Alone doesn't have to mean 'lonely', writes Chrissie Russell
Jennifer Aniston had $150m (€115m) in the bank, a body to die for and a little black book full of luscious former lovers. But until she snared husband-to-be, Justin Theroux, she was 'troubled', 'unlucky in love' and generally hailed as the Miss Havisham of Hollywood.
It's a strange phenomenon that casts single women of a certain age as old maids and spinsters while unattached men get to gad around as playboys and carefree bachelors. Why do we never hear about poor, unmarried, childless George Clooney rattling round his Italian villa?
According to the CSO's figures, there are more than 61,000 unmarried 40-something women in Ireland and some 15pc in that age group have no children.
We decided to ask three of them: Is it possible to be 40-something, single, childfree and, dare we say it, happy?
'I've already turned down two wedding proposals'
Freelance journalist Maureen Coleman (44) from Belfast thinks we need to realise that living alone doesn't mean 'lonely'. She says: "Anyone who says a woman can't be happy on her own is talking a load of crap. Society puts it out there that you have to be in a relationship to be happy, but I know plenty of people in relationships who are unhappy.
"I had the chance to be married but turned down two proposals because they weren't the right thing for me at that stage of my life.
"I'm not against marriage, if someone came along that I was totally passionate about, maybe I would consider it, but it's not the be all and end all.
"I never dreamed about children and wedding dresses. I'd rather be on my own and happy than settle. If that means I'm single for the rest of my life -- so be it."
"I've had two long-term relationships and been in love four or five times. I've had wonderful sexy men in my life.
"The fact that it didn't last forever doesn't make me a failure in love.
"Broodiness never kicked in and I don't think that makes me a lesser person.
"I have great family, friends, I can go away at the drop of a hat, I've plenty to keep me occupied and I'm happy in my own company.
"People ask me if I ever get lonely and I honestly don't; I like me."