Why are more people single? Is it choice or circumstance?
Airdate: 
Tuesday, February 14, 2017 - 20:30
Channel: 
SBS

Being single on the most romantic day of the year isn’t always easy unless, you’ve proudly chosen to be single and relish being home alone while staying clear of restaurants full of loved-up couples having swanky, overpriced dinners.  

This Valentine’s Day, Insight explores why singledom is on the rise in Australia and why are more and more people are choosing to live alone. By 2030, 30 per cent of all households in this country will be single person households. But does this mean coupling up is passé?

We examine the pressures on singles who come from cultural backgrounds that view marriage as the ultimate destination and why some say that dating apps, though promising true love, are actually contributing to the rise of the single person.

This Insight episode explores why people are single for longer periods, both young and old. Is it by choice or circumstance? We ask whether modern singletons are actually content with their lot. 

 

Credits

 

Transcript

 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Welcome everyone, good to have with us tonight. Jillian, you're 38, how do you feel about being single?

JILLIAN:  I like that I have my, my choices, my freedom, my independence. I'm not controlled. I live and breathed for every moment that, you know, I'm not suffocated by toxic relationships.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Do you date at the moment?

JILLIAN:  No.

JENNY BROCKIE:   And is that a choice?

JILLIAN:  At the moment, yeah, but if there was something that was going to differ my choices to see otherwise, yes.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Amber, you're 42, you're single as well?

AMBER:   Mm-mmm.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Do you share that kind of positive view of being single?

AMBER:   I think when you turn 40 it's a bit of a freak out and then you get to 41, 42 and then you relax and just go I'm really happy. I don't need to be in a relationship for people to make me happy. I really do want to meet somebody but it's not the end of the world.

JENNY BROCKIE:   So are you looking for a partner?

AMBER:   I am looking but I'm not, look, I'm not checking profiles every five minutes, I'm not desperately searching for somebody.

JENNY BROCKIE:  You applied for Farmer Wants a Wife, is that right?

AMBER:   Yeah, I was on farmer wants, I was on Farmer Wants a Wife maybe five years ago and it was a fantastic experience for me. It was probably, I'm originally from the country so I love country guys, and Farmer Wants a Wife it sounded like a great idea at the time.

JENNY BROCKIE:   And what about the dating experience, what's that like at the moment?

AMBER:   Um, I find it really difficult with on-line dating because most of the guys that contact me or guys that I've contacted, when you meet up with them their profile photos are probably about fifteen years old.  So you stand at the bar and it's like…

JENNY BROCKIE:   I'm going to get to you two in a moment.

AMBER:   Do I know you?  Oh, yeah, yeah, Amber.  Oh, yeah, I'm sorry, I'm waiting for someone. Yeah, that's me.  Oh, I didn't recognise you. I find it's quite deceiving.

JENNY BROCKIE:  So that hasn't gone very far.  Have you had any luck?

AMBER:   Not really. I've met a couple of guys and I guess each time you go on a date you've got to think it's a night out, you're not sitting at home, in my case in front of the TV with the two cats, and not meeting anybody.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Alright, I'll ask you about the cats later too. How long since your last serious relationship?

AMBER:   Look, serious would be a younger guy about two and a half years ago who I met through work. I thought that was going to be progress, I was hoping to progress with children and marriage, unfortunately he's the one that broke up with me because of the age difference. So since then it's, I haven't really had a very serious relationship, it's just basically meeting people.

JENNY BROCKIE:   And what are you looking for?

AMBER:   Country boy?  Look, someone who loves animals, someone who loves the outdoors, someone I think that isn't controlling and toxic because I can totally relate to a toxic relationship.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Steve, you're 35, how do you feel about being single?

STEVE:  I feel that, you know, it's sort of the stigma has been taken out of being single, I think for a lot of people. I mean in America there's more single women than there are married women and I kind of think that, we've sort of reached a stage now that we can choose exactly the type of person we're wanting and if you're not quite 100 percent happy, you don't have to settle for.

JENNY BROCKIE:   So how do you approach dating then?

STEVE:  I've been in many different types of relationships, whether it be a long term relationship or a short term and different types of women from different parts of the world, and I guess I see it as a really great way to meet people and to engage and to share experiences with and you know, if it leads more than that, that's great. That's fantastic.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Do you date a lot of people?

STEVE: I have this year, yes, I have.

JENNY BROCKIE:   How many?

STEVE: Oh, I'd say …

JENNY BROCKIE:   Roughly, just, you know?

STEVE: Probably more than I can, more than I can mention but I'd say sort of upwards of, you know, maybe thirty or something like.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Thirty?

STEVE:  Thirty this year.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Thirty this year?

STEVE:  And I'd say from that there's been, you know, Russian models, there's been Swedish girls, there's been Spanish, you know, French. I'm actually very happy being single and I enjoy travelling to many different parts of the world and going whenever I want to go and eating the foods that I want to eat and kind of making things kind of flexible and designing your own life.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Warren, you're 53 and single, is it a choice?

WARREN:  It's a choice because I sort of accept, I accept it now. Like I did want all of that relationship with marriage and children, it didn't come my way for various reasons. But I sort of let that go and I've just never been happier, I’m just the happiest I've ever been since I've let it go. But as a consequence of me actually being single for quite a while and really loving it and letting go of that sort of probably social pressure and family pressure to find someone and settle, I've just, yeah, very, very happy and I'm sort of blessed in other ways.

I'm also blessed because having travelled to nearly seventy countries in the world over 25 years and that's probably been a lot to do with the fact that I haven't settled possibly, plus I live in a very small town. I'm sort of, I think innately a free spirit and I think it's actually okay to be that because in nature you have the bachelor males in the wild and…

JENNY BROCKIE:   You're one of those bachelor males in the wild, right okay.

WARREN:  I'm in the world.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Steve, how long since you've been in a serious relationship?

STEVE: I'd say maybe since April.

JENNY BROCKIE:   April?

STEVE: Since April.

JENNY BROCKIE:   So how long did that serious relationship last given that there were thirty other women, twenty nine other women around that time?

STEVE: It was actually, it was. It would have been probably around October last year to about April, so however many months that is.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Okay. Alright, what about you Amber, how long?

AMBER:   About two and a half years.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Jillian?

JILLIAN:  For me it was an eight year relationship and it was on and off quite frequently until probably about a year now, that I've made the choice.

JENNY BROCKIE:  A year since you've been out?

JILLIAN:  Yeah.

JENNY BROCKIE:   What have your dating experiences been like as you've gotten older, Warren?

WARREN:  There's a lot of baggage that comes with certain, you know, like situations you put yourself in.

JENNY BROCKIE:   What do you mean by baggage?

WARREN:  A lot of it's with respect to the women, just as a generalisation, just a lot of trust issues that I've noticed. I find that some people tend to live in the past and my attitude is to life is pretty well it's too short for fear, guilt and regret and so with guilt and regret it just doesn't exist if my life at all.

JENNY BROCKIE:   So no baggage for you?

WARREN:  Um, not really. The thing is it's interesting because a big part of me actually wanted this whole family scenario, I love kids and I'm a school teacher and I think they're just the most wonderful, but a massive part of me I think still didn't actually want it. But you felt sort of a pressure.

JENNY BROCKIE:   I notice people reacting to the idea of baggage when that was mentioned. Anyone want to chime in here about that and about being single?

WOMAN: Baggage can be great life experience.  It doesn't have to be negative, it can be positive and a lack of baggage to me might indicate something might be missing. Just want to put that out there.

JENNY BROCKIE:  Anyone else want to comment on that?

AMBER: I think I had baggage after my, that break up I had years ago that really was toxic and it's important that you work through all that and don't just jump into another relationship because if you don't have time to heal, you're always going to carry that baggage into more relationships and there's going to be trust issues.  

JENNY BROCKIE:   Warren, have you been hurt?

WARREN:  Oh definitely, yeah.

JENNY BROCKIE:   And do you think that's affected your attitude to relationships?

WARREN:  Um, not, for initially it did for a while but not now.  It's just like, I don't know, I'm just going with the flow and I'm just really, I can't say I'm …

JENNY BROCKIE:  Enjoying yourself?

WARREN:  Exactly, I'm just loving my life. I've just got the best life.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Allison, you're only 28 but you see yourself being single for a long time. Why?

ALLISON:  Um, I've probably always enjoyed my independence.  I've never had a longer relationship than a year. I've been in and out of relationships so seeing myself as a single person for a long period of time is only because I've got things that I want to accomplish in my life that maybe doesn't involve somebody else because I want to do them on my own.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Do you think you can't do them with somebody else?

ALLISON:  It's my own personal experience that I want to experience the world, travel probably mostly, and I've had friends that I probably would travel with and I have travelled with that just didn't work out then. So I don't know if that would work out if I was travelling with a partner, yeah.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Do you date?

ALLISON:  Yeah, quite a bit, yeah, Tinder, love it, yeah.

JENNY BROCKIE:   What do you love about Tinder?

ALLISON:  Um, I just love that I can meet whoever, during the week like if I've maybe run low on cash I can just, maybe …go out on a for a burrito meal in Melbourne, I would have played Frisbee in the park, like it's very casual. Like I don't feel like the dates that I go on are very serious.  I just like people, I'm interested in people so.

JENNY BROCKIE:   And burritos?

ALLISON:  And burritos.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Have you had any serious relationships?

ALLISON:  I have, but it's only been a year, so as far as serious goes, for me a year is about as serious as it's been.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Has anything influenced you to want to be single?

ALLISON:  I think because I've been in a few pretty, as well as toxic relationships, very controlling and I feel like half the relationship I'm not myself because someone's trying to change me into something that I'm completely not, and cutting people out of my life that I genuinely wouldn't if I wasn't with that person. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Women nodding here. There are quite a few people nodding, why? Yeah, anyone relate to this?

WOMAN 2:  Story of my life, yeah. Every relationship, yeah, you end up wanting it to work so much, that you put all your effort into it and they're not really putting as much effort in.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Do the guys relate to any of this or not? Steve?

STEVE: I think you can get very comfortable in a relationship. And, maybe there's a part of me that puts on these experiments where I start rocking up a little bit slobby just to see if, you know, if it's still okay, you know, it's still okay.

JENNY BROCKIE:   So you have quite a strategy then?

STEVE: Oh, I don't want to say like I've got a strategy but in terms of it, I kind of think it's good to see, you know, see someone at their best and see them at their worst at the same time and I think if you can see both I think that's fine.

JENNY BROCKIE:  So when those women rock up a bit slobby how do you respond to that?

STEVE: I think it's actually really good, I think it's really good.  they're quite casual and it's good, it knows that they're feeling quite comfortable with you.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Tom, you're 28?

THOMAS:  Yes.

JENNY BROCKIE:   What's your attitude to being single?

THOMAS:  I enjoy it and for me being 28 it's probably quite easy.  From a social media perspective, you know, using like a Tinder or something like that you can have a little bit of fun with it. Whether you're going out on dates or, you know, going over to somebody's house, et cetera, yeah, it's quite enjoyable, I enjoy the freedom.

JENNY BROCKIE:   And you're the same age as Allison, I mean do you see yourself being single for a long time?

THOMAS:  I see myself being single until the right person comes along. I'm sort of almost clinical in the sense that, you know, the first date I'm trying to ask them some set questions I've almost got in my head or trying to pick apart something that they're saying…

JENNY BROCKIE:   What are those questions?

THOMAS:  Oh, they sound really snobby but you know, it might be a Melbourne private school thing but you know, I'll say to them so what school did you go to and what do you do for a living? What about your parents? All that sort of stuff, trying to tick the boxes in my head.

JENNY BROCKIE:   That's interesting, so you've got boxes in your head going in straight away?

THOMAS:  Yes, which is why a lot of my friends will tell me I'm too picky.

JENNY BROCKIE:   So you want to sort that out really early on, like you don't want to waste any time?

THOMAS:  Yeah, I'd rather sort of shake the tree and see what falls out in the first couple of dates because then, you know, you get further down the track and then you find out that they're a vegan or something. Or something, you know, or you know, they're really, I shouldn't say at SBS but they're really left winged or something, you know, and you just think oh, you were so perfect up until now but if you have, it's just not going to work. I do try and make everybody…

JENNY BROCKIE:   This is just fascinating, fascinating. So do you think dating apps are actually part of that process?  Do you think they're encouraging that kind of, you know, quick decision making?

THOMAS:  I think from a Tinder perspective, which is what I use, it is very quick.  You sort of just have a quick look at their photo, do you have any mutual friends in common, have they written anything in the blurb and you go swipe left, swipe right.

JENNY BROCKIE:  What's interesting is that, you know, things just knock people out pretty quickly, like categories of things that you want ticked off.  Yeah?

WOMAN 2: Do you not think that might put pressure on the person that you're drilling all these questions to, and that person that you're meeting with, whether that be a lady or whoever, you know, might feel pressured to say the right things for this guy so we can, so I can at least have a chance for a second date?

THOMAS:  I'd like to think that they don't feel the pressure because I'm not firing them off, you know, like a drill sergeant or anything like that.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Do any women do this by the way? 

WOMAN 3: I think the check list was created by women because people have preferences about what that individual looks like that they would like to have in their life. So I think the apps are a product of that we've created what we want.

AMBER:    I think the older that you get as well, the check list gets a lot more selective 100 percent. It's more, maybe, maybe ten years ago you're a little bit more mmm, I'll give it a go, but now it's just like no, no.

WARREN:  That's interesting as well because like obviously when I was in my 20s we didn't have access to those apps, whereas now with the dating apps, it's sort of like the check list scenario, like people are being crossed off, or whatever on Tinder and like, yes, no, yes, no, or left, right, whatever it is.

JENNY BROCKIE:   And get burritos.

ALLISON: Yeah, yeah. Great dates.

JILLIAN: Values have significantly changed of what a relationship should be and I think with so many apps and there's just so much variety out there.

JENNY BROCKIE:   So you've got more choice.

JILLIAN:  Mm-mmm.

JENNY BROCKIE:   But more people are single.

JILLIAN:  There is and I think too, you know, right now people just look at somebody and go pffft and like whatever happened to it's what's inside that counts, that you could be that great person but now it's just that novelty of going pffft, pffft, you know, it's just that hundred swipe with the fingers.

JENNY BROCKIE:   But with all that choice, the interesting thing is that more people are single. Are more people single because of all that choice? I mean Steve, you'd say yes?

STEVE: There's a famous book called The Paradox of Choice and they said when you've got too many choices you can't make up any decision. I mean over in the UK there's 400 million swipes a day over in Britain.

JENNY BROCKIE:  Yeah, but my question is with all that choice, more people are single. So why do you think that is, yeah?

MALE:  I think having all these check lists and having so much choice and being able to narrow it down from the start really denies yourself the opportunity to grow through the relationship and to have a meaningful relationship. If you're already saying this is the type of person I'm going to get and I'm going to get rid of all the other ones, of course the relationship is not going to last for very long because you know, you've already decided what the person is like at the start.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Anyone else got a theory about why, you know, with more choice more people are single? Yep?

WOMAN 4: Yeah, I think because you're always swiping I think a lot of people my age are concerned that the person that they're on a date with is thinking is there something better?

ALLISON: Yeah, so true. I've seen people swipe on my dates, yeah, they were pretty open about it like and I'm pretty like do your own thing, but I've seen it happen, yeah.

JENNY BROCKIE:   How did you react to that?

ALLISON:  Like what are you doing there? You can tell because it's pretty obvious and um, I just pretty much, I cut it pretty short. But there's definitely, I find from the investigations that I've done with Tinder and the guys that I've asked, they will swipe yes to everybody until they find someone that matches, whereas women I find a lot pickier.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Are you picky Steve?

STEVE: I'm probably, yeah, I'm fairly picky, but I think in terms of what she was saying about with guys, I think guys are a little bit more like oh, okay, and I think with girls a bit like, oh  he's a bit too tall, he's a bit too short, oh, slightly a bit too buff, oh he's probably really, you know?

JENNY BROCKIE:   You don't think guys do that?

STEVE: I think but to a certain extent. I think if there's like a selfie one, sort of a lot of skin showing, I think it's sort of a case of, um, you know, if a girl's wearing a bikini, that's fine, but I think from a girl's point of view for a guy with his top off, it looks like he's a bit, I don't know, he's a bit egotistical.

AMBER:   Can I just say I totally agree with that. The amount of guys that just send me messages and as soon as I see the picture, it's doing a gym shot or they're standing, and I don't know what it is and you're a guy, maybe you can answer this, why do guys feel the need to stand in public toilets in front of the mirror and take a photo of themselves with their profile photo with a toilet or a urinal in the background? Why is that attractive and they wonder why I don't answer?

JENNY BROCKIE:   Is this what you see as well Allison?

ALLISON:  Yeah, I don't ever do buff dudes with their shirts off, no, urinals, no.

JENNY BROCKIE:   I don't think that's a high bar, the urinal?

ALLISON:  No, I don't

AMBER:   But I think that the shirts off, I don't understand it. I think it's just a, I don't know, like an ego thing or self-confidence.

JILLIAN:  I think men can say the same thing though about, bras and almost bottoms hanging out and it's, it's out there.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Hugh Mackay, you've been doing social research for decades.  What do you make listening to this.  About what people are single?

HUGH:  What we're hearing is some of the outcome of some very long and very significant trends in Australian life. In the last hundred years our population has increased fivefold, the number of households we've formed has increased tenfold, in other words Australian households are shrinking dramatically.  The biggest single category in Australia now is the single person household. It's been 28 percent of all households and it's also the fastest growing household type in Australia.

Now this is an extraordinary, I think the biggest single social change that's been reshaping our society. Somewhere between 20 and 25 percent of our population will live alone at at least some stage of their lives. This is an unprecedented figure.

All of this is part of the culture shift towards a much more individualistic approach where people are saying it's about me, I want to keep my options open, it's my choice, it's all about my happiness, it's not so much about us.

JENNY BROCKIE:   And what are the implications of that do you think?

HUGH:  A major problem in contemporary Australian is the problem of loneliness.  If you're living alone, that doesn't mean you're lonely but it does mean the risk of loneliness is increased, especially if you don't choose to be living alone.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Jillian, how do other people react to you being single?

JILLIAN:  Why are you single? You should be married, you should have kids.

JENNY BROCKIE:   What about family, how have your family reacted?

JILLIAN:  Again, I think for family it's quite the hardest. Particularly in my culture, I have an Egyptian background and generally I should have been married by the age of twenty, early 20s, so quite not the norm for being 38.  My friends always say that you know, Jill, you should be so happy with someone, you know, you've got so much to give and you know, put yourself out there and my family struggle with me being single. They want to see me settled and have children.

JENNY BROCKIE:  So what is that like for you, that expectation?

JILLIAN:  I think for me it was quite difficult because I was in a relationship with somebody that I loved ever so dearly, that I thought was my best friend and soul mate. But, you know, after a discovering a double life.

JENNY BROCKIE:  That he was living a double life?

JILLIAN:   Yes, due to social media…so again there were l lies there was betrayal and again there was denial on my part…oh it’s mistaken identity…

JENNY BROCKIE:   Allison, what reaction do you have, I mean at 28 presumably you don't get a lot of that, as much of that?

ALLISON:  No, I don't feel like I do.

 JENNY BROCKIE:   Cate, you're 48, you were married for thirteen years, had two kids, you divorced thirteen years ago.  Would you like another relationship?

CATE:  No, I think that I'd discovered while I was married that this wasn't for me.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Why?

CATE:  I lost myself, I lost myself in marriage, in motherhood.

JENNY BROCKIE:  And what are you looking for?

CATE:  I mean I've had, I don't know if you call them FBs or BFs but…

JENNY BROCKIE:   What's an FB, just for people who might not know?

WOMAN:  Friends with benefits.

JENNY BROCKIE:  Come on.

CATE:  Yeah, the polite one is friends with benefits.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Yeah, okay, there is another one as well.

CATE:  Yeah, there is. I'm happy, I live my life without compromise, I love it and I have no intention of ever living with somebody or I just, I'm just not wired for that.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Do you date?

CATE:  No.

JENNY BROCKIE:   You don't?

CATE:  No.

JENNY BROCKIE:   You just have your FBs?

CATE:  Oh, please.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Do you ever fall in love?

CATE:  No, no.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Why do you recoil when I say that?

CATE:  No, are you talking about with who?

JENNY BROCKIE:  With anyone?

CATE:  No, No.

JENNY BROCKIE:   No?

CATE:  I don't feel like I'm wired for that.  I just don't, I, I just don't think that it's in me to, to love someone.

JENNY BROCKIE:   And why do you think that is?

CATE:  Um, obviously, you know, a broken marriage has probably got a little bit to do with it. I'm happiest on my own.  My mental health, my, you know, my outlook, you know, I've got a very busy social life, I go to night classes to learn languages and, you know, I just didn't think I'd ever be able to do that.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Imaan, you're 43 and you're a single mum. What's it like for you being single?

IMAAN:  Tiring, pretty full on at the moment. I have four young children and we've been on our own for almost six years so they were all the way from newborn to barely five. And I work and I have the children, I don't have family in Australia and my ex is not involved at all.

So it's interesting listening to people because I have had some interest from some men over the last few years where the children has been an issue, but more recently I, there was mutual attraction with somebody and unfortunately it didn't go anywhere because he couldn't see himself taking on a large family long term.

JENNY BROCKIE:   So would you rather be in a relationship or would you rather be single at the moment?

IMAAN:  With the right person who was a good fit for me and my children, I would rather be in a relationship.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Would you go out with somebody with kids, Steve?

STEVE: Yeah, I'm okay with that. I mean preference probably, it's probably not my first preference but I don't think it makes too much of a difference.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Do you any of you have preferences to dating people without kids?

JILLIAN: I do.

JENNY BROCKIE:   You do.

JILLIAN:  Yeah, if that was, you know, if I was being open to meeting someone, I'd prefer to meet somebody that had, was in my shoes with the similar.

JENNY BROCKIE:   With no kids?

JILLIAN:  Yeah.

AMBER: Same. I think the problem is with my age, I mean I would love to have kids, but I realistically know that my clock's ticking and you can't just meet someone and rush into having kids. So sometimes I do look at dating somebody with kids for that reason.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Imaan, for you what are the biggest down sides of being single?

IMAAN:  The lack of companionship, the lack of having somebody to share life with, the lack of having somebody take an interest in my life, somebody to be able to reach out to and say hey, I've had a really rough day, what about you, how was your day?  I think that's, for me that's a much clearer definition of intimacy, because when normally people talk about intimacy they talk about sex and that's a big part of any relationship, sure, but for me I think a big part of it also is just when the chemistry's faded and when you've settled into a routine, do you actually have enough there to talk to the other person about at the end of the day and to be able to relate to each other?  And to be able to have arguments and discussions and actually work through them so that you become closer together and I think that's what I really miss with being in a relationship.

JENNY BROCKIE:   What do the rest of you think about that?

WARREN:  That's interesting, like I think the thing you don't have is you don't have that person to come home to, as you say, to talk about the day's activities or whatever.  So that sort of void, I suppose, is actually fulfilled really well with good friends and family.

JENNY BROCKIE: Amber, what about you at home, where do you get that closeness?

AMBER:   There is where we talk about the cats, isn't it?

JENNY BROCKIE:   Well go ahead if you want to.

AMBER:   I'm very independent so I think I will always go down to a cafe and enjoy sitting down reading the papers on my own and having breakfast on my own. I have a lot of friends to do that with as well, I have a lot of very close friends, I have great family.

JENNY BROCKIE:   And you have cats?

AMBER:   Yes, I've got two very exotic cats one that's like a mini lion. They've been through pretty much every relationship break-up and horrid thing in the last, where are we, thirteen years, so they're like my kids and, um, they say that patting a cat and looking to a cat purr is one of the best stress release and it's companionship.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Sarah, you've been in a long term relationship. Do you miss anything?

SARAH:  Oh, yes, I do. I, it's been about six years since I haven't been in a relationship and I really miss having someone there that I can just contact and talk to. So yeah, I do miss it.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Do you get lonely?

SARAH:  Yes, yeah, I do. But I'm pretty self-aware so I think that's a really good part of me because I, I know the signs when I'm feeling a bit isolated and alone.

JENNY BROCKIE:   What do you do when you feel like that?

SARAH:  Um, well, I think about all the people that I have connections with in my life. I reach out and I organise to catch up with people.

JENNY BROCKIE:   So there's a lot of going on in your life over this?

SARAH:  Yeah, and then I start, I have great TVs shows that I watch like this one, you know, and I, and I…

JENNY BROCKIE:   Tick?

SARAH:  Yeah. But I think, like I'd really like to meet someone but I'm really happy on my own too.

JENNY BROCKIE:   What about sex?  The groan over there. Do you have more or less sex being single than in a long term relationship?

WARREN: Clearly.

WOMAN: More.

JENNY BROCKIE:   I don't think we can make assumptions about either. Cynthia.

CYNTHIA: More.

JENNY BROCKIE:   You have more being single or in a relationship?

CYNTHIA: Because I satisfy myself, I don't need them. I don't the need blokes any more.

JENNY BROCKIE:   What do you think Amber?

AMBER:   I've forgotten what it is.  I, I don't do one night stands, so as long as I'm single, it's pretty much not happening for me.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Okay, others? Warren?

WARREN:  It depends on how much you're dating I suppose, like.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Is it something you miss if you're single?

WARREN:  Um…

AMBER:  You just guess get used to it.

JENNY BROCKIE:  Allison?

ALLISON:  Yeah, well like I've got lay bys on the side that you just, if you ever need to.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Yeah.  Others, Cate?

CATE:  Yes, I've got friends if I need them, they're very obliging. Also depending the age too.  Like I went through a period where, you know, I want it a lot and now it's not so much because my life is pretty full. So you know, if I get the time to squeeze it in then I will but if I …

JENNY BROCKIE:   Yes.

CATE:  But I don't, it doesn't, you know, life goes on. It doesn't revolve around, you know, my next sexual contact.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Okay, Tom what do you think?

THOMAS:  I don't think, it's not an issue for me, I mean I've got the regulars or the FBs as somebody said over there, but then also, you know, with the on-line dating apps and things like that, if you, pardon the expression but if you've got the itch and you need it scratched it quite quick and, you know, being at the age of 28 it's perfectly acceptable.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Do you have a preference? Do any of you have a preference for a regular sexual partner over different sexual partners, or does…

AMBER:   I think chemistry, the biggest thing for me is I like to have chemistry behind and a one night stand for me doesn't have chemistry.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Sarah?

SARAH:  Well, I really miss having contact with a male in-person and experiencing that chemistry that I did when I was younger. So because I used on-line dating it's obviously, I can't get that chemistry from a device, there's that, you know, longing of wanting that chemistry and I just don't seem to be in situations where it happens.

JENNY BROCKIE:   A lot of you have mentioned previous relationships and I just want to explore that a little bit more and how much that might have affected your attitude to relationships now, has it Allison?

ALLISON:  Yeah, I just probably because of the people that I've been with and chosen, they've just not been the right type of person for me and …

JENNY BROCKIE:   In what way?

ALLISON:  Um, controlling.  Um, semi-abusive and just kind of cutting me off from the person that I am. I'm not in any rush to get into something with somebody again until I know that they've got the same respect for me that I do for them.

JENNY BROCKIE:   And how much control do you think you have over that process?

ALLISON:  Um, I do always have control over it. It's just that sometimes I get sucked into the love, the lust and the connection with the person at the time and I think that they think that I'm this wonderful person at the time and because of my personality, for the first few months it's great and then issues come up.

JENNY BROCKIE:  Steve, what about you?

STEVE:  I think after about two years you kind of really know everything, there's just no more surprises and I think maybe there's a little bit of the spark that maybe gets lost and I think you become so familiar, maybe you become a little bit predictable and maybe that just becomes a bit, bit bland after a while.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Jillian, what about you, how much did your previous relationship impact on how you feel now?

JILLIAN:  Um, it impacted me a great deal.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Now you were cheated own and somebody was leading a double life while they were with you?

JILLIAN:  Yes, and I guess it was all about acceptance for me and really honing in and having a reality check that this is the truth and not believing in the lies.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Has your previous relationship affected how you respond to people now?

JILLIAN:  Yes and no. I'm open to meeting people but I do find that with men, their values have changed about wanting to be in a serious relationship. The fundamentals of a real relationship for a lot of men that I speak to on a daily basis, whether it's friends or people are more open to cheating, people are more open to flirting.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Amber, how has, has your earlier relationship affected your attitudes to future, possible future relationships?

AMBER:   It did for a long time. I think now it's not an issue for me any more, I have trust in relationships.  All the things that created issues back then, they're not issues for me anymore. I go into relationships trusting people until they prove otherwise and I find more people bring them into my relationship with jealousy and it's a turn off for me, they're just things that I see in other people's past that they haven't address from prior relationships.

JENNY BROCKIE:   And is that because of your prior partner?

AMBER:   Because of my, yep.

JENNY BROCKIE:   So how would you describe your last serious relationship?

AMBER:   It was very emotionally abusive. I was with him for four years. I lost all my self-confidence. It probably took about four years before I actually started to look in the mirror and go you're amazing, there's nothing wrong with you.  Stop bringing that past into future relationships and pushing people away because that's what I did.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Cynthia, you're 62?

CYNTHIA: I am.

JENNY BROCKIE:   You've been single for 37 years?

CYNTHIA: About that.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Why?

CYNTHIA:  I grew up in the old school, in a family of ten children, and was seven girls and we were all going to just get married and have children and that's the lot. That's our life. So of course I, the very first man that ever said would you marry me, oh, okay, this is going to be great. This is my life goal.  Well I got married and I had my two children and my husband cheated and I left.  And my son was six months old, my daughter was two years old and I had to build from there because I was devastated that I had, I wasn't good enough in that relationship to keep him with me. That's what I thought at the time. I wasn't good enough, I didn't do good enough. I didn't do well enough, that's why he cheated, that's why he lied, it was all my fault. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   There were other things too?

CYNTHIA: There were, allegations were laid of child sexual abuse. So that, at that, way back then, I didn't believe it, I brushed it aside and ignored it until I left the relationship, then my daughter went to visit her father and a situation arose where she felt extremely uncomfortable, wrote me a letter to say something had happened to her. However, long story short, about ten years ago other children came forward in the family, my ex-husband's family, and laid allegations and he has just spent eight years in gaol.

JENNY BROCKIE:   So he was convicted?

CYNTHIA: For 32 charges of child sexual assault. So I had a great deal of anger to myself for bringing that into the lives of my children and marrying a man like that. So I stayed away from men and I didn't trust them for an awful long time. And I couldn't trust myself to meet the right person to, to be involved with my children.

JENNY BROCKIE:   So you didn't trust yourself?

CYNTHIA: Yeah, I didn't complete that goal, I was to be married and have children and be happy and raise my children and make my husband happy and build a home and put curlers in my hair and all that old school lifestyle.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Can you trust people now?

CYNTHIA: Men, no. No, I'm afraid not. I can't get past that.

JENNY BROCKIE:   So what's it like for you having been single for all those decades?

CYNTHIA: It got pretty lonely for a long time, pretty lonely. You rely an awful lot on friends and family and you go to parties and you see, you know, New Year's Eve.  Oh, I hate New Year's Eve, everybody's together, everybody's happy and everybody's got somebody to kiss at midnight. I've told my children, do you know what, I've never in my life spent a New Year's Eve with a partner, not in my entire life. There's something not right about that but…

JENNY BROCKIE:  New Year's Eve can be have a very big let down for a lot of people, if it's any consolation.

CYNTHIA: I go to bed at 9 o'clock, I just pretend it's not happening.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Imaan, why are you sitting there nodding?

IMAAN:  I think it's really interesting what you're saying because I can relate to a lot of that guilt. I don't think I feel angry with myself any more but certainly with, we were married for eight years, it was a very difficult marriage and I don't really want to go into the details of that, but certainly in retrospect I saw a lot of the red flags, I just chose to ignore them because I was older for my ethnicity and I really wanted to have children and I turned down a lot of really great men when I was younger because I didn't feel that I was worthy of them. So there was a lot of self-esteem issues there.

And I don't really have any other, you know, ideal male role models for my children and I feel a lot of guilt because I'm working, I'm working really hard to pay the bills, I'm trying to be there for them and I feel on a daily basis like I'm failing.

JENNY BROCKIE:   You're a GP?

IMAAN:  Yes.

JENNY BROCKIE:   You've been single for six years?

IMAAN:  Yes.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Have you dated anyone, many people?

IMAAN:  A couple of years ago there was somebody who was nine years younger than me at that stage who was quite interested and I must admit there was a fair bit of chemistry but unfortunately his parents didn't like the idea of him being with somebody fairly, a fair bit older with the four children and it just didn't go anywhere.  And like I said, more recently, you know, there was someone where there was a fair bit of chemistry but unfortunately he couldn't see himself being with somebody with four children long term which was a real shame because he was lovely in every other way.

JENNY BROCKIE:   What about on-line dating?

IMAAN:  You know, I tried that really briefly, it's just not my cup of tea. I think there is too much emphasis on looks and for me a lot of the attraction tends to grow out of getting to know somebody and I don’t want to have to feel that pressure about people… I have never been on Tinder, but you know, swiping right or left or whatever it is and purely judging someone on the basis of looks.

JENNY BROCKIE:  What on-line dating did you use?

IMAAN: Well I went on this Muslim dating site, so it was called singlemuslimdating.com and that was about three years ago.

JENNY BROCKIE:  And what was that like?

IMAAN: Awful.

JENNY BROCKIE: Why?

IMAAN:  Well I haven’t been on any sort of generic dating sites. I sort of think, with a lot of the dating sites, it's probably true that you have to kiss a lot of frogs to get to your prince. It just felt like it was a waste of my time. I remember one guy, he texted me about three or four times and I didn't respond. Then he said because he was in Melbourne and he said "I will fly up to Sydney to meet you." And I said “Look thank you but  I am really not interested.” Then he wrote back, and he goes “Me too, I'm 200% not interested”. And it was like, why do we need to do this? Just let it go.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Polly, you're 31, you've decided to have a child on your own. Why?

POLLY: I want to be single for the rest of my life, that's my plan and I didn't want to be 40 trying to have a child with…

JENNY BROCKIE:   Why do you want to be single for the rest of your life?

POLLY: I've had bad relationships, like pretty much everyone in the room, and I love being single. I love being by myself, I love being in my own home, I love things the way they are. I'm very particular about everything, very fastidious and I don't like people messing with my stuff.

JENNY BROCKIE:   So what have your previous relationships been like?

POLLY: They've all been bad actually.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Bad in what way?

POLLY: Well, one was good, but it was, you know, it ended and I didn't want it to end so that was obviously a negative experience but the relationship itself was fine.  The rest I've been cheated on, I've been in quite an abusive relationship, like only one abusive relationship but the majority were, I was cheated on in the early stages and I came to realise that was my fault because I'm very, you know, I'm very, I push people away a bit and I don't show very much interest and they think oh, okay, she's, you know, she's casual when I'm not it's just me trying to build a wall to protect myself and I end up pushing them away by doing that.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Why do you think you want to protect yourself?

POLLY: Well, no one likes being hurt and especially me, I hate it.

JENNY BROCKIE:   So you've made a conscious decision now that you want to be single?

POLLY: Yes.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Does that mean that you don't date at all?

POLLY: No, well I can't anyway, just had a baby.

JENNY BROCKIE:   How old is the baby?

POLLY: Three months.

JENNY BROCKIE:   So you can't, have you completely shut the door on the idea of a relationship?

POLLY: Well if Chris Evans comes to Australia and asks me to marry him. Yeah, look, I don't, I don't see it happening. I don't want it to happen, it's got to be a big miracle for it to happen.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Katie, you're Polly's mum?

KATIE:  I am.

JENNY BROCKIE:   How have you reacted to this?

KATIE:  I'm already now, initially I wasn't very supportive. I thought, I thought that Polly was letting herself in for a lot of work on her own. That’s my husband, we have five children and I was really lucky to have Stephen to be there and help me with the kids, we did it together, and I just couldn't imagine what it would be like to raise a baby without the amount of help that I had, or the amount of effort we put in together. So I was just really worried that Polly was going to just become overwhelmed. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   And now?

KATIE:  I love him.

JENNY BROCKIE:   What a baby can do?

KATIE:  I know.

JENNY BROCKIE:   What about the idea though that she's so firm about saying single, what do you think about that given that you've been married for a long time?  How long have you been married?

KATIE:  This coming…

JENNY BROCKIE:  A long time?

STEPHEN: This coming Saturday 33 years.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Very good. So how do two parents who have been married for 33 years feel when they hear their daughter say no, I'm going to be single?

KATIE:  I was, I was initially disappointed.  I just thought no, no, I've got this absolutely amazing thing happening, you need to do this too, but of course you can't do that with your kids, they're not play dough.

JENNY BROCKIE:   So you're happy about that decision to stay single?

KATIE:  Oh about that one.  Um, I still sort of, you know, hold out hope that Chris Evans will come to Australia and marry her.

JENNY BROCKIE:   What about kids for you?

WARREN:  I love kids.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Well you're a teacher?

WARREN:  Love to have been a dad and but it didn't happen.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Jillian, kids, do you think about that at 38?

JILLIAN:  I do. I think for me it was always my wish to have my own children and a happy family.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Steve?

STEVE:  Yes, I'd love to have kids. I'd like to have two kids, I think it would be fantastic, I think it's one of the most amazing things in life but you know, if you don't have something, well, it's kind of irrelevant really. It's kind of, you know, if you don't have a television at home, don't sit and worry about you don't have a television, you just don't have a television.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Anyone else, Amber?

AMBER:   Very passionate about fostering. So I'd like to hopefully meet someone that could share that with me in the future where I can foster a few children and, yeah, help some people.

JENNY BROCKIE:  Jillian, how do you feel about the future as a single person?

JILLIAN:  I'm still hoping he might be out there, it's just being open to what can happen.

JENNY BROCKIE:   How do the rest of you feel about the future?

STEVE: Well me I'm quite optimistic, I'm planning my trip to Cuba, I'm going to Antarctica, so sort of thinking, I think happiness is looking forward to things so I guess probably at this point in time, maybe I might change but I'm very optimistic at this point in time.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Can you see yourself in a serious relationship at this stage?

STEVE: Absolutely, absolutely. But then again I'm not going to create something that doesn't exist.

JENNY BROCKIE:  Amber, how do you see the future?

AMBER:   I don't know. I'm, I'm, I am looking, I'm happy, sometimes I look and then I can't be bothered, it's all too hard. Sometimes I sit and think do I really want to share my bed with somebody and be woken up every five minutes by someone snoring, or do I want to give up doing what I want to do but then I miss that companionship and I look forward to that.  So I see myself meeting somebody sometime in the future and when it's right, it's right.

JENNY BROCKIE:   Thank you all so much for joining us tonight to talk about this. It's been really interesting and that is all we have time for here, but let's keep talking on Twitter and on Facebook.. Thanks everybody.