If like me, you’re still single at 40, I wonder if any of the following questions have ever gone through your mind:
Is it weird to be single at 40? What percentage of 40-year-olds are single? Can you still find love at 40?
That’s because regardless of whether you’re happily single or searching for love, the truth is that a lot of us singletons may still worry about our relationship status.
In particular, what it says about us, and whether we’re somehow the “odd ones out”.
This article aims to put your mind at rest, once and for all.
I’m single at 40 and I’m not weird
I don’t profess to be any kind of expert in life, but I do know about life at 40 for a single woman.
And I can tell you with absolute certainty that being single at 40 isn’t weird at all.
Ok, I probably am a tiny bit weird, but aren’t we all? And being single has nothing to do with that.
But I also understand firsthand the sense of occasional concern or even downright panic at being single in your 40s.
I will openly admit that when my last long-term relationship ended at 38, the thought of hitting 40 alone scared me.
I think the reason is that a lot of us still feel the pressure from outdated ideas of some kind of timetable we should all be following.
It makes us question ourselves whenever we feel like we haven’t hit certain life milestones.
But as I hope you’ll come to see in this article, this idea of “normality” that we are comparing ourselves to doesn’t actually exist.
10 reasons why it’s not weird to be single at 40
1) Statistics show it’s really common
Being “weird” to most of us means being unusual or standing out from the crowd.
It’s that idea that I just mentioned of being single at 40 being strange somehow. As if everyone else is already partnered up and living their ‘happily ever after’.
Hopefully, one of the most powerful and conclusive ways for me to prove to you that it’s totally normal to be single at any age is statistics that show how common it is.
I think hearing the facts helps us to sigh a breath of relief that far from being alone, there are millions of us.
How socially acceptable your single life feels is likely to depend a lot on the community and culture you belong to. And so the stats will differ too. But looking at research in the US from the Pew Research Center, 31% of all Americans are single.
Breaking that down into age groups:
- 41% of 18 to 29 years-olds are single
- 23% of 30 to 49 years-olds are single
- 28% of 50 to 64 year-olds are single
- 36% of 65+-year-olds are single
Does it make you weird to be single at age forty is about a quarter of the population also are?
We might not be in a majority, but I’d say we’re still in a strong minority.
2) Times have changed
Society’s ideas about what is normal and what is weird around relationships has shifted significantly.
And it continues to grow and adapt as we grow and adapt too. That’s the whole idea of social and biological evolution after all.
A few hundred years ago I’m sure you would have been considered weird to be single at 40.
But then again, until the 1920’s there also wasn’t really such a thing as dating. Most unions were arranged by parents.
The idea of romance and love is a pretty new invention. Please let’s remember that relationships weren’t ever a fairytale, they were a social contract.
Tina Turner famously sang “what’s love got to do with it?”. And the answer is that until the 19th century at least, very little.
Relationships were historically about practical and financial reasons, not hearts and flowers.
The point I’m trying to get at here is that the idea of relationships and being single — even the very notion of love itself — is not set in stone.
(Luckily) times change. How we view things changes with it.
One of those shifts this century has been that more people are choosing lifestyles which don’t always involve marriage or children.
There’s been a big shift in the way that we view relationships, marriage, and how long we wait until we even want to “settle down”.
It’s all part of social evolution. And being single is a trend that keeps on growing.
3) People can (and do) find love at any age
Another one of my own personal fears about being single at this stage in life was whether it meant love was off the table for me.
Even as I type that I’m struck by how ridiculous it sounds. But that’s the thing about our fears, they’re often emotionally driven rather than logical.
If you’ve ever felt this way too, then it’s not really our fault.
Slightly ageist attitudes do still prevail in society. And that can lead to the totally false idea that we become “too old” for certain fundamental life experiences.
We can worry we missed our shot. But the reality is that countless people continue to have incredible lives that just keep getting better as they age.
They change careers, they have inspiring adventures, and they find love at all sorts of ages.
Stories of couples in their 80s and 90s who have fallen madly in love should remind us that Cupid really can strike at any time.
That’s the exciting thing about life, there isn’t any way to know what is just around the corner. Sure, that’s also the scary part about it too.
But we also need to remember that nothing comes with a guarantee for any of us.
Being single at 40 does not mean you will be single next year, or even next month. Just as being married at 40 is far from a guarantee that you will stay coupled up forever either.
4) Because relationships don’t “complete” us
I think we’ve got Hollywood to thank for this misguided idea that a lot of us still hold on to, that somehow a relationship can sweep in and “save us”.
Since the popularization of romantic love in the 19th century, we’ve become increasingly obsessed with some idyllic version of love that doesn’t really exist.
I’m not trying to be cynical. Far from it. I do believe in love, in all its many forms. But we often place unrealistic expectations and pressure on love that it cannot live up to.
Rom-com storylines are littered with the same premise:
Life isn’t going so well (maybe the character is even down and out on their luck) and then they meet someone who turns their world upside down.
After a bit of ‘will they won’t they’ drama, ultimately it all works out and they live “happily ever after”.
But the point is we don’t see what comes after, because it’s just a movie. And in real life, real relationships are way more complicated and far from perfect.
It’s a nice idea that someone else can be the missing piece to our puzzle. But I’ll be frank with you, I think it’s a sort of lazy idea too.
Relationships (friendships, family, romance, community) are important, but ultimately we make our own lives fulfilling.
We’re already complete, and it’s up to us to go out and make our own story as compelling, beautiful, and joy-filled as possible. We shouldn’t ever rely on someone else to do it for us.
The answer to happiness is contained in the relationship you have with yourself.
I learned about this from the renowned shaman Rudá Iandê. He taught me to see through the lies we tell ourselves about love and become truly empowered.
As Rudá explains in this mind-blowing free video, love is not what many of us think it is. In fact, many of us are actually self-sabotaging our love lives without realizing it.
Far too often we chase an idealized image of someone and build up expectations that are guaranteed to be let down.
Far too often we fall into codependent roles of savior and victim to try to “fix” our partner, only to end up in a miserable, bitter routine.
Far too often, we are on shaky ground with our own selves and this carries over into toxic relationships that become hell on earth.
Rudá’s teachings showed me a whole new perspective.
If you’re done with unsatisfying dating, empty hookups, frustrating relationships, and having your hopes dashed over and over, then this is a message you need to hear.
5) We have more time for ourselves, our friends & family
Far from being single making you some kind of social outcast, more often singles have happy and fulfilling social lives.
More so even than couples.
They have the time (and perhaps more of an inclination too) to cultivate other deep and meaningful bonds.
We all need, to varying degrees, social contact. Most of us find this through friends, family, community, work, groups, and hobbies, etc.
Rather than be guaranteed ‘loners’ , countless studies have proven that a lot of singles have even richer lives and more psychological growth than those who are married.
For example, several studies have found that single people have more friends than married or cohabiting people.
All around the world, similar patterns emerge. If you’re single, you likely have a bigger social network.
Single people seem to do more to establish and maintain connections with their family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers.
Being alone does not mean being lonely.
6) It’s independent
I’m not here to try to argue the case for why being single is better than being in a relationship. Especially as I don’t think that’s true.
But neither do I think the opposite is true either. They’re just different. Both come with their own set of unique plus points and their own challenges.
But one of the gifts that a single life often bestows on you is your independence. And this is a highly regarded trait to have in society.
We admire people who are capable of taking care of themselves.
When you are not coupled up, you don’t have to answer to anyone and you are more self-reliant. Far from being weird, personally I find this pretty great.
Research has found that more people who are single than married said that making their own decisions was important to them.
Going solo in life can actually feel very freeing.
You can go out with whomever you want and do whatever you like without having to consider anyone but yourself.
Being single gives you the freedom to make choices that are right for you, and you alone.
7) You’re not weird, you’re just not settling
For some people being single is a choice. For others, they just haven’t met someone yet. But either way, they’re not settling for just any relationship.
I’ve had a lot of chats with single friends and a deep dark insecurity can often linger somewhere inside.
The thought crosses our mind: is our single status some kind of negative reflection on us as people?
But it’s a huge oversimplification of the complex working of both love and relationships to suggest that the best people are coupled up and whoever is “left over” is less desirable.
In fact, it’s total nonsense.
At times you may even feel like love never works out for you, or worry that maybe nobody wants you. These kinds of self-loathing thoughts have certainly darkened my mind more than once over the years.
But the reality is that there are almost 8 billion people on this planet. If your only aim in life was to be in a relationship, you would be by now.
And there are plenty of people who do get into relationships just to avoid being alone. There are many more who stay in bad ones out of fear.
Personally, I don’t want to have just any old romantic relationship unless I truly feel like it adds to my life.
In my opinion that’s not weird, it’s healthy and well rounded. You’re not needy. You know how to take care of yourself and your own needs.
And that means you are not settling for anything less than what you deserve.
8) There is no one right way to live your life
The concept of what is weird or not always balances on what is considered “normal”.
Sometimes when we talk about normal, we tend to mean what the majority do or do not do.
But normal is becoming an increasingly redundant term as the glorious diversity of human nature is enjoying greater freedom to be expressed.
This image that so many of us still form in our minds about what is expected of us and for us is based on some outdated concepts.
So we still find ourselves getting caught up in following the expected route, even when it doesn’t really suit us or hasn’t worked out that way.
We feel the pressure and burden of what we think we “should” be doing or how we “should” be living. But there are so many other options.
These days, anything goes.
For example, you are freer than ever before to love who you want to love. A whole rainbow spectrum of sexualities are starting to shine.
Whilst having the same job for life, being married for 50+ years, and having the stereotypical 2.4 kids is still a reality for some in society — for an increasing amount of other people it isn’t.
Big career changes, travel and adventure, open relationships, intentional singledom — there is a wide world of different routes people are choosing to forge every day.
No matter which path you choose, you will find that you are happier and healthier for making the choice based on what works for you. Not based on how other people think is a good way for you to live your life.
The fact remains there isn’t one singular “right way” to live. There are only choices. And those choices are yours alone to make.
9) You’ve prioritized other things
Whilst we’re on the subject of choices, now is a good time to reflect that life is simply a series of choices.
You can’t choose everything in life. Our decisions take us a certain direction.
For some people who are single at 40 one of the reasons is that at some stage they have (wittingly or not) prioritorized other things in their life.
There is some evidence to support this idea. With research suggesting that “singles value life accomplishments on average more than married individuals do.”
Maybe it was getting an education. Perhaps it was your freedom or the adventure of traveling. It might have been your career and personal growth. It could even be a cause that you dedicated yourself too.
So you may be single. You may even feel like you’re losing in the love department. But I’m willing to guess that other priorities at times in your life have allowed you to be more successful than most people in other ways.
The problem arises as we have a habit of wondering if the grass is greener elsewhere.
It’s natural to question where we have made sacrifices, and even ask ourselves if it was the right call.
But the truth is we can’t control how life turns out anyway. “What if’s” only take us away from the gratitude and peace of mind about what we do have in life.
10) You only feel like it’s weird because singles are still discriminated against
I can reel off countless reasons why being single at 40 isn’t weird. I can try to show you evidence that proves it’s perfectly normal. But the interesting question remains:
Why do we feel like it could be weird to be 40 and single?
And I think part of the reason is because despite all its progress, society can still make us feel like it’s weird.
Some of that is the unrealistic notion floating around about what love is, that has been spoonfed to us all since the Fairytales we were read as children.
Other aspects may come from our nornal genetic urges for sex, companionship and to find mates.
It’s true that both nature and nurture can still make finding a partner seem like a big deal.
It’s also unfortunate that a lot of research points to the fact that single people can be discriminated against.
Yep, if you are single you might feel weird simply because there are still stereotypes, stigma, and even discrimination against you.
One study highlighted in ‘Happy Singlehood: The Rising Acceptance and Celebration of Solo Living’ by Professor Elyakim Kislev analysed data from more than 30 European nations.
From his observations he concluded “that unmarried people experience 50 percent more discrimination than married people do.”
It’s every well meaning comment at a dinner party about whether you’ve met anybody special recently.
It’s every inquiring question from your mom about whether grandchildren are going to arrive one day.
It’s every backhanded compliment you receive from someone who just can’t understand why on earth you are still single.
They all add up.
They seep into your unconscious and have you question yourself.
They feed you a totally false narrative that suggests that maybe you’re a bit weird, maybe there’s something wrong with you.
But you’re not and there isn’t!
To conclude: How do you deal with being single in your 40s?
Well, firstly, let’s try to drop the feeling that being single at 40 is equivalent to leprosy, rather than a natural, normal and incredibly common lifestyle that a lot of us are currently living.
Secondly, remember that no matter what age you are, you will always be able to find somebody to share your life with if that’s what you want.
We certainly shouldn’t stop looking for love just because we’ve reached a particular age. And that goes for whether you’re single at 40, 50, 60, 70 or even 100.