“We found that never-married women’s social environments are characterized by pressure to conform to the conventional life pathway,” said Larry Ganong, co-chair of Human Development and Family at the University of Missouri. “Heightened visibility came from feelings of exposure, and invisibility came from assumptions made by others.”
For example, the study subjects said they felt more visible in situations such as bouquet tosses at weddings, which prompted unwanted, intrusive questions about the their marriage status. Yet the respondents also felt invisible in society, with others assuming they were married and had children, and ignoring the reality of single women. The subjects often felt people expected them to justify or explain their singlehood.