All the Single Ladies

Midmorning live chat, October 28, 2011

  • Kerri Miller spoke to Kate Bolick, author of the Atlantic article "All the Single Ladies," and Amanda Marcotte from Slate.

    Bolick argues that marriage market has been upended as women's economic power has grown during a time of male joblessness and what she calls "a decline in men's life prospects."
    by Jon Gordon, MPR News edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News 10/27/2011 7:04:19 PM
  • Its interesting that we approach relationships and marriage like consumers, in very self-centered way. We don't seem to think that the act of commitment or the sacrifice that comes with marriage is worth something in itself.
  • There are many woman I know who are the bread winner of their family and their husband/bf/significant other do not work. They stay home with the kids and essentially wait for thier woman to bring home the bacon.
    by Mai edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News 10/28/2011 2:40:56 PM
  • Perhaps the idea of compromise, which is one of the cornerstones of long lasting relationships, is less appealing to generations after the baby boomers.

    In a world where there is the ability to meet people from all over, people see their options to meeting someone else as endless and therefore are less willing to compromise as compared to past generations where it was only those in the city/county/state where you live, now romance can happen with anyone.
    by Nolan edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News 10/28/2011 2:41:33 PM
  • Whether male or female, better to be single and happy than settle, married and misserable.
  • I am 31 and divorced. I am a single Mom who has dated since my divorce, but am in no rush to remarry.

    I see no problem spending time focusing on my kids, myself, and my friends. I have pressure every day to remarry for my kids so they have a Dad, but I know marriage alone is not all the kids need to be happy or feel loved.

    As I see it I am a happy and successful women with a great job and wonderful kids. Marriage may add to that someday, but not right now!
    by Sarah N edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News 10/28/2011 2:42:29 PM
  • What about the fact that women of a certain generation and younger have grown up with the belief that we are equal but men are age were raised by parents who did not grow up that way. Latent sexism perpetuated throughout our society could result in male partners not contributing equally. I'd love to get married and have kids but haven't met a single guy willing/able to be an equal partner.
  • I am nearly 40, married for more than 15 yrs. with one child. Marriage is the best thing that happened to me. I get that this may not be for everyone. However, I cannot imagine my child would have as enriched an upbringing if only one of us were bringing him up.
    by Baban Velekar edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News 10/28/2011 2:44:31 PM
  • For centuries Men have been choosing women with lesser educations and accomplishments as mates. Society finds this acceptable. Why is it not acceptable for women to find male partners of lesser education and accomplishemt?
  • It's hard to say whether something is right or wrong until you've tried it. I never thought I would love to have kids but then I did and my life changed for so much better. And for the record, I have a wonderful career too.

    Is it possible that we are expecting too much of marriage? Less than 100 years ago in the Western world marriage was not about love, but about convenience and very often an economic decision. Look to India, where arranged marriages are still prevalent, even among the educated people. Not talking about settling or not, just be very clear and realistic about what marriage is.
    by Martina edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News 10/28/2011 2:45:49 PM
  • I was married for 22 years. Divorced 3 years ago, I'm now living with a wonderful man and have no plans to get married. I just honestly don't feel like it. Simple as that.
  • I'm 32, good looking and intelligent, a "good catch." I have short-term partners but have not gotten into a "relationship."

    I'm ok with the thought of marriage, someday maybe, but I'm quite used to being alone, and it actually sounds strange. I'm a very romantic person, but mostly I'd like to have a sex life one way or the other.

    The more I move along in my career as an artist, the work is the most important thing, and until I'm happy with the WAY that I work, and happy with myself, i can't imagine marriage would happen.
    by fap edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News 10/28/2011 2:47:24 PM
  • I got married at 19 to my high school sweetheart. We owned nothing, weren't finished with college, and had no money.

    Almost 30 years later, we're still going strong - happy, still in love, have raised 2 kids and have one left at home, and have a nice house and a great life.

    It's all about marrying the right person for the right reasons. No check lists!
    by anonymous edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News 10/28/2011 2:47:43 PM
  • Some people are just not as driven to coupling up or having children. That's fine. But do you really need to write a big article about it to justify it for yourself? This isn't news. Alternatives to marriage are more acceptable than ever. p.s. I'm not married.
  • The irony about dating is you're taught not to settle, to wait for the right person to come along.

    However, to get married, eventually you have to settle because none of us will ever know if the right person we say yes to is the right person until some time has passed.
    by lawrencefromstpaul edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News 10/28/2011 2:48:21 PM
  • So the problem is that men haven't learned to be proper partners AND that they date around too much. AND we have to prove to women that we're "suitable." You've come a long way baby - that's some really well disguised sexism there ladies.
  • I'm a pastor and married. When I'm counseling couples, I try to cut through the outside pressure that often is placed on young people to marry. I remind them that marriage is a choice. They don't have to get married if something doesn't feel right about it.

    I also remind them that marriage, aside from being an institution of the state, is more about fidelity and commitment than it is about romance and being blissfully happy every moment of every day. Being committed to working through problems, forgiving one another, and standing by one another for better or for worse may not be sexy, but it's what leads to healthy marriages and lifelong relationships that can be very fulfilling and yes, happy.
    by Bryant edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News 10/28/2011 2:49:26 PM
  • Sometimes I do think that we need to lower our standards. When two people are a perfect fit except for one thing that doesn't need to be a deal breaker (like good looks for example), it makes me sad. There is no perfect person.
  • I've been hearing the comments from women saying that all the men are "shallow frat boys". I am a professional with a masters degree and a good career, financially secure, culturally active, in excellent health and shape, engaging, funny, etc., and almost every woman I have dated placed a larger if not absolute value on my physical attractiveness.

    I have dated a few women who were not very attractive specifically because I thought they had a deeper and more interesting character. What I got were dates who would only comment on how handsome I was. Maybe many of these frustrated single women are subconsciously gravitating to the shallow frat boys because they hold some sort of masculine allure that woman are reluctant to admit they are attracted to.
    by Neil edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News 10/28/2011 2:50:25 PM
  • It's great when people happily couple up. I chose medical school over marriage, I'm still paying off debt at 41 and still want a family of my own. Dating is daunting and feel maybe I've painted myself in a corner. Women like me describe the same issues.. difficulty finding a man with very basic qualities.. it is a different time.
  • At-home dad, pseudo-writer / ne'er-do-well, book-seller w/ bread-winner wife who has no problem with it. Pulling my weight, but at a far discounted rate compared to my wife.
  • This conversation would be COMPLETLY different if faith were brought into the equation!! This hook-up, shack-up, break up is NOT the equivalent of marriage. I'm a 24 gal and single and happy for now, but I strongly desire marriage.
  • I think most people get married too young because they think it's a convenient way to make their lives more interesting or because they think of it as a way to prove to their parents or peers that they indeed are making progress in their lives. Big mistake in my opinion.
  • I made a declaration at 30, too, after marrying in my 20's and a very rough divorce. Serial monogamy seemed like the best possible option, until I met my current husband.

    He IS an underemployed renaissance man--creative, brilliant, funny, but how he's been for me in the past 13 years has been nothing short of amazing, he stands by my side, supported me through my Ph.d., job travails and cares like a "Mr. Mom" for our two wonderful children.

    I am a very strong, independent woman, (he is a strong, independent man)we have struggles like any other family, but when it is said and done, we will grow old together. Consider myself blessed and lucky. It's not about the institution of marriage, it is about partnership.
    by Kay edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News 10/28/2011 2:52:01 PM
  • Let's say you really want kids. Why not marry the guy that has similar economic ideas, ideas about raising children, and that you get along with. Perhaps we shouldn't always factor in love so heavily, because it can come later in the relationship, and if it doesn't, I think mutual respect can be enough.
  • I'm a 31Yr old married man. In my twenties I was not sure if I wanted to get married. I think we put the cart before the horse a bit. We decide if we want to get married first and then look for the mate. I did not know I wanted to be married until my wife and I dated for a bit.
  • A big role of everyone's life is to have offspring to continue life on this earth.. if a single woman thinks she can maintain that without having a partner to share responsibilities, then be it. But 'not to have kids' is a scary thought if it dominates a culture of a society.
  • I think something that hasn't been talked about so much is loneliness. Honestly, "Marriage" would perhaps not be such a big deal if there were other types of communal relationships that were common in our society. Living with a community of 2 or 3 likeminded women in a home structure that allowed for privacy and community of adult, affluent women would be/have been a great choice for me. Our social isolation, architectural styles, etc. influence our choices on how not to go through life alone.
  • My two cents: If you need to partner up, partner up with someone you can continually learn with. Learning & sharing are what keep person true to themselves.
  • Thank you for this great discussion! I am approaching my 36th birrthday and have never been married. Just ended a 2 year plus relationship and facing being single again at difficult age.

    I think there is a ton of pressure to marry and have kids and you're labeled as "damaged goods" if you're past a certain age and not married or choose not to have kids.

    I wish there was a lot more conversation like this and support for people who choose not to have kids or just simply recognizing that everyone has there own path and timeline. There are expectations that everyone do certain things in their life at a certain age and it's awful especially for women and men who don't fit this "mold."

    How can we feel good about ourselves and where we're at in our lives with all these pressures and expectations?
    by Mimi edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News 10/28/2011 3:04:04 PM
  • I'd think it comes down to deciding to have children or not. Marriage or commitment is maybe also about the decision to have a child or children?

    A family is a bit like running a company, and you want to be sure that both partners are on the same side. I guess ultimately you need to really know yourself really well to know what you want and also to be really honest to other people about life goals.
    by Sonja Schmer-Galunder edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News 10/28/2011 3:05:04 PM
  • I actually knew my husband on an acquaintance level in college, but didn't start dating him until we remet in our early thirties.

    We have often commented on how we are glad we didn't date when we were young, because we both had a lot of growing to do and life to live before being ready for each other; I lived in Boston and Eugene, OR in that ten year period, completed graduate school, and traveled.

    Now that we've been happily married for a year, we are excited to start a family and move into this next phase of our lives. I love being married and I know I married the right man at the right time, but I also loved my life and the opportunities single life gave me. Our family and friends often comment on what a happy, loving couple we are...I know this is in part because we started dating when we were both happy with who we are and where we were at in life. There seems to be a lot of pressure to marry without consideration on when someone is ready and this point is different for everyone.
    by Amy LB edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News 10/28/2011 3:05:38 PM
  • I am a married 40 year old male. I am searching for answers in this world as well. I am surprised that I haven't heard one person talk about how their religion plays a role in making these choices.
  • The concept of being comfortable being alone seems to be relevant here. Do people get married just because they don't know how to be alone?
  • I think the changing paradigm, resulting in more people being single than committed, has been tough on men.
  • @Treeman : Ugh, I see that all. the. time. I am also a college professor. I find myself biting my tongue so much of the time, as I know that those girls are likely future divorcees.
  • Why can't these women and men who are getting divorced, work through their differences to make things work. It has to be okay to be a different person at 30 than you are at 19. You can't just go find a cookie cutter spouse that fits your new personality.
    by Joanne edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News 10/28/2011 3:08:10 PM
  • @Logic Wow, 'Logic'. A big role of everyone's life is to have offspring to continue life on this earth.
    No one, male, female, married, unmarried is under any obligation to create offspring. This is a whole other topic for a later show/chat.
  • Dan: Dude, nobody likes job hunting for the same reasons you said you hate dating. So unless you want to be single and unemployed, suck it up and get out there! Read some books. Polish your presentation. But please don't whine. It's embarrassing to our gender ;-)
  • I have no problem articulating that I don't want children. I figured this out when I was like 16. Society on the other hand is who has a problem with it ... yet I've met dozens of women who've told me "they wished they hadn't had children"
  • I have been single all of my life (60+yrs) by choice. I went throught all the "whats wrong with her" etc. questions. I broke off an engagement because I knew in my heart it wasn't for me.

    I do resent others who say they are the LUCKY ones. It's like saying I'm lucky to be a lawyer not a professor. It is a matter of choice. Nether option is right or wrong just a life style.
    by janelle edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News 10/28/2011 3:09:17 PM
  • My husband died at 45 and I entered a relationship that lasted almost ten years. I had to ask him to leave.

    What I have learned is that it is not worth your psychological and emotional health to "settle" for a person who is not good enough, or not the best person for you.

    My advice for thirty or forty somethings is to stay single and learn to enjoy and appreciate it.
    by christine edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News 10/28/2011 3:09:50 PM
  • I think there are lots of ways in an individual's life to feel happy. The grass is always greener on the other side, just maybe you're in the other pasture! Just maybe both pastures are beautiful and you happen to be in this one. Enjoy the grass of the pasture you're in since you can't get always be in the other side.
    by Becky Alsop edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News 10/28/2011 3:10:31 PM
  • I am a single mother and would love to be in a relationship. However, I am taking my time to enjoy my kids, love myself and find out what is really important in life. At some point I will marry again, but only when it is right for myself and my kids, not when others think it needs to happen.
  • I got married at 25, before my life was established, career, etc. My partner and I grew up together. We were lucky and have a very happy and healthy marriage. At 37 now, I don't know if I could find someone to fit into my life.
  • Another thing to consider is that many men in their 20s and 30s have been married before and therefore have children (and ex-wives) from a previous marriage.

    The divorce rate for marriages where there are children from a previous marriage is close to 70%. That gives pause.
    by Kris edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News 10/28/2011 3:12:06 PM
  • I find much of this dialogue highly un-evolved, archaic and rather Neanderthal.

    I'm personally living in 2011. I believe that everyone should do and live to their hearts content. I'm personally tired of, and have been for years, the conservative rights fear of people "not getting married, having numerous children, over populating the earth, yet not wanting to pay more taxes and believing only they should not only have the right to marry, BUT receive a flipping tax break to add people who take resources'. Seriously - our tax code has living in the 17th century and needs to evolve.

    Single people own homes, pay taxes, support schools, libraries, infrastructure, have jobs, add more to the economy per person than total families. Yet we have always gotten the short stick financially. While I'm a SVP and have worked super hard, I know single non-parents get less pay and its taken into account for compensation.
    by Heidi, 47 yr. old happy &... edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News 10/28/2011 3:13:40 PM
  • Personally, I view marriage as a tool (that should be available to everyone) that helps faciliate people's commitment to take care of each other.
  • I still think there is a stigma against single women. I am only 23, and I am constantly getting questioned as to why I'm not married or engaged yet.
  • to also demystify another idea: Single people are NOT lonely. I'm happy, fulfilled, have too much going on each and every day and have strong loving relationships.
  • On another portion of this conversation, however, I don't like the institution of marriage as its bigoted and only supports the small interpretation of some. I have had numerous wonderful loving relationships, and unlike many, with the exception of 1 of my relationships, I have remained GOOD friends with each and everyone of my lovers. They have become a part of my extended family, and its highly harmonious. I believe individuals should live/let live, support each other for the decisions that are our own...but most importantly I think we should all challenge ourselves to know who we are and what we really want.
    by Heidi, 47 yr. old happy &... edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News 10/28/2011 3:17:16 PM
  • Here's the article that inspired this conversation. all the single ladies
  • People, DO not feel sorry for women who CHOSE to be single. There isn't anything wrong with us. We are choosing our happiness, our lives and not to compromise this for something we may deem less than fulfilling. I love men, but I don't want to live with one, I like spending time with them, but I don't want to check in with someone each and every day, and that is my choice, and like many women these choices makes us happy and fulfilled.
  • Here is an article by Slate's Amanda Marcotte: "Marriage Market" Theories
  • @Heidi ... I agree! It's pretty much a 'huh? why is this still a big deal' thing for me, too; kinda makes me want to watch Little House on the Prairie reruns.
  • If you want to read more about the history of marriage, Stephanie Coontz was an important source for Kate Bolick's article. Stephanie Coontz article archive.
  • @Anne. Sure, at 25 you are much more mailable, amiable and don't have enough of your own set views and interests vs. at 37. And I know you feel blessed for what you have, what you have built - no one is taking that away from you.

    At 37 you are right what you want has totally changed and you and your partner have created what you want together, but since that was your path you don't know what it may have been otherwise and yes now at 37 had you been alone you may have wanted something very different. The point is, what you have done and what I have done for our lives is all good - we aren't attacking what you have done and I fully support it.

    But just understand that being single has been the MINORITY FOREVER...and living as the minority with people shoving marriage and children down our throats from friends, family, society and our government is not a fun pill to swallow. We are simply asking for peace, understanding and for the former majority to not say to us or those coming after us that marriage is the only way.
    by Heidi, 47 yr. old happy &... edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News 10/28/2011 3:36:41 PM
  • There is a large part of the population that is simply unsuitable for marriage. Too many people are unwilling to sacrifice for love. Grad school vs. Love -> grad school. Launch career vs. Love -> launch career. Independence vs. Love -> independence.
    My wife and I got married when we were young.
  • @Ruby and @Lucy - Completely concur - for those living in 17th century Calvinist Puritan days, get a grip and let the sun shine in. We all get a choice on how to live and one is not better than the other
  • I am a 46 year old single woman, I am well educated, have a great job, and chose to be a single Mom because I had not found the right man. Would I marry if I found him? If I were younger the social norm would win out, but now that I know I can live without marriage, all bets are off. My definition is more important that any social definition of partnering.
  • Today's hour seemed to focus on the choice of being single OR being married. There IS a middle ground. Marriage is a legal and/or religious institution that many of us choose to live outside of. My opposite sex partnership of 13 years is important a commitment to me as my 8 year marriage was. After geting divorced, I had an opportunity to consciously assess whether I needed the cultural construct of the institution of marriage to support or define my committed relationship. The answer was no. The way I see it, I have the best of both worlds. ;-)
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