If you go online and search ‘unmarried at 30’, the results make for pretty grim reading.
Women Told Us What It’s Really Like To Be 30 And Single, reads one headline; The Struggles of being unmarried and 30 says another; while perhaps the most telling of the lot reads: Yes, I’m Unmarried and Over 30, Stop Talking to Me About It.
The irony, of course, is that by loudly telling everyone it’s ‘OK TO BE SINGLE AND 30’, many of these pieces end up pushing us in the other direction.
Now, new figures from the UK's Office for National Statistics suggest that, for the first time, the average 30-year-old is unmarried. Here’s why it’s fine to be unmarried not just at 30, but also considerably later…
1. You’re more likely to get it right
We don’t want to be negative, but couples that marry in their teens or early 20s are probably more likely to struggle.
This isn’t just because later marriages have fewer years to survive on the clock – the brain doesn’t finish developing until the mid-20s, and marriage is one of several areas where older, cooler heads and knowing exactly what you want from life, come in handy.
2. Your 30s are the perfect time to do the things you want to do
Many of us talk about living it large while we’re young, but when you’re in your 20s – moving out; establishing a career; generally trying not to panic – you’re not actually very well-positioned to do so.
During your 30s you’re far more likely to have the time and means to go on that trip you’ve always talked about, or give that aerial yoga class a go.
3. If you want to focus on your career, you can
Career progression takes inordinate amounts of effort, and your 30s are often the moment people push on or plateau. It’s perfectly fine if, for as long as it takes, the wedding bells are drowned out by the photocopier.
4. Marriage is not something you want to rush into
Rushing marriage is like rushing your food – it may taste the same on the way down, but you’ll regret it when you get indigestion. No one just ‘gets married’, and if there’s no one you want to walk down the aisle for, you shouldn’t be thinking about the guest list.
5. You don’t need to feel pressure to have kids
Popular culture is full of not-even-very-subliminal messaging – particularly aimed at women – telling people that 30 means baby time. Thankfully, 30th birthdays are not marked by the immediate onset of menopause: Have children when you’re ready to have them, not when headlines tell you to.
6. Weddings are really, really expensive
The average cost of an Irish wedding, according to OneFabDay, is €31,000. Think how many weekends away and nights out with your mates that would cover...
7. You should completely ignore ‘the list’
Everyone who watched that Friends episode, The One Where They All Turn Thirty, will be familiar with ‘the list’ – a general rundown of things that someone wants to have done by the time they turn 30.
Get promoted at work, meet the love of your life, go sky diving, try deep-sea diving, own your own house (sorry, that last one got a little silly) – invariably some targets will be missed, and an existential crisis ensues.
Life is a journey with no end destination: Bin the list and get married when you want. And, if needs must, try deep-sea diving when you’re 35.
8. You’ll learn that you’re totally ok on your own
Marriage is not the be all and end all, and it’s liberating to realise that you’re quite enough as you are. You’ll be able to give more of yourself to any ensuing marriage if you know that you don’t have to take.