Explaining the Global Rise in Singlehood


Singlehood refers to a situation of being unmarried or not involving relationships based on intimacy. The categories of singles include voluntary temporary singles, younger individuals who have never been married, and divorced people delaying marriage and remarriage (Himawan et al., 2018). The second is voluntary permanent singles, and these are people who never intend to get into marriage by choice (Himawan et al., 2018). The third is involuntary temporary, and it involves individuals who are actively searching for marriage partners (Himawan et al., 2018). The last category is unintentional permanent, and it consists of widowed and older divorced willing to get married. Instead, they have not found partners, so they come to terms with singlehood as potential permanent status (Himawan et al., 2018). The following are developmental psychology concepts and theories explaining the reason for the increase in singlehood.

The Intimacy versus Isolation Stage of Erik Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Development

This sixth step of Erik Erikson’s concept of psychosocial growth happens between the age of eighteen to forty years. Youths require to create intimate, committed, and loving connections with others (Knight, 2017). During this stage, people start to share themselves more intimately with others. Prosperity results in effective relationships, while failure leads to seclusion and isolation. Erikson agrees that it is essential that individuals develop close, committed connections with others (Knight, 2017). People who are prosperous at this phase create relationships that are long-lasting and secure (Knight, 2017). The theory explains that a good feeling of self-identity is vital in making intimate connections.

People with a weak sense of personality have few committed connections and are most like to strive with depression and emotional separation. Based on this theory, many individuals fail at this stage of psychosocial growth because they do not share themselves more intimately with others. Many people fail to engage in loving relationships from the age of eighteen which may lead to marriage. This situation is because many people have developed a poor feel of personality; therefore, they have issues of emotional isolation, resulting in singlehood. Many people who fail in this stage lack the ability to create enduring, valuable relationships with others; this situation contributes to the global rise in singlehood.

Cuber and Harroff Typology of Marriages

This concept developed from research explains types of marriages, contrary to Erik Erikson’s theory which concentrates on individuals creating intimate relationships. This information gives a clear explanation of weaknesses in the union that results in divorce and encourage singlehood. This unique typology of marriages depends on interaction with 437 highly learned individuals in the upper-middle and aged 35 to 55 (Wenger, 2019). The research explains several critical categories of unions; some of these types are much intrinsic, and others are utilitarian (Wenger, 2019). The following is the discussion of types of marriages and how they contribute to singlehood.

Conflict-Habituated Marriages

There is significant tension and unsorted conflict in these marriages, as partners mainly engage in heated arguments and revisit the past. Both partners admit their inconsistency and relate the environment of tension as usual (Wenger, 2019). The main reason for disagreement is not recognized as vital; therefore, spouses do not solve the issues in their marriages (Abbasi & Alghamdi, 2017). When there is no cracking of differences, they pile up and lead to a toxic relationship (Abbasi & Alghamdi, 2017). When all these unresolved issues accumulate in marriage, it might be impossible, in most cases to lead to divorce (Abbasi & Alghamdi, 2017). Partners of broken marriages of this category will view unions as stressful and full of conflict, hence may not get back to marriage, leading to opting for singlehood.

Devitalized Relationships

These unions are termed as being empty, impassive relationships that were previously doing well. In most cases, partners have been married for many years, and with time, the union loses vibrance, love, and meaning (Wenger, 2019). They were once very much in love and spent much time together and enjoy things like sex together, but this changes with time, and they no longer share many activities and interests (Wenger, 2019). As a result, the marriage is at risk as the couples no longer have some sense of love for each other and do not practice intimacy (Wenger, 2019). This condition makes relationships lose meaning as individuals may not see any usefulness of marriage, perceiving it as a wrong decision. This perception also leads to a rise in singlehood as the people see marriage as an ineffective union that is not important in life.

Total Marriage

In these marriages’ partners share friends, leisure practices, work-life and domestic life. They may make arrangements in their life to make it successful in being alone together for their union to exist for an extended period (Wenger, 2019). These unions are full of emotions, leading to quick disintegration if the marital quality deteriorates (Wenger, 2019). These marriages result in a joint dependency that makes it impossible for the remaining spouse to change when death or divorce happens (Wenger, 2019). These individuals opt to remain single for their lifetime hence being part of the reasons for singlehood.

The Concept of Marital Communication

Knowledge about advancing people’s marriages has been in existence for an extended period. Union is not all about compatibility but depends mainly on couples’ communication (Carr & Kellas, 2018). Therefore, it is easier to predict the life span of a relationship by analyzing their communication. In marriages that most likely fail, parties are involved in criticism, defensiveness, and contempt (Carr & Kellas, 2018). All these practices affect the respect and calmness that a union requires for progress. With this weakness occurring in many marriages, couples cannot notice and change, leading to relationships failing (Carr & Kellas, 2018). This incidence majorly contributes to singlehood as individuals opt to stay away from marriage to avoid disrespect, criticism, and disputes.

Rates of Remarriage

Many marriages are reunions for at least one spouse, but the rates have slightly reduced in the previous few years. The most way partners use the preparation of remarriage is cohabitation, although not addressing the main issues in marriage when staying together (Frye et al., 2020). Issues related to children, plans, ex-spouses, previous problems, and money lead to future differences in the relationship (Frye et al., 2020). Few partners seek premarital advice to sort out these problems before entering marriage again, failing remarriage (Frye et al., 2020). These failed remarriages result in permanent singles in society, hence contributing to the rise in global singlehood.

Happiness in Remarriage

Individuals think that they have found the right spouse and have experience from their previous mistakes in marriage hence making happy remarriages. On the contrary, divorce cases for reunions are higher than for first marriages, mainly in stepfamilies (Connidis et al., 2017). Those in remarriage divorce easily compared to first unions because they have fewer restrictions on staying married (Connidis et al., 2017). Therefore, a higher number of failed remarriages has led to a rise in singlehood. When a reunion divorce happens, most individuals opt to be single because of failing twice in the relationship. These people lose trust that marriages can work hence ending up in permanent singlehood.

Factors Affecting Remarriage

Remarriage varies on several factors; first, it relies on the accessibility of spouses. The number of women available for marriage is higher than men. Therefore, men are more likely to remarry compared to women (Qian & Lichter, 2018). Women experience this inadequate availability of partners, specifically African-American females, where the ratio of women to men is high (Qian & Lichter, 2018). Ladies may have children living together with them, and this minimizes the chances of remarriage. Men are more interested in marriage compared to women; hence males do not take long to remarry.

A significant number of women do not remarry due to their decision not to get into marriage again. Women have to make changes at work and at home to manage work-life balance to meet family responsibilities (Qian & Lichter, 2018). Additionally, men’s physical worth is not as affected by aging as in women. This situation, therefore, encourages more cases of single ladies in society (Qian & Lichter, 2018). Education also increases the probability of men remarrying but minimizes the chances for women. (Bellou, 2017). Currently, more women have higher education levels than before; therefore, most of them do not find partners matching this expectation (Bellou, 2017). These factors have led to a rise in the numbers of single ladies globally, increasing the cases of singlehood.

Influence of Children in Re-partnering

Children minimize the chances of remarriage, primarily for women, because ladies with kids have minimum time and fewer resources for relationships. Dating is complicated for a woman who has to find a caregiver for her children and gets back home on time when she is concerned about what the children think about her relationship (Francia & Millear, 2019). Men avoid the responsibility of children or may find it hard to cope with their partner’s kids. Parents perceive it difficult to date a person who will affect their relationship with their children (Francia & Millear, 2019). Women experience difficulty balancing attention for both the man and their kids, therefore, opting to stay single to avoid such divisions between the partner and their children (Francia & Millear, 2019). This situation has led to a higher number of single women with children, hence increasing singlehood in the world.


There are many reasons why people opt to remain single in life, mainly because they have been in marriage and experienced frustration or perceived that marriage can not work. People may draw this perception from the experiences of their parents, friends, and relatives who have been in marriage and failed. Based on Erik Erikson’s theory, many people fail at the stage of intimacy versus isolation in life, which affects them in life. Success at this phase leads to love, which marks the capability to form enduring and healthy marriages. Individuals who avoid intimate relationships fail to create long-lasting marriages hence leading to singlehood.

Poor communication in marriage and accumulating unresolved issues are widespread in unions, leading to many divorce cases. Additionally, there are many cases of single women with children, as they opt to concentrate on their kids’ needs. It is difficult for many women to balance responsibilities for their children and demands from their partners. Therefore, they chose to remain single for the benefit of their kids. All these psychological factors are leading to the rise of singlehood globally.


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