The Single Thirtysomething Female Phenomenon

During our grandmothers’ generation, it was unheard of that a single woman could be happy in her thirties. At the same time, she was already deemed an “old maid.” Women were usually married by the age of sixteen or eighteen. Marrying in your twenties was considered pushing it, even. Today, however, marrying in your thirties isn’t just normal, it’s expected. If you marry in your early twenties, people assume you are either pregnant or immature and have no drive to pursue a career. How times have changed.

Independent women
“There’s a certain group of women that is very independent and mature. These women will not settle for anything less than their ideal,” says Herald Cruz, certified life coach and head of the parenting cluster of the Center for Family Ministries (CEFAM) of the Ateneo de Manila University. “It boils down to their value system which is to focus on their career. Today’s women are more empowered and aware of women’s rights. They think, ‘What men can do, we can also do.’”

A 37-year-old single woman shares, “I prayed for joy in my life and I learned enough to use my gifts to bless children and families. I designed a career that fulfills my life purpose and demonstrates values I hold dear. My career is my contribution to my community. Marriage didn't come up, but I don't feel any less blessed.”

“I figured out late in life what I wanted to do, and I was in a relationship at the time,” shares a 33-year-old single woman. “However, having had most of my decisions made for me by my parents when I was younger, when I finally realized what I wanted to do, I wasn't going to let anything get in my way. So I was even willing to sacrifice my relationship because I needed to accomplish my dreams or I knew I'd regret it for the rest of my life.”

Intimidated men
Melissa Pizaña-Cruz, Cruz’s wife of 18 years, certified life coach and co-head of the parenting cluster of the Center for Family Ministries (CEFAM) of the Ateneo de Manila University, says that some men may be intimidated by successful and powerful women. “Men want to feel that they have a significant contribution to the relationship and they don’t want to look like they’re ‘under,’” she explains.

“You are also becoming stronger and less in need of a man,” adds Cruz about empowered single women. “You can unconsciously repel or drive them away. Men get insecure, they want to be needed, they want to protect. If women give off this façade saying, ‘I don’t need you,’ it would take a real man to push through it.”

Where are the men?

According to Pizaña-Cruz, the later a woman starts looking for a husband or a boyfriend, the harder it is to find one because you’ll have less choices. “The successful men are usually in a serious relationship already,” she says. “It’s like a pyramid and the choices at the top narrow.” At the same time, she adds, “In your thirties, you’re already set in your ways. You’re more picky and you don’t really settle.”

“Maybe it's for lack of trying?” surmises the 33-year-old woman about why she’s still single. “Or the fact that it's hard to find a good man these days.”

“I’m not married because I didn’t have anyone I wanted to share my life with,” says the 37-year-old woman. “There is no sad love story, no boy who didn’t return my feelings or betrayed me. That’s why I don’t envy my friends who married happily ever after.”

In the end, it’s a decision you make, and the good thing is we women have more choices now than we’ve ever had. And I’m pretty sure our grandmothers not only agree but are extremely proud of how far we’ve come. 

For counseling and other inquiries, contact:
Center for Family Ministries (CeFaM) Spiritual Pastoral Center Ateneo de Manila University Campus Loyola Heights, Quezon City Telefax: 426-4285 Telephone: 426-4289 up to 92 E-mail:

Olivia Yao has been writing ever since she can remember. She has written for health, teen, parenting, and children's magazines. Her latest endeavor is being a mom to her three-year-old daughter—her toughest assignment yet. Swap stories with her at