Singlehood: Definition & Statistics

Instructor: Jennifer Noel

Jennie teaches psychology and has a master's degree in social work.

This lesson explores the meaning of the term 'singlehood.' Learn about how being single affects people and about some statistics related to single people in the U.S.

What Is Singlehood?

Singlehood is often defined as the state of being unmarried. However, since it is common for people to be in a romantic partnership yet not married, this term also applies to the condition of having no romantic partner at all.

There may be assumptions out there that to be single means to be unhappy. However, there are a great variety of responses to the experience of singlehood. Some people seem to prefer living singly and report a good quality of life. Many choose to stay single after being divorced or widowed. Others, often those who are not single by choice, are more likely to be depressed and even suffer health problems.

Though research has shown that single mothers have lower well-being than mothers who have partners, women who get divorced - and even those who are widowed - often report improved well-being and better health. On the other hand, men who are divorced tend to find themselves with worsening health.


Let's take a moment to look at some people who are currently single and what their health and emotional states are like because of their situation.

For instance, 50-year-old Don, who was divorced two years ago, has gained weight and reports feeling sad and lonely. He spends much of his time watching TV. He would like a new partner but has not been able to summon the energy to begin dating.

Linda, age 36, left her boyfriend when their third child was a baby. She tells her friends that she felt she had to separate because the children's father was abusive. While she is relieved to live in a safer environment and knows it's better for her children, she complains often about the intense stress of single parenting.

Research shows that single mothers have lower well-being than mothers with partners.
Exhausted Single Mother

In contrast, Melanie, who is 42 and never married, very much enjoys her single lifestyle. Though she has been in a couple of relationships, she finds that when she returns to living without a partner, she is happier. She says that she appreciates being able to make her own decisions about vacations, spending money, and even what to eat for dinner.

Gina lost her husband of 35 years when she was 63 years old. After a year or so of heavy grieving, she began to enjoy new friendships. She resumed some of her favorite activities, including hiking and tennis, and she felt quite well. She was able to remember her husband fondly while thriving on her own.

After losing a partner, many people enjoy a good quality of life.
Older Women Hiking

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