SCMP Monday, August 27, 2001

'I don't choose to be single, I haven't met the right person'


Society puts less pressure on women to marry these days, but a woman's self-confidence can be tested if she is still single in her 30s or 40s, said secondary school teacher Regina Luk.
Ms Luk is one of the 223,300 women in their 30s or 40s who told census-takers they had never married. While their situation may not be as desperate as that of fictitious "singleton" Bridget Jones, heroine of the film and book Bridget Jones's Diary , Ms Luk said single women sometimes needed to be strong.
"Being single is not a social sickness, but you do need self-confidence and a very positive self-image," said Ms Luk who is in her early 40s.
"I feel different - not bad - but different when at a party. My friends come in as couples and I am on my own. I don't choose to be single - it's just that I haven't met the right person and I don't want to marry the wrong guy."
The census showed that although the number of bachelors in their 30s or 40s has increased, the number of single females in the same age group has risen rapidly. In 1986 single men in that age group outnumbered women by 2.4 to one. Now they are almost level - 1.09 men for every woman.
Never-married women in their 40s now outnumber men 1.05 to one - yet 15 years ago the women were outnumbered 3.6 to one.
Ms Luk said she felt that older, single women tended to be well-educated, financially independent and attractive. "Professional women have higher expectations and are less willing to compromise just to get married."
"When you have a career, your focus shifts to your job, and you think less about finding a husband." She said dating without marrying may be more liberating and less restrictive for many women, although she believes most still aspire to family life.
"People are always talking about problems being single - they should look more on the positive side. Being single doesn't mean you don't have male friends. You can carry on making more friends and you are faced with less commitment.
"People often tend to compromise on their choice of lifetime partners just so they can get married. Once you are married, you are locked into it.
"I have friends who have bad marriages and they have to pretend everything is okay - I am so glad I don't have their problems."