Single and fabulous

New data shows more of us than ever are single - and happy anyway!


Sarah Elizabeth Richards
May 8, 2006 7:17PM (UTC)

Here's a big news flash: Single people can lead full, satisfying lives. This is according to a fantastic article in the new issue of Psychology Today (one of my favorite magazines, and not just because I've written for it). New demographic data shows that singles are the fastest-growing population group, meaning that a lot of us likely will spend the majority of our lives in a non-married state. So singles are actually enjoying their status, instead of biding their time until they get hitched.

"Singlehood is no longer a state to be overcome as soon as possible," writer Jillian Straus quotes one of Broadsheet's favorite social historians, Stephanie Coontz. "It has its own rewards. Marriage is not the gateway to adulthood anymore. For most people, it's the dessert -- desirable, but no longer the main course." And here's the kicker -- this realization comes amid social science research that neither married nor single life is a determinant of happiness. "Much depends on the achievement of meaningful life goals and quality of the relationships you create," writes Straus, who apparently changed her focus after writing about how to have a successful, committed relationship in the recent "Unhooked Generation: The Truth About Why We're Still Single."

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Hurrah! That's great news for the 86 million single adults, who are poised to become the new majority. (Married couples comprise nearly 51 percent of households today, compared to 80 percent in the 1950s, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.) The article makes the point that although many of us are eventually looking to pair up, we're busy with lots of other good things in the meantime. That means that single people are no longer mysterious freaks or walking tragedies -- but the new normal. The message, then, is that while marriage could be fantastic, it's not everything so you better get happy with yourself first!

In fact, the diamond industry would love it if all us single, self-actualized people would run out and buy a big honking ring to celebrate our unattached selves. "Women of the world, raise your right hand," urges an ad campaign for the diamond "right hand ring," which was recently spotted in a women's magazine. "Your left hand thinks twice. Your right hand doesn't believe in second thoughts. Your left hand follows the instructions. Your right hand follows your intuition," reads the copy from the Diamond Trading Company. My left hand wonders whether, since I don't have a husband, I should at least have a rock I could call my own. My right hand turns the page.


Sarah Elizabeth Richards

Sarah Elizabeth Richards is a journalist based in New York. She can be reached at sarah@saraherichards.com.

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