never married, over forty, a little bitter

the big shift

I’m shocked at the “one in three” statistic, although many of those never-marrieds probably have children:

Using data from the 1980, 1990 and 2000 censuses and the 2009 round of the American Community Survey, Dr. I-Fen Lin, an associate professor of sociology, and Dr. Susan Brown, a professor of sociology and co-director of the NCFMR, found one-third of adults aged 45-63 are unmarried. This represents a more than 50 percent increase since 1980, when just 20 percent of middle-aged Americans were unmarried.

Most single boomers are divorced or never married. In fact, one in three single baby boomers has never been married. Just 10 percent of unmarried boomers are widowed.


“In the past, family members, particularly spouses, have provided care to infirm older adults. But a growing share of older adults aren’t going to have a spouse available to rely on for support. Our figures indicate one in three boomers won’t have a spouse who can care for them. And, unmarrieds are less likely to have children who might provide care. These shifting family patterns portend new strains on existing institutional supports for the elderly. As more singles enter older adulthood, we as a society may have to reconsider how we care for frail elders. The family may no longer be a viable option for an increasing segment of older adults.”


Indeed, some commentators feel that growing older alone is one of the most important — and ignored — women’s issues of the next 30 years.

fun house

Out of the last twenty years, I estimate I’ve spent at least sixteen of them living alone. There are wonderful advantages to living alone, but for me it’s also been fertile ground for existential fear and angst, so I’m really, really looking forward to my roommate moving in this weekend.

I loved this piece and the fact that the issue of growing old alone (and often childless) is coming to the forefront. It’s also making me feel good about my decision to move back to a smaller city where I feel more embedded socially:

Moore has been careful about selecting as housemates women who get along, but who also have a sense of independence. “All of us, we have our own separate lives,” she says. “We do our own separate things, but we’ll meet up in the kitchen and chitchat. And then we’ll all go our different ways, which makes it nice. None of us are joined at the hip, and yet we all live together and do our own thing and live in the same house.”


Hopefully I won’t remain on the sexual sidelines for long, as I’ve already got a few flirtations going, and an old fling has started calling (someone I didn’t want to take up with again, so I’ll have to decide how to handle that– afraid of going back to a problematic situation I fled six years ago). I’m not actively searching for a partner but am coming across some potential candidates nonetheless. I certainly can relate, however, to this sentiment:

On the whole, I tend to steer clear of the subject of sex. Well, here, anyway for fear of being bombarded by fucking weirdo trolls. And even though I completely agree with James Salter – America’s neglected genius, according to the big profile of the writer in yesterday’s Observer – that the sexual life is “the real game of the grownup world”. In Saturday’s Guardian review of his new novel, All That Is, it said that “the cycle of meeting, flirting and fucking forms the book’s basic dramatic unit.”

Well, certainly it forms MY basic dramatic unit, and everybody else’s, even if some don’t see it quite that way, or aren’t so quick to admit it.

Times in my life there have been longish periods without sex, but of course during those periods it never occurs to one that anyone else on the planet is experiencing or has ever experienced a fallow period. You see the world as a place where everyone else is at it like dogs. Then it suddenly happens again, and you think, phew! Back in the land of (grownup) living. You feel part of the adult human race again, where you rightly belong. Not in some throwback virginal space that infantilises you, somehow, so that whenever you go to a fucking movie or read a sex scene in a novel or see some couple eating each other’s faces on the pavement, you feel like a child again, cut off from the mysterious world of grown-ups.