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The Single Essays

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With 43% of women in the UK living alone, Stylist asks what single life is really like in 2014. Ten single women shared their candid stories in this week's magazine. Here are 7 more insights on the highs and lows of life as a single woman.

Share your experience in the comments below of on Twitter @StylistMagazine

"I wanted my own independence…”

Lisa Mahoney, 28, marketing manager, Bristol

"I ended a four year relationship in December due to an overwhelming feeling that I had changed as a person and was no longer in a relationship that worked for me. I was very uncomfortable with the prospect of never having the opportunity of real self-discovery again – it’s incredibly difficult to learn about yourself when you are dependent on a man. I was also quite financially dependent on him; it’s ultimately one of the main reasons I decided to end the relationship. As a working, 28-year-old woman, I felt uncomfortable about the fact that I had no real assets of my own.

It’s quite scary to become single at the age of 28 – when most of your friends are newlyweds or becoming new parents – but instead of making me resentful, it actually makes me more determined to ‘figure myself out’ before I really settle down.

I watch too many people stay in dead-end relationships for the sake of meeting the status quo, or because it’s ‘easy’. I never want to be one of those women.”

“It’s important to be open to different kinds of people…”

Jen Stebbing, 34, communications consultant, London

"I’ve been single since May last year when a two-year relationship broke up, and it’s amazing how different it is being single now compared to being single at 31. Tinder’s a great new revelation and you can kind of tell who’s just on there for sex and whittle them out. Mostly, though, men at 34 have suddenly become much more serious. Three years ago, the men I was dating weren’t thinking, ‘Oh my god, all my friends are getting married and having children and I’m going to be left on the shelf.’ Whereas now, it doesn’t feel like I’m going to have to work very hard to convince someone that it’s a good time to settle down.

One thing I have learnt is not to rule someone out immediately if you don’t think they’re exactly what you’re looking for. It’s important to be open to different kinds of people, even if you’re not going to be with them in a romantic way."

“I’m not afraid of being on my own…”

Storm Grayson, 62, secretary, Wiltshire

“I’ve been married and divorced twice, but I’ve been single since 1992. I’ve had several boyfriends since then but nothing really serious. I enjoy the single life. I’m very independent and I’m not afraid of being on my own.

I’m a single child, I have no brothers and sisters and no relatives apart from my elderly mother and a distant cousin who loves in Canada. Growing up without any siblings has made me used to being on my own. Being an only child, sharing wasn’t high on my priorities list. The buck stopped with me then, and it still does now.

I don’t feel lonely without a family; I have a lot of hobbies and do lots of jobs – I <can> because I’m single. I have a lot of friends too, and a ‘proxy’ family – my friend’s family who have ‘adopted’ me as their own.

It would be nice to have another relationship before I get too old and doddery, but my freedom is somewhat restricted because I’m currently caring for my mother who is 94. She is my priority at the moment. I moved back in with her last year because she wouldn’t have anyone else look after her. It wouldn’t be fair to anyone to strike up any sort of relationship while I’m caring for her. When she eventually passes, I think I’ll probably move abroad. I don’t think I’ll be lonely, I’m used to travelling on my own, and would enjoy the adventure.”

“My accident helped me face life as a single parent…”

Annaliese Morgan, 38, author and blogger, West Yorkshire

“I’ve been single for five years since divorcing my husband. It was a hard decision, because there were children involved, and I remember sitting with him on the sofa and saying, “I’m going to say something after three: one, two, three…” Then I told him I wanted a divorce.

I love single life at the moment; I’ve really grown as a person, have set up my own work projects and have really come out of my shell. It’s good because I feel like my happiness doesn’t depend on someone else now, and that’s made me a stronger person.

It’s not easy being on your own with two children. But I had a terrible accident a few years ago that I think provided me with a lot of strength and courage that I didn’t realise I had. My ex-husband and I were hit by a car travelling at 70mph and I was catapulted into a brick wall. It was a long journey to recovery. My left knee was broken badly and the skin on my right lower leg was lacerated. My right femur bone had come through the skin, I had broken toes and ribs and also punctured my lungs (which required seven operations). I spent three months in hospital and I had to learn to walk again. But I think it changed me in a good way, I found confidence to face things head on.

It would be nice to meet someone. Sometimes when you tell people you’ve been single for five years it makes you seem a little freakish. The problem is, nobody ever asks me out. I’m not really into internet dating, either. I felt very exposed, like an item on a shop shelf. I’m positive it’s going to happen though. I’m just waiting for my fairytale ending. I believe in destiny, and if two people are meant to be together, they will be.”

Annaliese’s e-book, Breaking Chains (£2.49, Kindle Edition) is out now

“I’m prepared to wait for the right person…”

Cath Halsall, 45, logistics and procurement officer, Peterborough

"I’ve been married twice and both relationships ended after my husbands had affairs. It’s had an impact on my ability to trust people; I’m not going to jump into anything feet first – it’s going to be a long, slow build up this time round.

It’s incredibly scary being single at 45 – to think that I might still be single in another five years, at 50. I’m aware that my body is deteriorating, so that’s always in the back of my mind. Things start getting nearer to the ground and you start getting a bit more conscious about your appearance.

It would be nice to share my life with someone else, and I’m on a couple of dating websites, but I’m waiting for someone who is exactly right because I’m at a point in my life where I can be choosy – I’m prepared to wait. Online dating means you can truly get to know someone by exchanging emails for a long time before you meet up. I like that security."

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“I’d never cohabit again…”

Angela Atkinson, 57, mature student, Swindon

“I would be a liar if I said that I wasn’t lonely sometimes, but overall, I’m ok with being single. I married at 18 and was divorced approximately 17 years after that. Luckily, though, I don’t feel any pressure to find someone. I think it’s the circles I move in. Because I’m a student, I have lots of young friends in their 20s and 30s, although occasionally I’ll meet people – mostly women – who think I’m a bit odd because I’m not desperate to be living with someone.

I’d like a boyfriend, but I wouldn’t cohabit. I’ve spent a lot of years wading through treacle to get to a level of contentment and get financially secure with my house; I can’t afford to risk that.

I try not to think too much about the future. I’d like to have a relationship but I realise that I’m getting old; I’m pushing 60, and it gets harder. I still see in young people this idea that they’re not complete unless they’re in a relationship, and that’s so not true. It took me a long time to realise that.”

“I don’t ever want to get married…”

Francesca Monti, 28, Senior Marketing Executive, Salisbury

My mum always said I never used to plan a wedding as a child, I would plan a divorce. I don’t want to get married. I don’t see the point in a piece of paper, you can create a personal contract between the two of you – you don’t need to have a wedding to do so.

I’ve only been on three dates in my life, but each of them seems to have ended up in a relationship, and I’ve fallen hard and fast. Then, inevitably, my world comes crashing down when we break up.

I panic when I’m in a dating environment – like a dinner or drinks – whereas if I bump into someone at Waitrose I can happily talk their socks off. I’m really good at job interviews, but the idea of going on a dating website and meeting people absolutely terrifies me.

The best thing about being single is that I don’t have any commitments to anybody other than myself. If I have to pull out of social commitments because of work, it doesn’t matter. Whereas if you’re with someone – especially in the initial stages of dating – than you really have to make the effort, which, from a selfish point of view, I just don’t want to do.

Even though I don’t want to get married, I do want kids. I’d never worried about age before but I’m starting to. I want to be able to meet someone organically, have an enjoyable time getting to know them, and have the option of having kids. Rather than being told, “Sorry love, you’re too old for it.” It’s not something I want taken away from me; I want it to be my choice.

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