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Older Adults Who Never Got Married Revealed The "Myths" About Being Single Later In Life That No One Talks About

"I'm in my late 40s and have no regrets about not getting married. Before she passed, my mom told me that I should have gotten married and settled down — but it's not a lifestyle that fits everyone's life."

We recently wrote a post where older adults who never got married shared the "myths" about being single later in life that they want people to know. Over 100 of them originally submitted their stories and perspectives, so here are just 21 more of their thought-provoking responses:

1. "I never married. I had two kids, a sperm donor. I have an incredible village helping me raise my kids, and I knew that going in. I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I've thought, 'Hmmm, this would be easier with a partner.'"

"More often than not, I see friends going through awful, painful divorces with a partner, kids caught in the middle, and I am SO glad I never got married JUST to have kids."

—55, USA

Two women embracing and smiling at the camera

2. "[One misconception is] that I don't have a family. Even though I didn’t get married, I still have an extended family I can and do spend time with. My extra time outside of work is spent on endeavors of my choosing, whether with family or personal interest activities. There is also a friend group I've known for decades and see frequently. People need to stop projecting their insecurities onto others."

—47, Texas

3. "I think the biggest misperception is that I chose to be single, prioritized my career, or partied too much or whatever. None of that is true. The reality is that a man never chose me. I wanted to build a life with someone, but he just never showed up. So, I got on with it and built a life that didn't require a man beside me to keep it afloat. Would I be happier if I were married? Who knows."

"I only know that what I have now (friends, family, financial stability, a nice home, etc.) works well enough. A man would be icing on the cake now, but the cake has been baked — and it's delicious."

—54, Pennsylvania

Three friends are hugging and smiling outdoors, expressing joy and affection

4. "Most people have the preconceived notion that being single equals being lonely. There is a difference between being alone and being lonely. There are worse things out there than being lonely. As an established retiree, I have found people looking for financial stability instead of companionship, and they really don't bring anything to the table but instead want to take away from it."

"If you are still single and in your 60s, it's probably best to remain thus and enjoy life and what it offers. Remember, there are worse things out there."

—65, Oklahoma

5. "Myth: You'll regret not getting married and having kids. I learned long ago by watching other people get married and deal with their spouse's and kids' problems that it wasn't the life for me."

"If I've had a long day at work, I can come home to a nice quiet house, have a nice dinner and bath without anyone bothering me. I go grocery shopping in peace, and I get to watch whatever movie I want when I want to. I relish a good night's uninterrupted sleep, which I get most nights. I can vacation wherever I like when I want to."

—61, California

Person in a white shirt wiping their face with a beige towel in front of a mirror

6. "It is tough at first. You want to find that person you will grow old with. My parents set a high bar. Perfect couple. Loving to the end. I couldn’t reach it. I couldn’t find the perfect mate, and it was killing me. Every failed relationship brought me closer to the reality that I was going to die alone. But then, after my last break up, I just hit autopilot. Diug into my work. Turned off the dating switch. And there it was: Peace."

"I didn't need another person to achieve peace; I never knew that option was possible. No more arguments about silly things that have nothing to do with anything. No more lies or manipulations. Just peace. I'm happier now than I have ever been. Yes, I am lonely sometimes, but I've realized that being lonely is just a step towards appreciating and celebrating your solitude. I have a sort of new gal, but we keep it simple and don't make waves. Most married people I know are fuming — they look at me and wonder how I found my peace. I didn't mean to. I worked hard against it. But then it just happened. And for that, I am grateful. I now live and love on my terms at 55. I still want to grow old with someone I love, but now I know I don't have to. When you choose peace (and it's worth choosing), it comes with many goodbyes."

—55, Louisiana

7. "Myth: I'm too picky. Truth: I won't settle to avoid being alone."

—54, California

Woman smiling, looking away, sitting in a living room

8. "People assume that as a childless single woman, I can do whatever I want, whenever I want, and that it's so much fun to be 'free.' There are many things I'm excluded from, and there are even more that aren't fun to do as a single person. Solo exotic travel is just stressful. With a partner, most disasters become memories and stories to be retold. Solo those same disasters can be really scary; all that fear never becomes a funny story."

"I'm surprised by how many things I am excluded from or, if I am included, how differently I am treated. I entertain frequently, and not one of the married couples has ever reciprocated the invitation. On the rare occasions when I get included, I'll frequently get squeezed in between two couples on a corner or seated at the overflow table with people much younger (like 15–20 years) and much more my junior at work. I enjoy the young people a lot, but it would be nice to be a part of my peers' conversation and not be the 'boss' intruding on the 'kids'' conversation."

—43, Arizona

9. "Myth: Something must be wrong with older single, never-married folks. Truth: Older singles are no more or less likely to be flawed human beings than any other group, but we may be on the deeper side and thus harder to know and/or have a harder time connecting as easily with others. Or, we have higher standards and never found the right one."

—62, California

Elderly man seated on park bench holding bouquet, looking hopeful

10. "Society makes it seem like you have to get married, but you DON'T in order to be happy in life! I am 47 years old and have never been married. When I was 19, I was engaged; throughout the years, I have been engaged, and I just got out of a relationship this year being engaged as well. Seven times total in 28 years. I'm known as the runaway bride to all my friends! What I’ve realized is two things: The men in my life either wanted to change me once they put that ring on my finger, or they just gave up complete effort in our relationship once they thought they had me for life. I have come to realize I absolutely love being single."

"I don't have to be a mommy to anyone I didn't birth. I am not your maid nor your nanny. I can treat myself better than any man can and am free to do whatever I want without checking in with a warden. I can go on vacations with my friends and don't have to worry about any guilt trips or jealousy about what I'm doing. It's simple: Love yourself, and love others!"

—47, USA

11. "I had one long-term relationship in my late teens/early 20s. I wanted to partner up again, but it never happened. Had a kid and parented him solo for 15 years. What I have loved about my life is the freedom to pursue my interests and hobbies and never having to negotiate or compromise while parenting my son."

"Sleeping in the middle of a queen-sized bed, only cleaning up after myself and kid, and not being reliant on another person is peaceful."


Infant lying in a crib looking towards the camera, image evokes themes of early childhood and nurturing

12. "I love my mom, who is now deceased, but she told me that I should have gotten married and settled down before she passed — but it's not a lifestyle that fits everyone's life. I think it was for her validation and happiness rather than mine. I'm in my late 40s and have no regrets about not getting married."

"I got to travel and do things I would have never done if I got married. You can't turn back time; traveling in your later years is nothing like traveling in your 20s."

—Anonymous, California

13. "I'm about to celebrate my 60th birthday this year, and I have never been married. I always wanted to get married and have a family since I was a little girl. I never even imagined I would go through life without a husband or children. I believe in my heart that things happen for a reason, but I always thought I would meet a wonderful man and would be married someday. Well, someday has arrived, and I am now considered a spinster. It hurts to think that people assume I never married because I 'chose' not to get married. That is untrue and unkind..."

"A word of advice to all those who have misjudged me about why I am not married yet: Be kind and don't say hurtful things about those who have never married. Until you know what it feels like to live a single life in a 'married' world, just keep your unkind words to yourself!"

—60, USA

Woman sitting on couch looking thoughtful with arms wrapped around her knees

14. "After a dysfunctional childhood, the opportunity to pass that legacy forward to another generation was not desirable. Being raised in a single-parent family due to death is difficult enough. But when the surviving parent makes conscious decisions to make your life as [hard] as possible, it led to none of my siblings or I wanting children. At this point in my life, early 60s, I have not had any regrets about my lack of any heirs."


15. "It's just another way to be. My guess is no better, no worse than any other. I got very sick at a young age with a lifelong chronic illness, and, losing hope for love, I dedicated my life to my work and others. It has been an opportunity for contentment, and it's not the life I anticipated. I am at peace with it. Love God, family, and friends. Content!"

—58, Canada

Man smiling at laptop screen during a video call, giving an impression of a pleasant conversation

16. "I've never been married or engaged and love my life. I never saw myself getting married, but I have always been open to the possibility. I've built a life with friends, family, a career, and hobbies. I choose how to spend my own money. I decorate how I want, spend my time how I want, and I can travel a lot. I do have great family and friends who support me. Maybe without them, I would have prioritized a relationship more. The times when I feel uncomfortable being single are when other people pry into my private life or start questioning my decisions."

"It's like they think I must be unlucky or miserable or the worst...there must be something wrong with her, she has commitment issues, etc. I'm just happy single. Having to explain this constantly sucks."

—39, Georgia

17. "I've had endless people advising me to get married while complaining about their spouse, or shortly after giving the advice, they're going through divorces, some are OK (as much as they can be), some are acrimonious. ... I am not against marriage — it just seems a tedious institution to me. It's a rare person who, after 20 or 30 years of marriage, actually really enjoys it. I'm sure they are out there, but it's the exception, not the rule in my experience."

"As a child/teenager, I wanted to be married and live 'happily ever after.' Now, I'd run for the hills at the thought of getting married that young. I think being single makes your life a lot more interesting than being in a marriage. I am free to go to some very bizarre and interesting places at a moment's notice. That said, I don't see being single as some sort of utopia either. As I age fairly ungracefully, it's maybe harder to be single but also harder to marry."

—50, New York

Hand holding a wedding ring above a calculator on a document, symbolizing financial considerations in marriage

18. "'You'll be lonely, you won’t have anyone to look after you, etc.' Heard it all — nothing could be further from the truth. I have a great job and make my own decisions about money, travel, entertainment, and any other major life decisions. I love my unencumbered lifestyle! I don't have to worry about my kids' future because I don't have any. Not dissing anyone who chose otherwise; if you’re happily married with kids, all the more power to you."

"It's just important to know yourself and know what’s best for you and your life circumstances. I just knew from the time I was in my late teens/early 20s all the reasons I didn't want to get married or have kids. At 61, I gave no regrets. The choices I made are reaffirmed as the years go by, and I see the world changing."

—61, Canada

19. "I didn't make a conscious decision not to have a husband and kids — it just worked out that way. My parents got married when they were 22, so I thought that was a good age for me, too; however, while my fiancé was absolutely the right man, it was absolutely the wrong time for me to get married. Fast forward 30-ish years, and I've never married and never had kids, which is strange because ever since I was in first grade, I dreamed of having a house, a husband, and a lot of kids. I think there's a part of me that thought it was a checklist of required things to do in life: graduate from college, get married, have kids. No one really said what to do when all the boxes were checked, and no one ever presented the list with the option of only checking off one box (a college degree)."

"The thing I'm finding most perplexing about it all is that I don't seem to fit in anywhere; people don't know what to do with me. I'm not married or divorced, and I've never had kids so I lack those types of experiences with most other people I meet who are my age. ... For the most part, I am content with my life. Sometimes, I look back and play what-if or get sad because I'm not where my much younger self thought I would be by now, but, on the whole, I can't complain. I haven't ruled out getting married or having kids, but I also don't anything to actively seek it out."

—53, South Carolina

A vintage picture of two young children embracing, one wearing heart-shaped sunglasses, in a warm sibling moment

20. "I've been alone some 66 years, never married, but I've had more friends and lovers than I can count. Being alone does not mean you must be lonely. I answer to the most important person I know: Me."


And finally...

21. "It was society's expectation to follow a certain path, and I bought into it, thinking I needed it for happiness. Once I learned about myself as a human being and realized I didn't see the same need as society, I let go of the traditional approach and began to see the many valuable elements in remaining single and unattached."

"My money is 100% my own to decide how to spend or save it or even donate it to others in need without a committee decision with others. While I may not have a spouse or children to care for me, I do have a strong circle of friends who are also single, and we can all see the potential to become our own support system for each other. I encourage everyone to find their own path and not feel pressured to follow what others expect."

—56, Illinois

Person walking past a large arrow pointing left on a wall

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. Or, if you prefer to remain anonymous, feel free to use this Google form.

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