Single…And Loving It?

A groundbreaking poll by reveals that the majority of single people actually adore their status. Here’s why.

By Bella DePaulo, Ph.D.

ell someone that you’re single, and this announcement is often met with comments like “Why? You’re such a catch!” or, worse yet, a pat on the leg and a “Don’t worry, you’ll find someone someday.” Like it or not, many smug, coupled-up sorts assume you’re just dying to find someone and settle down. But is that really how single people feel about their single status?

Hardly. When we at Happen/ asked over 10,000 single people to describe the state of their singlehood, only 37 percent said that they were searching for their soul mate to wed.
The majority of single people say they’re looking for a relationship, but not necessarily marriage.
Another 9 percent said that they were just looking to have fun. And the majority of single people — 54 percent — said that they were looking for a relationship, but not necessarily marriage. In other words, it’s time to set aside the stereotypes and accept that a lot of people are having a ball dating—so much so, in fact, that they’re not exactly desperate to walk down the aisle.

“Single people aren’t necessarily looking for marriage because they live satisfying lives as singles,” says sociologist E. Kay Trimberger, author of The New Single Woman. And it’s not just the post-college crowd who’s living it up. The median age at which people first marry has climbed to 27 for men and almost 26 for women. Divorce rates remain high, remarriage is not a foregone conclusion, and life-spans are stretching. All told, many Americans spend the better part of their adult lives unmarried.

While some people wonder if there’s something “wrong” with people who are single — say, they’re commitment-phobes who come from broken homes — the data doesn’t support this view. “In my study of long-term single women, I found that many came from large families with married parents who did not divorce,” points out Trimberger. In fact, many single people have enduring commitments to friends, family, and whole networks of people that long outlast the duration of many a marriage. All in all, the research shows that single people’s lives are as full and fascinating as those of married folks. If this feeling strikes a chord with you, let people know! And maybe someday, the stereotype of “poor lonely single” will seem as antiquated and old-fashioned to everyone as you know it is.

Bella DePaulo, Ph.D., is a social psychologist who is presently a visiting professor at the University of California at Santa Barbara. She’s the author of Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Living Happily Ever After.
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