Video: Majority of U.S. women spouse-less

By Dawn Fratangelo Correspondent
NBC News
updated 1/16/2007 7:54:26 PM ET 2007-01-17T00:54:26

Art is a big part of Sandi Gordon's life as director of a gallery in Chicago. 

Marriage is not. The 51-year-old is single. 

"Single women today have full, happy lives," she says. "We don't have to be married. We don't have to be partnered.”

She is part of a new majority of women. For the first time, according to Census results, more women, 51 percent, are living without a spouse than with one.

Some of the reasons?

Women are delaying marriage. And they're living longer as widows.

Or, like Baltimore attorney Catherine Flynn, they are in no hurry to get remarried after a divorce.

"I get to make the choices myself about where I live, how I live, how I decorate my house," she says.

Some have partners and just choose not to marry.

Those who follow such trends say it's another sign of women's independence.

"There used to be this saying, '22 skidoo,' that is, when young women got to be the age of 22 they were expected to go off and get married and be in another household," says William Frey, a demographer at The Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. "That's a long time in the past."

The list of modern-day single women is impressive and includes Oprah Winfrey, one of the richest women in America, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Marriage rates for African-American women are especially low, just 30 percent.

Also on the list, Academy Award winner Diane Keaton, who in the movie "Something's Gotta Give" describes the art of sleeping alone.

"You've got to sleep in the middle of the bed!" says Keaton's character, Erica Jane Barry. "It's absolutely not healthy to have a side when no one has the other side."

Most Americans — including women — do eventually marry. But the institution has some competition. Married couples no longer make up the majority of households in this country. 

The message from new singles like Flynn?

"I am having a lot of fun," she says.

And they are looking for love — just on their terms.

"What is it they say?" asks Gordon. "You can't live with them, you can't live without them? But definitely, men won't go out of style."

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