Not Born Yesterday

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What's So Good about Being Single?

Flying solo: the new way to go

For some, "healthy, wealthy and single" has become a mantra for the 21st Century. It implies happiness, and even smug satisfaction, at being unattached. 

Does that go for men and women alike?

Today, more women are single than ever before, and many by choice, which is something relatively new in my experience. Having a husband is no longer considered necessary, nor even desirable in more and more cases. What's changed? Society, for one thing.

The single woman of today is a far cry from former generations. Bette Davis, in the movie Now Voyager (1942), plays a spinster aunt who laments that she will "never have a home of my own, nor a child of my own." Today's woman would not let the lack of a husband stop her from having both, if she wanted them. Cultures differ, but modern American society generally accepts a variety of  lifestyles that were unthinkable a half century ago.

As I see it, there are both advantages and disadvantages to being unmarried. Some are obvious, and well-documented in books and articles. One that I read recently lists 10 advantages but, oddly enough, no disadvantages. That's only telling one side of the story, in my opinion.

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Briefly, the advantages to being single, according to the article, have to do with:

(1) Keeping physically fit. Singles tend to work out more in gyms and exercise groups to stay slim and attractive. Married women tend to gain weight, and unhappily married women gain proportionately more.

(2) Achieving greater things. This is attributed to having more time due to a lack of responsibility to a spouse and family. It is also claimed that singles tend to be more productive during their careers, probably for the same reasons.

(3) Doing less housework. A single woman has no untidy spouse to pick up after, which gives her more time to do other things -- presumably greater things. (See No. 2, above.)

(4) Managing money. The single woman does not need to ask anyone how she can spend her own salary, and doesn't need to worry about becoming saddled with an irresponsible spouse's debts.

(5) Having less, but better, sex. Statistics show that singles have a better time in the bedroom, though intimacy occurs only about half as frequently. Hormone levels are higher in a "courting relationship."

(6) Being better rested, and even smarter. Researchers have found that sleeping two to a bed isn't as restful as sleeping alone, so singles get more sleep, which they say results in enhanced memory and cognitive skills.

(7) Having less depression. Single women generally have fewer mental health issues than married women, especially those with children to worry about.

(8) Acquiring friends. Singles need not rely on one person for companionship and tend to have more friends than their married counterparts who have less time for them, due to demands from spouses and children.

(9) Taking better trips. Although married people take more vacations, according to statistics, singles engage in more interesting activities and may meet more interesting people as a result.

(10) A better sense of self. Women who remain single have grown to know themselves and what they want out of a relationship as well as life in general, and may have happier marriages later on.

There are some good points made here, although others are largely debatable. Playing devil's advocate, I might point out that singles are disadvantaged with respect to social engagements among their married couple friends. Who wants to be a fifth wheel? And while the truly independent lady may have more time and freedom, she also has no one to take care of her when she's down with the flu, no one to make repairs around the house, and often no date on a Saturday night -- not to mention New Year's Eve!

E. E. Smith is a playwright and book author. Her new series of murder mysteries debuted in 2013. The first is titled Death by Misadventure. 

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