- There are more unmarried people in the US than married, which is sometimes presented as problematic.
- But research shows that we are not living in a society of lonely narcissists.
- In fact, a number of studies find that being single can actually contribute your success in life.
When my mother was my age, she told me, if you were a single woman filling out official documents, you would have to mark yourself down as a “spinster.”
Really. That was the legal term for an unmarried woman in England until very recently. Spinster.
The word certainly doesn’t inspire much optimism in a single woman’s prospects.
Things have changed quite a bit since then.
In the US, people are getting hitched less often than they once did, and young Americans are putting off marriage more than ever before.
In 1962, half of 21-year-olds and 90% of 30-year-olds had been married at least once. In 2014, only 8% of 21-year-olds and 55% of 30-year-olds had been married.
Single Americans are now the majority.
But that doesn’t mean that the single life isn’t still wrapped in stigma.
As New York University sociologist Eric Klinenberg writes in his book, “Going Solo,” when discussed publicly, the rise of living alone is often presented as an unmitigated social problem and a sign of diminished public life.
Of course, not everybody thinks this way.
“For decades social scientists have been worrying that our social connections are fraying, that we’ve become a society of lonely narcissists,” Klinenberg tells The New York Times. “I’m not convinced.”
And neither are a number of researchers. These studies begin to unpack the question of how being single can contribute your success in life:
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