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Happy Singles Week: 22 Reasons Why We Need It

Singles Week celebrates single people’s lives and challenges misrepresentations.

Key points

  • In the U.S., the third full week of September is Unmarried and Single Americans Week, or Singles Week for short.
  • The Census Bureau began to recognize Singles Week in 2006, issuing an annual acknowledgment along with some statistics.
  • Single people account for nearly half of all adults in the U.S., 18 and older.

In the U.S., the third full week of September is Unmarried and Single Americans Week, or Singles Week for short. It was created in the 1980s “to celebrate single life and recognize singles and their contributions to society.”

The Census Bureau began recognizing it in 2006, issuing an annual acknowledgment along with some statistics.

Here are 22 reasons to put this event on your calendar and celebrate all the single people in your life, regardless of whether you are one of them.

  1. We need Singles Week because single people account for nearly half of all adults in the U.S., 18 and older. Continuing a trend ongoing for decades, the percentage of married adults is decreasing while the percentage of adults who have never been married is increasing. As of the most recent data, for 2021, there are 122 million adults in the U.S., 18 and older, who are not married (divorced, separated, widowed, or always single). That’s nearly half–48.2 percent–of all adults.
  2. We need it because living single is how we spend the better part of our adult lives. Americans now spend more years unmarried than married. But even if we spent only a sliver of our lives single, we should be able to use that sliver to pick any door or puncture any myth.
  3. We need it because what it means to live single has changed dramatically over the past half-century, but our perceptions have not caught up. Bogus stereotypes rule, and they need to be dethroned.
  4. We need it because fairy tales can come true; it can happen to you if you are a plastic Barbie or Ken doll or you play one on TV. If you are a real person, 18 studies show, you are no more likely to become lastingly happier if you marry than you were when you were single. More people need to know that.
  5. We need Singles Week to underscore another message: Single life is not just a “good enough” life. It can be a great life, and for some people, the very best life.
  6. We need it to nudge the media and our creative types to do better. Single people are interested in far more than just unsingling themselves; in fact, half of the solo single people in the U.S. are not interested in a romantic relationship or even a date! Where are those single people living their lives fully, joyfully, and unapologetically in our movies, TV shows, songs, and books? Where are they in news accounts of the latest demographic trends?
  7. We need it because our educational institutions–those colleges and universities that should be at the leading edge of scholarship and critical thinking–have been just as smitten by the marital mythology as the rest of society. Those bastions of higher learning are filled with courses, degree programs, textbooks, journals, endowed chairs, research funding, and all the other components of the intellectual industry that is the study of marriage. As for the other 48 percent of the adult population, we’re still waiting for the scholarly spotlight to shine as brightly on us.
  8. We need it because we are shorted on the 1,136 federal benefits, protections, and privileges available only to legally married people. We need it because there is housing discrimination, tax penalties, pay disparities, and other high and discriminatory costs to living single.
  9. We need it not just for the privileges and protections but also for the opportunities to give and to care. Because I am single and don’t have any children, no one can take time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to care for me if I fall ill. That’s a missing protection. But I also can’t take time off under the same Act to care for someone important to me, such as a sibling, a nephew, or a close friend.
  10. We need it because there are 122 million of us, and even without any of the opportunities offered to married people by policies such as FMLA, we are doing more than our share. In some significant ways, more of the work of holding together our networks, families, and communities, sustaining intergenerational ties, and caring for people who cannot care for themselves is done by single people than by married people.
  11. We need it because we have untapped political potential. Single people have been voting at lower rates for too many years than married people. If that changed, so would some of the most regressive policies in the nation.
  12. We need it because if single life were taken more seriously, then the relationship life of all people, single and married, and everyone in between or on the side or undecided, would be expanded and enriched. Follow the finger of married people as they point to an important person in their life, and you will end up staring at a spouse. Follow a single person's finger, and you may find yourself gazing at a close friend, a sibling, a cousin, a mentor, or a neighbor. Look more closely at that person, and maybe you will newly appreciate the importance of the entire category that person represents. Friendship, not marriage, is the key relationship of the 21st century.
  13. We need it because single people who live solo can show us that living alone is not the same as feeling alone. They remind us of something that is too seldom acknowledged in a society that so celebrates the buzz of social life, something that people of all marital statuses can appreciate – that solitude can be sweet.
  14. We need it because de-stigmatizing single life does not undermine marriage; it strengthens it. When single people can live with the same respect, benefits, protections, and opportunities as married people, those who want to marry are free, too. They can pursue marriage for the right reasons – not to run away from the stigma of being single but to embrace the attractions of being married.
  15. We need it because love is the answer when it comes to kids, and single parents can give quite a lot of that. Add all the other important people in the lives of single parents and their kids, and then you truly have a whole lot of love.
  16. We need National Singles Week to change the meaning of the word “single” so that the next time you type it into your search engine, you don’t get a slew of ads for dating sites.
  17. We need Singles Week to urge people not to use “alone” and “unattached” as synonyms for single–those words are demeaning and untrue.
  18. We need National Singles Week to spread the word that living single is no longer a default status or a way of marking time until the right one comes along. For some people, especially those who are single at heart, living single is how they stay true to themselves. They are living authentically. They aren’t stuck with being single. They are joyfully embracing their single lives.
  19. We need this week to celebrate living single as a counterpoint to all celebrations of marriage, weddings, and romantic coupling. Matrimania is not innocuous; it is risky to overvalue romantic relationships. Research shows that young women who are shown romantic images instead of images of learning (books, libraries) express less interest in science and technology. The same happens when they overhear conversations about dates instead of courses. A national study of more than 8,000 adolescents showed that those who became romantically involved became more depressed–even if they were still with the same romantic partner a year after the study started.
  20. We need Singles Week for the validation of all the single people who love their single lives but do not feel the same sense of confidence as coupled people who love being coupled. After decades of writing about the joys of single life, I still hear from single people who love being single but wonder if that means something is wrong with them. They go to therapy. They read self-help books. Imagine that: they have achieved what we all want–a happy, meaningful, psychologically rich, and fulfilling life–and they are still worried that there may be something wrong with them because they are not pining for a romantic partner! They deserve to congratulate themselves instead, and others should also congratulate them.
  21. We need it because the rise of single people and people living alone is an unprecedented demographic revolution that is changing the way we live, the way we love, the way we vote, the way we do business, the way we age, and the way we think about what constitutes a meaningful life. A week for taking these trends seriously hardly seems like enough.
  22. We need to value single people because that’s what progressive nations do. They look for the people who have been marginalized and diminished and invite them into the center of society. That way, we can all live happily ever after.

Happy Singles Week.