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When Karin Denison was in her early 20s, it seemed that all her peers were coupling up and planning to live happily ever after.She spent the summers after college driving to friends’ weddings, she recalls.But even outside cities, there is a distinct rise of the “single.” Almost half of new births are to unmarried mothers.
But as Klinenberg points out in his book “Going Solo,” cultural attitudes have changed.
Today, living on one’s own is a marker of adulthood.
In 2011, the US Census Bureau reported, that percentage had dropped to 48 percent.
In 2014, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 124.6 million Americans 16 years and older were single, or 50.2 percent of the population, compared with 37.4 percent of the population in 1976. One of the big ones has to do with when Americans get married.
While openly living with a partner outside of marriage would have been taboo – especially a same-sex partner, as in Wright’s case (not to mention a family such as Ryan’s) – today it is almost expected.
The social penalties for sexual relationships outside of marriage have disintegrated, says Andrew Cherlin, a professor of sociology and public policy at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.And although single women like Denison – educated, urban, and leading a full life – are often portrayed as the poster children of this new nonmarital world order (think “Sex and the City” and writer Kate Bolick’s new book, “Spinster”), the reality is far more complex.The way Americans now couple – or don’t – offers insight into not only evolving views of marriage and family, but into the country’s growing economic, racial, and geographic divides.For years, the average age at which both men and women first marry has been creeping upward, to 27 for women and 29 for men. In other words, there may at any given moment be more single people who have never been married, but that doesn’t mean that those singles are going to stay that way.But this seemingly simple demographic explanation belies a huge shift in culture.“Just as marriages are no longer alike, singleness is no longer all alike,” says Stephanie Coontz, director of research and public education at the Council on Contemporary Families.Tags: Adult Dating, affair dating, sex dating