Single Women

Single women approaching the age of 30 are often stereotyped and stigmatised in Middle Eastern societies which can have devastating consequences for their emotional and psychological well-being. Women are often perceived as having a limited shelf life and those who, for whatever reason, have not married by a certain age are judged as defective in some way. These women are then arbitrarily labelled as ‘spinsters’, which exacerbates their plight. Among the only options then left to them are to live on the margins of society or to accept polygamy.

Nevertheless, the socio-cultural phenomenon of ‘spinsterhood’ within Arab societies is increasing as a result of complex modern social, political and economic transformations that have altered the traditional framework for marriage. However, the onus continues to be placed almost exclusively on women, while their single male counterparts face none of the same pressures and stigma.

The need to educate and inform the societal notions which negatively impact and control perceptions of women in this way is crucial. It is also necessary to provide advice and support to these women which will allow them to improve the quality of their lives.

Below are our top five suggested strategies for single women to live a full, happy and satisfying life:

1. Live your life in the present

  • Often marriage can become the obsessive central focus of a single woman’s life and all her plans revolve around the imagined happiness and fulfilment you will experience once you find a partner. This is a very unhealthy way to live as you are preventing yourself from experiencing and participating in life. The obvious end result of this is that you will stagnate and stifle your spirit while your life passes you by.
  • Recognise that your life, whatever it may be, is happening and is not right now. Living your life in the present by pursuing your goals and ambitions, and doing the things you enjoy boosts your spirit, enlivens you and gives you confidence alongside a sense of happiness, worth and purpose. The verve and positive energy you then exude will also make you a more attractive prospect!


  • Honestly reflect on the last five years of your life and then write a list of all the things you have been putting off for ‘after your wedding’ or ‘once you find a husband’. Select the three that you feel will empower you as a single woman the most. Go and do them now.

2. Stay open and optimistic!

  • The fact that you have not as yet found a suitable partner does not mean that you never will. Many single women worry that there is something wrong with them or that they are destined to be alone. This may lead some to believe that they have to settle for whatever is available and make hasty decisions or ill-considered choices. Recognise that often it is a question of much more than your desirability and have hope that there is someone out there for you.
  • While perceptions of single women of a particular age in Arab countries may appear engrained, socio-cultural attitudes are constantly changing and have never been more fluid than they are right now. This means that there is a generation of your male counterparts whose views are less traditional than they would have been just ten years ago. Utilise the connections you have through friends and family to try and meet such potential partners. Never give up!
  • Attracting a good, compatible partner is often a matter of developing certain skills, in particular communication skills; leading a pro-active, positive and energetic life while continuing to build confidence is crucial to this. So do not isolate yourself at home, but rather take up a more active role in your community.

3. Nurture your self-esteem

  • The social pressures on single women can be destructive and can lead to decreasing self-esteem, loneliness and discontent. However, statistics show that while this is the case with some people, many others feel better about themselves and more confident as the years pass by and this should be your goal. Develop the areas of your life that relate to self-esteem and self-satisfaction, and focus on the positive aspects of who you are.
  • Try to realign the emphasis of your life and bring the prospect of marriage into its correct perspective and balance. You should aim to make the best of your life whether you remain single, or you find a suitable partner. • Incorporate pleasurable self-nurturing practices into to everyday schedule. This can be something as simple as taking a walk in nature, reading a favourite book or having a good meal. This will impact on your general outlook and increase your happiness.

4. Build on your existing relationships & create new ones

  • It is possible to establish a variety of adult relationships and secure attachments that will provide you with the companionship and emotional support you need. This could be with friends, siblings, parents or others.
  • It is important for you build a community of people around you who care for you, and will be there for you when necessary. This will reduce or eliminate feelings of loneliness and neediness that could be affecting the quality of your life. The less needy you become, the more attractive you will be.
  • It is also possible to increase the size of the community around you by taking part in volunteering activities, mentoring, joining groups and clubs and getting generally involved with various social issues.

5. Pursue your passion, purpose and vision

  • Women who remain single are more open to new experiences and to growth and development. Studies show that they stand apart from their married counterparts in that they are much more likely to complete higher education. This is something that has the potential to benefit you, and others, throughout your life. So set your goals high, and pursue them.
  • Have a vision of your place in the world and what you want to contribute to others. By putting yourself in a position where you feel you have a purpose and something valuable to offer the world, you build confidence and self-esteem. Remember that a suitable partner is not a substitute for a meaningful life, which will energise you whether you remain single or not.
  • Find your passion and pursue it relentlessly. This could be anything from rewarding work, to baking or knitting.  This will have a positive psychological impact on you and allow you to look to the future with hope.


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