51% of women under 50 years old have never been married and only one third are living with a partner. More than half of cohabiting couples break up within three years and only a quarter maintain their relationships for more than five years. Around half the London population between 20 and 59 are single, with the widest difference between London and elsewhere among 45- to 60-year-olds. There are twice as many single people in this age group in London than in the rest of the UK. Housing is so expensive that overcrowding is having an effect on relationships and people are waiting longer to have children together.
There are a huge number of single people in London and yet it seems impossible to find a serious partner. Are there too many people to chose from? Are we looking for The One, our soul mate, perfection? Infidelity is very common and the choice to remain with a partner can be removed from our power. Work is so consuming that it can leave little time or energy for a relationship.
Valentines Day can really rub your nose in this miserable state of affairs. Self esteem and confidence can plummet which makes you vulnerable to an abusive relationship and believe me, being single is infinitely, immeasurably better than one of those.
The media can’t decide whether being single is a wonderful freedom or a terrible burden, whether Coco Chanel or Bridget Jones, George Cluny or Johnny Vegas are role models, but it’s quite clear that there’s a difference between being alone and being isolated. There's wisdom in Pascal's assertion that, "All men's miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone."
Take a browse through Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone by Eric Klinenberg
Klinenberg proposes that many people who are single are absolutely not unhappy old maids or slobs but living enthusiastically, creating a new paradigm for relating intimately and in wider social groups. He doesn’t avoid the misery that attends loneliness but neither does he stress it, instead celebrating the many ways in which single people are living contented, creative, fulfilled and significant lives with and without children.
Whatever you’re doing today, whether you’re with people who love you or on your own, I hope it’s satisfying and meaningful for you. Happy Valentine’s Day.
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