Contextualizing singlehood among young adults: Exploring the meanings and perceived reasons for being single


Objective: We explored how young adults discussed their experiences with singlehood and their reasons for being single.

Background: Despite singlehood being normative during young adulthood, less research has focused on the diversity of singlehood compared to that of romantic involvement.

Method: In Study 1, 35 young adults participated in in-depth qualitative interviews about their romantic histories. We explored singlehood meanings and reasons in the context of their relationship histories. In Study 2 we used data from 155 single young adults to explore the factor structure, internal reliability, and initial validity of the Reasons for Being Single (RBS) scale, which we developed for this study.

Results: In Study 1 we found that singlehood is not simply the time in-between relationships, but represents its own, unique aspect of romantic development. In Study 2, our analyses indicated that the RBS was comprised of three subscales: (a) self-defeating reasons, (b) self-enhancing reasons, and (c) lack of interest. Self-defeating reasons were negatively associated with young adult well-being, whereas self-enhancing and lack-of-interest reasons were positively associated with young adult well-being.

Conclusion: Singlehood, like other aspects of young adults' romantic lives, is a diverse and varied experience. Singlehood is also neither an entirely positive nor entirely negative experience. Yet, framing singlehood more positively may aid well-being.

Implications: Within relationship education, being single should be treated as a diverse experience. Helping single young adults gain clarity around why they are single and identify their romantic goals may increase the efficacy of relationship education efforts.


Family Studies

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Family Relations: Interdisciplinary Journal of Applied Family Science



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© 2023 The Authors.

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