Traditionally, nearly everyone in New Zealand married had a family and they all lived together until the children left to get married and the cycle started all over again. Hardly anyone split up or got divorced, and while there was plenty of unhappiness around people just got on with it.
Somewhere along the line things changed, however, radically and very quickly. The number of divorces started to rocket, fewer people bothered to get married but somehow the divorce rate carried on going up. Then it went up some more, and then some more, and soon the statistics relating to failed marriages reached such heights that people began talking about the pendulum having swung too far the other way.
They had a point: sometimes it does seem that people in their 20s and 30s split up too far too often and too easily compared to their parents. Then again, on an individual level, no one can sensibly argue that deeply unhappy people should stay together just because, as a general rule, divorce is bad for society.
Love does not conquer all
Married or not, the truth is there are plenty of people out there who should not be in a relationship. He or she might be too selfish to make someone a good partner, or too busy with other stuff (like their career) to give someone else the love and attention they are after.
A substantial proportion of adults make lousy parents too. Not necessarily the worst kind violent, abusive, or absent for years on end but just not very good or engaged, which is surely the very minimum that a young sprout has a right to expect.
So while, even now, deciding not to hook up with someone is still something of an unsual life choice it is no longer so unusual as to warrant the tag 'weird'.
The single life
In fact, the number of people living alone is rising. I'm talking about people living alone, by the way, not single people since this would include (for example) single parents living with their children. By the same token plenty of single people do not live alone but with others or their parents, so the numbers of singletons is actually even higher.
Some, clearly, have not decided to live this way, being widowed or divorced or unhappily unmarried. Others who live alone may be in a relationship, but for whatever reason prefer not to marry each other or move in together.
But, while firm numbers are not easy to get, it is evident that plenty of men and women decide somewhere along the line to opt for the single life. Presumably it suits them, they like it and whilst few ever say "never", for the time being at least, lots of people are happy with the way they choose to live and are not looking to change it any time soon.
Single is not the same as lonely
Being alone, after all, is not the same as being lonely. Some people may choose not to hook up with someone else because they have not yet met Miss or Mr Right or perhaps they despair at the number of their married friends who have already shown signs of strain.
But for others it is resolutely a positive choice. It leaves them free to pursue their interests (or their careers) to the maximum, or is right because they are reluctant to relinquish the myriad small freedoms and friendships which people in relationships have to let go.
Not that there are no compensations for this kind of sacrifice. Of course there are, but for growing numbers the gains do not necessarily outweigh the losses, and acknowledging this rather than ignoring it can be the admirable thing to do. More admirable than hooking up with someone anyway, when deep down you know the chances are you will eventually do a runner.
It is nobody's business but your own
It is, after all, your life and your choice what you do with it. Friends will bug you, parents may worry that you are lonely or somehow 'unfulfilled', and mothers in particular will likely nag you subtly or overtly about grandchildren.
But none of this is sufficient reason to impose yourself on someone else, or to allow them to impose their ideas on you. That may sound selfish but then, as long as you are single and don't hurt anyone, what is wrong with that?
Answer: nothing at all, not compared to the pain and heartache of two people getting together because they think they should and then finding they should not.
Related article: 10 reasons men should stay single
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