I was single for a long time before I married. When I say a long time, I mean pretty much my whole adult life. From eighteen to thirty-two, I didn't have a boyfriend (or a girlfriend). (I didn't have a boy/girlfriend before that either, but it didn't seem to matter as much before eighteen.)

Oh, there was the odd adventure; a couple of brief dalliances; one or two amicable liaisons; some thrilling flirtations. But for various reasons, none of these ever quite managed to cross the divide into a full-blown "relationship." Why, why, why? I tortured myself, back in my angsty early twenties; I wept and yearned; I thought I must be too plain, too short, too shy, too bad at dancing, despite the fact that none of these handicaps seemed to stop other people from finding partners.

It wasn't until my late twenties that I fully embraced, and relaxed into, my spinsterhood. So what, I decided. I liked my life. Yes, my single status probably was my own fault, but not in the way I'd thought. I was fussy. I was hanging out for a life partner; I couldn't be bothered with Not Quite Right. I didn't meet that many people that I really liked (and sometimes, when I did, there were complications, like they were already going out with someone else). I could never really understand those people who jumped from one relationship, gasping, straight into another one, without even a pause for breath in between. I was happy being single. I'm a naturally solitary person, I need time and space to myself. My life was full and interesting. I could live like this, I realised, for the rest of my life, and be content. Even after I met Michael, it took a loooong time for us to get it together, so it wasn't like I took the first chance I could get to jump ship from HMAS Bachelor Girl.

In some ways I still feel like a single girl inside. All those years on my own gave me something valuable - a sense of myself as separate and distinct, a kind of inner self-reliance (though I don't know how to pay bills any more!), the ability to go to a movie or eat a meal in a restaurant or just enjoy a night at home alone, an unwillingness to compromise on important things, and the strength to let the unimportant things slide.

They say that everyone ought to live alone, at least for a while, to learn independence. I think it wouldn't hurt for everyone to be single for a few years, too.


  1. Ooh yes, I agree! I was single between 22 and 27, and was (mostly) very content. I always thought that being single was great, as long as you could be sure it wouldn't be forever. And it is good to learn to be self-sufficient and to do things on your own. But I also think it's good to learn to rely on someone and share a life as well. I have enjoyed both.

  2. Oh, I couldn't agree more -- and needless to say I do love being married! But singleness doesn't get much good press and I wanted to put in a plug for it.

  3. Great post, Kate! Yes, single can be totally fantastic in so many unexpected ways. It really is thrilling to stand on your own two feet. From putting out the bins to balancing the cheque book, everything is a win! I was single for ten years from 31 to 41. Initially it was a terrible time (I had just had a baby), but slowly I got on top of things, and I now know that those were the most formative years of my life. I will never fear being alone again, but it has also made me incredibly grateful for what I have now. jx

  4. I was just fondly reminiscing the other day about the years I spent single (like you, all of my adult life, bar one ever-doomed relationship that was always just a practise run) and living alone (about 3 years) and how fantastic it was to do exactly WHAT I wanted and WHEN I wanted, in the WAY I wanted. Again, pretty glad to be in a relationship and kidded up now (and there were many lonely, sad nights in those years, I must remind my rose-coloured vision), but I feel like if it ever came to it, I could function alone once more.

  5. Random reader who google "I was single for a long time" and found this :) Good to feel less alone. I'm also a writer, and I wonder if that's part of it.