Single in New York: Women's Stories

Friday, June 15, 2012

WNYC reporter Ailsa Chang previews next week's Single in New York event in the Greene Space, and explains what it means that New York has more never-married women than any other U.S. city -- and what kind of stereotypes persist about singles living in New York.  

To take the "Single at Heart" survey, click here

For more information about the "Single in New York" event on June 22, click here.

And below: WNYC's Kathleen Horan and Amy Pearl ask New Yorkers what they think of the word "spinster".


Ailsa Chang

Comments [45]


Meatwnyc has it right .. The problem is that the
gender imbalance and 'hookup ' culture
in NYC makes it near impossible for
women who want a relationship and or
marriage. I'm 31 single and still looking
For Mr Right.. I very much want to get married,
But in NYC I feel this is impossible ..
On a typical Sat night New York
Feels like the worst meat market jungle
On the planet - you see teems of
Single young perfectly dressed women
Roaming around and men who
are in the prowl for quick hook ups .. Because
Women sleep around casually it can make it impossible
As a woman who is serious about finding
a life partner .. I am considering moving out
Of NYC for the very reason I don't want to be
Single unattached in my forties and beyond

Sep. 22 2013 01:36 PM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

Apparently even the fish needs a bicycle.

Gloria Steinem got married, to a Man.

Jun. 19 2012 06:08 AM
jessie from NYC

Regarding a happier life for men in Asia in the prior post, did you know that the Asia has the worst ratings for women's rights IN THE WORLD? No wonder the men are happy as he said, when they have an unequal share of everything and call all the shots? Check out this UN Report chronicled here:

I lived in Asia and am half Chinese...the sad thing is that many of the women there are submissive, have no voice, don't believe they deserve better. They are basically considered trash by men and society and public policy most of all. And they are there to serve their men above all, barefoot and pregnant. So if I had the choice of a foot massage every night, a woman cooking for me, and telling me I was amazing and perfect every day, of course I wouldn't ever get sick.

After eight years of dating in NYC, I can honestly say that many of the men are treated like five year olds because this is what their behavior calls for....but yes, as another poster said why drive a fiat when you can get a Ferrari for free...that is precisely the type of attitude that propogates women not wanting to marry at all.

Jun. 18 2012 08:12 AM
GW from Manhattan

to Elle and anon : quit with the man bashing propaganda....marriage kills men in a thousand ways... bad sex and moral bullying from dictatorial women that treat men like they are some errant 5 year old are the reasons why prostate cancer is the No 1 killer of men in the USA and the west and rare in Asia where men have more choices and exercise them (and by the way, create super efficient economies)

what is needed is male liberation and freedom from the moral bullies that give women and homosexuals a free pass whilst oppressing hetero men with rightous arrogance

Jun. 16 2012 03:03 AM
Hopeis from New York

*SINGLE*Woman* (Man, etc.)

One word that people project so many of their own issues onto-

There's a HUGE difference between being:

*Single by choice, vs. Single because of rejection,
*Single in your 20's, vs. Single in older generations,
*Single "Never been Married", vs. Single because of Multiple failed Marriages...etc...

The bottom line is whether YOU'RE happy with yourself, your situation, your life (whether single/married/etc.),
which one can only answer for oneself (no matter the influence of family, friends, society, etc.).

As it's been said before: There are plenty of people that are married/in couples/in relationships, that

*SINGLE* isn't whether you're "With Someone" or not, *SINGLE* is whether you feel alone or not.

Jun. 16 2012 03:03 AM

My advice to any single woman - be true to yourself, make your own life, live it on your terms, and do what makes you happy. Be your best self, and cultivate all kinds of relationships with family and friends. You don't need a man to have a fulfilling life. And if you do find a man who makes you happy, make sure he is a good man who treats you well. Do not settle for anything less.

Through my teens and 20s, for a number of reasons, I was perpetually single, and not happy about it - especially since all of my closest friends were always in relationships. Though it was discouraging to never have a boyfriend, it did not stop me from having fun. I had many friends and socialized more than most people.

In my mid-20s, I met a distant cousin in her 80s who had never married. She told me of her exciting life of serving in the Navy during WW II and all of her worldwide travels throughout her years, and how much she enjoyed being an aunt to her siblings' many children.

She was an amazing woman and she forever changed my attitude about being single. I decided to have a new appreciation and enjoyment of the huge circle of friends and family I had. I further resolved that what would be, would be - if I was not meant to be in a long-term relationship, I would make the most of my life as a single woman and enjoy every ounce of freedom and benefit that came with it.

I eventually did have some long-term dating relationships, the last of which resulted in marriage. We started dating when I was 30 and we married when I was 34. I am grateful and very happy I did not settle for an inferior life with someone who wasn't right for me. While I happened to find someone who made me happy and was the right person for me to marry, if I hadn't, I would be a very happy spinster enjoying my life as a single woman.

Jun. 15 2012 01:57 PM
Marie from New York

After a 2nd failed marriage to a man who brought a toxic mix of mental health issues from his former family system that almost destroyed me physically, mentally & spiritually, I welcome my soon to be single status in peace & harmony. I have friends, family & an amazing daughter, along with so many interests to keep me engaged& connected to humanity for many life-times!!

Jun. 15 2012 01:36 PM
Elle from Brooklyn

to anon from nj - I have also heard (on WYNC) that studies have shown that marriage prolongs the life expectancy of men and shortens that of women - hmmm . . .

Jun. 15 2012 12:19 PM

I have already embraced the term "spinster" for myself, it is a running pun when my twice-married sister hears the latest updates on my life.

The ability to live my own life without being considered odd... one more quality of life issue that makes me love this city so much!!

Jun. 15 2012 12:12 PM
anon from nj

My mom worked in a mental health clinic before she her work, surveys consistently found the two happiest groups of people to be....wait for it...married men and single women....

Jun. 15 2012 12:05 PM

Why don't we think of some slurs for people of color that were in circulation forty years ago (and maybe still are elsewhere, but aren't here in New York), and go out on the street and ask New Yorkers to define them? Journalism! So smart! So relevant! Tell us more about the way we don't live now!

Jun. 15 2012 12:03 PM
Eleanore Wells from New York, NY

I love the word spinster; it's so out, it's to speak. I'm a proud spinster with a pretty good life and I'm always baffled by people to whom this is puzzling. I have a blog and a book --The Spinsterlicious Life-- where I (and my followers) talk about, celebrate, and share "strategies" for make the most of spinsterhood. It can be quite nice. I love having a boyfriend, and I also love it when he goes home. My time and my money are my own and I love that I can spend them however I'd like. My fantasy? That no one ever again is surprised or disbelieving when they come across a single woman who is perfectly happy with her status.

Jun. 15 2012 12:02 PM
Stefanie from west village

One of the last remaining taboos is that of women who've chosen not to have children -- the child-free or childless by choice movement. This is a growing segment of society -- some of these women are partnered and some are single, but they've chosen a life without children. When I write on this subject, I get an overwhelming number of responses from women who are thrilled to be able to come out of the "child-free closet" and also, those that call women who've chosen to remain childless "selfish". It really touches a nerve and I hope that this can be a part of the wider discussion about singlehood.

Jun. 15 2012 12:01 PM
Angela Muriel from manhattan

I'm 53 and single . . . I identified as lesbian since 19 yrs old and had some meaningful relationships with women over the years. However, I have been single for years now and feel an attraction to both Women & Men but I like being single, I'm not really looking to get involved. Many of my well meaning friends will often ask if I'm seeing anyone and I always feel as though there's an underlying outlook that I'm some how incomplete. I think this is the overall perception that many have, that you're some how incomplete without a romantic partner.

Jun. 15 2012 12:00 PM
Debbie from nyc

My old-fashioned dad started asking me when I turned 23 when I was getting married and having children. I married at 32 -- imagine how agonizing those 9 years were for him (not for me, but I'm happily married and happy I found the right person and didn't get married because of family pressure).

Jun. 15 2012 12:00 PM
Jennifer from NYC

I am married now, but married at 38. I was convinced that I would be single and was not upset about it. I also was happy to be single so I can travel the world and focus on my career. I think being with someone, just to show society that you fit in is not happiness. Marrying someone is a choice very important decision.

Jun. 15 2012 11:59 AM
Morgan from Manhattan

How do I find women who want to date but don't want to get married a week later? SWM, 44, looking for a Spinster for friendship and fun.

Jun. 15 2012 11:57 AM
Amy from Manhattan

What I want to know is why WNYC's singles events are divided by age. What, a 38-year-old shouldn't meet a 43-year-old? And why are there different kinds of events for the different age groups? Oh, yeah, & the ones for LGBTs are "networking"???

Jun. 15 2012 11:57 AM
Jersey Jeff from Rahway, NJ

I know plenty of single women in NYC who are confident, independent and happy and who are able to go out to a show or dinner in a grown-up restaurant without having to worry about getting a babysitter.

To those of us married with children, going out means "Madagascar 3" rather than "Moonrise Kingdom."

Jun. 15 2012 11:57 AM

Women are so pick and not willing to compromise on small things. All our moms are married, hopefully, and that is how we got here. A relationship need nurturing and much care. Of course married couple are NOT happy 100% of the time, but the percentage of time they are happy overshadows those they are not.

I don't think women should boast about being single because everyone around them has had failed relationships. Seems to me like a cheap way of attaining permission to be single.

Jun. 15 2012 11:57 AM
Elle from Brooklyn

First we're talking about shopping, then about the joys of being a single woman - is this the Brian Lehrer show or Sex and the City?

Jun. 15 2012 11:56 AM


being single SUCKS!!

Jun. 15 2012 11:56 AM
Rivka Shokrian from Brooklyn, NY

Just curious, how many of these single woman choose to be single? Because I know a lot of woman who want to be married but just haven't found Mr. Right.

Jun. 15 2012 11:56 AM
carolita from NYC

My mother always wanted me to get married, would go on how she didn't want to die before seeing me in a wedding dress. So, I bought myself a cheap wedding dress on eBay for the fun of it, but I still won't get married! Forget it! I've never been married, and hadn't lived with a committed lover till recently -- never thought I would --, and I'm quite proud of that.

I was quite happy to be single, but I'm also happy to be in a relationship but not married. But I have to say that it was a lot easier in Europe than it was here in NYC. The number of women I see comparing engagement rings is crazy here, and the number of men who seemed to think there were only two kinds of women in the world (the marriageable or the slutty) really boggled my mind when I got here. But maybe that's because I'm in my 40s and my generation hasn't quite caught up to the younger ones.

I like the idea of the spinsters who decided not to get married and get work instead very much. Good for them.

Jun. 15 2012 11:55 AM

This segment is the sound of all the serious, smart, successful women of NY who very clearly make up a large portion of the listenership deciding never to give money to this station again. I'm gonna make some popcorn and see if it can get any dumber.

Jun. 15 2012 11:55 AM

Definition of a bachelor: Someone who never made the same mistake once.

Jun. 15 2012 11:55 AM
David from Fredericksburg, VA

Humans are meant to have a partner. I don't know anyone that is alone that is completely fulfilled - man or woman.

Jun. 15 2012 11:54 AM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

Barb M. from Manhattan -- I agree that what you identified explains a great many of the dead ends for women.

However, that's NOT the full story. Have you considered the fact that it is women that get to decide where along the feminist continuum they fit? Every woman gets to set her own rules.

There used to be a given set of roles, but nowadays every woman comes with her own set of rules and her own set of expectations and politics.

Therefore, for men, it's a different story with each woman, and God-forbid he has his OWN expectation or has an opinion about the gender dynamic... women don't exactly allow for a fair exchange of points of view...

It's very confusing for men and it's off-putting to have so many women making all the rules for the relationship.
And women don't allow men to women don't

Jun. 15 2012 11:54 AM
John A.

Happy Father's Day, Guys!!!
At least it's better than those "Are Men Necessary" articles and stories that usually run at this time.

Jun. 15 2012 11:53 AM
Rose from NYC

I am absolutely single by choice at age 32 and fully embraced it once I realized that feelings of inadequacy about being single were really culturally induced. I've never been much of a dater and am a loner by nature. I was never one of those girls who dreamed of a wedding when younger or ever really fathomed being in a position of being married (or having kids!).

Jun. 15 2012 11:53 AM
Elle from Brooklyn

Why aren't you talking about whether or not these women want to have children? Obviously, that makes a huge difference!

Jun. 15 2012 11:53 AM
GW from Manhattan

The hetero dating scene in this society is literally a game of musical chairs....
when the music stops someone is left standing..
When women are young they act like men are disposable and "play the field"
When they get older they start to panic and then find that the men are not there
Finally they move into acceptance.

What is marriage good for any way ?
As a man I see no reason to be live in the dictatorship of monogamy
I would suppose that women feel the same as well

Jun. 15 2012 11:52 AM


Why buy a Fiat if you could rent a Ferrari everyday for next to nothing.

Not saying it's right, but that is the dating situation for men in NYC.
Jun. 15 2012 11:48 AM


Jun. 15 2012 11:52 AM
Mickey Donohue from New York

I always wanted to grow up to be a spinster. There was always an old spinster in the creepy house at the end of our street with all the cats that kids feared. Sounded like a perfect goal for me!
Proud spinster with 2 cats - so far!

Jun. 15 2012 11:52 AM
Bud Plautz from New York City

What are the stastics for men in New York City? How does it compare with other states or regions? Wyoming, for instance?

Jun. 15 2012 11:52 AM
Kate from NYC

By single, do you mean no guy around.. or just doesn't want to be married. Being single and being married, to me, are completely different conversations. I've never been married, but I do like being in a relationship.

Jun. 15 2012 11:51 AM

Also, please distinguish between "unmarried" which is a legal status and "unpartnered" which is not at all the same thing. The elision here is kind of cheap and dubious.

Jun. 15 2012 11:50 AM
Robert from NYC

Why don't you get off this match game crap. What's WNYC's interest in getting people together. What is this Hello Dolly!! Can't you find real important topics to cover? Spend your supporter's money on real news. And who is this woman? What is she talking about? Really, I mean REALLY. Tell her to get a job.

Jun. 15 2012 11:49 AM

Did he just say "spinster"? Is is 1965? Um, NOBODY SAYS THIS WORD EVER. Oh, I see it was not his dumb idea but sosmeone else's. Weird.

Jun. 15 2012 11:49 AM

Why buy a Fiat if you could rent a Ferrari everyday for next to nothing.

Not saying it's right, but that is the dating situation for men in NYC.

Jun. 15 2012 11:48 AM
Barb M. from Manhattan

One way to look at this phenomenon is the lack of suitable "husband material" because feminism has created a generation or two where the number of women who feel empowered way outstrips the number of men who are truly ready to change with new expectations coming from women. That’s why the dating market is hard.

There’s a tendency not to talk publicly about the disparity that many women are experiencing between their entirely reasonable expectations of an egalitarian relationship and what’s actually available. There’s a fear that if women are told about this problem, they’ll reject feminism.

Something else to consider is outright disinterest from men. Most men in the US surprisingly still hold to the same expectations their grandfather's did. Thus they do not find, in certain geographic areas, women they would define as "wife material" and typically those are women who are determined to be regularly promiscuous and have what is considered to be complex demands.

Jun. 15 2012 11:39 AM

Meh, capitalism is what you make it. It can be alienating or liberating depending on how you look at it.

Jun. 15 2012 11:36 AM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

Peg from Upstate... "marriage" (by any other name) is an almost universal institution perhaps in different forms, but universal nonetheless, that goes back as long as history.

Doesn't it occur to you that it might take an awful lot of arrogance to casually dismiss it out-of-hand, simply because it doesn't fit YOUR life(style) or your up-to-the-minute politics? Or you haven't stopped to consider that even though you can't divine it's purpose, there may be a valid reason for it.

I don't mean to to pick on you, but I get tired of the common notion of people nowadays to think that society should simply conform itself to follow their own personal whims or biases, or the narratives of their own lives.

This may come as a personal shock to you, but humankind hasn't been waiting for millennia for you to come along and tell it what to do or how to organize itself. There ARE reasons for social constructs -- the fact that they exist is in itself a strong form of validation of them. Societies are organic, and EVOLVE to maintain themselves and survive -- as communities.

Sorry if all this offends your sensibilities, but it's not all about you. Nor any other individual.

And frankly, your comment sounds like typical feminist sour grapes, sort of what the Bard wrote -- "Methinks the lady doth protest too much." I'm not knocking feminism or any other progressive movement, except when it gets so carried away with itself, that it's prepared to spill out the baby with the bathwater.

Ironically and despite decades of the opposite message being propagated by feminism, for the most part, young women seem very much to still want to get married. How do you explain that? Perhaps there is something intrinsic in us that desires that?

(Although I would sadly agree that the meaning of marriage, and it's importance in society HAS eroded, but that doesn't mean that there won't be negative consequences. We seem to have forgotten that marriage exists within the context of a community and is the community's sanction of the couple AS A COUPLE, and is the couple's connection to the community. As with so much of our modern lives, marriage has become/is becoming simply another lifestyle choice, not much more significant than our hobbies or recreational interests -- all about us, but no link to community.)

Jun. 15 2012 11:24 AM

The flip side of the conversation is that a lot of NY women want to get married or at least settle down but can't. NY is perhaps one of the few cities where the numbers are significantly better for men, meaning there are lots more single ladies than gents. Why would guys want to settle down when there's so many single ladies? NY is a single guys dream city.

I'm sure there's many stories attesting to the opposite, but I know lots of girls in their 30's complaining they can't find the right guy, and lots of guys see no need to settle down since there's so many single ladies out there.

Jun. 15 2012 10:20 AM
Peg from Upstate

Marriage is an archaic religious institution and is totally unnecessary in our modern life. You NY single ladies - "Stay as You Are" powerful and unfettered. If you think it's difficult to get married - try getting a divorce.

Jun. 15 2012 09:58 AM

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