Retiring as a single woman is much less daunting than in prior generations. Part of the reason is that it’s now widespread and socially acceptable. Various studies report that between 40 and 50 percent of women will be single in retirement. Not all of these will be by choice, but it’s still a fact of life. This article will address those women who are considering a single lifestyle and if it’s suitable for their personality.
Most women desire independence, but don’t want to be disconnected from people. This balance is easier to achieve when your social network of friends and family is well developed and local. I believe that it’s not only culturally acceptable to retire single, but it can be more rewarding. This is because single women often have a much broader social network than men and many married women. A recently divorced woman in her 50s told me that her husband was so unfriendly to her friends, they stopped visiting. Her network gradually disappeared and stayed that way for many years. After her divorce, her social recovery involved many more friends and she has social engagements any night of the week. She is more socially connected now than when married.
When a man is not in your life, you’re freer to do what you enjoy and what benefits you the most. Some of you may think that means doing more things alone. But, there is nothing wrong with doing things alone while you always have your social network to fall back on. So, part of retiring alone is that you must be the first one to accept and want it. If this is a calculated decision based on proper planning, you’ll feel more confident and energized to embrace it.
The chances are that as your network develops, you will be doing less and less alone. Our goal is to always stay connected to the friends and family of our choice. A boyfriend can be part of this network whether its casual or more serious. I’m not suggesting celibacy unless that is your conscience decision. I’m suggesting an independent life that you control and decide when to bond or not bond with the opposite gender. There is no pressure to preform or follow the expectations of others unless you choose to do so. If you are dating or in a relationship, you can explain your independence to your partner as a form of freedom afforded to you both.
Single women I know that are successful at networking, claim they are happy not dating and don’t feel they miss anything. So, I can personally verify that happy and successful adjustments can be made. That being said, being single is not for everyone. Whether you are an introvert(internally focused) or extrovert may matter. Since these types may be genetic and hard wired into your brain, you might want to see where you fit. Most of us know which type we are. If you are an introvert, you enjoy spending time alone and tend not to miss people. So, this lifestyle may be more suitable for the introvert who enjoys more solitude.
If you are thinking about taking the single path in retirement, look into you past first. How happy have you been on your own? Do you tend to get lonely when not around people? Does a lot of social contact exhaust you? It’s just about understand your social needs. If you have a history of doing well with solitude and don’t miss social contact, this might be for you. If so, the better developed your retirement plan is, the more enjoyment you’ll get out of it.
In conclusion, retiring single is completely acceptable and a viable option for women. A well developed social network provides the mental stimulation and emotional support needed. Having a boyfriend is just part of the network. Being introverted makes this lifestyle easier to adapt to. Women I know who make this adjustment, feel they have a happy and complete life.
I’ve always felt that the best retirement is based on your personality type. What society or past generations did has nothing to do with you because they don’t have your unique character. So, embracing independence in retirement is a personal decision based on prior success with independent living and your social predisposition. L. Johnson