By Morf Morford
Tacoma Daily Index
Notice more single people lately?
Four in 10 adults in the USA between the ages of 25 and 54 are single, up from 29% in 1990, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis.
That’s 40% – almost half of us.
And it’s not only here.
The numbers are growing in Asia, too. Among South Koreans in their 30s, 43% are unmarried, up from 36% in 2015.
Among Japanese people between the ages of 18 and 39 the share of single women grew from 27% in 1992 to 41% in 2015. The share of single men increased from 40% in 1992 to 51% in 2015.
According to Pew Research, among all age groups in the U.S., 11% of all people live in solo households, almost three times the global average of 4%.
There are 107 million unmarried people over the age of 18 in the United States.
Solo households are also fairly common in Europe (13%). In most other parts of the world – including in Asia – living alone is relatively rare. In China, 5% of individuals occupy solo households.
The reasons for these changes are many – and unrelenting, and not expected to change for many, many years.
The age at which people get married is steadily increasing in many countries as more people (especially women) try (or are allowed) to gain financial security and establish themselves in their careers.
Ever increasing economic instability, as well as educational disparities between men and women, may be making it harder for some people to find partners.
A 2020 survey from Pew Research Center found that half of single Americans said they weren’t looking to date or be in a relationship.
The most common reasons they cited: They were prioritizing other parts of their lives at the moment, or were simply enjoying the single life.
Holidays are the most awkward
From Halloween to New Year’s Eve, evenings, weekends and even work days are packed with gatherings, parties and celebrations where most participants are invited to share about their relationships – and everyone is, for better or worse, expected to have, or be in search of, a partner.
That’s one of those many assumptions that was probably never true for everyone – and is even less true now.
And that is true no matter how many Hallmark movies you sit through over these long winter months.
“What I don’t like about office Christmas parties is looking for a job the next day.” — Phyllis Diller
Or, to complement Phyllis Diller’s observation, and deftly fitting into the plot line of a typical Hallmark holiday movie, another worst thing about holiday parties is being paired up with someone everyone else thinks is just right for you.
There are worse things than being alone.
Like being in the same room with that person.
It’s not just holidays
In typical workshops and training sessions, leaders sometimes ask questions based on the assumption that everyone has (or should have) a romantic partner and/or kids—of course, some single workers do have kids.
But whatever the context, holiday or not, it is not always a topic everyone feels free, or inclined, to discuss – especially in a work related context.
To discuss publicly where and who we live with, for more and more of us, immigrants and people of color in particular, can be a bit sensitive or, at minimum, a non-traditional issue.
Immigrants and people of color, for example, are more likely to live with members of their extended family.
Black women in the US have lower rates of marriage compared with women of other races, meaning that they may be more likely to be single.
Members of the LGBTQ+ community (among many others) may choose to surround themselves with a chosen family, particularly if they’ve experienced rejection and estrangement from biological relatives.
Recognizing the legitimacy of the family one chooses, rather than strictly the one you’re born or adopted into is, for better or worse, whether you agree with it or like it, one of the benchmarks of the contemporary workplace.
The extended family, not the so-called nuclear family, is the default format for most families around the world.
They don’t have many of the challenges many of us struggle with. Only one example was the finding in a 2019 Pew report that found that a quarter of children in the US live in single-parent households; far more than any other country.
And the near opposite is also true; one in five women in the United States will never have a biological child.
It has probably always been true, but our relationships and responsibilities (and passions) are not limited to partners and children.
And one principle of the standard workplace that single people know all too well is that they, single people, are often chosen, or volunteered, to work on that project or that schedule that no one else wants.
Host a never-going-to-have-a-baby shower
In the might be true/could one day be true category, the latest trend for semi-permanently single people is the never-going-to-have-a-baby shower. (https://www.newyorker.com/humor/daily-shouts/welcome-to-your-decided-not-to-have-a-baby-shower)
Or you might host your own never-going-to-get-married shower.
Why not? You might as well celebrate everyone of those life milestones.
The single life is not what it used to be
Like everything else, in 2021, the single life is not what it used to be.
A recent TIME magazine article explores the current state of singleness (https://time.com/6115383/match-singles-in-america-study-2021/?).
Two things stand out; looks are not as important as they were, and the bad boy/girl ethic has lost its appeal.
Some singles are looking for companionship, but they don’t need drama.
More single people want to find more meaning not only in their romantic partnerships, but also their independent lives, often working on themselves and prioritizing their physical and mental health.
Thanks to COVID, more and more of us are spending time alone.
And some of are realizing how much we like it.
But be prepared for non-stop questioning, if not outright discrimination for being single. (ideas.ted.com/the-price-of-being-single/?)