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.