I read something today about single women. And about how 95% of single women secretly want to be married. I don't know where they got their statistics from. Perhaps it was sexistwank.com. But the thrust of the article went on to explain that even when women purport to be happy while not in a relationship or marriage, they actually secretly cry into their cat/cake (delete as applicable) every night, while flicking through wedding magazines and obsessing about how to trap that man. A life of hard won independence with the ability to work for oneself (albeit still at a lower wage for the most part than men), the right to choose whether to have children or not, the right to control one's own body, mind and desires: 95% of these women wish they could trade it all in for some farting, video game/golf/rugby (delete as applicable) playing irritant who promises to control their every move for the rest of their life while doling out self esteem crushing bon mots, usually in front of their friends.
Yeah, yeah, I know. I'm just bitter because I don't have a boyfriend. While that may be the case I did have one for nearly all of my 20s and a couple of years of this decade. I even lived with one for many years. Thing is, I don't like being single all of the time. Specially at Christmas. And birthdays. Oh, and Valentine's Day. Most of the major holidays actually. And now most of my friends are coupled up and, well, no one wants to feel like the last turkey in the shop, as it were. It's like being picked last for the team. Over and over again.
But a lot of the time I'm fully ambivalent about being single. I think I want a boyfriend but, frankly, the ones I have had have been nothing to shout about. I felt constricted and controlled and frustrated and hemmed in and narrowed when I was in relationships. I'm assuming that was because they were the wrong men. Perhaps I'm genetically programmed to be rubbish in relationships. Who the flip knows?
And sometimes I am bitter about it as it goes. I spent nearly eight years in a relationship with a guy who constantly and consistently told me that he would never marry me and that there was no future in it and that 'one day he would leave me'. At the time it was far more important to me to have a boyfriend and, besides, he was a really good cook and he did more housework than me and somehow I couldn't sleep without him there and I just couldn't ever EVER imagine being alone. At the time I told myself that I couldn't imagine myself without him. But that wasn't actually true. Although I had been very much in love with him at one point, the cracks in our relationship showed after a few years and it was clear to both of us that we weren't going to be sharing a double plot in the family cemetery. I just couldn't cope with the thought of myself as nearly 30 and single. Single = failure. Single = can't keep a man. Single = not good enough.
Since then I've been single for aeons. Centuries. Decades. A brief aberration of another doomed and disastrous relationship in the middle, but for the most part single. And I honestly don't know what I think about it.
Sometimes I do have moments where all I want is to be married. Doesn't even matter who to anymore. At my age, you can't afford to be picky, right? Someone with a pulse and a working prostate will be fine. Then I can have weekend trips to Ikea and I wouldn't have to go mooching round the shops on my own and I'd have someone to text when I'm out and someone to make me a cup of tea every now and again. I could go to Homebase and do the gardening and get a house in a suburb and a car and learn how to drive that car and spend my weekend decorating and buying things.
My lifestyle isn't normal for a woman approaching her late 30s. I don't have a regular bedtime. I don't eat proper meals. I don't have any plans to have children. I don't know where I'm spending Christmas from year to year. I have no routine and I go where I please when I please. I don't have to tell anyone where I am, what I'm doing and when I'll be back. Other than a solitary fat cat, no one is relying on me and no one is waiting for me. So I don't go to sleep until I feel like it. And I eat when I want. And I clean as much as I want to. And I watch whatever I want on TV. And when I feel like reading for 10 hours straight I do that too. Sometimes I just have tinned peaches for dinner. Or peas. A bowl of peas. Can't beat peas.
If I was back in a relationship I couldn't do any of that without it being a thing. Set meal times distress me and doing coupley things on a Sunday distress me. Sleeping in the same bed as anyone really distresses me. I won't sleep in the same room as anyone else if I can possibly help it.
But despite being an anomaly among my peers, a bit of a weirdo, someone that people jokingly refer to as a spinster (yes, really), and the fact that all of my female friends of a comparable age are in relationships or married or having babies, and in some cases, all three of those things. Despite this,
the Office of National Statistics shows that fewer women are getting married than ever before. The rates are at their lowest for the last 100 years.
More people live alone than ever before. More people are choosing to go childless than ever before. So where did this newspaper get its stats from? I just went back to check the article and realised it was the Daily Mail online.
Suddenly all is clear. I really must check my reading material more closely in future.