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Single and not looking to mingle: Why these women are choosing to live solo for good

Why these women prefer being single.
Why these women prefer being single. (Getty Images)

From Valentine’s Day to over-the-top weddings, rom-coms to couples who perpetually post their highlight reel to social media, there’s no doubt that society is completely infatuated with coupledom. Pop culture — and often, pressure from friends and family — would have us believe that being partnered is the ultimate path to happiness. But research has found single people who have positive relationships — with themselves and friends and family — are actually the happiest people around. It’s no wonder that many women are choosing to be single by choice, and they see it as a permanent lifestyle as opposed to a stopover on the way to meeting someone to settle down with. Here, four women share why they consider themselves permanently single and why it’s more than OK to be the love of your own life.

'Choosing to be [single] gives me a sense of purpose and direction in my life.'

Meghan Jones was married from the ages of 21 to 28. She’s glad she got the chance to experience the milestone of marriage but also feels like she missed out on a lot by doing it so young. “I never got the opportunity to really develop who I was, because I was so focused on having a marriage,” Jones, now 41, tells Yahoo Life.

After her divorce and a period of being single, Jones, who lives in Los Angeles, dipped her toe back into dating only to end up with a man who told her "I love you" within the first six weeks of dating — only to later ghost her and disappear from her life.

Health issues also came up, with a newly single Jones becoming sick from lupus and other ailments. “How do you date when you know there's something like [needing a kidney transplant] on the table?” she says. But it was this twist in the road that also led to an “awakening that there were bigger things” in her life.

“I decided to put all my energy and focus into myself and my health,” she says. “I soon realized that doing things that enriched my life were much more important to me and took dating off the table. I came to realize that being single was the life for me.”

These days, Jones is pouring her energy into her own interests. “I’m taking a creative writing class and learning how to play pickleball,” she says. “I'm going to the library and picking up books and reading a lot more. I bought a piano during the height of the pandemic and am slowly YouTube-University-teaching myself how to play the piano.”

A Chicago native, she loves that she can take time to travel and visit her family, who still live in the Windy City. “I [don’t] have to clear my schedule with anybody or make separate arrangements,” she notes. At the same time, being single has “truly deepened and strengthened” her friendships. “I realized that my best friend is my soulmate, and I don't need a romantic relationship to feel fulfilled.”

One misconception about choosing to be single is that it’s selfish, she says. Jones points out that it’s actually quite selfless. “I wouldn’t want to be in a relationship where I couldn’t give myself to someone fully,” she shares. “Being single and choosing to be so gives me a sense of purpose and direction in my life. I’m able to cultivate more meaningful relationships, prioritize self-care, embrace the moment and discover new things about myself that I didn’t think possible.”

'I don't have to report to anybody.'

After a decade-long marriage, dating a guy who was “super-super-jealous” and a long-distance relationship with her high school sweetheart that ended 14 years ago, being single “became a way of life” for Tricia Kent. The 50-year-old says her responsibilities as a mom of two — her children are 16 and 24 — have always come first.

“I just don't want to be in a relationship where somebody is jealous [or] somebody is going to critique how I raise my kids,” Kent, who is based in Vero Beach, Fla., tells Yahoo Life. “Other than having to inform my children of where I'm going, I don't have to report to anybody. I don't have to share anything about my life. I don't have to ask somebody if it's OK if I buy something. I do what I want when I want. If I want to travel, I’m going to do it. The only people that I have to own up to are my daughters. That's it.”

That said, there can be practical benefits to having a partner. Kent does feel like it’d be nice to have a hand with tasks like changing light bulbs and smoke alarm batteries. “A significant other would help around the house, and financially, too,” she points out. Her oldest daughter just graduated from college, Kent notes, so there's pressure to help out more with tuition payments and other expenses. "As a single mother, not getting any support can be tough, but not so tough that it breaks me and makes me want to have a relationship because I need extra income," she says.

Of course, Kent’s decision to be permanently single hasn’t stopped loved ones from asking if she might want to meet someone someday. “My older daughter has mentioned it because she's in a happy relationship,” she notes. “And she's young, and she still gets those butterflies. And she thinks that I would be happier if I had somebody. She thinks that I would be happier if I had somebody to share my life with, but I do: I have my friends. And I have my kids. And I go to my concerts, and I don't need a significant other to make myself happy.”

Friends have also suggested that Kent might start dating once her youngest leaves home and she becomes a full empty nester. “[They will say,] ‘When [the kids] leave, when they go to college, then you can find somebody,’” she says. Her response: “No.”

“For some reason, [some people] want to fix you,” says Kent. “I guess maybe they think [because] they’ve been in a relationship or they’ve been married for years, that you need to be in a relationship to be happy. And that’s not true whatsoever.”

'I love the lack of drama.'

Over the years, Penny C. Sansevieri experienced “a lot of drama” with the men she had dated. After she left a particularly bad relationship that she describes as “a scary situation I had to get out of,” Sansevieri’s friend suggested something that “just stuck.” “[She] said, ‘Maybe it’s time you focus on yourself instead of focusing all your energy on the men you’re dating?’” the 59-year-old tells Yahoo Life. “So I started off by just working on myself, and then, working on myself became a bit addicting. I really enjoyed it.”

These days, although the San Diego resident does miss sharing certain experiences with someone — for example, she hikes and has done “some really big climbs, which would be fun to share with a partner” — she generally enjoys her own company and is “never lonely.”

“I love investing the time in things I really enjoy doing and the peace and joy that comes from being single,” says Sansevieri. “I love the lack of drama. Peace is a seriously underrated gift.”

And being single in her 50s is also easier than it used to be. “Being single in my 30s or 40s was super-weird, like, ‘You’re not bringing someone, you’re coming solo?’” recalls Sansevieri. “We had to match up with someone. As you get older, the pressure to do that is less.”

Still, she’s found that people seem to think she lives “half a life.” “No one’s ever said that, but that’s sort of the impression I get,” she shares. “I’m either unwanted or flawed in some big way, and I don’t spend any time trying to disabuse someone of that notion. People will think what they think. I believe that what keeps a lot of women from embracing this life is that they worry what people will think. You literally have to not care what people will think. You can’t build your life on other people’s perceptions of who you are as a happily single person.”

She’s seen firsthand how the pressure to be in a relationship can result in disappointment. Sansevieri recalls a friend who "was so eager to get married," only to wind up divorced. "She had always been encouraging me to date, meet someone, pair up," she says. "And when it was all over, she said, ‘You were so right, all along.’ And it’s not that I loved being right, but I think that we live in a society that really does pressure us to pair up. Let’s face it: The Hallmark channel’s entire premise is based on that concept.”

'I finally realized that I’m the great love of my life.'

After tying the knot at 21, Grayce McCormick spent 15 years in an “emotionally abusive marriage” with her now ex-husband. “It was very dysfunctional until I decided to finally get off the merry-go-round and start healing," McCormick, now 56, tells Yahoo Life. After a "nightmare" custody battle, she began dating again — only to end up in another toxic relationship with a man she describes as "cruel." That was the last straw. “The abuse was so insidious that I don't have the capacity to date,” she says. “That relationship changed me forever.”

Despite all the heartache she’s faced, McCormick is a lifelong romantic. “I always had this belief that there’s one out there,” she says. “I chased that for a long time until I finally realized that I’m the great love of my life. When that hit me in the last couple of years, it really helped ground me.”

McCormick, who divides her time between Los Angeles and Milwaukee, has been celibate and abstained from dating for the past two-and-a-half years. “What I love about being single is it is pure freedom,” she says. “I don’t want to be on someone else's schedule. It's self-sustaining. Even in my career, I can focus so much better without the distraction of a relationship. I’m not always thinking about the other person.”

McCormick relies on her close circle of friends for support and loves that she doesn’t have to “check in with or ask the permission of anybody” to go about living her life. “I’m about to sign up for a pottery class, and I thought about also taking an art class,” she says. “And I want to go to Scotland and Denmark this fall. It’s just going to be me hopping on a plane."

She admits her kids would love to see her with someone, but that’s not just what McCormick sees for herself. Instead, she’s focused on the "internal work" of self-love, not traditional romance. “I believe in love; I believe love is what we're here for,” she says. “But love comes to us in different ways.”