Being single and happy

by Grace aka costofcollege

What If Marriage Is Overrated?

Bella DePaulo, a social psychologist, studies single people.

… For years, DePaulo has been chipping away at the commonly held belief — a myth, in her view and according to her research — that marriage offers unique happiness and well-being benefits. These findings are seriously overstated or misleading, DePaulo has argued, and if there weren’t so much intense social pressure to get married, a lot more people would be single, and many of them might be happier as a result.

Maybe more people should consider staying single, according to DePaulo.

... they are more likely than married people to encourage, help and socialize with their friends and neighbors. They are also more likely to visit, support, advise and stay in touch with their siblings and parents.

In fact, people who live alone are often the life of their cities and towns. They tend to participate in more civic groups and public events, enroll in more art and music classes, and go out to dinner more often than people who live with others. Single people, regardless of whether they live alone or with others, also volunteer more for social service organizations, educational groups, hospitals and organizations devoted to the arts than people who are married.

Most totebaggers are married so that may color their opinions on this topic.  I question the view that single people contribute more to cities and town, but I believe a mix of singles and marrieds makes for a more vibrant community.

What’s your opinion on this?  What have you observed or experienced that influences your view?  How do you imagine your life if you (married) had never married or if you (single) were to marry?  Do you think people have a “personality” better suited for being married or being single?  Other thoughts?


98 thoughts on “Being single and happy

  1. I agree that the prejudice against single people is sort of ridiculous and destructive. We all need community and relationships, but her work shows that single people can get that outside of marriage.

    That said, for me, marriage was the best choice, because it aligned with who I am and what I wanted out of life, and I found someone who shared a lot of those same desires and goals. It was also the best choice for me because I am an introvert and am much, much more comfortable with a few really close relationships than a big social circle. (The thought of me being the life of my community under any circumstances is spit-the-tea-on-the-keyboard funny)

    If I had never married, I probably would have worked a lot harder for a lot longer. I probably would still be in my first condo, or maybe upgraded to one with a better view, and would now be walking to work every day. I would probably have saved more money but wouldn’t have taken so many awesome trips. I would spend far too much time watching TV and rely too much on my mom for my social life, and I would be moderately depressed over the lack of any worthwhile purpose in my life (because I do all of that now but at least have DH and the kids to pull me out of it). And I probably would have kept my nose to the grindstone for so long that I would likely have burned out by now and chucked it all to travel around the world or something.

  2. I think it is more about your personality than your single/partnered/married status. I think the introduction of children affects more of the internal family focus than the external. My experience:

    Before meeting my current long-term partner, I was the one who was involved in a professional organization locally, a civic organization at the local level (where there were subgroups based on interest that met as well as the monthly meeting with a speaker) and the state level, member of an investment club, and participated in activities with friends outside of these organizations on a regular basis. When we moved in together, he said “I never realized how much you are gone.” Fast forward 20 years. I am the one who is still a member of the civic organization (though much less active), am very active in Girl Scouting, am the one volunteering at school, and am the one who continues to see friends (less often than 20 year ago) outside of these organizations on a regular basis. I also have routine tai chi classes I attend that has had a pretty consistent crew for the past two years. It is the class where people check up on each other if someone doesn’t show up when they were expected. Now, he says “Everything is always go, go,go.”

    In contrast, he has a small group of friends that has remained constant over the entire time I have known him. As they are aging, the group has lost a couple of members, but the core 5 are the same. He doesn’t volunteer for anything that itsn’t directly related to a child’s activities and only because I push or child pushes (for example, band this year said every family needed to volunteer at two activities) him to do it.

  3. When I think of what I want for my children, I hope they find life partners and have good marriages. I certainly wouldn’t consider them failures if they don’t and I will be careful to never pressure them to marry, but I think the most successful life involves intimate, strong relationships and marriage is the best path to that for most people.

  4. a topic i can talk about! as you all know i am eternally single. I’ve had 2 serious relationships and they both lasted 9 months. I also had an on again off again for 4 years with someone who turned out to be married so not sure that counts.

    i am very involved. i’m president of my sorority alumnae chapter and an adviser. i volunteer for various things, am involved in activities at work and take various classes as well.

    several ppl tell me that if i was less busy it’d be easier to meet someone but i actually find that I have a lot of free time. i’m also not the type to stay home just because. unfortunately none of my activities lead to me meeting any single men.

  5. I think when there are communities of engaged single people who don’t rely on their families for socialization that being single can be very rewarding and as more people remain single, these communities will become more common. This may be part of why urban areas have more single people- it’s easier to find a peer group. I recently read a comment by a lifelong single person that the 30’s and 40’s were the hardest decades to be single, because most similar age peers are in relationships and/or childrearing.

    I don’t think how many people marry by 50 is a particularly good measure of singleness because lots of people are partnered but not married. Where I live, it’s not uncommon for people to be together for a decade or more but remain unmarried. I know lots of high achieving single women and few high achieving single men. I don’t know whether that’s a statistically accurate representation of the “single pool” or if it’s horribly skewed by the people I know.

  6. @AustinMom – that sounds like the difference between my mom and my dad. They are retiring soon, and I worry that my dad will sit around the house all day while my mom will be busier than ever because she will fill the extra time with even more volunteer engagements, travel to visit friends/family, church projects, exercise classes, etc. My dad was a bit more engaged when we were at home because he would do things that we pushed him to do.

    “I agree that the prejudice against single people is sort of ridiculous and destructive. We all need community and relationships, but her work shows that single people can get that outside of marriage.”

    I agree. I thinking assuming that single people are defective because they’ve never been married or aren’t in a LT relationship is kind of ridiculous, and it’s something that I’ve seen quite a bit. And being single is always better than being in a bad relationship – I’ve seen plenty of examples of that.

    I feel like I could have made a content life for myself without DH, but it’s hard to picture because things have worked out the way that they have so far. Getting married was the right thing for the point we were in our lives and the family we wanted to build, and I hope we are married for many decades. But if something were to happen, and I found myself meeting someone when I am 50, with a college-aged kid, I’m not sure that I would want to actually get married or even live together again. I guess it is hard to picture that too.

    I have one very close friend who is early 40’s and never married. She was very depressed about it when everyone else was getting married 10 years or so ago, but now she seems to have settled into a pretty content, and in some ways, kick-a** lifestyle. I am a little jealous sometimes. I also love that, even though she travels a lot, when she is around, I am able to see her more spontaneously & to go with the flow a lot more than all my married, mom friends who are scheduled to the second and have more responsibilities at home. Our “spontaneous” moments never seem to line up.

  7. “I recently read a comment by a lifelong single person that the 30’s and 40’s were the hardest decades to be single, because most similar age peers are in relationships and/or childrearing.”

    Yes, this is what I was thinking, especially the 30’s. Around here at least, that is the decade where everyone else is planning elaborate weddings & then in the deep end of tiny-kid parenting. But after 40, I think it gets better. People’s kids get older. More people become single due to divorce and aren’t necessarily looking for the same kind of relationship to replace the marriage, etc. But I married at 30, so I guess I’m looking in from the outside on that.

  8. Shhh, you’re going to upset all those social conservative thinkers, like Ross Douthat and Charles Murray, who think that increasing marriage rates among the lower classes will solve all ills.

  9. WCE- I would agree with that statement. I tend to hang out with people in their 20s because they’re single but then we’re at different life stages otherwise. It can be very lonely

    also yes the social pressure can be intense. And I live in very urban location!

  10. There is a big difference between people who are single but have partners (not necessarilly a single lifetime partner), and people who do not have partners at all. I know some of both. The singles who are able to partner up seem to me to be no different from married people in terms of happiness. But I know some who are completely partnerless, and who don’t seem to be able to form those kinds of involvments. And, none of them seem very happy to me.

  11. And just to be more clear – I am not talking about people who are between partners, or who were involved with someone but are not currently. I am talking about people who never have formed a deep romantic connection with anyone.

  12. Mooshi, do you know many technical women who are single? For the women I’m thinking of, I don’t know them well enough to be sure they have *never* formed a deep romantic connection with anyone, but they are either lesbian (I don’t ask) or have observed that their personal characteristics (intelligence, drive, often below-average figures) didn’t draw men they liked and so they have built great single lives (travel, mountain biking, ultimate frisbee, concerts, professional accomplishment).

  13. WCE, is your sister still single?

    My mom used to say “A man who hasn’t been married by age 30 isn’t worth marrying.” Maybe nowadays you could push that up to 40, but it’s still kind of true. Of course BITD that was a way of saying “maybe he’s gay”, and people are much more out about that now, thank goodness. But it isn’t just that. I don’t think the same rule holds for women.

    My sister has never been married but she’s been in a 20+ year relationship so I think that’s pretty much the same as marriage. The only reason she didn’t get legally married in the first place was to annoy Mom. Now Mom’s gone and I think she just doesn’t see the point.

  14. I don’t have many single friends (I don’t have many friends, period!) but my friend who is a widow was the stereotypical “involved in community” person when her husband was alive, after his death, and now when she’s dating someone else. Not sure it depends on the single/partnered status as much as the individual.

    I really wanted to be married/partnered throughout my life. If DH passed away early, I would probably go out and date right away, but I don’t think I would get married again unless my kids thought it was OK and we had a solid gold prenup prepared by my colleagues. ;)

  15. I don’t have time to comment more right now but I’m really enjoying these comments.

  16. RMS, my sister is still single. It’s sort of handy for last minute trips to her South American site. My cousin is also single and a fairly high level human resources manager for a Fortune 500 company.

  17. I know two women from high school who never married. One of them wanted to, but she kept making Very Bad Choices in the men department, and now she seems to have just walked away from it all. The other one wasn’t ever interested, I don’t think. They both dote on their nieces and nephews, have tons of friends and lots of community engagement. I do envy them sometimes, but I figure I’ll outlive DH so I guess I’ll go back to single days eventually.

  18. If DH passed away early, I would probably go out and date right away

    You’re still young and beautiful, so you could do that. Frankly at my age, I suspect (and hear through the grapevine) that the fat, balding, not-very-wealthy men all either want a gorgeous 30-year-old, or else they’re just looking for a nursemaid for their old age. I am skeptical about whether I could find anyone that I could tolerate.

  19. RMS, thanks (I guess?). ;) DH’s friend who just got divorced went out and started dating someone 10 years younger than he. But she still wants kids, so who knows where that will go…

  20. But she still wants kids, so who knows where that will go…

    Yeah, I’ve seen that too. Divorced younger brother of a friend (brother is early 50s) persists in dating 30-something women (he’s very good looking and financially solvent), but they break up because the women want kids and he’s done with that stage.

  21. I think your relationship with your family also plays a role. I have a friend who is in her early 60s, was married for a while, but she could not have kids, and has been single for at least the last 10 years. She is an only child, and was the youngest of her cousins and was not close (never lived close) to them or their children. Her best friend since grade school is married, but no children of her own (took on his as steps). Now that my friend is seeing many of her peers relying on children or younger relatives for certain types of care, I can see her singleness is starting to concern her somewhat.

    I think if you have a close and large extended family, you don’t worry so much about what will happen to you as your peers are no longer available to you.

  22. In my culture marriage and children used to be the be all and end all but not anymore. In the home country young people are remaining single and early divorces have left people disillusioned. Quite a few of my friends are living their lives as professional single women. On the personal front they travel, volunteer and are involved aunts. In their 20s and early 30s there was pressure to marry but as the years pass and their status does not change the pressure drops off.
    The one thing I see is that the expectation is that since you don’t have a family or kids you must volunteer, be out and about. But involvement doses not suit everyone’s personality. I wonder how life would be if I were single. I wouldn’t have DH’s family in the picture which would be a good thing but I would still have my family and my parents who would be worried about me.

  23. CoC, are you questioning the sentence at the top of the last quoted paragraph? I take that to be a summation of the following sentences, which I assume are based on statistics in her research.

  24. I vastly prefer being in a relationship to being single, but the big difference in my adult life was when the nest emptied in my 40s. I may have missed out on a footloose and fancy free lifestyle in my 20s, one that I did not particularly want at the time, but I made up for it later. If DH predeceases me, I would not marry again. Both of my daughters are single. One dates a lot and talks like she wants to be married, but of the guys she sees there was only one marriageable guy in grad school. One has no interest in marriage. She has a very active circle of friends and life outside of work. She does find a fellow every few years for companionship, but it never lasts too long because she really wants her independence. I can see her in her 50s getting together with someone who is also very busy on a longer term basis, but they would keep their separate residences and lives.

  25. Two longterm singles among my relatives. One is off again, on again involved with the baby dad to her kids, so I count her as partnered, at least some of the time. He is a loser which is why she never married him. She seems perenially put-upon, but I guess she is happy enough. The other has no relationship and has never had a relationship, with either gender or anything in between. She has real problems forming human connections and all interactions must be completely on her terms, and very limited in scope… She is definitely not a happy person, not by any scale. So I think that the important variable is the ability to form deep connections with other humans, rather than the legal status of being married vs being single.

  26. RMS – I keep wanting her to break up with him since she is 38 and time’s a-wastin’! But far be it from me to tell other people how to live their lives. ;)

  27. My personal anecdata is that I know more deeply unhappy women in dysfunctional romantic relationships than never-married people, regardless of how often or how long they date.

    To RMS’s point, I’m not sure that the same can be said about the men that I know personally. I’m not sure why that is, or if it is even true outside of my little world.

  28. Isn’t there a difference between permanent Singles and Temporary Singles who will either eventually get married or are single after losing a spouse to death or divorce? Does the research distinguish between those groups?

  29. My brother is in his 40s and has never married. He had some health issues, which I think limited his willingness to date. I wish he would find someone and have kids, because he’d be a great dad, but maybe it isn’t what he wants. I don’t ask him too many personal questions because my sisters probably bother him enough that he doesn’t need me to also badger him. He’s really involved with the nieces and nephews. My siblings and I stay really connected with a family chat on WhatsApp. We are much closer now than we ever were as children. My mom used to joke she had 4 only children.

    My dad remarried 3 years after my mom died. I’m so glad he did. His wife lost her husband a few years prior to my mom dying and they met through a mutual friend. They do a lot of things separately and spend a lot of time apart with families and other obligations, but their relationship seems really good and has brought my dad a lot of joy.

    We’re in the midst of the young kids and managing career stage. There is a lot of joy but a fair amount of drudgery. A friend of mine went through a divorce a few years ago. We were having a girls night and she was explaining to us her custody arrangement. I told her I was jealous of her having a few days all to herself. She said she totally understood what I meant. I wouldn’t want to be divorced, but it would be nice to have time all by myself and to have the house all picked up for longer than 30 minutes.

  30. “communities of engaged single people “. It’s also nice when married people invite us along when they’re doing group stuff. In my experience, that doesn’t happen much. I enjoy being with people who are in different stages of life. We can reflect back/look ahead or focus on whatever commonality drew us together.

    The first seven years of my 30s were awesome. Then I had my child when I was 36, and found it was much more difficult than if I’d had someone else splitting childcare with me. My family was angry that I had a child while single, so absolutely refused to help. I didn’t want to take the time away from him to date then, though I could now.

    I was surprised at my neighbor whose marriage split up four years ago, after about 30 years (guessing, because their oldest is about 30). She has started dating, says it’s hard but she has to put herself out there. I bit my tongue to a kid saying “why?”

    On men getting older and trading their wife in for a younger model: I know of a guy who’s seventy and has done that twice, for a total of five kids.

  31. “CoC, are you questioning the sentence at the top of the last quoted paragraph?”

    No, I question the contention that single people overall contribute more to communities. However, in my quick check of her linked source I could not find the data to support her volunteerism claim. Overall it depends how you measure contribution to community, but just as an example the fact that married people tend to have children that enliven communities is one factor to consider.

    “unfortunately none of my activities lead to me meeting any single men”

    I live around an urban area and in my retired, partial empty nest phase of life I seem to be meeting quite a few single men both older and younger. I participate in Meet-ups and take classes with many single men and women. Some of the men appear to be either weird or losers, but most seem normal and interesting and fun to be around.

    One bit of anecdata, my 20-something female relative who lives in NYC tells me she thinks most professional men her age have set a goal to be married by around age 30. This seems contrary to conventional wisdom about NYC males.

  32. “My dad remarried 3 years after my mom died”

    My parents each have a parent who remained single for more than 30 years after being widowed; neither did anything like dating. I can’t see my dad marrying again, even when his mind was still strong. My mom, otoh, maybe would have, but it’s less likely now that she’s in the middle of old age

  33. Sorry, S&M. I misread your question. Yes I am questioning her on the point in her top sentence of the last quoted paragraph.

  34. Rocky, I should’ve taken the adage about something being wrong with someone who hasn’t married by 30 more seriously. I think the reason I was my husband’s first long-term relationship, close to his first kiss, and the reason he got depressed instead adapting to his new life after making a major decision is that he had never gotten over losing his mother, who had died of cancer over a decade before. His being stuck there was apparent in little things, like the reason he kept his teapot in the living room instead of the kitchen was that his mom had put it there, so that was where it belonged.

  35. “unfortunately none of my activities lead to me meeting any single men”


  36. I like being married. But I am not marrying again. Too many compromises would need to be made. I am not interested in making many compromises when we wouldn’t even have kids together. I bet my husband would get married fairly quickly if I kicked the bucket or we got divorced. He wouldn’t do well on his own. Same with my dad. Unlikely that my mom would remarry.

  37. Lfb- oh heck no. I am not a crossfit fan at all. I work out at the gym at work.

    and yes to including the singles! I have several girlfriends from my 20s who are always saying they miss me but it never seems to occur to them to invite me to the parties they invite their married or friends with kids to. i have one sorority sister who recently invited me to her kid’s first bday and it was great!

  38. lagirl, do you want advice, or are you just venting? It’s completely fine if you’re just venting.

  39. LAGirl, I wish you were closer. By your fourth kid, potty training is no longer an interesting topic of conversation. Do you have any interest in astronomy? If I were you (and I’m weird, so you’re glad I’m not), I’d check out Griffith Observatory to meet people, male and female.

  40. I see quite a few colleagues who divorced in their late 40s. The guys seem big into keeping fit, the women are more social. Neither the men or women seem keen on dating or if they are marrying again. The women have the advantage of being closer to their now high school or college aged kids. They are also done with active child rearing. The guys are not that close to their kids and must make more of an effort.

  41. I am well-suited to marriage. DW would probably say I would not survive outside of a long term relationship at this point. Maybe she’s right, but no plans to try that option out. If it came to that, I imagine I’d date, don’t know it if I’d ever legally marry again. Definitely past the young kid of my own stage.

    I guess stereotypically DW is like some/many of the others mentioned: she has more friends, does more socially / communally than I do right now. I was very involved as a volunteer & board member of my kids’ activities until about 5 years ago; I have scaled back to about 0 since then, but that also links to when I began going to the gym regularly after work. So since mid 2012 I’ve been the work reasonably, go to the gym, attend my kids events, usually do some kind of couples/group thing about every other week, otherwise hang out at home. But I know I need to get back into it and with our youngest heading off to college in 3 months, what better time?

    I have one very close friend from college (best man); one from HS; a few much looser ones around here. DW has bunches of friends with some overlap: book club, church, moms of kids our kids’ ages.

  42. RMS: a little of both i guess. I’ve heard all of the advice. I’m turning 35 this year so its frequently dispensed :)

    WCE: that is on my list of places to go this summer! i love space and sciency stuff. a friend’s uncle recently took me to the natural history museum and it was awesome

  43. Is it late enough for silly stories yet? Laura, tell us about the guys who hit on you at Crossfit! All I’ve got is a guy who struck up a conversation with me in line at UPS, walked me to my car, and gave me his business card. It had been a long time since anything like that happened (here’s to weight loss!), so I was halfway home before I figured out why I had his card! I’m sure you can top that.

  44. Atlanta, all that sounds familiar, including the year between tests. I’m sure this testing industry is also a hints or test prep industry.

  45. @SM: Nonono, I am way too old and decrepit to get hit on there. :-) I was simply noting that it is a target-rich environment, filled with reasonably attractive and nice-seeming people who appear to be anywhere from late ’20s to 40s, plus a few old farts like me. And there is much more interaction, chatting, group support, etc. than in any other gym I’ve ever been to, where IME you sort of go and do your own thing and shower and leave — I have some sort of actual conversation with someone there almost every day, which, you know, for me is totally not normal.

  46. I think it takes effort to invite people in your life with different interests to an event and to make sure that you don’t have 9 mom’s from the kids school and 1 single childless friend. It can be hard sometimes to steer the other 9 away from what happened at school last week. But, if you can get a mix of people, then the conversation doesn’t bore the 1 single childless friend.

    We have a family we became closer to because her oldest and my youngest have been friends since day care. We are often invited to the family birthday as opposed to the friend birthday party. At first it felt sort of weird, but over the last 10 years we have gotten to know the “family” crowd and the conversation no longer revolves about things we know nothing about – like grandma’s last fall or BIL’s job change.

  47. Austin, or just make sure that at least a couple of those 9 moms are considerate and wouldn’t boorishly box someone out. But I expect most childless singletons would be ok with that topic of conversation for a little while, then moving on to others.

  48. Do you like hiking? I know people who met through Sierra Singles.

  49. The only single friend i have is my recently divorced friend, but it doesn’t feel like she’s single because she and her ex still hang out with us together. I invite she and the kids over and leave it up to her and he usually seems to come along (which is fine, he’s our friend too).

    LaGirl – I think my sister met her husband at 34. She had never dated anyone before this (had been overweight her whole life) and they met, got married maybe a year later and now have a four month old.

    I don’t operate well on my own and neither does DH. I dated my high school boyfriend from 15 to 20 and then met DH ten months later. My parents divorced when I was ten and my mother remarried at 15, divorced again when I was 22 and has been in a long term live in relationship with her boyfriend for almost ten years, She would love to get married again (she’s in love with love) but he won’t remarry because he has two economically dependent children. My dad has been with his girlfriend for close to 20 years. He won’t remarry but they live together.

  50. I suspect married/stably partnered childfree people have the greatest “integrated happiness under the curve over a lifetime”. Research says the stresses associated with children typically outweigh the joys (and I chose “childfree” vs. “childless” to imply people who chose not to have children vs. the infertile). For most people, a lifetime of being unpartnered would be lonely, especially given the decline in religious orders that used to create community for people who wanted to be single in community.

    But as CoC notes, I may be too affected by my own biases. I have read about women in Japan who choose to live in communal houses with other women. I haven’t read about men forming similar communities there.

  51. My DH has several good friends that are single. For years they enjoyed the single life, making lots of money, partying it up in NYC, travels to exotic locations with girlfriends. Eventually the girlfriends left because they wanted to get married. And now, these guys all want to get married and have children. Only problem is that they can’t find a suitable mate. In fact, after a weekend trip with them my DH said that they are lonely, that they the lavish life of their twenties and thirties has left them with nothing. I should point out that their hobbies include travel and working out. They aren’t volunteering or participating in civic events like the study suggests.

  52. Lemon – my husband had lots of friends like that. One by one they have all married. Always a younger woman. We joke that everyone marries a 27 year old. Doesn’t matter how old the guy is. I don’t think I would have married a 42 yo when I was 27, but they all seem to be happy enough.

  53. Yes that’s one thing i’m noticing….i”m competing with the 24 year olds and this is LA so they’re quite pretty haha.

    I would like to get married. I want to be a DINK. sometimes I think that if I had settled down in my mid 20’s or rather entered into a long term relationship at that time that later led to married it might have been easier. but i didn’t want to settle down then and now that I do, its hard to find someone i want to settle down with.

    it does make it harder to date when you don’t want kids. several of my friends have decided they don’t want kids but they made that decision as a couple rather than from the outset.

    and i don’t mind hearing about kids! i love other people’s children. but i’ve noticed that there’s some people who can integrate single ppl into their life and then there’s some people who just cannot focus on anything outside of their child and it’s those friends i tend to miss because they were fun people before they had a child.

  54. My mom was alone most of her adult life. Growing up in a large immigrant family she craved individual space and autonomy. He experiences with men were not particularly satisfactory, and she really didn’t make and keep good friends throughout life (in her generation folks left DC to go back home upon retirement). She was undoubtedly lonely some of the time, but she really had a pretty dim view of people. She adored me and in particular her eldest grandchild, but had trouble showing it. She volunteered for 18 years at the local elementary school after retirement.

  55. “but i’ve noticed that there’s some people who can integrate single ppl into their life and then there’s some people who just cannot focus on anything outside of their child and it’s those friends i tend to miss because they were fun people before they had a child.”

    I feel the same way, and I AM a mom. But some of my friends are just not as interesting as they used to be because of their singular focus.

  56. I was single for two long periods of time in my 20s and 30s.
    It was a mixed experience for me because I wanted to be a in a relationship in my early 20s when everyone seemed to be pairing off, and getting engaged. I always had a lot of single friends in the city. It was easy for me in NYC because there were so many people that moved here after college, and it was very easy to meet people at work in training programs etc. I was in a very serious relationship in my mid 20s until I turned 30. We broke up because we were not going to get married, and it took me a while to recover. I dated a lot when we first broke up, but then I entered the dating drought and because I just didn’t feel like dating anyone. I worked a lot, and that areally helped my career and I was able to move into a much higher paying job with much more responsibility because I was single. I met my future husband about 2 months after I started this new job, and it was great because we sort of had parallel lives in slightly different fields. We both eventually moved into new roles, but our mutual friends from work still remain our friends to this day.

    I like being married, and I always hoped to get married because I wanted the stability that I never really had as a child since my parents broke up when I was 6. I was ok with being single in order to meet the right guy. As I was getting older, and more of my friends were getting married….I did not panic and settle. I would have rather been single vs. getting married just to be married.

  57. DH and I have a quite a few friends that have never married. One of them, now in her 50’s, has a serious live-in boyfriend but prior to that I never observed any of them in a long term relationship. They all have full lives, good careers, nice homes and they take cool vacations (some of them with us). Interestingly, they most of them have multiple siblings and lots of nieces and nephews that they’re very involved with.

    A highlight of having single friends is that there’s always someone to go on vacation with. When the kids were younger, DH and I took turns each year going on a ski vacation with our (mostly) single friends. One year my parents offered to watch the kids and we both went skiing. To be perfectly honest, I missed being there by myself. I enjoyed the freedom of being on my own and not having to always consider what someone else wanted or needed to do.

    A friend of mine recently divorced after 24 years of marriage. We see a lot more of each other now, partially because she has more time and both our kids are older now and don’t need us around so much.

  58. My brother isn’t religious, doesn’t drink (or want to be around it), and doesn’t want kids. He is adamant and unyielding in these opinions. It’s a tough combo – most non-drinkers are religious, most religious want kids, most nonbreeders like to drink. However, he has been able to have some long term serial monogamy as he is very upfront about these nonnegotiables.

  59. “As I was getting older, and more of my friends were getting married….I did not panic and settle. I would have rather been single vs. getting married just to be married.”


  60. When I was single (and childless) I was a bit more likely to take fun evening classes and that sort of thing, although that had more to do with the childless part than the single part. I definitely ate out more when married and childless than when single and childless.

    I was comfortable enough traveling alone and generally doing my own thing as a single, but I prefer being married. It’s self-selecting, though — you don’t end up married randomly — you choose to enter into the married state. In other words, all of us marrieds made the decision that we’d rather be married to the person we married than stay single, so if we’re now saying “I’d prefer to be single” something has gone badly wrong . . . (Finn, I know we didn’t all marry the same person, there’s just no really good way to phrase that collectively.)

  61. Ada – he should hang out on the Mr Money Mustache forums – I have a feeling there are a lot of those kinds of people there. ;)

    “As I was getting older, and more of my friends were getting married….I did not panic and settle” – I often think about this. I was very lucky to meet DH at 22, but before that I didn’t do well at being single.

  62. HM, I know what you mean.

    I know what Lemon meant, too, but still got a chuckle out of it:

    ” And now, these guys all want to get married and have children. Only problem is that they can’t find a suitable mate. “

  63. “A highlight of having single friends is that there’s always someone to go on vacation with.”

    Not just that, but the single friends typically aren’t constrained by school schedules.

  64. If I’d met the right guy, I might’ve wanted to be married, but I never put any thought into what characteristics “Mr Right” would have. Idk I’ve probably thought about it in this forum more than anywhere else. if other people talk about this with their kids (I’m being one of those boring people who bring everything back to their offspring), but I certainly do. We both think it would be good for him to learn though observation of me in a relationship, but I don’t see that happening any time soon. It’s been during his lifetime that I’ve realized there are lots of different ways a marriage can work. That makes me more open to one. But not now.

  65. he single friends typically aren’t constrained by school schedules.

    You mean “childless”, right?

  66. SM, yeah, I was referencing the same single friends Ginger was, who I assumed, based on their ready availability for ski trips, to also be childless.

    OTOH, they may not necessarily be childless, depending on custody arrangements.

  67. Being DINKs was great. We still got invited to stuff by friends who were having kids (e.g., 1st bday parties), did most of the same stuff we’d done when we were single (e.g. ski vacations, weekend getaways planned and spontaneous), but also did a lot of stuff with just the two of us.

    Traveling was also a lot more affordable with just two of us than with kids along too.

  68. “Ada – he should hang out on the Mr Money Mustache forums – I have a feeling there are a lot of those kinds of people there. ;)”

    Ha! I think this is definitely true! Only problem is that I think that there are far fewer women than men, especially single women.

  69. You’ve probably seen this, but OK Cupid thinks you need to ask your potential date these questions: “‘Do you like horror movies?’ ‘Have you ever travelled around another country alone?’ and ‘Wouldn’t it be fun to chuck it all and go live on a sailboat?’

    My answers are “hell no”, “no”, and “Dear God no”. DH has traveled around Europe by himself, but he hated it and ultimately wound up joining a group of students being led by one of his former professors. (He was about 20 at the time.)

  70. “Traveling was also a lot more affordable with just two of us than with kids along too.”

    Unlike LfB, I think I would have traveled more if I had remained single. I probably would have devoted more energy to my career, but I don’t know if I would have volunteered more. I have not had particularly good experiences volunteering, but maybe I would have found some civic endeavor that fueled my interest more if I did not have a spouse and kids to suck up so much of my time. Parents who spend so much time in volunteerism – PTA president + various boards + charity drives + political positions + more – amaze me. How do they do it? They must be on the go 24/7.

  71. When you travel around alone as a young person, you meet other young people, some also alone and some in groups, all the time. So you have people to talk to, and you can find people to share a room with or have dinner with.

  72. I meant WORKING parents who spend so much time in volunteerism amaze me.

  73. Ada – does he live near LA? because I’m not religious, don’t drink and don’t want kids. and surprisingly the not drinking has made it the hardest to find a date. i’m in a very long drought right now.

  74. “surprisingly the not drinking has made it the hardest to find a date”

    I don’t get that. Why would a guy not date a woman just because she doesn’t drink?

  75. Finn-I think they see me as more of an oddity. Plus it’s hard to actually meet the guys when you’re not at the bar drinking. I had an entire group of friends stop inviting me when i stopped drinking. There’s an entire subsect of people who feel they can’t be comfortable drinking around people who don’t drink. it’s very strange

  76. I think a group of friends who like to go out for drinks would want a non-drinker along as the designated driver.

  77. Finn-with Uber and Lyft my services are no longer needed :(

    i’ve taken up knitting. which admittedly will not help me meet men but it passes the time.

  78. “several ppl tell me that if i was less busy it’d be easier to meet someone”

    @Lagirl – that has to be the dumbest thing I have ever heard. Keep doing what you are doing.

    I like being married a lot. I like the friendship and I like having someone on my team who has to be on my team even if I did something wrong or stupid. He’ll tell me it was wrong or stupid but he’s still team Moxie and i do the same for him. I do think it is harder to integrate single friends especially when you are in the throes of childrearing. Parent friends understand the interruptions or the need to cancel at the last minute. Now that my kids are older and I’m out and about I’m meeting all kinds of different people, some of them younger and it is just really wonderful and enriching. There are seasons I guess. We have a family friend who lost her husband when she was 80 – they didn’t really have a happy marriage (child with sever disability and daughter who ended up resentful of all the time and attention that went to the ill child) She recently met a man at a class for seniors and remarried and she is like a high school girl. So happy, like walking on air. It brings me such joy to see her and reminds me that you never ever know what is around the corner so best to stick around and see.

  79. Parents who spend so much time in volunteerism – PTA president + various boards + charity drives + political positions + more – amaze me. How do they do it? They must be on the go 24/7.

    It’s time management. I tend to waste a lot of time putzing around, but if I put some effort into it, I’d be able to quite a bit of that stuff. I’m also not motivated enough :)

  80. Off topic, Th night we had an experience of what it means to be served by a small airport. DH was supposed to go to Richmond for a long weekend, with activities on Friday thru Sun. Because of storms on the east coast, all of the afternoon and evening flights from Bos to Richmond were cancelled, and with Memorial day weekend, that was that. Yes, if it were a vital family event he could have taken the train, or a car, or found a flight to DC at a high price and rented a car, but for just a casual trip in the spring, and not the winter when such delays are expected, thunderstorms were enough to force cancellation. I, of course, had girls’ activities scheduled all weekend, and now I need to give him some attention as well, so I guess it is a bit on topic after all.

  81. Meme – it’s the same with our airport also. I learned that it is preferable to take a morning flight because thunderstorm activity picks up in the evening. Even, if it’s a nice summer sunny day in the morning thunderstorms could hit in the evening causing cancellations and delays. Most times in the summer these thunderstorms are local so only our airport is impacted.
    Also, they let the evening international flights go first, cancelling the local ones.

  82. For some flights we have the option to use a local county airport that is arguably more convenient than the bigger NYC airports. But I have shied away from the smaller airport because I know they have fewer flights and if a cancellation occurs the traveler is SOL at least until the next day.

    Thinking of lagirl I wonder how much effort I would expend on finding a partner if I had not found mine by age 30. It’s hard to say, but I do agree that being single in your 30s and 40s is probably harder than in your 50s and beyond. Would I aggressively use dating apps and constantly be on the lookout for a potential partner? Or would I focus more on following my passions and let serendipity decide for me?

    I’ve always found it interesting that it seems some people are always partnered. Soon after they break up or divorce they hook up with another partner. Sometimes those types strike me as needy, but often they’re just the type that blends into a couple very easily and they strongly value that type of close companionship.

    If I were in my 30s and did not want kids I think my most likely marriage prospects would be older divorced men who already had kids.

  83. I had been kind of thinking that I should go do something fun and touristy today (so often we don’t do any of the touristy things in the town where we live), but they’re predicting more hailstorms this afternoon. I don’t know if you noticed, but we had a killer hailstorm a few weeks ago that made the national news. I was caught out in it, and I tell you what, it was scary. I think I’ll stay home with the cat.

  84. We used to use that convenient county airport but the prices really escalated so that now, fares out of there are often double the fares from LGA.

    We usually go away for Memorial Day weekend, but we aren’t this time – kids have too much homework, DD has lacrosse practice, and oldest boy is supposedly invited to a party with his best friends, though as usual he has no idea which day or the time. Once we know his schedule, we may try to do something in Manhattan

  85. So, update on yesterday’s vent: as expected, the Powers that Be have my back and were really upset — if we actually clear the remaining conflicts so they can stay, there’s going to be a come-to-Jesus discussion before we agree they can stay.

    Meanwhile, I was scheduled to do the orientation/ethics training with these guys yesterday, and they bailed — didn’t even bother to tell me, I found out from my secretary when she was trying to set up the tech. (Note: they are legitimately hugely busy, and who in their right mind would want to do training anyway? But be a reasonable human being and don’t waste my time — given that I had worked until 7:30 the night before to revise my materials to address the specific issues we have been dealing with and make sure they understood our systems, I was once again *not* pleased).

    Fundamentally, these guys just need to learn the First Rule of Holes: when you’re in one, stop digging.

  86. DD – I have often thought of taking on a voluntary commitment but at this point it is just too much. Once the kids are out of the house, that should free up time.
    My observation is that working parents involved in the PTO took on a project say organizing the school talent show – that has a short commitment and when you do it one year, you know what it entails. Some sign up for a weekly commitment on Fridays. I don’t think a working parent has signed up to be President of the PTO or even any of officer roles.
    Many at my church have been at their volunteer roles for years. My church tends to have something for everyone from visiting the sick, to organization of food baskets to coaching youth soccer (a single guy and not the dad of any of the kids once signed up to coach my son’s team. He was very organized and took it much more seriously than the parents and the players).

  87. When I need to fly to a smaller airport, I usually go to the nearest larger one and rent a car for the drive. Also, going to Indiana earlier this month we could use Southwest, a real national carrier, not one of those limited regional airlines on which is slapped the international brand name. It is also pretty clear that DH is only marginally up to traveling alone. I would not risk anything that involved more than a direct flight and a cab to a hotel connected to the event venue.

  88. I have too much enforced volunteering at work to be able to take on any real volunteering. I would love to get inolved with local political groups, but no time…

  89. I like having someone on my team who has to be on my team even if I did something wrong or stupid. He’ll tell me it was wrong or stupid but he’s still team Moxie and i do the same for him.

    Sounds awesome. The definition of loyalty –never blinking when the other person does the wrong thing–drive me nuts.

    Moxie, are you basing that on your experiences with single friends, or the usual stereotypes?

    Rocky, no way! Yes, and sure.

  90. Living in W Texas, we could drive ~20 min to a small airport or 2+ hrs to a slightly bigger one. I became familiar with the schedule of flights to and from DFW, because we had to transfer there every single time, whether we were going to San Francisco, Boston, or Houston.

  91. I don’t think a working parent has signed up to be President of the PTO or even any of officer roles.

    I was president of our PTO for two years, and the presidents before and after me were also working parents (outside the home).

    Again, I think it comes down to how you prioritize and manage your time. There are some things I’d like to do now that I could do if I was motivated enough. I’m just not there yet.

  92. I don’t have a lot of interest in the standard PTA roles because those have no real impact on the important things in the schools. Mainly they plan social events for the kids, which frankly I think we have too much of as it is. However, I realized that there are PTA committees and reps that have some power, so now I am a parent rep on the district technology committee. In that role, I feel like I do have some impact, in part because I have actual expertise in the area, and so I get listened to. So that is a tidbit of volunteering that I do.

  93. I was referencing the same single friends Ginger was, who I assumed, based on their ready availability for ski trips, to also be childless.

    OTOH, they may not necessarily be childless, depending on custody arrangements.

    Exactly. That common assumption is unwarranted.

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