Being a single woman seems to signal one or more of the below, depending on who you're talking to:
I had never even considered the social status issue until Bri mentioned it. She says that whenever she goes to family dinners and other events all her relatives seem to treat her with more respect than her older cousins because she is, after all, a married woman. It's even far better to be divorced than to have never married of course, at least then you were (at some point) desirable.
In the ideal world, the majority of people would much rather be in a good relationship than stay single. However, we don't live in such a world and it is far far better to be single and happy than to force a relationship where one should not exist. If there are any major issues before you get married e.g. weird habits or tendencies, marriage is not going to solve them; if he beats you, run girl run; if you know he's cheating - run faster, there are many diseases out there nowadays.
For some, meeting a suitable partner is the key issue - working too many hours, going to the wrong places, being too picky all reduce the pool of potential partners.
Take working long and arduous hours. I have some friends in their late-thirties who as twenty-somethings grafted so hard that they barely had time to eat, let alone meet men. Even on the odd occasion that they managed to socialise they were too exhausted to put any effort into looking. Importantly, they still thought they were too young to get married but in one fell swoop (it seemed to them) they went from 27 to 33 and a good portion of guys their own age were hitched. Having spent a decade or more building a career and a wealth base, a second problem is born: you demand more from a partner.
Even if you are not at all superficial, if you have worked hard to achieve a certain status, you will prefer a partner that matches those things. When you're young and have nothing to your name, a guy with nothing to his name but potential looks rather good. Fast-forward ten years, the same guy doesn't look too good. You have a mortgage, an investment portfolio and preferences. At 24, you were pretty flexible and accommodating. Messy or disorderly housemates didn't annoy you but by 33 you've gotten accustomed to your own ways. I found that after just one year of living on my own I became extremely intolerant. My mum came to visit and placed the butter on the wrong shelf in the fridge and that really ruffled my feathers. After throwing a mini-tantrum I decided I would find a housemate and learn to tolerate others again. I didn't like the new me.
This is just one example, however, with the passing of time everyone begins to take a firm stance on issues and some of these will reduce the type of people you are willing to accept in your life.
The advantage of becoming financially independent is that you can make the choice. You have a lot of options to hand. There are many out there who have lost themselves in a marriage. Their individual identity has become marred in a mishmash of compromises. They, without putting much thought to it, have wound up with a life different to the one they had imagined but remain powerless to change its course. Powerless because they don't have the economic capacity to escape their situation. To the untrained eye they may seem happy but really, this sort of coupling is not superior to being single.
Happiness, joy and laughter are completely possible if you're single. There is no proven correlation between being single and being unhappy. Being single is not synonymous with loneliness. You may very well have a full life as a singleton with innovative work-arounds for physical needs; although what those work-arounds might be, I'd rather not expound.
By Heather Katsonga-Woodward
I'm always thinking, debating, considering and revising my views - some of those deliberations will be shared right here.