Have the tables turned? Are women now the commitment phobes digging in their stiletto heels and refusing to give up their single statuses? Emirates Woman investigates.Adam did it, hell, even George did it, so why are more and more women today refusing to get married? If two of Tinsletown’s most infamous bachelors, Adam Levine and George Clooney, are willing to change their stance on marriage, then how come there is a rising trend for female commitment phobes?
The average marriage age is creeping up (it’s currently 34 in the UK for women, while in the UAE it’s risen from 23.7 to 26.8 in the last two years) and more people than ever are choosing not to marry at all. Is it because we now have more choices than ever before?
Psychologist Dr Annie Crookes explains: “Women are getting married later, putting marriage second to careers, and there is now a significant proportion of women choosing not to marry (or stay married) at all. This is partly because women are more financially independent, but also because of an increase in the culture of ‘opportunity’ dating. In previous generations, women were reliant on dating and marrying those in their immediate community. This meant a limited pool, which would get more depleted as friends and colleagues married off. Today, with online dating and Tinder, that pool now appears to be unlimited and ever growing.” She adds, “The message single women now absorb therefore is that there is no rush. On Tinder, there are plenty of fish in the sea.”
With the panic of dating eased, women are free to invest more time into their career in their 20s and early 30s without feeling they need a relationship to complete them. Dr Tara Wyne, a clinical psychologist at The Lighthouse Arabia says: “Twenty and 30-something women have a desire to be successful independently as well as romantically. It’s become important to carve an identity around both career and relationships, and that means women are less likely to formalise relationships and take them to the next level of commitment in their 20s and early 30s.”
Scientific advances in the field of fertility have also helped diminish the pressure on women to settle down sooner. After all, if Mr Right doesn’t come along at the right time, there is the option of egg freezing rather than settling for Mr Okay. “There are more safety nets these days, for example ‘insurance policies’ like egg freezing, advanced infertility treatments and also the vast number of online and social networking forums promising love and connection at any age and stage,” says Dr Tara. “We are in an age where there are many lifestyle choices and far less judgement about what we choose. This gives people a more flexible attitude.”
The concept of staying single into your 30s and 40s no longer carries the burden of feeling ‘left on the shelf’, elaborates Dr Annie. “For women the message about settling down was once comparable to picking teams in PE,” she explains. “Being last to get ‘picked’ was a judgment on your worth. Today, the association between marriage and desirability has been relaxed, which has meant less pressure on women to settle early,” says Dr Annie. This is thanks in part to TV shows such as The Mindy Project and The New Girl with a strong, single female protagonist. “Being less traditional and unconventional is now seen as hip and cool,” she says. “TV programmes have more shows about single women (and men) and their kooky dating adventures than about traditional family units. Being single makes you attractive and powerful. And this also reverses the pressure to settle down sooner.”
The A-list Commitment Phones | Celebs Who Refuse To Be Tied Down
Oprah Winfrey: “If I had wanted to get married, I could’ve made the time. I’m not a traditional woman and I haven’t had a traditional life and I think that had Stedman and I gotten married, we certainly would not have stayed married,” says the media mogul who has enjoyed a low- key relationship with Stedman Graham since 1986.
Chelsea Handler: “I don’t really have any value on marriage. I guess it would be fun to do just for the sake of it once. I don’t want children … I don’t ever feel that I want one,” says the talk show host, who is currently dating hotelier Andre Balazs.
Kylie Minogue: “I’m a romantic… but it’s not so much the picture frame with the perfect couple. I don’t know if someone is gonna change all that, and I’ll be walking down the aisle one day, but I’ve never really seen it,” says the singer who split from long-term boyfriend Andrés Velencoso in 2013.
Heather Graham: “I don’t feel like I need to [get married] … I kind of feel like I dodged a bullet. I’d rather be happily single than unhappily married. In the meantime, I’m having a lot of fun,” says The Hangover star who has dated Leo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe.