Relationship column: Are you single by nature?

Neil Rosenthal

It was not so long ago that a large number of people thought something was wrong with those who didn’t partner up and get married. Such people were thought of as selfish. Either way, they were thought of in negative terms and were not viewed as well-adjusted adults.

Most people will tell you that people who are single want, more than anything, to find someone to marry or partner up with. But that myth is being proved wrong by an increasing number of single adults. Some people will tell you that they are single by nature.

Need proof? A Pew Research poll two years ago found that 55 percent of unmarried Americans said they were not in a committed relationship and they were not looking to be in one. Forty five percent of all adults are now unmarried. The current marriage rate in New Zealand is one-third of that recorded in 1971. Forty seven percent of all households in Sweden are occupied by one person, and the nations with the fastest growth of one-person households are China, India and Brazil. Maybe more people are staying single because they prefer to, and because it is more possible now than it ever has been to live a socially active, well-connected life as a single person, complete with a fulfilling career, close friends, family, romance, sex and yes, even children. In essence, singles are creating their own families, made up of people who are mostly non-kin. They are attracted to the freedom of being able to be spontaneous, to pursue an unusual career or to travel.

I would like you to ask yourself whether you might be single because you prefer to be single, and feel that’s where you can lead a more genuine and meaningful life. Bella DePaulo, author of the book “Singled Out,” created a quiz to help you find out.

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1. When you think about spending time alone, what thoughts come to mind first?

a. Ah, sweet solitude.

b. Oh no, I might be lonely.

2. If you were thinking about making a big change in your life, such as embarking on a new career or moving to a different town, which would you prefer?

a. Making the decision that feels right to you, without worrying about whether someone else would approve.

b. Making the decision with a partner, even if that means you will not pursue your favorite option.

3. When you want to pursue lofty goals, such as eating right, getting exercise or reading a book, which would you prefer?

a. Pursuing those goals alone or with friends.

b. Having a partner who will pursue those goals with you, or provide an excuse to do something else instead.

Scoring: Add up all your “a” answers. 0 to 3: You want to partner with someone else. You are not single by preference. 4 to 6: You have an independent streak, and you don’t like being tied at the hip, but you also like being part of a couple. 6 to 9: You are prefer to be single at this time.

Editor’s note: Please see http://www.vail to read the full quiz.

Neil Rosenthal is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Westminster and Boulder. His column is in its 21st year of publication, and is syndicated around the world. You can reach him at 303-758-8777, or email him through his website: He is not able to respond individually to queries.

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