Skip to comments.Single and smiling
Posted on 02/14/2004 11:12:45 AM PST by qam1
Stacy Hoilett is single. So is her younger sister, Aisha. Today, Valentine's Day, the two plan to ignore the barrage of commercials for flowers, chocolates and diamonds and party hearty with their single friends.
''Just because I'm single, it doesn't mean I'm sitting around the house waiting for the phone to ring,'' says Stacy, 30, a kindergarten teacher. 'We're not hanging around saying, `Poor us.' ''
Aisha, 29, a third-grade teacher, agrees: ``It's just another day.''
In this era of reality television courtship shows like Average Joe and The Bachelorette, the acceptance of singledom may seem a bit odd. But for a growing number of men and women, being single provides many benefits, including privacy and the freedom to come and go as they want.
''I always say golfing is my job and fishing is my hobby,'' says Alex Romani, a 27-year-old golf pro in Fort Lauderdale. ``I love it that I have time to do both.''
Eduardo Dieppa, a 30-year-old accountant, puts it this way: ``If I'm going to be single, I'm going to enjoy it and meet a lot of people. Most of my friends are pretty content with it, and we all enjoy each other. We do go out a lot.''
This doesn't mean that, given the right circumstances and the right person, single people wouldn't couple off. In fact, every singleton interviewed, man or woman, Baby Boomer or Generation X, insisted that meeting a soul mate was still important. They have nothing against marriage, either.
''I have money to travel, I own my own place, and I've got my career, so I'm ready,'' says Dieppa, who will also be finishing his law degree this spring. ``But I'm not going to get into a relationship just to be with someone. It has to be the right person.''
That sentiment -- a preference to go it alone instead of being with the wrong person -- was echoed repeatedly. Listen:
From Norma Agras, a 52-year-old divorced mother of two grown children: 'I'm not closing myself off to the possibility of meeting someone, but I like my life the way it is. My motto is: `My life, my terms.' ''
From David Porras, 32, of Williams Island: ``This is temporary, but I'm going to take my time. I want it to be right.''
And from Romani: ``It's nice to have someone to share things with, but what's the hurry?''
Though 9 of 10 Americans will eventually get married, more and more are postponing marriage. The median age at first marriage for women increased by 4.3 years, to 25.1. between 1970 and 2000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. For men, the increase was by 3.6 years, to 26.8 years.
The percentage of people who have never married is also increasing. For example, 72.8 percent of women between 20 and 24 had never tied the knot in 2000. In 1970, that was 35.8 percent. As you slide up the age scale -- 25 to 29 -- the percentage of never-marrieds actually tripled, from 10.5 percent to 38.9 percent. The same holds true for men: 51.7 percent of 25- to 29-year-old men were still single in 2000 compared with 19.1 percent in 1970.
Some say we are approaching the day when the United States will be an unmarried majority nation. Already, 49.5 percent of the country's households are headed by unmarried adults, and even if you factor in cohabitation arrangements, the figure remains high. There are now more households with people living alone -- 26 percent -- than households occupied by married couples with children, 25 percent.
''The assumptions of the '50s don't apply to the 21st century,'' says Thomas F. Coleman, executive director of Unmarried America, a California-based group that bills itself as a civil rights organization working against marital status discrimination. ``It's not a revolution but an evolution.''
In Florida alone, according to 2002 Census data, there were more than 5.2 million unmarried adults, making it one of a handful of states with an unmarried majority (51.1 percent). Of those, 1.8 million lived alone. Some cities scored high on the single household numbers, too: Miami (63.4 percent), Miami Beach (72.6 percent), Fort Lauderdale (67.8 percent), and Hollywood (58.5 percent)
''There are many more choices out there now,'' Coleman adds. ``You can't just turn back the clock.''
THE NEW CONTINUUM
Demographers and sociologists say there are many reasons why we are redefining the traditional school-marriage-children continuum: economically self-sufficient women, high divorce rates, the fear of making a mistake and increased commitment to careers.
''My parents got divorced when I was 13,'' Aisha Hoilett says, ``and that affected me. I want to get married one time, and I want to get it right.''
Whatever their reason for going solo, their sheer numbers are changing the way we think of families, even, perhaps, the way we think of Valentine's Day. Sasha Cagen, a San Francisco writer, has just published a book about this phenomenon. Titled Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics, her book has hit the media circuit with a vehemence. She calls today's singles a group that ``resists the tyranny of coupledom in favor of independent self-expression.''
What's more, being single doesn't mean you're alone. Nor does it mean you're a loner. Quirkyalones, she adds, are actually very social and have many friends.
Last year Cagen organized the first Quirkyalone International Day, celebrated in New York, San Francisco, Providence, R.I., and Glasgow, Scotland. This year parties are also planned in more cities. The date: Today, coinciding with Valentine's Day.
''We're going through a major historical transition,'' Cagen says. ``The meaning of the word itself is changing. It's no longer this pitiful worrisome state. Being single isn't horrible. It's really being seen more as a choice and something that can be positive and fulfilling.''
HIP TO BE SINGLE
Not too long ago, she adds, single women over 25 were considered old maids. Now it's hip to be single. Consider the enormous popularity of Sex and the City, of the advent of single servings, and of housewarming and birthday registries for singles at stores like Williams-Sonoma and Pottery Barn.
Yet, while the idea of spinsterhood is a blast from the past, women still face a muted social stigma. How else to explain why several women, many of whom are actively dating and successful in their careers, refused to be interviewed for this story?
One, a 30-something, said: ``We talk a good game. Reality is, all of us eventually want to meet that perfect someone.''
Reality is, too, that the pressure grows as women get older. Aisha Hoilett says friends and family often ask her why she hasn't coupled off, and the questions are particularly pointed at weddings and bridal showers.
'You end up asking yourself, `Am I too picky?' But then you hear about a split-up, and I think I would rather be safe than sorry.''
Those who are expecting that somewhere there is a "perfect" someone who will make them happy are delusional. If you put two unhappy people together in a relationship, they will just make each other miserable. People who bring their happiness into a relationship stand a better chance of success.
Thanks a lot! Now I have to go glue my medicine cabinet shut.
"When Karaoke Goes Bad"
Good point, and come to think of it when I divorced, I came out ahead financially and didn't have change abode or alter my life in any way.
Except to alter my diet a bit, turn in some unused female attire to the SA, and realize that I can now roll over in bed without concern of facing someone who is in a fit of rage for ubruptly beeing awoke!
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