This Study About Singles Is Evidence That The "Sad Spinster" Stereotype Is Actually Backward


When someone says that they're happy being single we often, as a society, have a horrible habit of not really believing them. Being single has been so wrongly vilified for so long that independence is often met with skepticism. But new data from Mintel’s Single Lifestyles UK 2017 Report shows that most singles don't mind their status — and that women fare better than men when it comes to flying solo. It's a really important step, because society so often associates singlehood with loneliness and time spent on your own as being a bad thing, when we really shouldn't.

"Over the last 20 years in particular there has been a societal shift towards instilling young women with greater independence," Jack Duckett, Senior Consumer Lifestyles Analyst at Mintel, tells Bustle. "This has included encouraging them to develop many of the skills that have traditionally been associated with men, including household maintenance and DIY, consequently reducing their need to have 'a man about the house'."

But men in heterosexual relationships might not be having it so lucky. "By contrast, there is far less evidence of the opposing trend, with many young men still ill-equipped when it comes to traditionally feminine skillsets, such as washing, cleaning and cooking, making it harder for them to fly the nest," Duckett says. "It can also be strongly tied to women being typically better at creating support groups with whom they can discuss their thoughts and feelings, putting less pressure on the need for a relationship. However, with many men still largely finding it difficult to be open about their thoughts and feelings, the absence of a partner could mean that they have no one they can talk with about issues affecting them. With this in mind it is perhaps unsurprising that unattached males struggle to enjoy their single status."

So just how much better are heterosexual women faring? Well, the data from Mintel showed that being a single woman is something to be savored, not pitied. Here's what they found.

Women Were Happier Single Than Men Were

Too many people assume that being single is the result of not being able to find anybody — but it's just not true. The data shows that singles, especially single women, liked their relationship status. Sixty-one percent of single women said that they were happy to be single, while only 49 percent of single men said the same. This is so important because when it comes to being single, men are far more likely to be let off the hook. Women get painted as sad spinsters while men can sometimes be glorified with "bachelor" status. But in reality, women are faring better than men are with single life.

And Women Are Less Likely To Be Looking

When they say that they're happy with their status, it's no joke. Because they weren't trying to change it. Sixty-five percent of single men said that they weren't looking for someone but the number was higher — 75 percent— when it came to women. That's three out of four women who are single not even wanting to complicate their life with another person. It's a total legitimate choice and proof that they're not just pretending to love being single, they're really trying to keep it that way.

Younger Singles Worried About Being Alone More Than Older Ones

I though that this was the most interesting part of the findings. Only 38 percent of singles worried about being alone, but 54 percent of singles in the 18-24 age range worried about it. So we're more likely to worry about it when we're younger, which to me sounds like the more OK and confident we get with ourselves as we age, the less likely we are to be bothered by societal pressures to be in a relationship. And that's a totally great thing. If being single is the right choice for you, then nobody should be able to make you feel otherwise.

The report found that there were some drawbacks to being single — they were more likely to worry about their finances, for one — but it's great to see that people are happy with their choice. Being single is a great way to live and, the more that we see that people actually enjoy it, maybe as a society we can lay off the peer pressure. Some people are happier single and being single is always better than being in a bad relationship, so let's take a moment to acknowledge all of those folks who are single and loving it.