The last decade has been a tough one for women — but also a pretty incredible one in many ways. Sure, we’ve had to deal with a ton of BS. We’ve seen Donald Trump become the president of the United States. We've had online dating erupt onto the scene, drowning us all in a deluge of unsolicited dick pics. We’ve had oh so many vajazzles — and crystals getting lost where crystals should never go. But this decade, things are going to get better. 

Single women, in particular, have been given a tough break — you have to deal with society’s expectations of women, their assumptions that you’re desperate to settle down, and all of the pressure to be perky but sexy but non-threatening but self-assured but optimistic but pliable. It’s been a pretty difficult — and incredibly frustrating — road to travel. But it’s also been a decade of learning, of understanding, and, crucially, of growth — especially for women. I’m not going to claim that we sorted it all out (we’re still very much dealing with the Trump/Kavanaugh/dick pic situation mentioned above), but the conversation has changed. 

So here’s why this new decade is going to be better for single women, and society at large.  

1. “Emotional labor” and “mental load” have finally entered the public lexicon  

For far too long, nobody really spoke about “emotional labor” or “mental load” — let alone the “second shift”. While these phrases existed to an extent in academic circles, they’ve only recently taken their place in the public discourse. And it’s a shift that can’t be underestimated. 

Not only is it great news for women in heterosexual relationships, it’s amazing for single women — because it raises the bar. For so long we’ve considered the extra mental work that women do, from emotionally managing their partner to running a home, to be totally normal. But now, it's normal to expect- and even to demand- more. You don’t need to settle, you don’t need to bend over backwards to be with someone who takes advantage of you. Instead, straight single women can expect their dates to not only know about emotional labor, but to be ready to participate. It’s about freaking time. 


2. We proved that single women are happy as fuck  

Thank you, science. Any woman who’s watched her friends be miserable in terrible relationship will know that there are far worse things than being on your own — but now, science had proven it. This year we finally agreed, once and for all, that single women are happier, so they can go into 2020 armed with some real statistics to back them up. Men benefit more from good relationships than women do — and women can really be affected negatively by bad relationships. 

“...If you’re a man, you should probably get married; if you’re a woman, don’t bother,” Paul Dolan, a professor of behavioral science at the London School of Economics, explained. Who are we to argue with the experts?  


3. Sexuality and romance are freer than ever 

What does being single mean for you? It may be tempting to roll your eyes when someone says that they just “don’t do labels” — but moving past labels has set us up really well for the 2020s. Whether you want to play the field, date around, hit up sex parties, or just take some time to figure out what you want, being single has a huge range of possibilities. Female sexuality has become a powerful force and one that, more and more, we have stopped apologizing for and being ashamed of. Hopefully, the next decade will give us even more progress (and will basically be Woodstock with iPhones), but we definitely have gained some solid ground over the past 10 years. 

4. Asexuality and aromanticism are finally being recognized 

Not everybody who is single is sowing their wild oats — and that’s OK. We’ve finally opened a dialogue about asexuality and aromanticism. Although we still have a long way to go to fully appreciating and understanding the full spectrum of sexuality and romanticism, as we keep talking about asexuality and aromanticism we start to remove the stigma. If you're not interested in sex or a relationship, that’s OK — you don’t need to explain yourself any further. Hopefully these communities continue to grow, flourish, and be understood — but we’re going into the 2020s with a lot more information and awareness than we had in the 2010s. 


5. #EverydaySexism and #MeToo have changed the conversation 

I’m not going to pretend that the fight is over. In fact, for every bit of progress we’ve made, there’s been a huge backlash of misogyny and hate that’s flown right back in our faces. But, thanks to movements like #EverydaySexism ad #MeToo, the conversation has shifted. We’re acknowledging the sexism, harassment, and abuse that is commonplace — and we’re fighting back. These huge social feminist movements have benefited women everywhere, but for single women — who are often the target of sexism, objectification, and unwanted come-ons — it’s been especially important. So you can go into 2020 knowing your worth and ready to fight. 

Seeing the growth over the past 10 years and the way society’s view of single women has shifted has been incredibly gratifying — though it’s also been a struggle, with a long way to go. But looking back at where we started in 2010 to where we are now, it’s clear 2020 is going to be so much better for single women — so let’s raise a glass to that.