Are You Single by Nature? The Rise of Living Solo

It was not so long ago that a large number of people thought something was wrong with those who didn’t partner up and get married. Such people were thought of as selfish, tied to their mothers’ apron strings or grossly unappealing. Either way, they were thought of in negative terms, and were not viewed as well-adjusted adults.

Most people will tell you that people who are single want, more than anything, to find someone to marry or partner up with. They believe that the goal of being single is to find someone to call your own. But that myth is being proved wrong by an increasing number of single adults. Some people will tell you that they are single by nature. They prefer to be single rather than part of a couple.

Need proof? A Pew Research poll two years ago found that 55 percent of unmarried Americans said they were not in a committed relationship, and they were not looking to be in one. 45% of all adults are now unmarried. The current marriage rate in New Zealand is one-third of that recorded in 1971. 47% of all households in Sweden are occupied by one person, and the nations with the fastest growth of one-person households are China, India and Brazil. Clearly, perceptions are rapidly changing regarding the desirably of being single.

Maybe more people are staying single because they prefer to, and because it is more possible now than it ever has been to live a socially active, well-connected life as a single person, complete with a fulfilling career, close friends, family, romance, sex and yes, even children. In essence, singles are creating their own families, made up of people who are mostly non-kin. They may choose one sexual partner—or many—or none, as they see fit. They are attracted to the freedom of being able to be spontaneous, to pursue an unusual career, to travel or to party without having to worry whether they would hurt or offend anyone else.

I am not referring to people who are single because they have “issues,” or who just haven’t found the right partner yet. I am asking whether you might be single because you prefer to be single, and feel that’s where you can lead a more genuine and meaningful life. Bella DePaulo, author of the book Singled Out, created a quiz to help you find out.

  1. When you think about spending time alone, what thoughts come to mind first?
    1. Ah, sweet solitude.
    2. Oh no, I might be lonely.
  2. How do you feel about searching for a long-term romantic partner?
    1. Maybe it feels like something I “should” do, but I’m not really all that interested.
    2. The process may or may not be fun, but a successful outcome would be great.
  3. If you were in a romantic relationship and it ended, how might you feel?
    1. Maybe you’d feel some pain, but you’d also feel relieved. The thought of being your own person is attractive.
    2. Mostly sad and pained.
  4. If you were thinking about making a big change in your life, such as embarking on a new career or moving to a different town, which would you prefer?
    1. Making the decision that feels right to you, without worrying about whether someone else would approve.
    2. Making the decision with a partner, even if that means you will not pursue your favorite option.
  5. When you go to sleep at night, there might not be anyone else in bed with you. How does that make you feel?
    1. I am fine with that.
    2. I would not like that.
  6. When you allow yourself your favorite indulgence, such as eating junk food or watching trashy TV, how do you feel?
    1. Delighted to do exactly as I wish, with no one else around.
    2. I prefer to have a spouse at my side, either to join me in my sloth, or to badger me to exert more self-control.
  7. When you want to pursue lofty goals, such as eating right, getting exercise or reading a book, which would you prefer?
    1. Pursuing those goals alone or with friends.
    2. Having a partner who will pursue those goals with you, or provide an excuse to do something else instead.
  8. When a minor mishap occurs, such as a fender-bender,
    1. You would be relieved to not have to explain to anyone else why you messed up.
    2. You would like a partner to go home to and be able to tell him/her all about it.
  9. Are you self-sufficient? Do you like handling problems and challenges on your own?
    1. Mostly yes.
    2. Mostly no.

Scoring: Add up all your “a” answers.
0 to 3: You want to partner with someone else. You are not single by preference.
4 to 6: You have an independent streak, and you don’t like being tied at the hip, but you also like being part of a couple.
6 to 9: You are preferring to be single at this time.

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