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Single and ready to be single: Gen Z and Gen Alpha youth are much more content being relationship-less, study finds

Single and ready to be single: Gen Z and Gen Alpha youth are much more content being relationship-less, study finds
Hitting your twenties is a roller coaster by itself. The only thing worse than a pesky child publicly referring to you as an ‘uncle’ or ‘aunt’, is looking into the mirror and realising why they did it. Add the mounting pressure of marriage into the mix, and you have a reason to drink into the night.

However, if you’re feeling like you’re just too comfortable in your singlehood, here’s some joyous news — you’re not alone. A fresh study has revealed that young people aged 14 to 20 are increasingly content with flying solo. Not only are today’s teens in love with their single status more than ever, many of them even derive a ton of emotional fulfilment from the relationships they make with online personalities!

The new normal

The research dived into the Dynamics (pairfam) data, which has been tracking love and family lives in Germany since 2008, and analysed responses from 2,936 participants. They looked at two timeframes: 2008-2011 and 2018-2021, comparing the singlehood satisfaction of different age groups.

They found that adolescents born between 2001 and 2003 are not only staying single more often but also reporting higher satisfaction with their single lives compared to their counterparts born a decade earlier. Interestingly, this boost in happiness wasn’t seen in older age groups, indicating that today’s teens are uniquely embracing the solo life.

Why the happy singles?

So, what’s behind this spike in single bliss? The researchers theorise that society’s attitude towards singlehood has transformed, making it more accepted, especially among the youth. Plus, today’s teens are all about personal autonomy and self-fulfilment; they’re postponing serious relationships to focus on themselves.

Avilés and her team suggest that teens today might be more open to diverse relationship types and less pressured to conform to traditional romantic norms.

"We assume that adolescents nowadays may postpone entering into a stable relationship because they value their personal autonomy and individual fulfilment over a romantic partnership,” she notes. “However, these explanations are – for the time being – speculative and require further investigation”

Dependence on “fictional” Youtuber relationships

But here’s another interesting twist: one-sided relationships with YouTubers and fictional characters are proving more emotionally fulfilling than casual friendships. A study from the University of Essex found that people feel more cheered up by watching online stars like Zoella, KSI, and PewDiePie than by interacting with weak-tie acquaintances — like neighbours or co-workers.

The researchers explained that parasocial relationships (those one-sided connections we form with celebrities and fictional characters) offer positive reinforcement despite the lack of real interaction. The study found that 52% of participants reported strong parasocial relationships, with 36% feeling particularly close to a YouTuber.

“Parasocial relationships are an important part of our psychological toolbox, even if we can never actually meet with them in reality” researcher Veronica Lamarche explains. These imagined connections can fulfil emotional needs in ways similar to traditional relationships, especially when real-life friends or partners let us down.

With singlehood becoming increasingly fashionable and accepted, understanding its impact on future generations is essential. As the romantic landscape continues to evolve, it’s clear that being single is no longer a status to be pitied but one to be celebrated.

The main research has been published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin and can be accessed here.


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