There is a longstanding narrative that being single is a kind of game, and you “win” by finding a partner and settling down. But that narrative is changing, and so are the rules of the game.
According to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center, 50 percent of singles in the U.S. state they are not currently looking for a relationship. They’re not even really bothered about going on a date.
The most common reasons cited for not wanting to pursue a romantic relationship are “having more important priorities right now,” such as focusing on a career, and simply just “enjoying the single life.”
When broken down by gender, it turns out that more men (63 percent) are currently looking for a date or relationship than women (38 percent). The study also found that single people in generally are reporting less pressure from their families and peer groups to find a partner than the same demographic did in the past.
Bella DePaulo, PhD, coined the term “mental blanketing” to describe the inundation of social messaging that single people receive about relationships, which positions marriage as an aspirational, transformational goal. “The results of the Pew survey show that many single people are no longer feeling that pressure from society, especially as they get older,” she writes in Psychology Today. “Even those who are feeling it are not letting it get to them. They are no more likely to be looking for a romantic relationship than people who are not feeling the pressure.”
While these findings stem from a survey originally conducted in October 2019, it would be interesting to see how attitudes might have shifted during the pandemic. With so many of us experiencing the negative psychological effects of social isolation during lockdown, it’s possible that more single people might find themselves open to the idea of a relationship.
Conversely, at a time when keeping your distance from other people is one of the only ways to stay safe from coronavirus, the notion of going on a date and eventually becoming physically intimate with somebody else could well become a point of anxiety for a whole new reason.