Single women with no kids. Over 40 and living life on their terms
Why are you single? Do you have a partner? Do you want kids? Are you childfree by choice? Why don’t you have any kids?
Have you been bombarded with these questions more times than you care to count?If so, how has being asked about these deeply personal choices about being childless or childfree made you feel?
My status as a childfree woman, over 40, led me wanting to relate with other She Hit Refresh members who’ve also been asked these questions by friends, family, co-workers, and even strangers. Along with my story, this piece shines the spotlight on some FIERCE AND FABULOUS REFRESHERS who are single, 40+ and for whatever reason, do not have children.
As you’ll read, some of us are childfree by choice, some of us are childless due to factors beyond our control and some of us view childfree meanings differently than others. I hope our experiences will inspire and serve as reminders that there’s no right or wrong way to live our best lives.
Single women over 40
It’s not uncommon to hear women over 40 say that they’ve felt judged when they’ve been barraged with questions from family, friends, and even strangers about why they’re not a parent, married or in a serious relationship. While the intent behind these personal questions is rarely malicious, it’s rarer for women who’ve chosen to be single and not to have kids to be applauded for how they actually choose to live.
There are many reasons why women over 40 are single and childless. This includes having other priorities or interests such as focusing on having a successful career, taking care of sick relatives, managing personal health issues, and simply not being a fan of children.
Many members of She Hit Refresh’s Facebook community, who are over 40 and not in a relationship or a parent, have shared that they love the freedom and independence that their life choices has allowed them to have. As a result, they’re able to live a life of travel, work as digital nomads from anywhere in the world, and hit refresh at a moment’s notice.
In addition to the examples just mentioned, some women choose not to start traditional families because of traumatic experiences from their childhood such as witnessing a contentious divorce. Regardless of their reason(s), it doesn’t matter why some women are single and childless. What matters is that they are happy living life in a way that works for them!
Any single woman over 40 will most likely tell you that they’ve heard “you don’t understand because you don’t have children”, “you’re missing out”, or “you can always adopt” more times than they care to count. If you’ve experienced this, use these comments as an opportunity to flip the script by saying, “how come you’re in a relationship and have kids?” This approach might remind you why you love the decisions you’ve made for yourself.
Accepting being single and childless
If you’re 40 or older, what did you think your life would be like when you were younger? Aside from having a successful career, did you envision being in a committed relationship and a parent? Or, did you think you’d be happily single at 40 and living your best life traveling the world?
Unless you’re a fortune teller, there’s really know way of knowing what the future holds. So, even though you thought your life would unfold one way, it’s understandable if the cards you were dealt took you on an unexpected path. But, just because your direction included an unplanned turn or two, it doesn’t mean that you steered off course.
While many single and childfree women over 40 embrace where life has taken them, this isn’t always the case. For others, accepting how things have played out in their lives requires time to process emotions such as feeling as if they failed because life didn’t turn out how they expected.
Accepting being single at 40 is also a challenge for some women pressured by family, friends, and society to live a more traditional life. In addition to fielding questions about not being in a relationship or having kids, this can be difficult for women over 40 who had wanted to achieve these milestones for themselves.
In order to accept being single and childless, how about reframing your status as a gift that’s allowed you more freedom and independence than you can have ever imagined? After all, once a woman over 40 is able to own her path, the options are endless!
No matter where your journey has taken you, it’s up to you to celebrate and claim it. If you still find it challenging to accept that you’re single and childfree, think about filling the void you’re feeling by volunteering with children, fostering or adoption.
If you’d like more support with accepting that you’re single and childfree, check out BetterHelp. Along with being affordable and convenient from anywhere in the world, this online counseling service will set you up with a professional therapist within a day or two after you’ve registered with them. And get 10% off your first month when you sign up here!
Travel for single women over 40
Another perk to being single and childfree is flexibility to do what brings you joy. If you have a passion for travel, the options are endless for independent women who thrive on living an adventurous life.
Just like the path you’ve taken, there’s no right way or wrong way to travel either. For single women over 40, this includes traveling solo, with a group, and having adventures while working remotely from anywhere in the world.
Chances are you’re at a point in your life where you’re clear about your likes, dislikes, wants, and needs. Having clarity about what works for you translates into how you travel too. So, if you love your independence and exploring parts of the world at your own pace, solo travel is for you.
Traveling with friends or going on a trip with a tour company gives women over 40 the chance to connect with others who are also single and childless. She Hit Refresh’s annual retreat is another way to have an adventure while making connections with women who share and understand your life choices.
If you’ve always wanted to be a digital nomad, check out: Beyond Teaching Online: 11 High-Demand Jobs You Can Do From Anywhere. In this article, you’ll learn why working remotely is the best of both worlds as it gives you flexibility to travel while getting your job done too.
Before jetting off on your next adventure, take time to research where you’d like to go and how safe your destination is for solo women travelers. In I’m Outta Here! An American’s Ultimate Visa Guide to Living in Europe you’ll learn about some of the safest and most desirable places for women to travel and live in Europe. You’ll also get information about how to meet other like-minded women while you’re on the road and be inspired to explore (and maybe even move) to Europe too!
Dating in your 40s for women
Do you roll your eyes at the thought of dating? While meeting new people can be exhausting and consuming, it can also be a lot of fun.
A key benefit for women who are over 40 and choose to date is that time has taught them what they want, (or don’t want), in a romantic relationship. If you’re single at 40, it makes sense that you’ve learned from past dating experiences. And perhaps now, you’re clearer about finding someone who is a complement to you.
One of the most important things to remember when you decide to date is staying true to yourself. After all, it’s fairly easy to get distracted and excited when you meet someone you’re interested in.
Even though there are plenty of dating apps and websites, there’s still an art to meeting people in person. To learn more, take a look at the following tips on how and where to meet someone to date that fits into your life:
- Let your friends know that you’re “on the market”. Since your circle know you best, ask them if they have someone in mind for you to meet.
- Do stuff that brings you joy. If you love animals, volunteer at a shelter. If you have a passion for dance, hiking, or any activity, join a Meetup group with like-minded people. Aside from being a low-key way to meet a potential partner, this is a good option for connecting with other women who choose to be single and childless.
- Take a class or tour when you’re on the road. When you’re traveling and have the urge to meet someone new, take a language class, cooking class, or see what local events are happening. Even though you never know who you’ll meet, it’ll still be a fun night out.
For more ways for women over 40 to date at home or while traveling, check out Companionship Abroad: Dating & Relationships While Traveling.
The choice to be childfree was made for Me
Marla, age 48, American
I wanted the choice to have a child after my body decided I wasn’t able to. My battle with breast cancer and an ovarian cancer scare took the option of being a mom from me. Although my grief about not having children was more about the decision being made for me, rather than not being a mother; it still sucked.
I still get angry when someone tells me I could adopt. Although I probably could have, I realize I already tap into my maternal instincts in so many ways: mentoring a young woman who calls me Mom, being a doggie momma, and teaching English to school age kids. I am grateful for these outlets and know that in my own way – I AM A MOM.
I’ve been judged more times than I can count for being single and childless. For instance, when I told some childhood friends of my plans to teach English in South Korea a few years ago, one of them said “you’re only doing this because you’re single.”
Living differently than others doesn’t mean you’re less than or unhappy. While I AM VERY CLEAR about my big life decisions, it still stings when others make assumptions about how I choose to live because of their thoughtless projections of what being childless means to them.
In the past, I was more focused on what I wanted for myself and didn’t prioritize having a romantic partner. Not getting married and being childless doesn’t mean I’ve gone against the grain, it just means that I’m living in a way that works for me. These days, I’m in a committed relationship with my passport and am even open to meeting someone worthy enough of being with me.
Childfree by choice and loving life
Nanette, age 53, Australian
Nanette has always been driven and determined. Her ambition led to an accomplished career traveling the world as an organizational psychologist for Fortune 500 companies. Although Nanette spent more time in hotels than home, she enjoyed being married to her thriving and successful career.
Growing up, Nanette witnessed her mom sacrifice her job as a librarian to raise her and her brothers. Her mother’s decision not to work for ten years influenced Nanette to do just the opposite. And, to this day, she has had no regrets about being single and childfree!
Although Nanette never felt the urge to be a mother, she’s grateful to have a strong connection with her niece and nephews. While she was always clear about being childfree by choice, marriage was never a high priority for Nanette. Her last serious relationship lasted fourteen years and eventually ran its course. However, if the right person came along, her motto is ’never say never!’
Nanette was always clear of her life decisions but has still faced some pressure from her family. In the past, relatives asked when she was going to have children. There were even conversations about freezing her eggs. And, while it was never discussed in detail, Nanette believes her 70-something year-old father would like her to have a partner; especially as she travels to remote destinations. This way, he won’t have to worry about her anymore!
Nearly two years ago, Nanette made a life-changing decision and BROKE-UP with her fast paced career to PURSUE her passion projects and travel. Now, at 53, Nanette is learning to prioritize what matters most to her. She has shifted her focus to maintaining good mental and physical health, running an online company for those who aspire to make the most of their retirement, spending quality time with her niece and nephews, giving back to the community and of course, travel.
This, Nanette calls her Third Age.
Childless definitions mean different things to different people
Elizabeth, age 54, American
For most of her life, Elizabeth, a born and a raised Californian girl, put others before herself. Along with taking in her nephew when her sister was ill, she’s also been the primary caregiver for her aging parents. These days, Elizabeth is ready to put herself first.
Elizabeth’s mother ran a daycare when she was young. Although she grew up surrounded by children, throughout her life Elizabeth faced assumptions about being a childless woman over 40. She’d hear comments like, “you wouldn’t understand” and “it must be nice to be single living a child free life.”
Elizabeth knows first hand that being single and childless doesn’t mean your life is easier. In addition to putting her family first, Elizabeth let go of her thoughts about adopting to take care of her nephew. These SELFLESS acts of love also meant Elizabeth traveled locally, to stay near her family.
Neither Elizabeth nor her siblings married. She was never pressured by her supportive parents to make traditional choices like finding a partner thanks to her parents creating an accepting and strong family unit. Due to her strong family foundation, Elizabeth also embraced being an independent person.
While she loves being in love, she’s clear that LIFE is about what’s BEST for herself. Although romantic relationships did take a back seat during the later years of taking care of family, Elizabeth’s longtime friendships and supportive community helped her through the rough patches.
Although Elizabeth has no regrets for putting her family first, she is now eager to prioritize herself. By, or even before she turns sixty, Elizabeth plans to start an online business and fulfill her goal of visiting all fifty states in America (she’s already been to 45)! She also plans to hit refresh and combine her love of travel and tennis to witness the big matches in Australia, France, England and New York.
She’s happily childfree!
Patricia, age 41, Canadian
About two years ago, Patricia left Canada to teach English in South Korea. After twelve years at the same job in Toronto, she made her dream of living in another country a reality by saying DO IT because it was HARD. Since taking a leap of faith, Patricia has not regretted that her single and childfree life has given her the freedom to travel.
Patricia is Guyanese and of East Indian ethnicity. Due to her culture, she was told that marriage and children were perceived as a sign of success and stability. Because of her culture’s traditional values, Patricia was constantly asked by her family and community why she was single and childless.
Although she traveled for fun plenty of times, Patricia’s huge move abroad was one of the best decisions of her life. Not only has she gained more confidence and had awesome experiences, but she’s received unconditional support from her traditional family. However, even though her family respects her life choices, they still hope she’ll meet someone.
And, while she’s loving life, Patricia is still OPEN to meeting someone who FITS her lifestyle. After all, as she says, “you shouldn’t settle for the sake of it.” She’s open to what the universe has in store for her and continues to impact children by teaching, volunteering, and of course, being an auntie. While this wasn’t her vision as a young adult, she’s thrilled at how things unfolded for her.
These days, Patricia is content in South Korea. In a few years, she might be hanging out in Columbia or another Latin American country. The world is, and will continue to be, her oyster.
Being single and childfree doesn’t define me
Annette, age 44, American
Annette is very serious about her birthdays. Each year, she “levels up” and marks her special day as both an achievement and a celebration. Now, at 44, she’s happy to embrace being single and childfree!
Early on, Annette lived how she was SUPPOSED TO, rather than how she WANTED TO. As the youngest child of a large Hispanic family, Annette’s gut told her that she wanted to experience more than the small town in Texas that she grew up in.
When her parents divorced her senior year of college, Annette’s mindset of how she thought her life should look drastically shifted. This life changing experience taught Annette to build her own foundation. Soon after, she followed her heart and moved to Austin, Texas, a city that fit her personal interests. Her bold move also led to a successful career in the tech sector.
In her 20s, and while she still lived near her family, Annette experienced the pressures of settling down, getting married and having children. Since all her siblings are married with children, it was expected that she would do the same. Even at 32, her dad said, “when I was your age, I had my last kid.”
As someone fiercely goal driven and clear about what works for her, Annette knew marriage and children were not a priority. Furthermore, being a single parent was not an option for her. That, along with not having met someone she WANTED to have kids with, led to Annette embracing her childfree and single lifestyle.
One of Annette’s mantras is that everything happens for a reason, even if you don’t know that reason. Both career driven and eager to hit refresh again, she continues to create her own path. Now, she is proudly living life on her own terms while also enjoying being an aunt to her nieces and nephews.
Also, while Annette remains open to a romantic partner, she has not made it a priority. She found her groove traveling and her intent is to head to southern France – where she can run in the mountains – and continue to live with no regrets!
Celebrate our choices
Being single and childless means different things to different people. Everyone has their OWN PATH and being TRUE to you and should be celebrated!
While some women marry their husband or wife and have children, other women remain single and childfree. As you’ve read in these stories, sometimes things work out as planned and sometimes they don’t.
Regardless of how your story unfolds, it’s all about living your best life!