Maybe you feel society pressuring you to get married. Maybe you pressure yourself. Even in the modern day and age, there are still many who believe that, at a certain age, one is supposed to tie the knot (and inevitably have some kids). And, while this life decision is a valid and honorable one, what about the option of simply being single and happy? This once-unspoken option is a choice that more and more women are making — and shouting it from the rooftops.
"I think that women aren't prioritizing marriage in their lives anymore because [they] now have the choice not to," explains Dr. Valeria Chuba, a clinical sexologist, sex educator, and host of the Get Sex-Smart podcast. "This is certainly related to women gaining more economic power and financial independence."
Further, circumventing the "I do's" doesn't have to mean sacrificing relationships or even becoming a parent. "People are starting to focus more on the quality of their relationships and on actively building and growing them, rather than taking for granted that being married will in and of itself be a guarantee of fidelity, commitment, intimacy, and relationship longevity," says Dr. Chuba.
To be clear, marriage is wonderful for those who believe they've found their better half and truly want to stay with them forever. You can absolutely be independent and live a fulfilled and abundant life as a married individual — but choosing to refrain is a worthy option, as well.
Ahead, five women prove that there's plenty of happiness and love to be had without marriage. And while they all say that they'd be open to getting hitched if the stars aligned, each would be perfectly content if they never got that proverbial diamond ring ... unless they bought one themselves, of course.
Vera Yang, 43 || Office Manager In Pasadena, CA
"I love that I only have to be responsible for myself and my three cats. I’m not responsible for anyone else. My youngest sister is 10 years younger than me, so when she was born, I helped raise her. I took her to school [and] to after-school activities, all while cooking and cleaning to help my parents. I already went through raising a family and I know how difficult it is. I believe that’s a big reason why I enjoy the freedom of being single.
I have never been married, but I was in a long-term relationship where we were engaged for six of the 12 years we were together. [As a single woman,] I can choose to spend my free time on what I’m passionate about. Right now, I enjoy volunteering on different projects for the Taiwanese American community in Los Angeles.
"Don’t depend on someone else for happiness. Only you can bring happiness to yourself, as no one can fulfill your life for you." — Vera Yang
There was a time that I thought marriage and kids were what I wanted in life because that’s what everyone else does. But as I’ve matured, I realized that I love myself the most."
Cathy Murphy, 40 || Co-Founder Of Venus Media Group, New York, NY
"I’ve never been married, but I do have a six-year-old daughter (who I chose to have on my own at 34 years old). My life is very full with family, friends, travel, hobbies, and being an entrepreneur. If [marriage] happens, great, but I’m not actively out seeking it. I tell my daughter all the time that families are made up of different constructs. As long as she feels surrounded by love, that’s all that matters to me.
It’s not always easy being a single mom due to the stigma that comes with it. I’ve had to do a lot of explaining with men, friends, and colleagues about why I made this choice. It’s 2018 already and time for us all to drop the single-mom stigma. Do not feel sorry for me, as this was a conscious decision.
"DO NOT SETTLE and don’t let societal pressures tell you that you have to get married by a certain age, have kids at a certain point, or get a promotion on a specific timeline. If you learn to love yourself and stay true to who you are, you can accomplish anything you want." — Cathy Murphy
I love making my own decisions and not having to 'consult' with anyone about day to day life decisions. There are no 'big discussions' with a partner about how to live my life that could potentially add more stress to my day to day. I think this makes me efficient and practical in decision making."
April Cohen, 38 || Realtor At Bean Group In South Portland, ME
"I met my ex-husband when I was 22 and married when I was 26. I thought I knew what I wanted in life, but really, had no clue at all because I had hardly lived. [Having been] married has allowed me to finally be my true self and live the life I was meant to. I was so young and terribly insecure when I got married ... When someone refers to me by my [previously] married name, I tell them, 'I don't even know who that girl is' ... it's really true!
I love my job. It will take one hell of a man to make me want to be with him more than I want to work. A supportive, strong man will not hinder my job. He will make me want to be better and more efficient with my time so when we are together, I can truly just be with him and totally unplug.
"You have to be able to take care of yourself before you can take care of someone else. I mean, they tell you on planes to put your own oxygen mask on first for a reason." — April Cohen
I don't need a ring and a piece of paper to validate my relationship. I could 'Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell' it, for sure. I don't think you have to be married to have a beautiful relationship."
Anna Joyce, 49 || Freelance Stylist In Brooklyn, NY
"I became a single mother at an early age (24). I was in a relationship with a young, spirited man who I was enjoying being with. When I had my daughter, there were natural and expected responsibilities that weren’t being filled by the father. I realized ... being a parent is hard, [but] when natural expectations were not being filled by the father, the responsibility was harder. I asked myself, 'which route does one take? Hard or harder?' I chose 'hard,' which was choosing to raise a child single.
I have no regrets with that decision [I made] 25 years ago. Being single allows you to call all the shots in your life. I would say that [the experience of being a single mother] set my values, morals, expectations, and independence to make an unconscious choice to never get married. The older I’m getting, the less I desire marriage ... actually, I don’t think I’ve ever had the desire for marriage. I have many amazing friends, family, colleagues, and, most importantly, my daughter in my life that fill the void of a spouse.
"Some people say they think I’m afraid of commitment, though I don’t believe that. The only way I know how to live my life is being single." — Anna Joyce
I have had relationships, though they never amounted to anything. I wouldn’t rule out a committed relationship, though I’m satisfied with how my life has been and is [now]."
Ashley Tibbits, 37 || Writer In Los Angeles, CA
"Remember that episode of Sex In The City where Carrie is nervous about moving in with Aiden because she relishes her habits like standing in her kitchen while reading magazines and eating saltines? Every human has their little habits to indulge in without anyone intruding, like leaving dishes unwashed for a day (or two) or watching a terrible, embarrassing reality show. Of course an ideal partner doesn't judge you for your little eccentricities, but it's something you really savor about being on your own and not having to answer to anyone.
I shudder at the thought of casual dating, so I'm either in a loving and committed relationship or I'm totally disconnected from dating. I admire the way other single friends of mine can muster up the energy to go on a lot of first dates, but it's not for me.
"I'm very comfortable doing things on my own so I'm not in need of a partner in crime — but I'd make room for the right partner!" -Ashley Tibbits
Marriage as a concept doesn't appeal to me necessarily because I have nothing to prove, but if it's a vehicle for someone wanting to celebrate their dedication for me ... I'm sure it's something I could be into. At my age, already I've seen quite a few friends get married and split up, and I think so much of that is attributed to them trying to do something that they're 'supposed' to do — like get married by the time they're 30 or something. Forcing yourself into something that's not the right fit isn't good for anyone involved."