Once upon a time there was a fear of being ‘left on the shelf.’ In the 1950s it was common to marry in your early twenties and soon start having children. This was your role as a woman. Once married it was expected you would stay that way, ‘until death do us part.’ What was wrong with you that you hadn’t found a husband and started a family by the time you were in your late twenties? Attitudes and times have changed.
These days women are marrying later in life and some do not marry at all. Some live in some other form of relationship but there are those who prefer to live the single life.
Women are expected to have a good education, be employed and support themselves at some stage of their life. Some hold leadership positions, including in politics.
These days women have a wider range of jobs available to them than in the past. There is legislation aimed at providing protection from inequality and harassment. Women receive equal pay for equal work, although there are still some inequalities in the amount of money women earn. Women are able to borrow money and take out a mortgage if they choose.
There is a range of contraception options which provides women in general with greater freedom than in times gone by. Having said that, there are still many unplanned pregnancies.
Some women have children by choice within a relationship and then things change when a partner dies or the union breaks down. Being single with the responsibility of children to bring up is a different situation from having only yourself to take care of.
There can be advantages to being part of a couple whether that be a marriage, a de facto relationship or a stable girlfriend/boyfriend arrangement. Ideally you share the chores that need to be done, support each other financially, look after each other during sickness, discuss things and have agreeable company. If there are children you share the responsibility and fun of their upbringing.
Being single when you have only yourself to be responsible for can also have its advantages because you:
• Have more time to develop your own interests and get to know yourself properly
• Don’t have to explain to someone else why you are doing things a particular way
• Are free to pick your own friends and spend time with them
• Can express yourself without worrying about your partner’s reaction
• Tend to become more independent
• Develop skills you wouldn’t if someone else was there to do it for you
• Are free to choose how to spend and save your money
• Are free to move or travel (if you have the finances)
• Can put more time into your career if you choose
• Can make the choice to change jobs or set up your own business without it affecting someone else
Attitudes to being single have changed. However, there is still pressure from many quarters to form a permanent relationship and having children is often seen as a desirable part of that relationship. Many women have a strong maternal urge and want to experience motherhood. Single life does not suit everyone and there are plenty of women who prefer the security of being in a relationship
These days more is written about the advantages of being single whereas it was once seen as a temporary and undesirable state. Chantal Kreviazuk, a Canadian singer songwriter said, ‘I'm learning a lot about myself being alone, and doing what I'm doing.’