“I’m single and loving it.”
When this phrase is uttered by a woman, it often induces a disbelieving eyeroll and an under-the-breath “yeah, right.” And if the woman in question is in her late 30s or beyond, forget about it — the traditional wisdom is that she must be an animal hoarder who’s simply undesirable.
But according to a new report — and our own TODAY.com readers — we live in a brave new world where it's entirely possible (probable, even) for women to be single by choice and happy about it.
A recent Atlantic Monthly article takes a deeper look at the institution of marriage and why a growing number of women are putting it off or forgoing it altogether. Author Kate Bolick, who shares her own story as a 39-year-old single woman, appeared on TODAY Tuesday to discuss her article, saying, “Today marriage is an option, not a necessity the way that it once was, and that’s revolutionary.”
The number of single adults rose to 50 percent in 2010, compared to 33 percent in 1950, according to census data. And, Bolick writes, “according to the Pew Research Center, a full 44 percent of Millennials and 43 percent of Gen Xers think that marriage is becoming obsolete.”
Bolick says the numbers reflect a cultural shift based on factors including women’s financial freedom due to success in the workforce, increase in college education, technological advances in how we conceive children and the acceptance of "hookup culture," to name a few.
We posted the video of Bolick’s show appearance on Facebook, and were blown away by the response from readers sharing their take on whether women could be single and happy. While some of you were skeptical of Bolick and the concept that someone like her is content (is she lying about being happy?), a majority of you said yes, not only did you believe it, but that you were living proof:
Karen ChattertonI wear a wedding band with holes where eight diamonds used to be — I call it my "Happily Never After" ring. After spending my 20s & 30s looking for Mr. Right and my 40s lamenting that because I had a shelf life I probably would never marry, I finally realized in my 50s that I was happier and more successful than most of my married friends.
Shelley WeaverI love being single. I think that if you can't be happy being single then you won't be happy with someone either. One's happiness should never depend upon another.
Tara BroadwayI'm 33 and have been single most of my dating age. I dont think I have to have a man around or get married. Men are too much stress and I enjoy doing things alone.
Robin Kay SackevichI am absolutely happy being a single person. I have some great friends but I enjoy my alone time. Often I go out to dinner alone and to the movies alone. There is no shame in being single. Actually I think I am much happier NOT being in a relationship.
Joyce ColónSingle life is THE BEST!!! Don't have to answer to anybody; don't have to clean up after anybody; Can go where ever you want to! I am a secure person and have no problem being alone at restaurants, movies, etc...in fact I prefer exploring my surroundings on my own. That way I can take my sweet time and not have to worry about anybody else!!
Another group of readers say they once chose marriage, but are now happily single after divorce:
June StedingYes. I am 62 and have been single most of my life by choice. I married at 28, divorced at 36 and never remarried. I don't think I could or want to ever be married again.
Heather NicholsAfter marrying the man of my dreams and having him walk away from my children and I, I am totally happy being single because I never want to hurt like that again. You choose what makes you happy. It doesn't have to be some guy that makes you happy. My job makes me happy. My kids make me happy. My dog makes me happy. This gorgeous weather makes me happy. Happiness should never be dependent on another person.
Tami ConnerSingle by choice, tried the married life, didn't like someone trying to control my every move and thought. Independent women don't HAVE to have a man in their life to be happy. Those that are posting that it is impossible to be happy without a man/partner/whatever are wrong, it IS possible.
A few of you were candid about the hardships of being single and while you’re making the most of being on your own, it’s more an issue of circumstance than of choice.
Thea BryanWhat choice do you have? If you're single, you can't exactly go buy a spouse. You have no choice. I've been single for four years, few decent eligible men out there. I've had maybe three dates where I would have liked to hear back from them, but didn't. What do you (do)? Embrace singledom and live your life.
Chandra JohnsonI am single and not happy about it! lol... I try to make the best of it. It seems to me that if you have been married and had an unhappy marriage, you are happy once you are single. Since I've never experienced true love, I feel very cheated and unhappy with my status.
Tami St John RankinI was never really able to "embrace" it. "Accept" it, maybe. But, each time I got to that point, an irresistable guy would pop up out of nowhere!
Debbi Adams Brookslove being independent but gets lonely.
What do you think? Scroll down to take our poll and join the conversation on Facebook.