In the comments section of this post over at Living Single, one of the people commenting voiced the myth that I spent an entire chapter of Singled Out debunking. I call it “Single-minded” – the myth that “you are interested in just one thing – getting coupled.” (It’s in quotes because it is the subtitle of Chapter 4.)
Here I want to share just one key section from that chapter, in which I describe the results of a survey conducted by the very reputable Pew organization. It is from p. 84:
“There is an important postscript to the Single Syndrome project, and indeed to all of the industries, such as matchmaking services, online dating sites, and mate-bait book publishing, that have been built on the premise that singles are interested in just one thing. It turns out that, in far bigger numbers than even I had imagined, single people say that they are not ‘looking’ at all.
“In the last few months of 2005, the Pew Internet and American Life Project surveyed more than 3,000 American adults of all ages and marital statuses. They asked those who were single (divorced, widowed, or always single) whether they were in a committed relationship. Twenty-six percent said that they were. The biggest group of singles, 55 percent, said that they were not in a committed relationship and that they were not looking for a partner. Only 16 percent of single people said that they were not in a committed relationship and that they were looking. (Three percent did not answer.) Even when the younger singles, ages 18 through 29, were analyzed separately, the number who said that they were not in a committed relationship and were looking for a partner increased only to 22 percent.”
The Pew survey was referenced to make just the opposite point of what it really did show in Hannah Seligson’s book, A Little Bit Married (discussed here). Here’s what she said (pp, 11-12):
“A Pew Research study found that about a quarter of unmarried Americans say they are in a committed romantic relationship – this means that well over half of the eighteen- to- twenty-nine set are or are seeking to be coupled.”
Actually, it doesn’t. The original report specifically notes (on p. 3) that the majority of singles are not in a committed relationship and not looking for a partner, even when just the 18-29 year old singles are considered. In fact, the title of the report (by Lee Rainie and Mary Madden) is “Not looking for love: The state of romance in America.”