Being a single woman can be a real challenge. We’re constantly asked “So, are you dating anyone?” And if we say no, it’s usually followed up with “Well, why not?” Many people, especially those who are in relationships, or those who enjoy dating, just don’t understand.
But a recent poll found that 61% of women say they’re happy being single, compared to 49% of happily single men. Although the poll comes out of the UK, but I’d wager to guess that it’s fairly similar in America. The report, published by company Mintel, also states that of those 61% of women, 75% of them haven’t pursued a relationship in the past year. And I think I know why.
Dating for women is exhausting! In this swipe left/swipe right culture, women have to jump through hoops to get a second glance. We need to have the total package just based on our pictures. There are more expectations placed on women, than men, when it comes to dating. Dating is a hustle that turns into a grind, and I’m not talking about dancing or a great night in bed.
Women have to look amazing, act amazing, be amazing. And men can do the bare minimum and always find a date. Frankly, it’s bullshit.
If women are being held to unrealistic standards when it comes to dating, it’s easier to stay single. That way, we can put our energy into the kinds of things we want to be putting our energy into.
“There’s evidence that women spend longer on domestic tasks than men and I think they also do more emotional work — so they still do more housework and cooking and things as well as more emotional labour,” says Professor Emily Grundy of the University of Essex, told The Telegraph.
Domestic labor aside, being in a relationship is emotionally taxing as a woman. Not to say that it isn’t for men too, but we all know that women take on a lot more of the emotional labor in a relationship. We are often the ones pushing for intimacy, connection, and communication. Eventually you just don’t give a fuck anymore. I’d rather be single than in a relationship that is draining in any way.
One of the other reasons women are happier single? We have a bigger social circle. When our significant others are getting on our nerves, we have girlfriends that we can call up to bitch about them to. Or if we just want a night out, we have friends to hang out with. Men generally don’t have the same kind of social circle women have.
“Women tend to be better at having alternative social networks and other confidantes whereas men tend to rely quite heavily on their wives for that and have fewer other social ties,” said Professor Grundy. Again, that doesn’t mean single men don’t have friends, just that they have fewer friends and don’t spend as much time or energy cultivating those relationships.
With most women, it isn’t a secret that our female friendships are incredibly important to us, so we will often make a more concentrated effort to keep our girlfriends close. This is especially true of single women, who, when they are unencumbered with a partner, have far more time to spend doing things with their friends.
“Single women are particularly good at maintaining friendships and social circles, and seeing family more often,” says Professor Bella DePaulo, who is a social scientist at the University of California Santa Barbara. A single woman in her 60s, DePaulo has spent the last 20 years focusing her work on what she calls “single studies.”
Focusing on how society treats those who choose being single and the impact of being single, DePaulo found that single women face the societal pressure of not being in a relationship, because most people feel that the default is being coupled. Being single gets you titles like “old maid” or “spinster,” even though single women are often leading rich and fulfilling lives that they have control over. But the pressure to constantly display that fulfillment is probably why 33% of the singles in the initial report said they feel pressure to make their lives seem more fulfilling.
For many women, being single isn’t their plan for the rest of their lives. Many of us want to accomplish things that being partnered may hinder. Getting a higher level of education, traveling the world, cultivating a career. Sure, those things would be great to do with a partner by your side cheering you on, but it’s so fulfilling to say that you did it on your own.
Relationships can be wonderful, but they are also work. And sometimes it’s nice to take some time off from that kind of work. But that doesn’t mean that one day, we won’t put on our swimsuits and jump back in the dating pool, we may just stay in the shallow end for a while.