Never one to toe the line, Simon Cowell recently explained why he had separated from Terri Seymour, his girlfriend of eight years. He ‘liked her so much’, he said; they were ‘incredibly close’. He hadn’t left Terri for ‘some other girl’. For Cowell, the crux of the problem had been those unwritten rules that are part and parcel of commitment. ‘I think just the fact that we were in a relationship, with the rules that are attached to that – or what we think are rules – caused problems,’ he explained. ‘Rules equal boredom. And I don’t like that.’
Cowell has consistently stated that he doesn’t want children – and he’s also ambivalent about playing the ‘partner’. At the end of a full day, he explained, he didn’t like coming home to someone who expected to hear all about it – maybe not a surprising stance for a born bachelor with a punishing work schedule. Now single again, he doesn’t have to.
But could Cowell actually be speaking for many of us – including a sizable bulk of the single women who are generally thought to be desperate, damaged, unlucky or on hold? Are an increasing number of us actually unable – or unwilling – to adapt our lives to fit ‘the rules’?
Lauren Mackler, psychotherapist and author of Solemate, which explores the ‘art of aloneness’, certainly thinks so. ‘The pervasive mindset is that the ultimate goal, the fairy-tale ending, is a melting, a merging of you, your spouse and your home,’ she says. ‘The reality is that more than 30 per cent of households are one-person occupancies, and that figure is growing all the time. More people than ever are choosing to live alone – whether consciously or unconsciously.
‘If marriage was our top priority, we’d all be married,’ she continues. ‘Instead, a considerable number of women are choosing not to go down that path, but living all sorts of other lifestyles – single and celibate, dating, or being in a relationship but maintaining separate homes. For certain women – especially those who’ve been through a marriage and then created an ideal life on their own – a full-on relationship simply carries too much compromise.’