People who ought to read this article probably won't.

I intend to challenge three generalizations about single people, particularly those who have never married. If you are reading this, however, you are probably single, and probably already know and agree with most of the things I am going to say.Still, the poet Robert Frost once said he wrote not to inform, but rather to remind the reader of something already known. Maybe I can do that here, and in the process give you one or two arguments you can use next time you are confronted by some pedantic married person who wants to lecture you on the "plight" of singlehood.

Some of what I will say I can support with evidence. Some of it is based on personal perspective. All of it I whole-heartedly believe.In a 1987 master's thesis at Brigham Young University, Davilyn Dalton concluded from a 1982-84 national sampling of never-married women in America that they were only slightly less happy than married women. The least happy women in the survey were the widowed, divorced and separated, but the differences in happiness between them and the other women were small.

"The assumption that a woman who has never been married is unhappy and is waiting for a man to rescue her from her loneliness . . . does not seem a valid one," Dalton concluded. "These never-married women have found other avenues to happiness."

I couldn't find a study that related to never-married men. I suspect the findings would be about the same. However, with men the issue is different, which brings us to . . .A new magazine, Men's Life, commissioned a survey about men and their likes and dislikes. The findings were published this fall in the premiere issue. Of the single men interviewed, only about two in five fit the "confirmed bachelor" mold. One-third said it is very important to them to get married, and of those who want to get married, most want children.

As for me, I'm 36 and have never been married. I didn't plan it that way, and I don't fully comprehend how it happened, except that during my college days - prime time for mate selection - I put all my stock in one or two relationships instead of playing the field.

In any event, my life's agenda called for marriage and at least two children by now. I'm well enough off, but I don't think I was cut out for single life. Much of my leisure time I spend with family or married friends, or pursuing hobbies.

Singles night clubs and even church singles dances don't hold much appeal for me. And one-night stands are out of the question. Apart from being morally reprehensible, they have always seemed selfish and mean-spirited.

With the awareness of goals unfulfilled, however, there is the exhilaration that comes with having total control over my leisure time and finances, and being able to pursue any life's adventure within my means and capability - even quitting my job and becoming a street musician or soldier of fortune if I were so inclined.This fallacy fosters a double standard in which women who have never married are objects of pity, and men who have never married are objects of contempt. I prefer not to be the object of either, but I'll take pity over contempt any day.

If a single woman is reasonably happy being single, it doesn't make sense for her to jump at the first opportunity for marriage unless she is convinced it will make her happier than she already is. The same could be said of a single man, for that matter.

The notion that you can fall in love with anyone who is available is a fallacy perpetuated by people who have been married so long they've forgotten what they felt like while they were courting.

And male or female, the older you get, the harder it is to find someone suitable in your age bracket. The elements of friendship do not necessarily translate into romance.

Meanwhile, it would seem that single and married people ought to get to know each other better, realizing that virtually every stage of life and every circumstance carries its own set of joys and sorrows. As someone - I've forgotten who - once said, happiness is a journey, not a destination.