Fewer Americans Hooking Up, Partnering Up, Or Getting Hitched Than Ever, Survey Finds

Dan
A couple embracing on a bed
Unsplash | Becca Tapert

If it's starting to feel like you'll be alone forever, well, you're hardly the only person who feels this way.

Recent trends give a snapshot of Americans' love lives and the details show that there are likely a lot of lonely people out there.

Much of the data comes from the General Social Survey.

Sign: "We hear you"
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If you haven't heard of the General Social Survey, or GSS, here's a brief explainer: it's a survey that's been running for the past 50 years with the goal of monitoring societal change in American society.

In short, it's an excellent snapshot of what's going on with Americans, and how things are shifting over time.

Fewer Americans are finding partners.

A person standing alone
Unsplash | Lukas Rychvalsky

The default template for adult life generally involves dating until you find a compatible partner, then getting into a relationship with them.

According to the GSS, the most recent numbers show that a full 30% of participants said that they didn't have a steady partner.

It still means 70% of participants are partnered up.

A couple
Unsplash | Jakob Owens

While this may be true, it's an unusual trend. Back in 1986, only 20% of participants said they were single. In fact, up until the 2010s, this number never topped 23%.

For older participants, the number of partnered people has remained fairly steady, indicating that this trend is largely affecting younger people.

Fewer people are living together.

Moving boxes
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Moving to a different study — in this case, data from the Pew Research Center — we find that fewer Americans are cohabiting. The 2021 numbers tell us that 62% of Americans between the ages of 25 and 54 live with a partner or are married.

Back in 1990, the number was at 71%.

Is it because of financial security?

A stack of money
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Wage equity is better now than it was in 1990, so this might suggest that fewer people are living together because they don't need more than one income. The stats seem to counter this, though: according to the Pew numbers, people who earn more money are also more likely to be living with a partner.

Let's talk about sex.

A couple in a bedroom
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You knew we were going to get here eventually, didn't you?

Getting into a relationship and moving in together are big steps. But hooking up is pretty straightforward, right?

Wrong. The GSS numbers tell us that fewer Americans are hooking up these days.

Over a quarter of adult Americans haven't hooked up in the past 12 months.

A couple embracing on a bed
Unsplash | Becca Tapert

This number can't be attributed to the pandemic, either, since it's part of a larger trend. In 2016, 23% said they hadn't hooked up in the previous year, and in 2018 this number held steady. In 2021, in rose to 26%. These numbers are all higher than they were in the past.

Ready for some positive news?

Two wedding rings
Unsplash | Sandy Millar

It hardly feels substantial in the face of all this grim news, but for what it's worth, divorce rates have plummeted.

According to the CDC/NCHS National Vital Statistics System survey, for every 1,000 people in the population, there were 2.7 divorces. Back in 2000, this number was at 4.

What do we do with this data?

A man shrugging
Giphy |

Like any demographic data, the numbers may be illuminating, but they don't give us much idea of how to move forward. It'll be interesting to see if Americans rebound from the pandemic by getting together more, or if these trends simply continue.

What's your experience?

A couple at sunset
Unsplash | Caleb Ekeroth

Have you noticed this in your personal life, or in the lives of people you know? We want to hear what you think, so be sure to share your thoughts in the comments.