Understanding singlehood as a complex and multifaceted experience: Insights from relationship science


Singlehood is often framed as not being in a relationship and treated as the referent category in research on the impacts of romantic involvement. However, growing research illustrates the multifaceted and complex experience of singlehood. Within our own research on the interconnections between romantic and individual development during young adulthood, the diverse nature of singlehood has emerged despite not being an initial focus of our research. Specifically, we have observed the important roles being single plays in young adulthood and variations in singlehood depending on the individual and their context. In this article, we offer observations about the complexity and diversity of singlehood in the lives of young adults by drawing on our own qualitative and quantitative research on young adult romantic development. Framed by the Life Course Perspective, Developmental Task Theory, and Emerging Adulthood Theory, we describe insights we have gained about singlehood and provide suggestions for future research.


Family Studies

Publication Date


Journal Title

Journal of Family Theory & Review



Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Document Type



© 2023 National Council for Family Relations.