“You don’t come to New York to find romance,” said a tow truck driver I came across a couple of years ago. “You come to build a career.” As a single woman living in New York, this had been a revelation I had discovered early on in my dating profession. Having a romantic partnership necessitates compromises and sacrifices I’m not yet willing to make, so for the past few years I have avoided romantic entanglements altogether –and I’m not alone. Turns out that forfeiting romance for monetary rewards has become the latest trend in Brooklyn, according to a recent New York Daily News article: “Census Data: Being Single in Brooklyn is Hard Work.”
The article cites newly released Census data showing increased populations of single men and women throughout the borough, who have tossed out romance in favor of professional development. Assessing areas, including Sunset Park, where unmarried men outnumber women by as much as one third, and Sheepshead Bay, where there are one and a half men to every woman, single ladies can have their pick.
As you travel to the northern part of Brooklyn, however, the sexes rearrange themselves with single women in the lead, 11, 676 never married females to 6,963, coming in second to the Upper East Side as the highest rate of single women citywide. But apparently, while men are single by choice, the women, particularly poor black women, are without mate by default. “For blacks, especially the poor, women are not single by choice,” said Richard Alba, a sociologist at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. “The high incarceration rates for the young men mean they are not suitable candidates for marriage.” One can only conclude from this statement that if a woman is without a mate, it must be because there aren’t enough to go around, not because she simply chooses to be happily unattached.
Despite the fact that many single women earn just as much, if not more than their male counterparts, are buying houses at double the rate, and are responsible for the majority of purchasing decisions, the perception remains that until Prince Charming has sealed the deal with a kiss and an “I do,” our lives will continue to swing aimlessly in limbo. Alternatively, I’d like to propose another point of view to consider: not every woman wants to get married. While some women are postponing settling down to advance their career, others have decided to nix romantic lifelong partnerships altogether. According to a 2006 survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, more than half of those who have never been married had little interest in ever walking down the aisle. In short, singledom is not a pit stop; for many, it’s the final destination.
Whether you’re successfully single, happily married or a lady in waiting, every woman must decide for herself what constitutes a satisfying and fulfilling life. After all, having the right to choose is its own reward. Why limit yourself to societal ideals or standards set forth by the media, family or friends? A woman is defined not by the choices she makes, but by the very fact that she has hurdled past all opposition and found the strength within to make a decision that reflects her own truth.