinks maybe we should just break up, to see what else is out there. But I can’t walk away from my love and happiness. I know I could be single; I don’t mind being alone and focusing on my career, hobbies, my dogs… But why throw away something great, something that everyone else seems to be chasing? The grass is always greener – right?

    I guess, I wonder what I would regret more… living with a husband or living single, alone. It’s different experiences, different lifestyles…. I’m just at the fork, wondering which one to pick when I’m fine with both annoyances or loneliness….

    • Eleanore says:

      Ella: write back in awhile and let us know what you decided. Maybe you can do a guest blog post?

      • Erika says:

        Well, I can say this. I was married at one point and had/have two children from that marriage. Now I am divorced raising my two alone. Even though my divorce was painful, I felt the relief of living without a spouse immediately. It was like a semi-dark cloud was lifted. I was in a fog and didn’t even know it until it was lifted. I wasn’t even the one who initiated the divorce. I was clueless to my unhappiness. Now I enjoy life to the fullest that my finances will I get every other weekend to myself. To spend how I want to spend it. My house is mine, run by me, decorated by me. I spend my money without anyone questioning me. But most of all I got to know me again and that is HUGE…..In other words I have been on both sides of the fence. Currently I’m LOVING this side. I always get asked why I am not married again. I am surrounded by friends who have remarried for he second or third time. Now my answer will be “Because I prefer loneliness over annoyance”…HAHAHA!!! That will make them think.

  7. Shannie says:

    While not a perfect comparison for everyone, for the majority, that is pretty spot-on! There’s far too much emphasis put on being married as a girl from the time we’re children; we’re given baby dolls and taught how to emulate our own mothers, growing up we learn that if we act and dress a certain way we’re more likely to get the attention from people we want as a means of getting dates or further, and as an adult many women are made to feel awkward past college if they’re not married, have children, or have either event planned in the near future. I once had a boss who constantly remarked how odd it was that despite the fact that I was pretty I didn’t have a man constantly coming to work to check on me, and told me that there must be something wrong with me because of this. He also felt the need to remind me that I was all of 27 and didn’t have children yet; again, there must have been something wrong with me.

    I was raised to be a wife. I’m far more domestic than most girls my own age, but I was also raised with the focus of “when you get married and have kids” as an inevitable goal. I ducked out of arranged marriage, and over the years have been engaged three times, none of which ever resulted in marriage. But there was always that fear of being lonely, so dealing with whatever was making me unhappy was preferable to being alone forever. Right now is the first time I’m solidly single, completely on my own, and being forced to be entirely self-reliant. Frankly, it’s awesome, and the sense of freedom is completely unmatched with anything else in my life.

    Yes, I fall into the category of being lonely, but there are ways to work with that, I’m finding. I don’t have to alter my schedule and needs to suit someone else. I can plan a weekend and go have fun on my own. There’s a lot less stress involved in being single and occasionally lonely; I don’t have to worry about how much income another person is generating and freaking as much about the bills because of it, if the house needs cleaning I don’t have to gripe at someone else to help me clean something I didn’t dirty, and there is a satisfaction in being the “auntie” to everyone else’s kids in that I can spoil them, play with them, hype them up on sugar, and then give them back. I really think if we took away the social training and stigma placed on marrying and having kids as the end goal for everyone, people would be less afraid of being alone and find they’re better at a lot more things than they think they are or are ever told they are. :3 Kudos to the women who are wives and mothers and who are genuinely happy – one of my besties is one of them, and she has an amazing family and incredible husband. I, however, think I’ll take a little time to fully explore singledom and my freedom. A little loneliness seems like a fair price. <3

    • Mark says:

      Shannie, what is your age? I’m finding same. Always wanted beautiful woman. Got her. Now I know there’s nothing anyone can give me that I don’t already have within me. Love, appreciation, respect? It’s all within. I really see no point of relationship unless person is looking for “completion” from another opp sex.

  8. Jennifer says:

    Just because I have reached a certain age DOES NOT MEAN I AM NOT AS VALUE AS A MARRIED WOMAN. Please understand most single older women as myself are strong, self reliant and assured that there is a place in the world for us. We just conquer more understanding as to what the truth really is. NO artificial body parts and no assembly required. I know thousands of ungrateful married women whose attitude smells like rotten eggs. For now I stick to Brady bunch at 4:00 until some one can give me some faith into spouting a job and opportunity for me. be well ..

  9. Nissa says:

    I’m not sure I agree. For me, it’s more of a plus vs minus. For example, my dog sometimes poops on the floor or breaks into my purse to eat my chapstick, but it’s still worth it to me to have her quivering furry love at the end of the day. The plus is greater than the minus.
    I genuinely feel (having been married) that so long as the equation ends in the positive, it’s worth staying. If it’s not, it’s not. My experience was that my love and compassion always won over irritation over non-dealbreaker events
    (cheating,lies etc being dealbreakers; love of the three stooges is not). This was true even after 14 years. I found great satisfaction in giving love, which created a lot of my happiness. I also married someone who I greatly admired, so I had things to balance out the negative. Though I always needed more alone time than my ex, it was never difficult to get. It was easy to get him to spend time with his male friends for stuff I hated anyway (action movie and beer night, ick). I do believe that it made a big difference that we did not share a bathroom or closet and my bed was a California King. Interestingly, it was more lonely at the end of my marriage, being next to someone who didn’t love me, than any lonliness that has occurred from being single.

    • Grizzly Bear Mom says:

      I agree with everything you said from the dog is worth a little poo on the floor to it being lonelier trying to have a relationship in a bad one, than living single. Better to be single than wish you were. :):):).

  10. K says:

    Hey, what if you’re single but you want to be married? But you struggle to find the right partner? I think there should be a third category… I hate being lonely and I wish for being annoyed lol 🙂
    (Not that there’s anything wrong with wanting to be single! …but not all single people want to be that way…)

  11. Joanna says:

    I agree with Dana. While it’s true that marriage requires putting up with another person’s annoying habits, that’s not all it is. There are tons of reasons that marriages don’t work out, and they usually have to do with people being dishonest with each other or themselves (i.e. dishonest about finances, dishonest about whether they even want a relationship, etc.). It doesn’t usually end just because someone can’t remember to put away their wet towel after a shower. If you go into marriage with the knowledge that the other person has flaws that you’ll have to adapt to, and YOU also have flaws that THEY will have to adapt to, things take on a different light, in my opinion. Maybe some people are single because they don’t want to adapt to other people’s annoying habits, and that’s fair. But the discussion isn’t complete unless you also consider that the tolerance of annoyance goes in both directions.

  12. Rhona says:

    Agreed! This post is so fitting for me. I get so annoyed very quickly that I could never imagine being married or even being in a relationship very long. Or, I should say living with a man. I know I would tell him to leave or say hurtful things for him to leave my space just to have some time alone. The thought of being with a person for that long (like in marriage) is horrifying! I would rather, in a billion years, be alone than have to deal with other peopls annoyances all of the time. Family is enough (in a good way).

  13. Janine says:

    My situation echoes Eleanore’s and I’m unlikely to have a serious relationship in the future (I’ve had just one to date!), however it is funny how nature gives us that little pair of rose-coloured glasses when we first fall for someone, and we see all their flaws and idiosyncrasies as simply adorable until they morph into hugely annoying, even intolerable.

    As I get older, this honeymoon period gets briefer and briefer, it seems. Recently I went out with a friend of a friend who, despite being handsome, is brain-damaged, bipolar, semi-alcoholic, works nights and isn’t up for a relationship. Winner-winner-chicken-dinner, right? Well I do live in Sydney, and this is the kind of guy that’s available once you remove all the gay and attached men. I thought he was fabulous.

    He was about to go on holidays for a few weeks and I couldn’t wait till he got back. I was fixated, and he brought a smile to my face every time I thought of him. However – and I know the “time of the month” comes into this – when he returned and we hooked up again, any semblance of romance and longing had disappeared. I saw him crystal-clear, warts and all, and we both said, “Let’s be friends”. I’m sure we meant it, too, as we move in a similar circle. But I was like, “What the hell was I thinking?”

    Rather than mope in misery that I’m single, I thank Mother Nature for robbing me of the prolonged agony of the great love delusion that so often withers and dies, leaving us resentful and trapped. I think the married lady above is very lucky, but from my observations, she’s in an increasing minority. For a start, fewer women are willing to tolerate unfulfilling relationships, and fewer men are willing to commit now that it’s so easy to get a quick fix via internet dating. It really does come down to the individual though, and luck. There is no “wrong” or “right”.

  14. Dana FKA Smokie says:

    I would like to keep my response lighthearted – I really would – but the marriage part is pretty inaccurate and erroneously depressing, in my opinion. When I was single there were bouts of loneliness, but nothing extreme. I was OK, but life could get pretty hum drum and I often wondered, “Is this it? I had fun tonight with the girls, but there’s only so much fun we can have.” Or, “Dating is cool, but I wonder how it would feel to be cherished as if I’m someone’s rib?”

    Now that I’m married, I am never lonely and I find life to be 98% fulfilling. I can do all of the things I enjoyed as a single lady, PLUS have a loving husband by my side to go through life. We are a team and it feels good.

    I’ve been married 6 years, so it’s not so new, but it’s still great. I enjoy learning new things about my husband, and at the same time the familiarity is comforting and makes me smile. We anticipate the day that our 17 year old sons will go to college so we can sell the house and get a low maintenance condo — and walk around butt naked at will. I still get goosebumps when I look up at my husband. I’m sure it helps that I married someone who I respect, am very attracted to, and consider a real friend. We like hanging out together, vacationing together, dancing to rap and ballads, building dreams, etc. We just really enjoy each other’s company. Our arguments are rare and sometimes I try to make a mountain out of a molehill just to get some new fire going. That’s always fun and different. LOL

    My life was OK before my husband, but he made it so much better and so much more FUN. I can totally be myself: introspective one moment and wild the next. We have the same values, we’re both traditional, and we work hard and play hard. I can’t lie and say that marriage, for me, is putting up with annoying habits. My son has more annoying habits that my husband! I married a southern gentleman and, frankly, I’m having a blast. Marrying after 30 is the way to go. You know who you are and exactly what you want. I would have never settled for someone who annoyed me to any great extent. I could have just stayed single and let my girls annoy me b/c they can be so good at it. LOL! I think some people are made for marriage and others are not. That doesn’t mean either situation is bad…just the right situation for YOU.

    • Eleanore says:

      Thanks for writing, Dana! Sounds like you have a great marriage. I think you summed it up well with “some people are made for marriage and others not.” And I totally agree –and have always said– one’s not better than the other, as much as whether it is the right situation for you at the time. Sounds like you guys are having a good time! As it should be

  15. Pam says:

    I always tell my married friends that I wouldn’t make a good wife because I would kill my husband when he did the things their husbands do….I love this ‘analogy’. I chose to be alone over being annoying and unhappy.

    • Cindy L'Esperance says:

      Very similar to my view! When someone dares to ask me why I’m not married (so rude! who goes around asking people “Why are you married”?), I say “I’ve never met anyone I wasn’t pretty sure I’d end up killing.” All those little annoyances make me positively homicidal.

  16. Dee says:

    “a primary reason for what you stated in your post is the world is full of people trying to turn a moment into a time and holding onto a relationship long past the expiration date. Instead of getting out they further confine themselves to something & someone that should be DONE. We all know the stories of women who caught men cheating but he proposed so all is well…NOT. The couple that can’t get along, break up to make up decides the remedy is to have a kid.”

    Very true, Goddiva! Well said. I think this also speaks to people’s extreme fear of being alone. Somehow it seems better to be in a terrible relationship than none at all. I think singles who refuse to be in such drama are actually the stronger ones. We face societal pressure and judgement and yet stay true to ourselves.

    Now, like you said, if it’s a healthy and mature relationship then go for it! I’m all for it.

  17. Goddiva says:

    Ooooh my! This is ‘US’ (spinsterlicious women). Love it….and a nicer way of putting what I normally refer to as women with high or low bull s*!t tolerance: Political wives, wives of athletes, staying w/ cheat’n beat’n men, outside relationship breeding dudes etc. This woman will proudly profess the longevity of the relationship, this is a high BS tolerant type since she would rather be annoyed than alone after all “having a man” is validation that she is worthy. The low BS type enjoyed the campaign but called it quits when she realized now that he won she would be expected to smile on cue, tells the baller the gifts/trips and dinners are swell but stifles a laugh when he says he wants to recruit her permanently (as 4 groupies wait impatiently for him in the back of the MAYBACH. Yep, I long learned that I would rather be alone than in a “relationship” and feel lonely. Been there and that’s long pass. Yet some women spend decades living like that.THEY can have annoyed!

  18. Dee says:

    Great analogy! It’s perfect. Thanks for sharing that blog article.

    It also reminds me of how much marriage and being partnered is celebrated, when in fact, I think there are many, many, many unhappy partnered people out there. Just look at the divorce rate. It’s funny that even though most relationships don’t work out or last forever (and many end very bitterly), society still touts relationships as being the preferred way — even at the cost of living a peaceful life.

    I’m not saying one lifestyle is better than the other, but give us singles a break because coupled folks don’t have it all figured out either. If they did, the divorce courts would be empty, Judge Judy would have less cases to preside over and Maury wouldn’t be in the DNA business! If that’s the price of coupledom — I’ll stay single for-eva!

    PS. I don’t mean that all partnered people are in Maury situations; it just illustrates the what I’d consider the ultimate annoyance about being in a relationship.

    • Goddiva says:

      Dee, a primary reason for what you stated in your post is the world is full of people trying to turn a moment into a time and holding onto a relationship long past the expiration date. Instead of getting out they further confine themselves to something & someone that should be DONE. We all know the stories of women who caught men cheating but he proposed so all is well…NOT. The couple that can’t get along, break up to make up decides the remedy is to have a kid. Yeah on Lifetime TV that’s the cure but in real life no Hallmark. When its done with maturity, honesty and realistically coupledom is a beautiful thing. But for me even then I need quiet Sunday’s, control over my remote and my own self imposed time out corner. According to my mother I have been this way from the moment I could crawl to a corner of seclusion nto be left alone.

  19. Jane says:

    I think that’s a fairly accurate breakdown. To me lonely is occasional, but whenever I’ve lived with anyone (family, partner, friend) annoyed turns into a regular thing fairly quickly. And annoyance over time will eventually turn into bitterness.

    I also think people are notoriously bad at picking which category (lonely or annoyed) they fall into. There is a fear of being lonely, but not a fear of being annoyed/bitter. In truth, they can both be equally destructive.

  20. CLV says:

    This analogy is perfect! A lot of things about me made complete sense to me when I read this. 🙂 I am simply very bad at tolerating the annoyance part of a relationship and always make the choice to stay alone. Most women I meet in daily life though are exactly the opposite. Thanks again for this blog that keeps me knowing I’m not the only who prefers to be single, and that there’s nothing wrong with that!

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