“That old maid myth is garbage”: Famous women on the power of being single

Posted by
Kayleigh Dray
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“So… why are you still single?”  

It may be the 21st century, with more and more people choosing to stay single than ever before, but there’s still a lot of pressure on women to conform to sexist and outdated narratives. They’re frequently asked why they haven’t settled down, warned that their biological clocks are ticking, and made to feel like bagging an engagement ring is the be-all and end-all of everything.

But, despite what some people might have you believe, being single is an awesome state of being – and one of the most empowering, too.

Yes, while relationships can be lovely, marriage and monogamy isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be – and many of us feel most satisfied, fulfilled, and happy when we’re going it alone.

As Carrie Bradshaw famously told Sex and the City fans, “being single used to mean that nobody wanted you. Now it means you’re pretty sexy and you’re taking your time deciding how you want your life to be and who you want to spend it with.”

From Charlize Theron to Gloria Steinem, Kim Cattrall to Rihanna, we’ve looked to these empowering women for some words of wisdom on the power of being single…

  • Nicki Minaj

    NEW YORK, NY - MAY 07: Nicki Minaj attends the Heavenly Bodies: Fashion & The Catholic Imagination Costume Institute Gala at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 7, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by James Devaney/GC Images)
    Acts of kindness: Nicki Minaj.

    “As soon as I realised that I could actually live and breathe, and eat and sleep, and walk and talk, without having a boyfriend, something clicked in me. Becoming single was one of the things that made me feel strong and powerful. The fact that I am a young woman who doesn’t need a man for money. I don’t need a man for a job. I’ve never had to f**k for beats. I’ve never had to f**k for a record deal. I don’t have those pressures. I get up when I want, shop when I want.”

  • Carol Vorderman

    CHELTENHAM, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 15: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 24 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Carol Vorderman attends day 3 'St Patrick's Thursday' of the Cheltenham Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse on March 15, 2018 in Cheltenham, England. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

    “I love being single. It means I never have to compromise - if I want to move to a new city, that’s up to me and I don’t have to consider anyone else. It’s how I like to be. I don’t need a man to look after me ¬financially, thank you very much. And I’m never lonely because I have many friends who love mischief as much as me and everyone knows I’m a party animal. People think if you’re not in a relationship, you’re at home knitting. That’s certainly not the case for me. Being single, in my mind, means I have lots of boyfriends at the same time and no commitment to any of them. Perfect. I haven’t had a committed thing for years out of choice. I don’t want it.”

  • Rihanna

    “Guys need attention. They need that nourishment, that little stroke of the ego that gets them by every now and then. I'll give it to my family, I'll give it to my work—but I will not give it to a man right now.”

  • Katy Perry

    “I’ve learnt I’m in a very modern fairytale, but I also know I don’t need the Prince Charming to have a happy ending. I can make the happy ending myself.”

  • Jennifer Lawrence

    “I’m not a lonely person. I never feel lonely… it’s not a sad thing to be alone. I think what I was trying to get across was that I don’t feel a lack of something not being in a relationship. I don’t feel like there is an emotional void to be filled.”

  • Mindy Kaling

    “It’s funny, I used to freak out about being single much more in my twenties. I’ve noticed that the more professional success I have, or the more happy I am professionally, the less I worry about that because I have a great deal of professional confidence… I love being by myself. I think that if I was in the wrong relationship, which I have been in several, that would be so much worse than the feeling of autonomy I feel right now.”

  • Jennifer Aniston

    “I don’t know. I don’t like girls whining and complaining about wanting a man! I never liked Sex and the City, the kind of thing where women only feel empowered once they find The Man. It is just not up my alley. I don’t believe in it. There is nothing you can control about love.”

  • Jennifer Lopez

    “I was waiting for Prince Charming. Everybody I met was going to be the guy I was going to spend my life with. And then you realise, ‘I’m strong, I’m my own keeper, my own saviour’.”

  • Rashida Jones

    “I had the full princess fantasy: the white horse, the whole being saved from my life, which is ridiculous. What do I want to be saved from? My life’s great! But it’s just this weird thing that’s been hammered into my head culturally: that’s the only way to succeed, that’s the only thing that counts for a woman. I’m happy, but the fact that I’m not married and don’t have kids — it’s taken me a long time to get to a place where I actually am OK with that, where I actually don’t feel like I’m some sort of loser.”

  • Chelsea Handler

    “It’s not just O.K. to be single for both men and women — it’s wonderful to be single, and society needs to embrace singlehood in all its splendiferous, solitary glory. Next time you see a single woman, instead of asking her where her boyfriend, husband or eunuch is, congratulate her on her accomplished sense of self and for reaching the solitary mountaintop by herself without a ring on her finger weighing her down like a male paperweight. Without single women and their impressive sense of self, we’d be without Queen Elizabeth I, Marie-Sophie Germain, Susan B. Anthony, Florence Nightingale, Jane Austen, Harper Lee, Diane Keaton, Greta Garbo, Jane Goodall and me, myself and I. Being single is delightfully more than it’s cracked up to be … if you can stand the horror of your own company, that is.”

  • Taylor Swift

    “I’m perpetually single. Being alone is not the same as being lonely. I like to do things that glorify being alone. I buy a candle that smells pretty, turn down the lights, and make a playlist of low-key songs. If you don’t act like you’ve been hit by the plague when you’re alone on a Friday night, and just see it as a chance to have fun by yourself, it’s not a bad day.”

  • Keke Palmer

    “It's very fun to be single, because you know what happens? You find yourself. You understand what it means to love yourself, instead of putting all this energy into give and tug in a relationship.”

  • Lady Gaga

    “Some women choose to follow men, and some women choose to follow their dreams. If you’re wondering which way to go, remember that your career will never wake up and tell you that it doesn’t love you anymore.” 

  • Halle Berry

    “The man for me is the cherry on the pie. But I’m the pie and my pie is good all by itself. Even if I don’t have a cherry.”

  • Diane Keaton

    “I remember when I was young I honestly believed in some ridiculous way that you would find someone who would be the person you lived with until you died. I don't think that because I'm not married it's made my life any less. That old maid myth is garbage.”

  • Katharine Hepburn

    “I put on pants 50 years ago and declared a sort of middle road. I have not lived as a woman. I have lived as a man. I’ve just done what I damn well wanted to and I’ve made enough money to support myself and I ain’t afraid of being alone.”

  • Elisabeth Moss

    Elisabeth Moss
    Elisabeth Moss

    “It’s fun to go out at night and not know what’s going to happen. I’m addicted and obsessed with my freedom in that sense. I’m having fun!”

  • Grace Jones

    “I have made a big effort in my life to enjoy being alone, so that I don’t enter a relationship only because I am afraid of being on my own. I enjoy my own company because there is no guarantee even if you are in a couple that the match will last all your life. And I like myself. I’m the best form of entertainment I have!…The key is to make friends with yourself. Children make imaginary friends. If I have to do that, I will do that. They will say I’m crazy, but I will be happy. Sometimes it is better to find ways to be happy alone than to have a relationship in which you are miserable for the sake of not being alone.”

  • Charlize Theron

    “I'm sure there's a lot of aspects to my life that a lot of people wouldn't want ... Just personal choice things, like the fact that I'm single at 38. That's not necessarily what a lot of women want... But I'm just saying, a life is good if it's the life that you want… I am living my life in a way that if tomorrow it ended — and I hope not because I have a kid — but if it did, this was the life that I really wanted to live. But I work at that, you know?”

  • Kristen Bell

    “Who cares, by the way? Like, we can have fun without Prince Charming. That’s not to say we don’t need him, it’s just… that life is bigger than just Prince Charming. And that when you find him it’s great, and you can live alongside someone, but until then you’re allowed to live vivaciously.”

  • Susan Sarandon

    “[Single life] life been a lot of different things. It’s traumatic and exhilarating. The one thing that’s been really clear to me is that you have to think of your own life and your relationship and everything as a living organism. It’s constantly moving, changing, growing.”

  • Sophia Bush

    “I don’t think you can really, truly be the partner you want to be until you know on an absolute level that you are a complete person on your own. I think that’s something all women deserve to know. So many fairytales we read as children—and the love stories we watch on TV when we’re older—tell us that we’re not enough unless we have man. And it’s like, ‘No, homie! You can be a bonus when I have time for you in my life’.”

  • Gloria Steinem

  • Helen Fielding

    Author Helen Fielding intended the original columns as a parody of how women were seen in the 1990s

    “You should have said 'I'm not married because I'm a Singleton, you smug, prematurely ageing, narrow-minded morons… and because there's more than one bloody way to live; one in four households are single, most of the royal family are single, the nation's young men have been proved by surveys to be completely unmarriageable and as a result there's a whole generation of single girls like me with their own incomes and homes who have lots of fun and don't need to wash anyone else's socks. We'd be as happy as sandboys if people like you didn't conspire to make us feel stupid just because you're jealous.”

  • Coco Chanel

    “It's probably not just by chance that I'm alone. It would be very hard for a man to live with me, unless he's terribly strong. And if he's stronger than I, I'm the one who can't live with him… the two men I've loved, I think, will remember me, on earth or in heaven, because men always remember a woman who caused them concern and uneasiness. I've done my best, in regard to people and to life, without precepts, but with a taste for justice.”

  • Stevie Nicks

    “People say to you, ‘Well, what do you mean you don’t have a boyfriend? You don’t want to have one? You don’t want to be married?' And you’re like, ‘Well, no, I don’t, actually. I’m fine.’ And they find a lot of reasons why you’re not fine. But it just seems to be coming back. Being able to take care of myself is something that my mom really instilled in me. I can remember her always saying, ‘If nothing else, I will teach you to be independent.’”

  • Emilia Clarke

    “People keep asking me who I’m dating right now and the truth is… wait for [it]… no one. And that’s OK. I’m figuring out a lot of stuff right now. I think as a woman it’s in our nature to nurture someone else. Sometimes at the expense of ourselves.”

  • Nora Ephron

    “It seemed to me that the desire to get married – which, I regret to say, I believe is fundamental and primal in women – is followed almost immediately by an equally fundamental and primal urge, which is to be single again.” 

  • Shay Mitchell

    “I have friends who like that drama. I’m not one of those people. If you’re a suitable, positive partner, then great, I’d love to add you to my life. But I don’t need anybody to feel complete. I don’t need to be with somebody just to not be alone.”

  • Shonda Rhimes

    “I don’t know if anyone has noticed, but I only ever write about one thing: being alone. The fear of being alone, the desire to not be alone, the attempts we make to find our person, to keep our person, to convince our person to not leave us alone, the joy of being with our person and thus no longer alone, the devastation of being left alone. The need to hear the words: You are not alone … Every single time it comes down to one thing. You are not alone. Nobody should be alone. So I write.”

  • Sandra Bullock

    “If [a relationship] should come along, great. But I feel like I'm not missing anything yet. Maybe one day I will. But my son is 3 years old, which is an amazing age. Four is an even better age. So if something happens, great, but if not, I've got plenty to do.”

  • Kim Cattrall

    “I’ve been single for seven years and for the longest time I would only sleep on one side of the bed until I thought, ‘Wait a minute, I don’t have to do that. I can sleep right there in the middle of my kingsized bed’. I can snore, I can fart, I can do all of these things without thinking, ‘Oh god’. It’s amazing freedom you have with it and then the thought of someone invading your space… I guess there’s those moments where you think, ‘If I’m having a bad day, who do I call?’ There are lonely moments, but I have to tell you honestly that for myself so many women in relationships are very loving but also lonely too.”