In recent years, more and more people choose to live a single life, instead of continuously searching for a partner. One of the reasons behind this on growing trend may be the fact that people find it harder to meet potential partners in person, due to their hectic schedule. Another reason seems to be the fact that people are getting married much later in life than their parents used to, 30 years ago. However, what most young adults agree on nowadays, it the fact that their priorities have changed, as they focus more on personal development, rather than finding a partner or becoming parents. This does not necessarily mean they do not wish to pursue romantic relationships, but rather that they are not making it their main life goal. But what are the real reasons behind this increasing amount of single people in the United States nowadays?
Millennials and X-Gens Are Less Interested in Dating or Sex
Survey results released in March 2019 reveal that 51% of Americans ages 18 to 34 do not have a stable partner. Compared to 2004, the number raised by 18 percent. The number of married people in the same age group has also experienced some changes, decreasing from 39 to 28 percent in the same period of time. On the first look, the results may come off as surprising, especially in an era where dating apps are everywhere and a potential partner may only be a few clicks away. But on further analyzing of the new dating trends, it may be exactly this type of easy access that causes people to take dating for granted and become less interested in it. If a potential partner is only a right-swipe away, it may seem like they will always be there, so why hurry?
Young people nowadays have not only lost interest in long-term relationships but in sex also, despite today’s much more permissive culture. There seem to be a number of reasons behind this:
- Parental pressure: parents are constantly reminding their children that they should be focusing more on their education, rather than developing romantic relationships.
- Self-consciousness: being as exposed to social media as they are, young adults are facing the struggle of trying to live up to some impossible expectations, most of them regarding their physical appearance
- Masturbation replaced sex: despite intercourse rates lowering significantly, the number of people admitting to masturbation has doubled over the last 10 years.
Marriage and Divorce Rates Have Changed
Choosing to marry at much higher age is another trend that seems to influence on a growing number of single people, especially amongst millennials. In 1986k, the median ages for marriage were 25.7 for men and 23.1 for women, compared to 29.8 for men and 27.8 for women in 2018. But the main reason for not marrying has stayed the same – people struggle to find “the right one”. On a deeper level, this may translate as people not wanting to settle for anything but the best possible option for themselves, which can only be a positive thing, giving that the divorce rates are continuing to drop, and it all seems to be thanks to millennials. In 1992, the number of divorces per 1,000 people was 4.8 and by 2016, the number has dropped to 3.2.
The cause for divorce rates to drop may be the fact that fewer people are getting married, but it can also mean that, without having to experience the pressure of age, they can focus more on finding someone they are truly compatible with. For example, one of the biggest reasons people were getting divorced was sexual incompatibility or lack of sexual life in the relationship. This happened usually because partners were reluctant to talk about their desires or explore their fantasies with each other, especially because sex discussions were often considered taboo, even inside the relationship. Nowadays, that does not seem to be the case anymore. Couples are more openly admitting they use butt toys, vibrators or other devices to increase their mutual pleasure. This leads to a healthier relationship that is much less prone to end in divorce later on.
Life Priorities Have Shifted
Baby boomers were getting married at a young age, regardless of financial or educational circumstances. Whereas, focusing on their education and achieving financial stability seems to be the top priorities for young people nowadays. Millennials focus more on personal development, rather than finding a partner and starting a family, which is not necessarily bad, but there might be another reason behind this. Focusing on work and achieving financial stability seems to have become the new comfort zone, which can become quite hard to break. Especially when putting themselves out there and facing the possibility of rejection is nothing but frightening for some people. This leads to young adults focusing more on other things and switching their life priorities, making a marriage or parenting less of an interest.
This does not mean, however, that people are less interested in finding romance. The number of adults moving in together with a partner has increased, reaching around 18 million in 2016, 29% more than in 2007, with around half of them being less than 35 years old. While some of them turn to cohabitation as a test before getting married, it has often become a substitute for tying the knot. The reason behind it seems to be the fear that marriage may increase the risk of break up or may damage the quality of the relationship. Whether their reasons are justified or just reflecting their fear of commitment, remains yet to be revealed.
Whether it is due to the increment of relationship availability, lack of interest in sexual relationships or simply a change in priorities, the majority of young adults nowadays have admitted that marriage is simply not a milestone in their adult life anymore. They have come to the belief that other factors, such as getting a degree, achieving financial stability or focusing on personal development are more of a reflection of their maturity.