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What These Women Love About Being Single

For the first time in history, single women outnumber married women in the United States—and it's because they want it that way. Find out why!

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More women are choosing to be single

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. 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 them today—only one of which is marriage. Many women who choose to be single do so not out of 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. Check out more expert-backed tips to get the love you want.

Megan O'BrienCourtesy Megan O'Brien

Freedom on her terms

A public relations pro and creator of pet organizational company Dogipack, Megan O’Brien is constantly on the go for her business, with downtime in short supply. After nearly ten years of marriage—followed by years of long-term relationships and co-habitation—she relishes being single because it means the freedom to do what she wants when she wants. “If I want to land in Paris on Friday for a little rest and relaxation, I can! And I have. I love the freedom to pick up and go. I also like that the only person I have to run things by is me. Well, me and my dog watcher,” says the entrepreneur, who has also enjoyed a career as an on-camera host and beauty writer. O’Brien wishes there was less of a stigma attached to being single, and that more people could focus on its benefits. “Being single gets a bad rap, I’m my number one priority and I have time to concentrate on the things that are most important to my happiness. I’m not against being in a relationship but it would have to be a spectacular one for me to give up my independence.” Find out how being single can make you a better partner if the right one does come along.

marie leggetteCourtesy Marie Denee creator, thecurvyfashionista.com

Building an empire

“I’ve been single for a few years, but in hindsight, it was much needed,” says Marie Leggette, who runs fashion empire TheCurvyFashionista.com. “As an entrepreneur, being single has allowed me to focus on growing my media brand.” After a relationship left her wanting more, Marie decided to take a leap back into the single life—something initially scary that paid off. “While not an ideal situation and a huge risk, I left my heart in California. My work called me to Atlanta,” Leggette explains, adding, “I’ve also been able to focus on my own personal growth and development via therapy. This way, I’m a better partner, a whole partner, and I can better advocate for myself and my needs. Right now, being single has given me the space to focus on me. Getting to know and love me!”

Lisa NiverCourtesy Lisa Niver

Life is an adventure

For Los Angeles-based travel and entertainment journalist Lisa Niver, life has been a constant adventure—with both good and bad. “I never thought that my personal and professional life would feel so much like a rollercoaster,” she says. After traveling in Asia for nearly two years with her then-husband, she chose to return to America without him. “I remembered I had rented my condo, sold my car, quit my job and was not sure what to do next to start over. I felt I was a failure. My friends insisted that the failure would have been to stay in an unsafe marriage and that I had to choose myself and remember the Chinese proverb, ‘Fall down 7, Get up 8.’ I picked myself back up and started my life over, challenging myself to do ’50 Scary Things Before 50′ as a way to inspire myself to keep going.” Now, as an award-winning journalist and avid traveler—101 countries and counting—Niver’s future is bright. “After a divorce and living in many cities and countries, I can honestly say at 52 years young, I am happy with my choices and so excited for new adventures. There were times that I never wanted to get out of my pajamas or eat anything but chocolate, but with encouragement from friends and family, I rebuilt my life again and I believe my 50s will be my best decade yet!” Those interested in finding a partner will want to know our 29 tips for finding love after 40.

 

Nikki BrunoCourtesy Nikki Bruno, The Epic Comeback

Kicking her career into high gear

A 20-year veteran of the book-publishing industry with a bachelor’s degree from Princeton and a master’s from Harvard, Nikki Bruno epitomizes the idea of a boss babe. However, following a divorce from a 12-year-long marriage resulting in two kids, she’s now more fulfilled striking out on her own. “I’m happy to be single because my soul can sing and grow in the freest, most liberated, most authentic way of my life,” she shares. “I love that nearly all of my choices, successes, and failures—social, financial, musical, professional aesthetic, all of them—are completely my own.” She founded The Epic Comeback™, a post-divorce empowerment coaching company. “I started this business because I went through a three-year high-conflict divorce and it completely sidelined me. After getting to the other side of that experience, I decided to dedicate my skills, talents, credentials, and passions to help other women come through a similar process. I want women to know and understand how powerful and amazing they are.” Now, one of Bruno’s favorite things about being single is the flexibility it affords. “I can be spontaneous or ultra-planned with my time, I can create an oasis of a household for my children and me, and I can get to know myself on myself’s own terms. It’s bliss.” Looking to be more spontaneous in your own life? Here are ways to plan a last-minute trip (without going broke).

Danna Zahran single womenCourtesy Danna Zahran

Putting career goals first

When work is as busy as it is for Danna Zahran, relationships naturally take a backseat. “As a management consultant who has worked at leading global firms, I have an incredible opportunity every day to help clients address unique challenges and solve complex business problems,” Zahran says. With travel comprising a major portion of her job as a super-commuter, over the past ten years, Zahran has been as likely to be in Dallas or Dubai as she is London or Jeddah. “Spending time in new cities and countries is an appeal to somebody like me, who is drawn to new experiences and tends to shy away from routine,” she explains, adding, “The experiences and exposure associated with frequent travel have been instrumental to my career development. But as a woman, spending the majority of my 20s prioritizing and focusing on my career has been no easy feat, often coming at the expense of building new relationships, especially romantic ones.” Like many successful women, Zahran has found men often intimidated by her success, but she values herself enough not to settle for somebody unsupportive—and knows the right person is worth the wait. “The mentors who have inspired me throughout my career are all women who have paved their paths to the top and now share their success with families of their own. To me, personal growth through my life experiences and professional success only make me a better friend, family member, and partner.”

Lianne FarbesCourtesy Lianne Farbes

Waiting for what she deserves

“I’ve never been married—largely because I’ve never wanted to settle for anything less than what I feel I deserve,” explains Lianne Farbes, an account coordinator for Kosas Beauty. “I’ve had several partners in my lifetime, but none that I ever considered building a life with.” Over the course of a thriving career, Farbes created popular beauty site The Makeup Girl, co-created an eye shadow with MAC (which promptly sold out), and consulted with top beauty brands—adventures she relishes—all while raising a son. “I’ve had the opportunity to focus on my career and raise my son, both things that are very important to me. I love the freedom that singlehood has offered me and even though I am in my 50’s now, I don’t think that having a committed relationship is off the table,” she explains, adding, “It’s really about finding a person that fits into my puzzle and sometimes that means compromise.”

layla khaldi and dogsCourtesy Layla

Adventure is calling

“I love being single because I get to do what I want when I want,” declares Layla Khaldi, a former veterinary tech currently back in school. “I love being independent and take risks without having to answer to anyone. If I wake up and want to go hiking, I can or if I want to spend the day reading, I can.” For Khaldi, being in a serious relationship would have prevented her from making a recent cross-country move to Colorado, where she loves the freedom of mountain life. “I was living in Florida but had a job offer in Denver and moved within a month. I did the same when I moved to Park City. I am lucky to have had different opportunities that have led to some of the most exceptional experiences.” Cherishing her independence, Khaldi says, “Honestly, I enjoy not having to check in with someone regularly. I would never have been able to pack up and move all over the U.S.A. if I was in a committed relationship.”

Stacey SoleilCourtesy Stacey Soleil

Finding new experiences

As marketing & technology director of a financial group company in Los Angeles, Stacey Soleil’s career is demanding—and she likes it that way. “I love being an independent, professional woman in my 40s because at this age I finally realize that the secret to my happiness always has and always will begin and end with me,” she says. “I no longer seek companionship to feel complete—instead I seek out new experiences that challenge me, cause me to reflect, push me to learn/grow and most importantly, that just makes me laugh.” While Soleil is open to what comes her way, she’s not seeking it right now. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to companionship and sharing my life with another, however, I’m also not opposed to being single and self-sufficient either. I absolutely value my time with family and friends, however, I also love hiking, traveling and attending social events with my very favorite date…me!”

 

nicole winterCourtesy Nicole Winter

Loving her independence

After starring on the Swedish TV show Svenska Hollywoodfruar (Swedish Hollywood Housewives), Nicole Winter wanted to turn her entrepreneurial streak into a product line, a luxury anti-aging cream called Stråla One. Being single gives her the flexibility to pursue these dreams. “I love being single because it allows me to pursue my entrepreneurial projects and I know I couldn’t do that if I was married,” she explains. “Being single has given me the freedom to work, see my friends, and travel at any given time without any restrictions or feeling guilty. My persistence and dedication were always fueled by my love and commitment to my two sons and family. Whether I was working in Hollywood as an actress or as an entrepreneur, being single allowed me to accomplish better results at home and it allows me to concentrate on my business.” Looking to take it to the next level with your career? These are the phrases that will make you more successful at work.

 

Christabel LoboCourtesy Christabel Lobo

Reconnecting with herself

After coming out of a six-year relationship in her early 20s and moving cross-country from California to Washington, D.C., Christabel Lobo, a hatha yoga instructor and freelance food and travel writer, was left without a strong sense of self. “I had been part of a couple for so long that I subconsciously merged our likes, our thoughts, and our feelings, thinking they were mine. Being single, especially in a big city, allowed me to find me. I took myself out on dinner dates and went to museums to discover what kind of art I liked,” she explains. As a freelance writer, Lobo travels frequently on assignment and relishes not having to check in with anybody. “There’s a certain sense of relief that comes with not having to worry about whether your trip matches with your partner’s time off, or if they even want to travel and experience a certain city with you.” While she does occasionally date, she’s comfortable being by herself. “I love being single because it allows me to get better acquainted with an important person in my life: myself.” Feeling ready for a relationship? Find out what your love language is.

 

Nikki HaskellCourtesy Nikki Haskell

Peace of mind

Over the course of a long and illustrious career, Nikki Haskell has worn many hats: one of the first female stockbrokers on Wall Street, film producer, event planner, TV host, and creator of the Starcruncher. While she’s currently single, her romantic life has had its peaks and valleys, with Haskell marrying and divorcing the same person twice. Now, she’s happy to put relationships in her rearview mirror. “Being single gives me the independence to come and go as I please,” she explains. “If something appeals to me, I just do it—I don’t have to say one word to anyone. I like being with someone but I don’t really think at this point in my life I’d want to do anything more than have a hot and heavy romance. The peace of mind I have comes from being single.” Find out what 6,000 singles from across the world voted as the most attractive trait in a potential partner.

 

Vera YangCourtesy Vera Yang

She loves herself more

After a lengthy six-year engagement in her 30s, Vera Yang, an office manager, decided to move on with her life rather than move forward with the marriage. “He was a wonderful man but I realized that I loved myself more than I loved him,” she says. “Getting married would have required sacrificing a life I had built for myself—my career, my home, my volunteer work, and my cats.” An avid volunteer at the local Taiwan Center, Yang is also the Chairperson for the Miss Taiwanese American Pageant where she mentors young women, something she says her ex-fiance still has difficulty understanding. “Part of my love for freedom is due to being the oldest sibling in a large family. My youngest sister is ten years younger than me; while growing up my dad lived overseas most of the year, leaving me to co-parent my younger siblings with my mom. I have first-hand experience raising a family already and at this point in my life, I don’t want to go through it again,” she explains. “I love being single and the freedom I have to enjoy my life. I’m only responsible for myself and I get to spend time taking care of my three cats, volunteering, and giving back to the community. I don’t have any desire to get married right now.”

 

Anita RivasCourtesy Anita Rivas

Thankful for being single

“I’ve been in long term relationships and I’m thankful they didn’t work out,” says Anita Rivas, a beauty writer. “Why? Because if they had, I would currently be divorced, probably with children living in another state. The relationships were exhausting emotionally…too much work for them not to have worked out,” she reveals. “When I was dating there was always the question of what to wear, makeup or no makeup, where to meet or what to do…most guys on social media view online dating as the frontier of the bar scene. After a decade of dating, I decided it was best to let dating happen organically since social media and dating sites weren’t helpful.” After making the decision to stop dating, Rivas felt empowered and a sense of relief. “I don’t have to consult with anyone regarding vacations, purchases, what to have for dinner, or where to go for the holidays. Relationships are hard, especially the romantic kind! I realized I preferred being single and having the occasional friend with benefits. I applaud anyone who is happily married, engaged or dating, it just hasn’t happened for me—and I’m content with that.” Find out why your friendships can help you live a more fulfilled life.

 

portraitLynn Maggio

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.” Every single parent wants you to know these things, too.

portraitMichele Sonier

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 or 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!” Try these 50 tiny changes to make you a happier person.

portraitRobin Hait

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. Don’t miss even more benefits of being divorced.

portraitLinda Maddocks

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.

portraitLisa Dahl

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.” Here’s how 28 real couples knew they had found “the one.”

portraitCindy Cucuzzella

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 a 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. These stories prove it’s never too late to change your life.

portraitJayme Turner Levy

True love was worth waiting for

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. (Here are the signs your marriage is headed for divorce, too.) 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.” Don’t miss more amazing marriage advice from divorced people.

portraitAliza Burton

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 so 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

The perks don’t stop there, either—you can even have an amazing Valentine’s Day while single.

Lauren Cahn
Lauren Cahn is a New York-based writer whose work has appeared regularly on Reader's Digest, The Huffington Post, and a variety of other publications since 2008. She covers life and style, popular culture, law, religion, health, fitness, yoga, entertaining and entertainment. Lauren is also an author of crime fiction; her first full-length manuscript, The Trust Game, was short-listed for the 2017 CLUE Award for emerging talent in the genre of suspense fiction.
Nadine Jolie Courtney
Nadine Jolie Courtney is a Virtuoso travel advisor and regular contributor to Reader's Digest, covering travel, culture, and health. A former magazine editor based in Santa Monica, she also covers lifestyle and parenting, with regular outlets including The Healthy, Oprah Mag, Town & Country, Business Insider, and many other publications. Courtney is the author of four books, including ALL-AMERICAN MUSLIM GIRL, a Kirkus Best Book of 2019. Follow her on Instagram @nadinejoliecourtney