Seeking Happily Ever After

Are Women Redefining the Fairytale? by Michelle Cove

Three years ago, I was sitting with my friend Becky at a coffee shop talking about how lame the media was when it came to reporting the rise of single women. Sure they were reporting accurate U.S. Census numbers (such as New York Times’ 2007 posting that 51 percent of adults are now single). But in terms of reflecting who these women are and what they think about, they were totally off the mark. For the most part, single women in their 30s and older are portrayed as desperate to marry.

Ever year, a gaggle of women battle one another for a wedding proposal from one man (a stranger) on “The Bachelor.” In today’s hottest sitcoms, single 30-something women act like mindless fools to get a date. “Emma” in “Glee” spent a whole season mooning over the married Mr. Scheuster; “Liz” on 30-Rock planned a root canal for herself on Valentine’s Day so she wouldn’t have to deal with being alone.

Is this really how single women act and feel?

Hell, no. That’s why award-winning producer Kerry David and I have made the feature-length documentary Seeking Happily Ever After: One generation’s struggle to redefine the fairytale. ( We wanted to find out from women across the country how they really feel about being a single woman today. Do they see being single as a choice? Do they feel desperate? Do they want to marry? What do they think about becoming a single mom?

While it’s certainly true that plenty of women are redefining happily ever after (by opting not to marry for various reasons), most of the single women we interviewed do want to get married and have babies. But what’s different about “happily ever after” today is that these women are not willing to settle for the wrong guy. They are the exact opposite of “desperate”; they feel good enough about themselves to wait until the right guy comes along, no matter how long it takes. In fact, headlines from The Washington Post last week reported that there are now more women giving birth after age 35 than there are teen moms giving birth (hear, hear!).

And if the right guy doesn’t come along at all, most of the single women I interviewed said they will find a new path towards happiness. As the main character we follow in our film puts it, “You can have several happy endings for yourself, and happily ever after is putting the steps in place to get to any of those endings.” Now there’s a single 30-something woman in the media women can cheer for…

Michelle Cove is the Director and a Producer of the feature-length documentary Seeking Happily Ever After, and the author of Seeking Happily Ever After: How to navigate the ups and downs of being single without losing your mind, which will be published this September by Tarcher/Penguin.


2 thoughts on “Seeking Happily Ever After”

  1. I am happy in my life in most ways – but in my personal life, I would like to find a great guy to share my life with. Am I desperate – no. Am I making efforts to find one – sure. I'd like to have the intimacy that comes with a healthy relationship. I'd like to have someone to share the daily workload of taking care of a home. I'd like to have a father for my child. I'd like to have a second income. I'd like to have someone to grow old with and it is painful for me that I haven't found someone. I am human. I get lonely. But most of the time I'm happy, it's not the focus of my life and having waited for a great guy all these years, why would I settle or become desperate now. If anything, I'm more selective now. I have more invested in myself and my life. I'm going to be a mom and have to think of that child, too, and what would be best for her – certainly not some guy who I marry because I'd rather not be alone.

  2. This is so funny I should read this. The women at work were asking me about my being an SMC and telling me where I could meet men. I told them the only thing I wanted was a second income as it would free up some spending money, and that was not a good reason to marry someone. I also said that I was quite happy being single as are many of my single girlfriends my age, and I'm not really sure I actually want to get married. I pointed out that if I was so desperate to find someone I'd actually be going out and doing so. Maybe I'll find someone and maybe I won't, but I can' honestly say that for the first time in my life I'm really happy with me, and I wasn't always that way, even when I was in relationships. I find that women are happy being alone, but we are constantly told we're not or we shouldn't be.

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