Why we’ll NEVER live with A MAN again: As Carol Vorderman says she’d hate to share her life, meet the gloriously liberated midlifers shattering the cliche that every woman wants to settle down
- Carol Vorderman, 60, said the thought of sharing her life makes her feel ‘sick’
- Statistics show the number of women who are not living in a couple is rising
- Dr Jess Walker says the freedom to be independent can empower some women
- UK-based midlifers reveal their dating past and why they won’t be settling down
When Julia Suzuki settles down for a glass of wine at the end of a long day, there is no man to cosy up to on the sofa beside her.
No partner to cook dinner with or discuss plans for a life lived more fully once the pandemic is over.
Julia has been single since her last relationship ended five years ago and, at a time when loneliness is at its peak in Britain, you could be forgiven for thinking that the 47-year-old would have regrets.
But the fashion designer is gloriously content just as she is — and wouldn’t change a thing. In fact, the glamorous blonde intends never to get into a relationship again. Men? Pah, she simply does not need them.
UK -based singletons revealed their dating pasts and the joy they’ve found from being independent – including Julia Suzuki, 47, (pictured) who has been single for five years
‘The moment you live together you seem to lose that romantic edge because suddenly you’re clearing up a man’s mess and feeling irritated by them,’ she says. ‘Suddenly, they think their downtime is more important than mine.
‘They whine about being ‘tired’ and expect me to do the washing-up or clean the bathroom basin after they shave. There’s an assumption that you’re supposed to be superwoman and all things at all times — to look good, have a career, be a housewife. It’s exhausting.
‘The truth is, I’ve become so independent that it would be hard to ever compromise fully on my single life now.’
TV presenter Carol Vorderman revealed similar sentiments in a recent interview, admitting: ‘The thought of sharing my life with someone again makes me feel positively sick.’ The 60-year-old, twice-married mother of two, who split from pilot Graham Duff in 2016, added she’s ‘very happy as a badly behaved singleton’.
But why are we so surprised — and sceptical — when women like Julia and Carol express such feelings?
‘There’s an old-fashioned belief that what we all truly desire is to be in a long-term relationship, and that we need this in order to be happy, particularly women,’ says counselling psychologist Dr Jess Walker.
‘However, having the freedom to be independent can be extremely empowering for some women, allowing space for fun, spontaneity and putting yourself first.’
Julia (pictured) who lives in Staffordshire and has a 19-year-old son, said previous boyfriends have been jealous of the successful men she works with
Fun and spontaneity were certainly at the top of Julia’s list pre-Covid —with a social life brimming with nights out with girlfriends and extensive travel for work.
‘For eight years, I went round the world with David Lloyd, the gym entrepreneur, doing his branding for large resorts,’ says Julia, who lives in Staffordshire and has a 19-year-old son. ‘But I’ve found that previous boyfriends have been jealous of the successful men I work with. Men can be ridiculously insecure.
‘I’ve had boyfriends who would constantly check my phone messages, and one who once asked to check what underwear I had on, not believing that I was off for a meeting with my bank rather than an illicit encounter with another man. My last boyfriend issued an ultimatum that we either moved in together and I announced our relationship on social media, or that was it. I ended it in a heartbeat.’
The Office for National Statistics shows the number of women like Julia, who are not living in a couple and have never been married, is rising in every age range under 70, with the number of never-married singletons in their 40s doubling between 2002 and 2018. In fact, more than 1.2 million British women aged 45 to 64 now live alone.
Julia separated from her son’s father — with whom she remains good friends — when he was three. Since then, she has had three long-term boyfriends lasting between three and five years — but didn’t live with any.
Julia (pictured) said being man-free gives her the opportunity to work late into the night without having to consider someone else
‘There are guys I chat to online whom I date casually, but I don’t want any of them in my life beyond that. There was one guy I dated for a while about five years ago, but we’d only see each other for 24 hours every weekend, saying goodbye after we’d spent Saturday night together and shared breakfast on a Sunday morning. There were no emotions invested so it was a pretty perfect arrangement.’
Even the various lockdowns haven’t caused Julia to waver. Quite the opposite. ‘I know many women who have been infuriated they haven’t had any space to escape their partner while they’ve been working from home,’ adds Julia.
‘But while they were all tearing their hair out, during the first lockdown, I enrolled on a 12-month online training course to become a yoga teacher — a dream of mine.
‘As soon as the pandemic’s over I plan to host retreats on the French Riviera, where a friend has a villa.
‘Being man-free also means I can work as many hours or as late into the night as I choose without having to consider someone else.’
Elizabeth Forbes-Stobbe, 56, (pictured) who lives in Chelmsford, Essex, said since her divorce she’s the happiest she’s ever been
Two years on from her divorce after 20 years of marriage, Elizabeth Forbes-Stobbe also revels in doing absolutely as she pleases at home —and beyond. If she fancies a glass of champagne, she’ll uncork a bottle. No food in the fridge? She’ll order a pizza.
She cannot see any benefit to having a man as a permanent fixture in her life. But she’s certainly not a bitter, mid-life divorcee.
‘I’m simply the happiest I’ve ever been,’ says Elizabeth, 56, a health and social care consultant who lives in Chelmsford, Essex.
‘I ended my marriage, we’ve both moved on, and I get plenty of offers from men. But why would I want to revert to picking up after a man, enduring endless sport on TV and cooking what he wants for dinner?
‘Now, I sleep on silk sheets, my bedroom smells of Jo Malone fragrance, the house is tidy and if I want to watch trashy TV at the end of a long day while sipping champagne, I do so guilt-free.
‘It’s in stark contrast to the marital home I shared with my husband, who was always messy. Even when he cooked, it would look like a bomb had gone off in the kitchen, and it was always me doing the clearing up. I did all the housework and he expected me to. I am so happy I no longer have to do all that rubbish.
Elizabeth (pictured) revealed she doesn’t want to ever give up her freedom and marriage felt lie Groundhog Day
‘Pre-pandemic, I went out misbehaving with my girlfriends at will without having to worry about letting a man know where I was going or what time I’d be home. I don’t even miss the sex!’
Elizabeth says she’s content to ‘date as, when and with whom I see fit’, but has no intention of allowing a man into her life — and definitely not her home — again.
‘I don’t ever want to give this up,’ she says. ‘My marriage eventually felt like Groundhog Day and I had a growing sense of not wanting to become like my mother was in midlife — a slave to domestic drudgery.’
After her marriage ended in 2018, she was open to dating.
‘A friend introduced me to a man and I went on two dates with him, only to find myself thinking: “What am I doing here?” It was boring and the conversations were the same as when I was married. Then I went on a date with a 32-year-old man I’d met on social media, which was lovely. But younger men are probably going to want sex all the time and I don’t want to have to buy nice lingerie and get dressed up for a man any more.
‘I have my own money, I’m independent and strong, I have a lot of fun with my girlfriends. What do I need a man for?’
Lidia Peto, 47, (pictured) who lives near Woking, Surrey, made a choice to be single after her last relationship ended in 2016
Personal trainer and life coach Lidia Peto, 47, has been happily single by choice for four years, though her path to conventional adulthood stalled years before. Married at 22 for just three years, her longest relationship — four and a half years — was with her 16-year-old daughter’s father. Since then, she has dated casually and has had two longer relationships lasting between six and 18 months.
‘When the last one ended in 2016 I made a choice to be single,’ says Lidia, who lives near Woking, Surrey. ‘I’ve had lots of people say to me, “You’re so pretty, you’re fun, why don’t you have a boyfriend?”
‘But I love being single and although I certainly don’t think men are pointless per se, I am content without one . . . I’ve invested all my time and energy in my daughter, my business and my personal growth, and by doing so I’ve found happiness I don’t think can be replicated or replaced by a man.
‘I love my own company and my daughter’s, and in normal times the things that bring me the greatest joy are travel adventures with her in southern Italy and Portugal, as well as having my like-minded girlfriends over for dinner, drinks and a catch-up.
Lidia (pictured) said she finds joy in adventures with her daughter and dinner with like-minded girlfriends
‘I don’t subscribe to the old-fashioned view that a woman needs a man in order to be fulfilled.’
It’s a view that would have seemed anathema a few decades ago, but independent women such as Lidia are fast becoming the norm — rather than an object of pity. Dr Elle Boag of Birmingham City University says: ‘Women are in the strongest financial, social and even emotional position they have ever been. Gone are the days that they played a secondary role to a man, or relied on a man for “security” and protection.
‘Women are empowered. They are homeowners in their own right, they pay their own bills, change their own lightbulbs and empty the bins.
‘Psychologically, it has long been recognised that women are more robust than men, too. Now society is finally catching up with the idea that women who choose to live without a live-in life partner need not be unhappy, or somehow lacking or flawed.’
It’s a point that resonates with make-up artist and skin therapist Joyce Connor, 57, who says she’s so gloriously single that she can’t ever imagine wanting to invite a man back into her life other than for casual fun.
Joyce, who lives in Berkshire, was married to her children’s father for ten years, but got divorced in 1994 and her last long-term relationship ended in 2010 after two years.
Joyce Connor, 57, (pictured) who lives in Berkshire, relishes the time on her own to travel and build her business without worrying about a man’s needs
‘Although I’ve dated a couple of men for fun in the past decade, having a man in my life for any length of time seems pointless,’ says Joyce, who has three children aged 35, 34, and 26, and two grandchildren.
‘Instead, I’ve relished all this time on my own to travel and build my business without having to worry about a man’s needs.’
As a teenager, she wanted to join the Army and see the world, with no desire to get married and have kids.
‘Then I met my husband when I was 20 and he was 30. He was a controlling man and by my 30s, I was divorced with three young children.
‘When I was married, I had to ask my husband if I could buy new clothes and if I sneaked something new in without asking him first, I’d have to hide it in the wardrobe. He used to make a big show of giving me my weekly housekeeping money. Now, I can buy what I want, when I want.’
Joyce did briefly dip her toe back in the dating waters — but worked out it wasn’t for her. ‘I met someone in around 2000 and we dated for five years — though didn’t live together — until I ended it because I realised I like the excitement of only seeing someone casually.
Joyce (pictured) revealed she’s had a couple of liaisons but it annoys her how quickly the subject with men turns to sex
‘I don’t want a man asking me, “Where are you going? What’s for dinner?” I’ve got three kids, I don’t need another!
‘One of my best friends has a house in Corfu and has often phoned to say she’s found cheap flights for the following week and do I fancy going. Of course I do! I’ve also been able to accept work abroad at a few days’ notice, including in Jamaica, Qatar, Majorca and France. I just say yes to all these things and off I go . . . I love the freedom to make snap decisions about what I want to do.
‘I’ve had a couple of liaisons, shall we say. But it annoys me that with men the subject quickly turns to sex.
‘Far from being lonely, being single during lockdown has been fabulous. If I was trapped at home with a man, he’d have driven me nuts.’
As soon as restrictions are eased, Joyce will rearrange the trips she had to cancel last year to Bali, Sorrento in Italy, France, Vietnam and Cambodia.
She adds: ‘As women, we spend so much of our lives thinking about men and children, but now I just think about myself and misbehave however I choose. It is liberating and enormous fun. Best of all, I’ve also got a whole king-size bed to myself!’
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