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Young people are choosing to stay single and loving it. Here’s why – National

Young people today are not only more likely to be single than previous generations but also seem perfectly content with their single status, a new study found.

The study published earlier this month in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin said people aged 14 to 20 years are now more satisfied with being single than their counterparts 10 years ago.

“It seems that today’s adolescents are less inclined to pursue a romantic relationship. This could well be the reason for the increased singlehood satisfaction,” said Tita Gonzalez Avilés, lead author and psychologist at the Institute of Psychology at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainzin Germany.

“It is notable that, particularly in Western industrialized countries, singlehood is no longer unconventional and now considered more socially acceptable than in the past,” she said in a Tuesday media release.

The choice to stay single may also be on the rise in Canada.

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Alcohol less appealing to Generation Z


This trend is reflected in the growing number of people living alone.

Statistics Canada data shows that in 2021, 4.4 million people were living alone, up from 1.7 million in 1981. This represents a 15 per cent increase and the highest share of adults aged 15 and older in private households.

More people are also choosing not to get married. In 2020, Canadian marriages hit a historic low with 33 per cent fewer marriages registered compared with the previous year.

Susan Wenzel, a certified sex and relationship therapist based in Winnipeg, said not only are more young people choosing to stay single, but she’s seen this trend growing among her older clients as well.

“Whether you are 15, 20 or 30, more people are choosing to be single because of the freedom,” she told Global News. “More people want to focus on their careers, build their friendships and even travel.”

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For adolescents, Wenzel added that monogamy may not hold the same appeal. They might prioritize spending time with friends over traditional dating.

The study out of Germany looked at data from nearly 3,000 people in different birth cohorts. The researchers then gathered data related to two separate periods — 2008 to 2022 and 2019 to 2021.


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This allowed the researchers to differentiate between the satisfaction of earlier-born and later-born singles during adolescence (14 to 20 years), emerging adulthood (24 to 30 years), and established adulthood (34 to 40 years).

“Although we know that singlehood is gaining ground, we have not yet determined whether individuals are now more satisfied with this way of life,” Gonzalez Avilés said.

The study found that adolescent singles born between 2001 and 2003 were more often single and more satisfied with singlehood than the age group born ten years. It also found there were no cohort-related differences among emerging adults aged 24 to 30 years and established adults aged 34 to 40.

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The researchers suggest this might be because singlehood is becoming more normalized, especially among younger generations.

Their attitudes toward relationships have shifted, with greater openness to various relationship models.


Click to play video: 'Generation Z: Dating, love and the future'


Generation Z: Dating, love and the future


What is behind the shift?

Shifting societal values towards individualism, personal autonomy and acceptance of diverse relationships, including prolonged singlehood, might explain the higher satisfaction among singles today, the researchers suggest.

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This changing landscape is reflected in the dating scene for young people, which is transforming, according to Matt McNeill Love, co-founder of Thursday, a dating app designed to bridge the gap between online connection and real-life encounters.

Thursday takes a different approach to online dating. Instead of just swiping profiles, it facilitates real-life meetups by hosting weekly events at designated venues for singles in various cities, including Toronto.

“I think the younger generation is fed up and a bit skeptical about dating apps, swiping, getting likes, and being treated as a commodity,” McNeill Love told Global News.

“(For Thursday), you don’t have to have a dating app profile if you really hate dating apps. A lot of younger people just want to go to a bar where everyone is single, or they want to go to a run club where everyone is single, or they want to go to a pizza-making class and meet people,” he said.

And that’s what the app offers: a chance to meet in person, whether it’s having a pint of beer at a pub or taking art lessons.


Click to play video: 'Generation Z isn’t interested in dating or sex – or so we thought'


Generation Z isn’t interested in dating or sex – or so we thought


He believes that younger people are thirsty for real connections, which may explain why many of them are choosing to be single. Dating apps may not be for that generation anymore.

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“And you don’t have to go to these things to find the love of your life, but you’ll definitely walk away with some great friends and some great connections. You’ll meet some interesting people, and I think that goes further,” he said.

He believes the COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted this younger generation.

Years of lockdowns, missed music festivals and limited social interaction might leave many young people eager to experience life outside their homes. Finding a partner or saving for a house might take a back seat for now, as adolescents prioritize social connection and enjoying their youth.

Wenzel agreed, suggesting that dating apps and social media might have fostered a more skeptical view of relationships among younger generations.

“TikTok and social media may scare people into not wanting a relationship,” she said. “On social media, you may see people complain about their relationship or hear horror stories, and that may cause you not to want to be in a relationship.”

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