Can a woman really be single and happy? It’s ridiculous that we’re even asking this question. (And we’re asking it rhetorically; the answer is a resounding yes.) Because even in 2018, there’s a tendency for people to assume that if you’re female and without a steady partner, you must be unhappy, weird, or halfway to being a future cat lady, particularly if you’ve already passed the big 3-0.
While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wishing you were in a relationship, the opposite is also true: Being single is not shorthand for being desperate. Below, six women who are over 30 and love their uncoupled lives share why they have no immediate plans to give up singledom—plus how they deal when family and friends refuse to believe that they are truly, seriously happy.
'My priority is having fun, not getting wifed'
“I’m 30 years old, and I’m at that point where I’m supposed to find a partner and start a family. But the truth is, getting married and having kids is not something I ever really think about. To the dismay of my parents, I’m not on the hunt for a husband (though I would love to be a mom). Right now, my priority is to have fun and not get wifed. For me, navigating the world as a single person is simple: Do what I want when I want!
Here’s an example. Last weekend, I went out and even put on makeup and a dress, which I typically don’t do. But I had the best time. I started at a bar and in seconds, a group of guys invited me to join their conversation. We hung out there for an hour or so, and then we went to a different bar, where I made friends with a new group. To top it off, I got home at a reasonable hour, which I always prefer, allowing me to make it to my morning CrossFit class.
In my opinion, being happy is something every individual, single or not, has to work on. I can choose to be happy and do things that make me happy, or I can choose to be miserable—so I’ve chosen the former. I can be happy being single or happy being in a couple. I just happen to be single right now, and I am 100% okay with that.”
'I've stopped caring what family and friends think of my single life'
“I spent years thinking that if I found the right man, I’d be happy. But as time passed and I was still single, I realized no one can make you happy until you are happy with yourself. That’s when I finally decided to do things to make me happy and enjoy being single. That’s exercising, going to the beach, seeing movies, and enjoying my own company and thoughts.
I’ve stopped caring what family and friends think about my single life. For years, my mom wanted me to get married and have babies because all her friends’ kids were getting married and having children. I had to tell her this maybe would not be my life—maybe I was meant to do something else. She’s still disappointed, but it’s nothing I worry about. I’m living my life, filling it with hobbies, activities, trips, and friends, and I’m loving it.” —Wendy, 51
'When I run into someone I haven't seen in a while, they say I'm glowing'
“When I was 34, I walked out of a 12-year relationship. I had this deep feeling that something brighter was on my horizon. I was right. Embracing singledom took some time, but now, at 36, I’m happy, single, and loving life. When I run into someone I haven’t seen in a long time, they usually tell me how happy I look, that I’m glowing. Hearing this just reinforces the fact that I made the right decision to leave the comfort of my relationship.
Did I feel pressure from society (and friends and family) to get married when I was with my ex? Yes. Do I still feel it now? Yes, at times I do. But I don’t let myself live in that pressure. Instead, I go out with friends, read, and take part in other things that bring me joy. If love does find me, it will come when it is supposed to. I’m not going to rush that one bit.” —Jessica, 36
'Not being in a relationship gives me freedom'
“When I was in my 20s, I was in a healthy and beautiful relationship with a man I envisioned building a life and family with. And when that relationship ended, I responded by building an intricate labyrinth of walls to protect myself from feeling pain. I avoided connecting with anyone. I felt an emptiness I didn’t know how to fill. Instead, I focused on my career.
After 10 years, being single seemed natural. I was finally ready to get to know myself, to find out what makes me happy, and to focus on doing those things. So I spent the next few years developing an adult relationship with my parents and sister, being an incredible aunt, being a great friend, and honoring myself. I made friends and found new passions (like cooking and working out). Not being in a relationship gave me the freedom to explore those things for myself.
I don’t feel any pressure from my family or society to conform to the marriage tradition because I don’t put that pressure on myself. For me, being single is a choice, and it’s one I’ll make until I meet someone who will honor me as a woman and who will understand that I will not settle for less than I would give myself.”
'My happiness, my health, and my friendships come first'
“As a single Latina, I’m constantly hearing y el novio? from relatives on every single holiday. My family is very traditional and can’t imagine anything worse than being single (and not looking for a man) at my age. It gets annoying, trust me. And now that my older sister has a husband and kids, there’s more pressure for me to find someone.
But I don’t want a relationship; I have a few things I’d like to challenge myself to do before I answer that relationship door, if it ever comes knocking. Right now, I’m focused on myself: Working my ass off, walking around my house in a bra and panties, drinking beer on my couch, binging on Netflix, and doing face masks with my friends. My happiness, my health, and my friendships come first! Right now, I need to be single for that to happen, even if my family doesn’t understand.”
'Handling the pressure of being single from family and society is an everyday battle'
“From ages 17 to 29, I was in a relationship. So when my last relationship ended, I had no idea how to be single; I had to learn how to be single. At first, I was lonely. But slowly I explored and developed new hobbies, I made new friends, I traveled, and I even traveled alone. I became happy, and I was happy while single. I continue to be both.
But handling the pressure from family and society feels like an everyday battle. As a 31-year-old South Asian woman, I’m considered ‘old’ and past my prime for marriage. I have to hear about marriage all the time. I handle it by making it very clear that I have no intention of rushing into a relationship just for the purpose of being married. I don’t need to be married to get a car, or a house, or even a child.
So when I begin to feel the weight of all that get-married pressure, I remember this: This is my life. I’m the one living it. Not my family or everyone else. I only have to do what I want. Marriage or a relationship are not what I want right now.”