Relationship charity Relate, the UK’s largest provider of relationship support, polled over 4,000 people – along with 600 eharmony users – from different backgrounds across the nation for their new report, titled ‘Being Single in Britain Today’.
Around 1,400 of those polled were single, and their answers harboured some rather interesting results: sure, the rate of people who saw having sex with whoever you want as a major upside of being single was much higher in men, but around 71% of guys also said they felt “significant pressure” to partner up, compared to just 58% of single women – which perhaps explains why they preferred dating for the sake of it, even if the relationship didn’t turn into anything.
So, why is there such a disparity in the way men and women feel about flying solo? It could be because women invest more time into their friendships than men do. In the survey, more single women used their free time to see friends and family (38% compared to 21% of men). Experts say men are less likely to share emotions and feelings in their platonic relationships, and are “less intimate and supportive”. Movember, the charity that encourages men to talk about their feelings, also found that 2.5m men don’t have any close friends to speak to – which explains why more men (47%) than women (43%) feared loneliness when single.
We often assume men are better at coping with single life, but it turns out women also tend to thrive by harnessing their sense ‘girl power’ when faced with unattachment. The poll revealed 65% of women identified independence as a positive, compared to 58% of men. According to a separate 2017 study by Mintel, this is also the reason 75% of single women haven’t been actively looking for a relationship in the past year. Plus, women are just better at socialising when they’re single. “Women tend to be better at having alternative social networks and other confidantes,” Professor Emily Grundy, of the University of Essex said. “Whereas men tend to rely quite heavily on their wives for that and have fewer other social ties.” So it really is true – we don’t need no man!
But the results weren’t all gender based – age also played a big part in how the people in Relate’s study felt about the societal pressure to be in a relationship, with younger respondents feeling the heat more than older participants to couple up. Around 32% of people aged 25-34 felt that pressure “often or all the time”. Could this have anything to do with our aunts and uncles asking when we’re going to settle down during family parties? Or the disapproving looks our mothers give us when one of her friends announces she’s going to be a grandmother again? Perhaps…
But don’t worry – not all singletons are feeling the pressure to shack up. The survey concluded that “many single people in Britain today appear to be doing well enjoying their experiences and the freedom and independence singleness affords them.”
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