After reflecting on my first post on being single, and listening to the feedback, I made some revisions to the NM singles section and figured it’d be good to follow up with more clarity.

It’s as impossible to define the parameters of Never-Married/NM singles as it is to find two identical cultures. That’s because marriage cultural norms vary greatly. Yet you find that every culture tags this label on some people at some point – that point being when you’re past “marriageable age.” But what is marriageable age?

In general, there is an increasing trend to marry later especially in societies that value formal education. For most, marriage before completing, at least your Bachelors degree, is out of the question.

And now, with education inflation, a Masters degree is just like a Bachelors…and you’re at least 25 before you’re seriously thinking about starting a family. What more if you’d like to get a PhD – better to get that out of the way before staying home to breastfeed.

My cursory survey indicates that Europe has the highest inflation of marriage age, whereas Africa has the least – I speak in generalities. Just yesterday I was speaking with a new friend from Germany who is in the US for an exchange program. She expressed surprise at how most people our age here are married with families (I’m 29, by the way). In Germany, she posited, it would be considered marrying young to marry at our age.

What a contrast to the general sentiment you’d find in an African setting. As a woman, you’re on the hill at 25 and definitely over it by 26. Most people would look with disdain on an educated woman who has no husband. Marriage at “our age” would be considered the mercy of God.

So you go to Africa and you’re over the hill: You go to Europe and you’re a spring chicken: You live in America and you’re right in the ball park. We may conclude that at my age you’re a spring chicken running down a hill in a ball park…but when are you a legit old maid? When do you qualify for NM status?

Maybe it’s when the society you live in decides you’re a basket case. Or when all the men you would ever consider marrying are already married. Maybe it’s when you start checking out the divorcees and widowers. Or when it’s all your parents and relatives can talk about when they mention your name.

When are you an old maid?
You know what…I don’t know!

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