The Millennial Argument for Staying Single

The early part of my year was littered with horrible-from-the-start, half-baked relationships. While I knew the relationships wouldn’t give me what I needed, I pursued them nonetheless. In May I decided to rethink my strategy and began seeing someone who, on paper, was a great match. We had common interests, mutual friends and similar career aspirations—he even owns a business I frequented. But I still found myself feeling bored and restricted. Within a few weeks it was over.

Following the abrupt demise of the relationship, a question confronted me: what exactly am I looking for? I had assumed being single was a means to an end (a relationship), instead of an end itself. I realized that not only fine am I fine with being single, but I actually prefer it. Once I had this epiphany, I had a new lens to examine past relationships—the problem is I actually enjoy being alone.

You can chalk up my desire to be alone to my idiosyncrasies but there’s evidence that I’m part of a generational shift. A Tinder survey found that millennials are pretty psyched to be single. The survey examined the dating and relationship habits of 1,000 plus millennials between the ages of 18 and 25 and found that 72 percent of respondents didn’t want to be in a relationship.

The reasons millennials are abstaining from relationships are the same reasons they’re credited with killing off everything from handshakes to the Canadian tourism industry. We’re a generation with limited resources and we’re picky about how we use them.

It comes down to a simple fact that I’m pretty busy. I have a job, side hustles, artistic endeavors and a social life. I’d rather not spend my limited time, money and energy on someone who will soon be a footnote in my life. And I’m not alone in this. The Tinder survey found that 81 percent of respondents think that being single helps their careers, social life and self-development.

Danielle Forshee, Ph.D. and relationship therapist, explains “Millennials and generation z have been growing up in a culture and society that supports and endorses independence” more so than the generations before them. When younger generations came of age divorce was both more acceptable and common. Growing up in a more tolerant society creates an understanding that “happiness is not an end goal through a relationship,” Dr. Forshee says.

The millennial decision to avoid jumping into relationships is also paying off. They’re marrying later in life, but they’re also in happier relationships (especially when started online). And millennials are waiting to get married because they don’t view settling down as a function of age. Even when they do get married, younger generations insist on a certain amount of independence.

This doesn’t mean millennials are completely immune to the allure of a relationship. But it looks like they’re viewing relationships differently than previous generations.

“It does appear that there is a shift in our culture and society that is creating a situation where the younger generations are not willing to settle for any person or relationship,” Dr. Forshee says.