We live in a culture that celebrates and elevates couples, but carrier pigeons are singles such as outliers, outsiders and strange balls that someone can not find to love them.
If you admit that you do not have a partner, you usually get a forwad and a & # 39; there, you will soon meet somebody & # 39 ;.
My father, now sadly left, called me a & # 39; lover & # 39; when I was 33. He did not say it in a jokey way. He was sincerely serious. We were visiting my aunt and uncle when the inevitable question was asked: "So, the danger that you are going to marry, Catherine? & # 39;
My answer, in which I explained that I had just broken out with a friend I had lived with, but who had not treated me well, was followed with frowning eyebrows.
Well, you do not get younger, & # 39; said my uncle, when my father roared. Nobody congratulated me because I had left an unhealthy relationship.
On my way home, I complained that my aunt and uncle were like me & a freeman & # 39; treated. My father's reaction? Well, you are a lover, & # 39; he said firmly. For him, a woman who reached her in the early 30's without finding a husband in the closet was, & # 39; beyond & # 39; We had a big argument in the car.
Catherine Gray, 38, (photo) shares her unexpected joy to be single in a new book, she remembers that she has tried her 20s to try everything to avoid being single
It does not matter that his marriage with my mother had collapsed and that another long-term relationship had failed. For my father, the most important thing was that there was nothing worse than a bachelor, a woman alone.
I was completely distraught. When I exclaimed myself, I tried to figure out why this had hurt me so badly.
I realized that I felt like I had failed as a person as a person because I had not yet found my life partner. I felt unelected, unwanted.
But if being single is so terrible, why are more than half of us ignoring than calledom?
The most recent data collected by Mintel in the Single Lifestyles 2017 report showed that 51 percent of Britons aged 25 to 44 are single (including divorces).
A typical British millennial (born after 1980, I am on the eve of this generation) is expected to live alone, without a partner, for an average of 15 years, with only one in two expecting to marry.
Meanwhile, the number of single-person households in the UK has more than doubled in the past 40 years.
Although statistics show that singles have grown to the majority of the over-45s, it still feels rebellious, trend-making to be single after your 20th. Why? Because we are still living in the shadow of the nuclear family and groaning under the weight of our parents' expectations.
The irony is that their experience can be an important reason why we turn our backs on marriage.
During the growing up of the Baby Boomer generation (those born between 1946 and 1964), there was an almighty marriage leap, which is probably the reason why our parents are so perplexed that we are not married as they were because of our age.
In the sixties the marriage rates were 80 percent. Our parents have grown up in a climate of & # 39; the marriage is the best & # 39 ;.
For them, marriage was the norm. It was just what they did, and what their peers did. Being single was a deviation. The fact that until the 1970s a woman could not get a bank loan or a mortgage without a man to sign with, could also have been an important factor: marriage was a means of escape.
My mother, like so many of her generation, was married in the early twenties. At the age of 23 she was considered old in her social environment – my father was 22.
For the generation of my mother, single is not a choice. It is an undesirable period in which you sit between men. It gave me a total failure
This worship of coupled sins is something that they have passed on to us, their children.
Our parents taught us to be afraid of being single. We were brainwashed by thinking that a happy ever-after is always accompanied by finding a partner; be afraid to be alone.
I know this fear deeply. That is why in my twenties I have never been single and instead went from friend to friend. I thought that every relationship, no matter how poisonous, was better than none.
When I was not with someone, I felt flat and dark, like a pitch-black room waiting for someone to come, to touch the light and animate it again.
It never occurred to me that I could just be alone, certainly not that I could be alone and happy. And this was not just me – these feelings were normal with my friends.
Catherine (photo) revealed that she wandered desperately for much of her twenties to find her other half and broke & # 39; broken & # 39; felt when she was single
I spent a large part of my years' feeling that I was in some way & # 39; broken & # 39; was like I had no boyfriend. I bought the idea from the & # 39; other half & # 39; crochet, line and heart-felter and felt terribly incomplete when I was solo. I wandered around looking for my missing other half.
But as a result, instead of that love blooming over me like wisteria, it had me in a poisonous ivy-like chokehold, threatening my well-being. I used to do everything to prevent me being single, including taking a substandard treatment and dating people I was not so good at.
Recently I thought back to my relationships and it dawned on me that I have defined myself for more than a decade by the men in my life. Only now do I understand why I was the way I was.
I grew up in a culture that appreciated romantic love, marriage, a happy ending. The conditioning came not only from family but also from television and advertising – think of all those sitcoms and advertisements with their perky families, from the Oxo ads to The Cosby Show.
Should the marriage be a temporary agreement?
About 24 percent of 18-24 year-olds believe that there should be temporary marriage contracts similar to those of mobile phone providers
By the age of sixteen I had witnessed the fact that my mother had two divorces (although her third marriage lasted), while my father had one divorce and had broken another serious relationship.
Again, my experience is not uncommon with my contemporaries. Divorce rates in the UK rose in the eighties and nineties and Baby Boomers are now the age group most likely to divorce her. No wonder that their children, who have come out on the other side of the dysfunctional houses or split up their parents later in life, are reluctant to marry.
You would think, given their problems, that my parents had done everything to get me off the idea of marriage. But still, at least, their rocky relationship history made them all sharper that I should not be alone, a scenario that they feared more than anything else.
For the generation of my mother, single was not a choice, it was an undesirable period that you were among men. By the time I was in their twenties – a serial dater in my frantic search for & # 39; The One & # 39; – my mother had never been single for more than a year in her entire life. This may help explain why I have ever had to forbid her to constantly ask me about men I mentioned on a date with. & # 39; Has that-and-such been in contact? & # 39; Became an almost daily chorus.
Catherine (photo) believes that many people have set the bar much higher than their parents when they are looking for a partner in the hope of having a successful marriage
My brother and I always joked about finding the most stereotypically unsuitable man we could and brought him home to introduce him to my mother as my friend, so she could find ways to like him.
I could have let a man with a spray tattoo crawl over his face and she would have said: "He is just that alternative! Gutsy in his style choices. & # 39; They would have found a way to approve.
She wanted me to be half of a bunch, not in the narrow single world.
The widespread resistance to being single, the stigma attached to it, meant that people routinely relied on relationships that they did not really want.
But when we came of age and picked up all those subliminal messages about romantic love and found Mr. Right, we raised the bar much higher than our parents when we were looking for a partner.
Our parents had taught us the importance of marriage – but unlike them, we were determined to have happy, successful people.
Modern Romance, by Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg, is a splendid investigation into the modern dating landscape. It suggests that while our parents were willing to settle for & # 39; you will close marriages & # 39 ;, we now & # 39; soul related marriages & # 39; want.
In the 1960s, 76 percent of American women (and 35 percent of men) were willing to marry someone they did not like. But in the 1980s only 9 percent of American women and 14 percent of American men were married to someone they did not like. An incredible change.
Catherine (photo) says that when she was younger, she put a relationship above her personal happiness
This, however, makes it more difficult to find a person with whom we want to marry. In a 2013 TED talk (an online lecture), the psychotherapist Esther Perel analyzed how our expectations have risen to unprecedented levels.
We do not just want a partner for life to give us children, social status and company. "But in addition, I want you to be my best friend and my trusted confidant and my passionate lover to start & # 39 ;," said Perel. So we come to one person and in fact ask them to give us what once gave an entire village. . . give me comfort, newness, fame. Give me a surprise. & # 39;
And we want all of this to happen at the right age, not too young, not too old. But as my generation begins to realize, this is a big task.
Our perception was that relationships are euphoria-givers, but the hard evidence, the reality, does not match that wildly romanticized expectation. Research suggests that marriage only gives a brief blow in satisfaction. The message is that if you were not happy before the marriage, you are somehow not magically happy in one way or another.
When I was younger, I stated that I was in a couple above my own happiness – and the contemporary dating scene made the confusion even worse.
In some ways, dating apps and online dating have been a positive development, widening the pool of potential partners, which inevitably shrinks as you get older.
But I have discovered that, paradoxically, if we have too much choice, we can choose paralyzed, dissatisfied and less easily at all.
My mother grew up in a village with a pool of maybe ten to choose from. In London or a big city, I think it's impossible to scroll to the end of the choices in the Tinder dating app.
Catherine (photo) claims that people are more inclined to check whether someone they find attractive on a dating app than the courage to talk to them personally
The result is that you always think that someone is better for you outside of it. But how can you & # 39; that one & # 39; find if you can choose from thousands and thousands?
Without a doubt, dating apps have made dating deeper and more transactional. Everyone, including me, only judges, but we all know that attraction is the whole package – appearance and personality.
The days when you have the courage to chat to a boy or a girl of your choice quickly disappear. If a man sees a woman he finds attractive in a bar, chances are he will not talk to her, but instead will use a dating app that brings available people to the location, to see if she is there .
For those who do take the knot, the marriage takes place later and later. The Office for National Statistics published a report in 2018 that states: & # 39; For marriages of couples of different gender, the average (average) age for men who got married in 2015 was 37.5 years, for women this was 35.1 year. & # 39;
Half of my friends were still single, but the other half was part of a church hustle in the 1930s. Many wanted to have children and had the age of 35 ringed in their heads with a black mark of damnation when their fertility deteriorated.
In 1970 the average marriage ages were 27 for men and 25 for women. In comparison with 1970, men marry almost 11 years later, while women marry ten years later.
In addition, 42 percent of marriages end in divorce, meaning that nearly half of those who walk hopefully and radiantly through the aisle will suddenly turn up later in life.
I am not saying that the marriage is claptrap or claims that single are & # 39; better & # 39; is. But it is certainly not worse. The young singles of today are often treated as Peter Pans, overgrown adolescents, and adults in training. But perhaps many have made the right choice.
Catherine (photo) is of the opinion that the last two and a half years of being single have been the best years of her life
Women can now have sex outside of marriage without community testing; we can have socially accepted children without a spouse; we can insure a roof over our heads without the signature of a man; we can have a stellar career and earn nearly as much as equivalent men, and we can choose not to get married without being outcast.
Marriage can be something very beautiful. There is nothing wrong with two people who choose a public and permanent commitment to each other. If I ever had children, I would want it to be within the stability of a marriage.
But I am no longer sure that marriage is a wise goal for everyone. Some flourish, while others wither.
I am now single, apart from short affairs that have never ended up in the friendly / friendly territory for the past two and a half years. And they have been the best years of my life.
I am no longer afraid of being alone. I can date without losing my marbles, and I have learned to enjoy my simplicity instead of stubbornly looking at couples, thinking: & # 39; I want that. Why do not I have that? & # 39;
Ten years ago, when I was 28, it was unthinkable for a few months date-free. I had to find a husband. But at the age of 38 my mind feels so much calmer now that I'm not frantically searching for the One & # 39;
I promise not to be single forever. But I reserve the right to choose to be single and be proud of it.
Adapted from The Unexpected Joy of being Single, by Catherine Gray, published by Aster for £ 9.99. © Catherine Gray 2019. To order a copy for £ 7.99 (offer valid until 23/1/19; P & P free for orders over £ 15), go to www.mailshop.co.uk/ books of call 0844 571 0640.