Older Adults Who Never Got Married Are Revealing The "Myths" About Being Single Later In Life That More People Should Know

    "People thought that I’d 'change my mind.' I’m 42, and I’ve never really wanted to get married. I also knew I never wanted kids. People usually DON’T change their minds about these things."

    We recently shared a post where older married adults revealed the "marriage myths" that more people should know, and their insights gave an honest and insightful look into marriage.

    Woman in a bridal veil and dress, seen from behind

    So, for another perspective, we asked the older adults of the BuzzFeed Community who never got married to tell us the "myths" about being single later in life. Here are the eye-opening results:

    1. "I think the biggest myth is that we are all sad and lonely, filled with regrets and scared no one will take care of us when we are old. At least for me, I value my alone time and independence and know I have many good friends who would help me out if I needed help. I don’t need a husband or kids to feel fulfilled, and I have zero regrets."


    Two joyful women in a convertible, one driving and smiling broadly at the passenger

    2. "I've been told I was selfish for never marrying and having children. I spent my careers as a social worker and ordained minister, caring for others, not out of an obligation but from a heart for justice and mercy. My golden years are now graced with a satisfied peace rather than the continuing adjustments to others' needs and demands. I want to tell my married friends it's time to retire your duties, but they're stuck... and I'm not."

    —75, North Carolina

    3. "One common myth is something must be wrong with you if you've been single or never been married. The truth is my long-term relationships were so horrible (two relationships equaling 20 years) that I decided to be single and see what happens. During that time, I had so much peace in my life and completely focused on myself and my son. I have no regrets about doing it because it nurtured my growth and happiness."

    "I traveled and explored different career paths. At some point, I also wanted to have a partner to travel with and have some fun with. This is when I decided to join the dating pool but quickly realized that there were more negatives than positives. Very few are looking for meaningful relationships and are just interested in a more casual situation. It may be a symptom of dating platforms and the quality has deeply suffered. I'm still in it but contemplate being off of it every day. Single may just be enough."

    —52, California

    Person holding smartphone

    4. "That my life wouldn't be complete somehow. Somedays I find myself still wondering if that's true, but then I snap out of societal programming and look around at what I have — a very strong, intimate, and loyal group of friends, less family stress (they don't always like who you match up with, you know?), the ability to choose when and what I want to do, living alone (everything is where I leave it, in the condition I left it), spontaneity, the ability to focus solely on my own mental health and stress relief, and not having to explain myself to anyone."

    "I recently, for several factors, sold my condo and moved into an apartment in downtown, and I didn't have to consult or think about impacts to anyone but myself (and my cats). I'd say the only thing 'missing' is physical intimacy, but I can get that if I want it (which I usually don't due to the options available to me), and physical touch, which I get through things like dancing, massages, etc.; physical touch doesn't have to be sexual — that was a big lesson for me."

    —47, Oregon

    5. "'He just doesn’t want to grow up.' This one is particularly infuriating and insensitive, and I’ve heard it said countless times about other men in my position. I always feel like saying, 'Oh really? You think working like a dog and coming home to an empty house is tantamount to acting like a child? You think a man enjoys spending most evenings alone? Is chronic loneliness the functional equivalent of immaturity?”

    "'He’s afraid of responsibility.' For someone like me, who sincerely wants his white picket fence, this accusation could not be further from the truth. I would gladly take on the responsibility. I welcome it."

    —42, California

    Person cooking at a stove in a home kitchen setting

    6. "I’m 45 and have never aspired to have a family. For a while, I believed I wanted a husband but never prioritized dating with marriage as a goal. Instead, I’ve lived in multiple cities, formed incredibly strong friendships across diverse groups, and taken a lot of personal risks (luckily, most all have paid off). By remaining single, I’ve been able to make major life changes to adjust for external pressures like the 2008 financial crisis and COVID-19 pandemic."

    "Both economic events inspired my life-altering relocations: first from Tulsa to Chicago, then from Chicago to Charleston, SC. I’ve also had the freedom and flexibility to pursue ongoing physical, mental, and emotional self-improvement. As a result, I’m aging slower than my peers."


    7. "Myth: You will meet 'the right one some day.' It always makes me bristle when I am told that. You see, it implies that my life won't be complete until I meet 'him,' the 'right one.' That somehow my life's mission is to find my missing piece, and then, I will be able to live a full life. I've always known that to be malarky. My life is whole. There is no missing piece. I am not waiting for someone 'right' or dodging someone 'wrong.'"

    "In fact, I am not waiting at all. I am living my best life, not alone or lonely. Marriage doesn't determine my happiness — I do. No pun intended"

    —44, Maine

    Woman in patterned top sips from a mug by a sunny window

    8. "I was told that I had 'commitment issues' and had not had proof of loyalty by not being married. This came, ironically, from a man with a 40-year relationship with a wife he despised and ridiculed and wanted to cheat on with me. I chose to be a single mom at 39, so I told him that I had made a huge commitment — to my child and my parents and my happiness. To this day, each of those commitments has resulted in a multitude of blessings. Meanwhile, the man above is bitter, angry, and miserable."

    "I tell all my friends it is better to have an empty side of the bed than having the wrong person there."

    —58, Texas

    9. "I'm 56, never married, no children. Grew up in a severely toxic dysfunctional family. Just didn’t want children because I was scared to death of being a bad dad and that pressure was breaking me. I don’t regret it. It was the right choice for me. The biggest thing with married people is that they [assume] what a single person's [life looks like.] If they were hard partiers, they assume that is what being single in your 50s is."

    "They think marriage changed them when just age changes you just as much."


    Man playing with a dog in a park

    10. "[One myth is] that I'm unsuccessful as a human. I have published widely in my field of technology and mathematics, including high-impact papers in top journals. I've created successful companies, worked in leadership positions, and influenced national policy — all while not having hildren who would necessitate maternity leave and career penalties."

    —39, USA

    11. "People think that because you are single, you always wanted to be and want to remain single. That is 100% not true. I have been looking for a relationship for many years (in my 30s and 40s) and have not found the right guy. It’s just that simple."

    —48, Montana

    Person holding a bouquet of roses at a doorstep, implying a romantic gesture

    12. "People think that you will die alone. Wow, what a way to guilt-trip kids into finding just anyone just to get them to have grandkids. Some still die alone even when they are married. My grandfather died on a business trip. My dad died in a car accident. In this day and age, we don't go burying our families or our pets with us when we die like in some ancient cultures. What a horrid morbid thought to tell someone you 'care for and love.' And if they were by my bedside, they would definitely not be in the best state of health during this time. Live your life. Enjoy your life."

    "Relationships may or may not work, but it takes the work of two people, not just one. Trust and communication are important. Until then, marriage is just one part of your life. Make your life as full as possible. Love yourself. Do your self-care. Reduce that external noise. Remind yourself of another saying — that the 'grass is always greener on the other side'; some married people secretly wish they were single, and their lives aren't perfect either."

    —47, Canada

    13. "The myth, of course, is that you will forever be lonely and isolated without a family. And for many single adults, that happily is not the case, for many reasons. For me, however, it is, largely because I desperately wanted my own family. Many years ago when I was still young and happily assuming that a family was still to come, I had an older adult who had always been single tell me: Couples spend time with other couples. Families spend time with other families. And single adults spend time with their blood relatives. Those who don’t have any of that are often very lonely."

    "I have found that to be true. All of my close blood relatives are now deceased, and I am always alone. I have to work hard for my friendships; no one reaches out to me. That’s hard."

    —39, Canada

    Hand holding a photograph of a child standing in front of a door, with more photos beneath

    14. "While I have been single most of my adult life and most of the time, I am perfectly content with my single life, the one thing that I sometimes have issues with is that the world is not built for single people. Meal kits have to get two servings, they don’t make a lot of smaller-sized cars anymore, and I can’t seem to find single-size portions for things. And if think that you save money because it’s just you, well, you also don’t have anyone to split expenses with, like, rent, utilities, etc."

    "I also don’t like that everyone assumes that this is a choice you have made; being single was not something I had planned on — people also just assume you don’t want a family, I want nothing more than to have my own family."


    15. "'Older adults are lonely.' Being alone does not equate to being lonely. Social interactions nowadays are complicated and riddled with landmines. Older adults have spent a lifetime making choices regarding the degree of social interaction each requires. At times, when life throws difficult situations at me, I question my choices. Then, I resolve the situation and realize how serene my life has been. Recognizing and walking away from toxic people has been one of the many blessings of being single."

    —72, Canada

    Smiling older woman with short hair, looking away, wearing a textured top with striped details

    16. "I always wanted to take my time in finding a long-term partner. I never wanted children. By the time I reached my late twenties/early thirties, I was still single with people feeling sorry for me. Thinking ‘time was running out,’ I made a big push to find a partner, resulting in two relationships where both people did not want to settle down. As I entered my 40s, finding a relationship mattered less and less. With time, I realized I dodged two bullets. Neither relationship would have worked out."

    "My circles increasingly included people with baggage with many very bitter. Since my 50s, women in particular seem to envy me saying I made a wise decision. I agree, and since my late 40s, I have been happily single. I think not wanting children is a significant part of being at peace with the way things turned out."

    —68, Canada

    17. "People think that we've all been 'sewing wild oats' all these years. I've had boyfriends over the years, but I'm abstinent. I want to be married, but just haven't found the person I want to spend the rest of my life with. And I'm not at all interested in sleeping around. Also, we're not miserable and waiting to live life. I work, go out with friends, travel, own homes, volunteer, socialize, and have plenty of hobbies and responsibilities to stay busy!"

    —43, Maryland

    Silhouetted figures walking in an airport

    18. "That I’d 'change my mind.' I’m 42, and I’ve never really wanted to get married. I also knew I never wanted kids. People usually DON’T change their minds about these things. I don’t know why so many people believe that you will. What happens is accidents happen and then kids happen not on purpose. Most people won’t admit they regret their children."

    "On the dating side of it, I’ve had a few relationships and they have their positives, but never really liked dating. Men can be so creepy and self-serving. Since I became disabled in my 30s, that just made dating even more daunting. I just don’t have the energy to filter through bad date after bad date. I also like having my own space, especially when it comes to my chronic pain. I don’t want a man there wanting my affection when I don’t have the energy to give it. And I’m so used to (and enjoy) having an apartment all to myself; it would be very hard to convince me to give that up for a relationship. I’m still open to the idea of one, but I’m really just not looking."

    —42, California

    19. "I used to think that people viewed unmarried older people as free-spirited and better off financially, and were envious of the freedom the have. While that is partly true, I mostly found that most people tend to pity you as if you are unmarried because no one wanted you — rather than because you decided not to repeat the relationship mistakes of others."

    "Many people also judge you for not having gotten married, even if they are also currently unmarried due to divorce. It’s as if the failed relationship is a badge of honor or a necessary battle scar. No, thank you."

    —55, Washington, DC

    Man removing a wedding ring from his left ring finger

    20. "There are moments of loneliness, or times I wish I had a partner for some of the more challenging times but in reality, my life is way easier without a husband. I only have to raise one child and not also manage a grown person's needs or inability to handle their responsibilities. I am never let down or have anyone that over-promises and under-delivers. All of my parenting decisions are what is best for my son and us."

    "I don't have to combine anyone else's opinions or desires into raising my child. Vacations are super simple since it's what I want to do on my schedule. With everything in life, if something isn't handled, it's on me. My mental load is way less than what others with a husband seem to be experiencing. I honestly don't see many advantages — or, upsides to marriage are quite a bit of downside, stress, and conflict."

    —47, Colorado

    21. "Many people think that you were being too picky or too difficult or too busy with your career to care about relationships. No, it was none of that. It is simply just that you have not found the right person to be with when dating. Sometimes you will date someone and ask yourself if you can see yourself growing older with them even just five years from now. Sometimes the answer is no."

    "Maybe you are not financially set, or they are not set. Maybe other factors like aged parents you have to take care of as you get older."

    —54, Illinois

    Woman smiling at person's reflection, intimate moment at a bakery, conveying connection

    22. "I'm 39, never married, no kids, and have no regrets. People tend to imagine us as bitter and jealous women towards married women, but we are not. My life is fulfilled; I have no career nor travel the world, either — I work to pay the bills and spend my free time watching movies and TV shows, and I'm happy like this. Don't want cats, either, so no 'cat lady' here, either. Reason for my decisions: Money, health, lack of motivation, love being alone. Society still expects women to be serving, and I refuse to do that. We have to work multiple jobs in order to keep a family, and I dont want to live as a wage slave. I also don't want kids and marriage out of societal pressure; I was always a rebel."

    "I don't envy anything from mothers and wives. If anything, I'm glad I don't face the same struggles when they start complaining about their family. I'm actually happy my life is drama-free. I live for myself, and I'm only responsible for myself instead of taking care of a manchild and self-sacrificing."


    And finally...

    23. "I’ve had people say, 'You’ve never been married? I could never do that.' I’m not doing anything, I’m living my life. I never set out to be single, but I also never have been the type that needed someone else. Down deep, it seems people try to figure out what’s 'wrong' with me and are surprised I am content and satisfied…and there isn’t something wrong with me. Do I want companionship? Sure. But don’t assume that because I’m single, I’m lonely."

    —57, Arizona

    Woman smiling while taking a leisurely walk outdoors

    Older adults who never married, what are some other "myths" about being single later in life that people should know? Let us know in the comments below.

    Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.