While the number of single people in the United States is increasing (it’s now 50.2% of Americans…wowza!), the stigma attached to being a single woman in her 30s has not lessened. This is according a study that was done at the University of Missouri in 2009.
Here’s one of the study’s authors explaining how the pressure feels for women:
“We found that never-married women’s social environments are characterized by pressure to conform to the conventional life pathway. This pressure was manifested in women feeling highly visible and invisible. Heightened visibility came from feelings of exposure and invisibility came from assumptions made by others.”
-Larry Ganong, co-chair of Human Development and Family Studies in the College of Human Environmental Sciences.
Apparently, unmarried women feel the pressure most acutely between the ages of 25 and 35. As an unmarried 33 year old woman, I can definitely relate. Nothing shocking in that study. But for me, the pressure is less about conforming to a conventional way of life, and more about these silent judgmental feelings I think that other, married or older, people are thinking about me – the big WHY of me not being married yet. WHY haven’t I been “found” yet? It’s like the first round of a football draft – and having this feeling of not being a first round pick.
It takes a lot of self-work to get over those feelings, especially if you are someone who consciously wants to find a life partner and get married.
Another interesting tidbit from the study is that after age 35, the pressure dies down a bit. I guess that’s when the hub-bub of engagements, weddings and first babies dies down, and the collective societal pressure relaxes a bit.
If the trend of ‘singledom’ in American continues to increase, do you think the stigma will lessen? Or is the stigma biologically and evolutionarily ingrained in us so that we can continue desiring a mate and ultimately, children?