More women are choosing to be single
Aliza Burton, Michele Sonier, Robin Hait
If you're not married
, you're definitely not alone
. The latest United States Census revealed that for the first time in the history of ever, unmarried women outnumber their married counterparts
. If you haven't noticed it before, perhaps now you will, just as I did at a recent dinner party in New York City. Although I was invited by a female friend, I assumed that most everyone else would be there as couples. As it turned out, the vast majority of attendees were women who'd either come solo or with a friend, as I had. I quickly sussed out that most of these women were unmarried, and all of them, by choice. More women than ever are
making this choice, according to research
, and not as a rejection of marriage, but as a result of embracing the many choices available to women today—only one of which is marriage. That was definitely the vibe I picked up at the dinner party, and as I began talking to more women about why they like being single and what they see as the benefits of being single, it became even clearer. It is not
a desire to be alone but, rather, to be fully engaged in their lives. They're open to the possibility of a committed partnership
, and some are already in
relationships. None, however, is waiting for another person to make her whole.
I gained self-awareness
As a married mother of six, Lynn Maggio, felt pampered and cared for. Life was good, but she didn't feel that she fully inhabited her life. For Maggio, the choice to be single was about finding herself as an adult, a mother, and a woman. "On my own, I am far more aware of who I truly am as a being," says the on-camera host who was crowned Mrs. Alabama America in 2012, is the mother of six kids, including eight-year-old twins and a five-year-old, and has been divorced and happily single for four years. As a result of her divorce
, Maggio has started down the road of becoming the best self she can be, which includes having recently purchased her own home in her own name. "Of course, we all want that perfect soul mate," she adds, "but until one can truly be independent and happy on their own I don't feel they can be a good partner. I'm finding myself and enjoying it. I'm continuing to learn who I am and what it is that will make me the best person. Only then will I make the best partner to the most amazing person."
I stopped waiting for my life to start
About 18 months ago, at the end of a four-year relationship, it began to dawn on Michele Sonier that not only
was she no happier in the relationship than out of it, she was also
no happier out of the relationship than in. In other words, the common thread was Sonier, and it hit her for the first time in her adult life that her happiness depended upon herself
, not on her relationship partner. It's no coincidence that the end of this relationship coincided with the end of Sonier's 23-year Wall Street career and a move back to her hometown of New Orleans from New York City (she splits her time between the two). With time on her hands and the freedom of being fully single, Sonier made the decision to travel to Cambodia and Haiti to work at various orphanages. She made three trips in all, and learned life lessons she never thought imaginable. Even so, the biggest takeaway was the realization that all these years, she'd been waiting around for her own life to start. So she went back to school to study alternative medicine, and she enrolled in flight school and has earned her pilot license, which was a lifelong dream. Whether Sonier's next "chapter," as she calls it, involves more volunteer trips and using her pilot license to fly at-risk animals to new homes, she's going to be writing it herself. "I'd never have come to such a place if things had gone differently, and I am very happy and more secure than I've ever been. I'm doing good in the world by doing the things I love to do, on my own terms. Being happy with myself and for myself feels incredible!"
I would rather be alone than with someone who isn't right for me
Whether it was a function of growing up as a "latchkey-kid" or simply the way it was in her family, Robin Hait of Atlanta grew up feeling that she was largely responsible for mothering herself. By the time she met the man who would become her husband, she was ready to let someone else take care of her, and that is what he promised, virtually instantaneously in fact, she says. They met, courted, married, and had three children, all within seven years. When Hait finally had time to assess, she realized that the Robin she knew was gone. "I had melded into my husband," she recalls. "By contrast, he had checked out." Before the kids hit their teens, the marriage was over, which should have been a relief, she says, except it didn't turn out that way. The divorce
was traumatic for her and the children, and in its wake, her entire focus has been on healing—both her own and her kids'. "Would I have chosen a traumatic divorce?" Hait asks rhetorically. "Of course not. But it's how it went. Instead of being bitter, I've been rolling with it, and frankly, it's one of the most fulfilling things I could ever dreamed of doing, knowing I'm doing right by my children. Plus I'm so proud that I'm relying on myself once again. I don't know why I felt the need to relinquish that, but I'm glad those days are behind me." If Hait does date again in the future, she'll take it slower this time, keeping in mind what she's learned—that it's far better to be alone than to be with someone who's just not right for you.
I'm not tied down
Linda Maddocks grew up in New Hampshire, went to the Rhode Island School of Design, and then moved to the East Village of New York City, where she became a graphic artist who designed socks. Then one day she realized that she'd grown tired of New York City and was ready for a change. "Things that I'd always loved about the city began to weigh on me. It seemed dirtier, uglier, smaller, and more expensive by the day. And although I had lots of friends and a full social life, I hadn't partnered up with a man for any length of time," she explains. "So, I wasn't only ready for a change, I was free to make a change, and I liked it that way." Maddocks chose Portland, Oregon for her next perch. She heard it was clean, friendly
, and fairly cosmopolitan. The move has been good for her, and she even met a man with whom she's involved in a relationship. "Charlie's been married twice," Maddocks explains, "and he's just not up for another go of it, but that's fine for me. In fact, it's perfect." Maddocks likes the way things are. Unfortunately for her, the market for graphic artists in Portland hasn't been nearly as favorable as she'd hoped, so she has begun to explore the job market in New York City again. "Charlie is totally supportive," she says. "He's not threatened by the possibility of my moving. He knows it's going to be challenging, but he also knows it may be what I need to do for my career." Maddocks is a free spirit, and Charlie knows better than to try to clip her wings.
I don't feel any pressure to label things
After a divorce, Lisa Dahl, a personal and health and wellness coach
, based in Bolton, Massachusetts has never been happier in a relationship than she is with her partner, Rick. Both have been married before and both have children from their marriages; between them, they have three, the youngest of whom is 16. All three are "extraordinarily different from one another and are very rarely in the same place at the same time," Dahl says. This means Dahl and Rick get to enjoy each other as a couple. "We live together, we've built a home together, and we're here by choice," Dahl says. The two of them dream of building a 52-foot sailboat and sailing away to some far-flung island at some point in the undefined future. If and when they get married, Dahl makes it clear, "our life isn't going to change at all, not even one bit. And that's exactly how we want it."
I can focus on my career
Too often in marriages, the woman's career takes a backseat to the man's. Cindy Cucuzzella's was no exception. "I met my ex when I was 22 years old and just about to start law school," Cucuzzella recounts. "We married five years later and I practiced law for several years until after my second child was born." She'd like to have continued practicing, but her ex was a very busy physician who didn't help much with the kids. Cucuzzella has no regrets about doing what she felt was best for her children, but every year that went by left her feeling a little more powerless and a little less confident. "I lost myself in the last half of my marriage," she confesses. When her marriage ended after a decade, one of the first things Cindy did was get her law career back on track
, no small feat in the profession notoriously unforgiving when it comes to long leaves of absence. It took many months of pavement pounding and continuing education, which included commuting to New York City three days a week from her home in Delaware for a time, but Cucuzzella is now practicing law once again at a large firm in Delaware.
True love was worth waiting for
Jayme Turner Levy
Jayme Turner Levy met the love of her life
when she was 19 and on an extended visit to Israel. Then she met and married someone else. When that didn't work out, she met and married someone else. In between, she lost her sister, raised her nephew, lost her mother, and helped her father settle in Florida. Throughout all of it, there was one constant: Shmaia, the young man she met when she was 19. When she and Shmaia met, she wasn't ready for marriage, but they formed a strong and deep connection that endured across the continents and over the course of her two failed marriages. In 2003, after her second divorce, she and Shmaia spent several weeks together in Israel, but she had to go back to Florida because of her nephew, and Shmaia wasn't willing to leave Israel. Nevertheless, their connection endured the distance, and in 2013, in the wake of Turner's father's death, she had a moment of realization. "On the morning of my dad's funeral, I called the man I'd been seeing [in Florida] for some emotional support, but he only wanted to talk to me about practical matters. It wasn't what I needed. A moment after I hung up, I got a call from Shmaia. He had gathered a group of men along with a rabbi to recite the Jewish mourner's kaddish for my father at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, and he wanted me to hear. It was exactly what I needed at exactly the right moment, but it was so much more than that. I realized that Shmaia was what and who I needed." Two months later, Shmaia came to stay with her in Florida, and he and Turner affirmed their commitment to one another in a Jewish ceremony, creating what Turner refers to as a "covenant," that runs deeper and stronger than any marriage either of them ever had in the past. The other catch is that Turner and Schmaia's plans do not include living in the same country. Shmaia returned to Israel, and Turner remains in Florida. They see each other every few months, and talk on FaceTime several times every day. "We love each other, and we don't need or even want to be around anyone, even each other, all the time," says Turner. "Shmaia and me, we're a team and the miles between us don't change that."
It's more fun to be alone
It's not like Aliza Burton has anything against getting married. In fact, she's already done it three times. The fact that each of her marriages ended in divorce didn't put her off to marriage either. She's open to marrying again. However, for now, she's loving her life exactly as it is—she lives alone although she has a boyfriend and a grown daughter—so much in fact that when we asked her to tell us her favorite aspect of being unmarried, she couldn't "commit" to one. Instead, she rattled off a long list that includes, "in no particular order":
- Going to bed when you feel like it
- Waking up when you feel like it
- Not having to explain why you need to work through dinner/the weekend/the night to get "it" done while you 're still in your "zone"
- Eating what you like (or not) and when
- Having the whole bed to yourself
- Watching all of The Handmaid's Tale in one weekend
- Living where I'd like
- Arranging my furniture the way that suits me (and my cat)
- Wearing what I like to bed (including that ratty t-shirt from college)
- Not having to mix your dreams with someone else's and seeing them compromised
- Having your friends/your students/your colleagues over any time you'd like (as long as you'd tidied up first)
- Going where you want on vacation
- The house/apartment is exactly the temperature you'd like it to be
- Your bedroom is as dark as you want it to be especially on weekend mornings thanks to those dark out curtains you bought
- No-one asks you what all those bottles are for in your medicine cabinet or on your vanity.
- Both closets are yours. You know what to expect when you get home—your cat will want to eat and your evening is your own.
- The only family you'll have to put up with is your own