Toward a Psychology of Singlehood: What We Already Know and What We Need to Know about Contemporary Singlehood [1 ed.] 9783737016001, 9783847116004

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Toward a Psychology of Singlehood: What We Already Know and What We Need to Know about Contemporary Singlehood [1 ed.]
 9783737016001, 9783847116004

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Open Access Publication (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) © 2023 V&R unipress | Brill Deutschland GmbH ISBN Print: 9783847116004 – ISBN E-Lib: 9783737016001

Open Access Publication (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) © 2023 V&R unipress | Brill Deutschland GmbH ISBN Print: 9783847116004 – ISBN E-Lib: 9783737016001

Katarzyna Adamczyk

Toward a Psychology of Singlehood What We Already Know and What We Need to Know about Contemporary Singlehood

With 10 figures

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Bibliographic information published by the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek The Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in the Deutsche Nationalbibliografie; detailed bibliographic data are available online: https://dnb.de. The current book was entirely financed by the funding received in the scope of the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan´ program ‘Research University – Excellence Initiative’, the activity of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Social Sciences and Humanities (IAS; Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan´, Poland), and financial support received from the Dean of Faculty of Psychology and Cognitive Science – Dr. hab. Mariusz Urban´ski, prof. UAM. The current book has been elaborated within the framework of the grant UMO-2019/34/E/HS6/00164 received from the National Science Centre in Poland. © 2023 by Brill | V&R unipress, Robert-Bosch-Breite 10, 37079 Göttingen, Germany, an imprint of the Brill-Group (Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands; Brill USA Inc., Boston MA, USA; Brill Asia Pte Ltd, Singapore; Brill Deutschland GmbH, Paderborn, Germany; Brill Österreich GmbH, Vienna, Austria) Koninklijke Brill NV incorporates the imprints Brill, Brill Nijhoff, Brill Hotei, Brill Schöningh, Brill Fink, Brill mentis, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Böhlau, V&R unipress and Wageningen Academic. Unless otherwise stated, this publication is licensed under the Creative Commons License Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 4.0 (see https://creativecommons.org/licenses/ by-nc-nd/4.0/) and can be accessed under DOI 10.14220/9783737016001. Any use in cases other than those permitted by this license requires the prior written permission from the publisher. Cover image: © Konstanty Wolny Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht Verlage | www.vandenhoeck-ruprecht-verlage.com ISBN 978-3-7370-1600-1

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To my husband Paweł and my son Marcin for their support on my way to achieve my scientific dreams

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Contents

Tables . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

9

Figures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

11

Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

13

Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

15

Overview of the book . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

21

Singlehood – what does it mean? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Singlehood – why is singlehood still a problem for lay people and scholars? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Singlehood – what does it mean? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Singlehood – is it a sign of our modern world? . . . . . . . . . . . Singlehood – what are the numbers? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Singlehood – one or more faces? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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23

. . . . . .

. . . . . .

23 25 30 34 36 38

. . . . . . . .

41 41

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46 52 62 62 63 65 68 79

Determinants of Singlehood . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Reasons – why do people remain single? . . . . . . . . . . . . . The sociodemographic, economic and cultural determinants of singlehood . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Psychological determinants of singlehood . . . . . . . . . . . . . New insights into the reasons for being single . . . . . . . . . . Evolutionary approach . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Attachment model of long-term singlehood . . . . . . . . . . . Desire to have a romantic partner . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Primary and secondary control . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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. . . . . . . .

. . . . . .

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. . . . . . . .

8

Contents

. . .

81 81 83

. . . . . .

83 85 88 92 96 101

Scientific Future of Singlehood Research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

103

Final Remarks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

111

References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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Singlehood and its Outcomes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Previous Findings on Mental and Physical Outcomes . . . . . . . . . New directions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Attachment model of singlehood: Linking reasons and outcomes of singlehood . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Singlehood as an ambiguous loss . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Within-group perspective of singlehood . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Romantic desires and relationship (in)congruency . . . . . . . . . . A broad conceptual framework . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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Tables

Table 1. Table 2. Table 3.

Table 4.

Major characteristics of singlehood across preindustrial, industrial and postindustrial societies Reasons for singlehood among men in line with the Paprzycka’s typology of single men Subgroups of single individuals in regard to attachment and life outcomes and moderators of the link between singlehood and life outcomes among three subgroups of single individuals Comparison of the life cycle and spiral models of adulthood according to Etzkowitz and Stein (1978)

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32f. 61

84 104

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Figures

Figure 1. Figure 2. Figure 3. Figure 4. Figure 5. Figure 6. Figure 7.

Figure 8. Figure 9. Figure 10.

Terms used by single individuals to describe their own single status Examples of heterogeneity of single individuals based on the data collected with grant UMO-2019/34/E/HS6/00164 Three spheres of human functioning that determine human behavior and are related to external and internal environments Eight mechanisms underlying the changes in the institution of marriage according to Kislev (2019) Five major factors leading to a rise in singlehood after leaving home according to van den Berg and Verbakel (2022) Czernecka’s (2011) typology of singles based on the reasons for being single The Girme and colleagues’ (2022) outline of intrapersonal factors, interpersonal experiences, and societal influences associated with higher and lower well-being among single people The neglected areas in singlehood research Organizing framework for research on health outcomes of singlehood Four patterns of intimacy roles in adulthood

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26 37 42 46 51 59

89 90 97 105

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Acknowledgments

In 2020, I was fortunate enough to be awarded the prestigious grant SONATA BIS 9 (UMO-2019/34/E/HS6/00164), which is funded by the National Science Centre in Poland and enabled me to create my own research team and focus entirely on the exploration of singlehood in Poland. This large, ongoing project represents a mixed-method design in which both qualitative interview-based research and longitudinal quantitative research are utilized with the goal of investigating singlehood and associated mental health outcomes from the perspective of ambiguous loss theory. The grant UMO-2019/34/E/HS6/00164 also enabled me to establish, in 2021, the Singlehood Research Laboratory (SingleLab) (https://sinl ab.home.amu.edu.pl/), which is the first and only laboratory in Poland devoted to singlehood research and one of the world labs examining singlehood (see MacDonald Social Psychology Research Laboratory in Canada led by Prof. Geoff MacDonald and The CLOSER Lab in Canada led by Prof. Yuthika Girme). The prolific and intensive efforts of the project’s teams, which include Dr. Kamil Janowicz, Dr. Agnieszka E. Łys´, Dr. Marta Mrozowicz-Wron´ska, and Radosław Trepanowski, M.A., have unequivocally revealed that singlehood represents a multifaceted and complex phenomenon that goes beyond the simple criterion of civil, or more broadly, relationship status. Moreover, the studies conducted within the scope of the grant UMO-2019/34/E/HS6/00164 clarified that single people are highly heterogeneous, that singlehood has changed over recent decades and that the knowledge gathered in past research needs to be integrated with the knowledge on singlehood provided by the most recent studies to promote a deeper understanding of singlehood. Therefore, the part of these considerations and findings that have been elaborated within the framework of the grant UMO-2019/34/E/HS6/00164 has been included in the current book. My first, and deepest, debt of gratitude is to Professor Marek Kwiek, Director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Social Sciences and Humanities (IAS) (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan´, Poland), the Adam Mickiewicz University program ‘Excellence initiative- Research University’, and the Dean of Faculty of Psychology and Cognitive Science – Dr. hab. Mariusz Urban´ski, prof. UAM, who

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Acknowledgments

all provided me with financial support to make this monograph freely available to all readers. I also thank Professor Jeffrey Jackson (College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University/Brigham Young University in Provo, USA) and Dr. Dominika Ochnik (Academy of Silesia in Katowice, Poland) for reviewing the book and providing me with numerous constructive and valuable comments that enabled me to significantly improve this monograph. I also wish to express my gratitude to all the great researchers whom I met on my scientific journey when I had just taken my first steps in authoring scientific papers in English. I would like to warmly thank Prof. Dr. hab. Maciej Głowacki and Dr. hab. Ewa Misterska, prof. WSB for giving me a chance to work with them and for including me in their research. Working with Prof. Dr. hab. Maciej Głowacki and Dr. hab. Ewa Misterska, prof. WSB provided me with amazing opportunities to learn how to perform high-quality research and how to write articles in English. I would never have learned this without much support from Prof. Dr. hab. Maciej Głowacki and dr. hab. Ewa Misterska, prof. WSB. In the next years of scientific work, I was fortunate enough to meet Prof. Chris Segrin, Prof. Sylvia Niehuis, and Prof. Jamila Bookwala. I am grateful for their positive responses to my e-mails with tentative questions about the possibility of scientific cooperation. Thanks to their positive reactions and trust in me, I had the opportunity to gain a higher international visibility. I am also very grateful to Prof. Yuthika Girme and Prof. Geoff MacDonald for their recognition of me as an expert in the field of singlehood research and for including me in the community of researchers investigating singlehood. I also am enormously fortunate to enjoy the love, support, and encouragement of my husband Paweł, who took care of our 8-year-old son Marcin with dedication and patience while I was writing this book. Thanks to their support and understanding of how emotionally demanding writing a book is, I had the possibility to work on the monograph. I also extend my thanks to those at Brill Deutschland GmbH V&R unipress | Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, including Marie-Carolin Vondracek, for their assistance along the way. The proofreading of the current book was financed by the funding received in the contest ‘Monographs’ under the scope of the activity of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Social Sciences and Humanities (IAS; Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan´, Poland) (Decision number 088/08/POB5/0003) through the framework of the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan´ program ‘Research University – Excellence Initiative’.

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Introduction

My scientific journey in psychology started in 2005 when I began my Ph.D. studies at the Faculty of Social Sciences at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, Poland. As I began my Ph.D. studies, I had a strong desire and clear idea to examine the reasons for singlehood in the period of young adulthood. Although I perceived this idea clearly and vividly, 17 years ago in Poland, the subject of singlehood was almost unexplored in the scientific literature. Moreover, it appeared to be a nonscientific topic that was mainly present in popular magazines, T.V., or movies. Therefore, as a young and inexperienced researcher, I faced uncertainty and several questions. How can I convince other researchers in Poland and in other countries that the topic of singlehood merits their full attention? How can I obtain external funding in Poland for research on such an unusual topic as singlehood? The breakthrough moment in facing these numerous doubts and hesitations was my reading of the article “Singles in Society and in Science”, which was written by DePaulo and Morris (2005). This article was a response to my scientific doubts about whether singlehood is an important and timely scientific topic. This seminal paper, which, according to Google, was cited 582 times by October 2022, reaffirmed my belief that singlehood was exactly the subject that I should investigate. Since that moment, over the course of approximately 17 years, I have continued to investigate the phenomenon of singlehood. Did I become bored with this subject? No! On the contrary, I have become more excited by investigating singlehood with each year and with each new research and finding on singlehood! The topic of singlehood is not new, as it is the subject of scientific inquiries in various disciplines, and it is not a modern phenomenon in human history (e. g., Gajda, 1987; Kuklo, 1998; Z˙urek, 2008). However, in the last ten years, the topic of singlehood has again received attention from scholars representing multiple disciplines, such psychology, sociology and demography. Singlehood research is experiencing a peculiar renaissance. This is reflected in the rising number of peer-reviewed articles on singlehood in prestigious journals but also in the or-

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Introduction

ganization of academic discussions on singlehood that are aimed at a better and more comprehensive understanding of singlehood. An example of such discussions is the online symposium entitled ‘Singlehood Research’ that took place on July 13, 2020, and was organized by Prof. Geoff MacDonald (University of Toronto) and Prof. Yuthika Grime (Simon Fraser University). During this symposium, several studies on singlehood involving issues pertaining to intrapersonal and interpersonal factors associated with singlehood were presented. Furthermore, a very recent initiative involved an online conference entitled ‘Law and Singlehood’ (November 4, 2022), which was organized by the Centre for Women’s Rights, Jindal Global Law School, O. P Jindal Global University and the Centre for Women’s. Finally, the pressing need to discuss the topic of contemporary singlehood has encouraged my team working on the project UMO2019/34/E/HS6/00164 and me to organize the International Conference on Singlehood (InCoSin) in 2023 (https://incosin.web.amu.edu.pl). These initiatives show that singlehood is consistently a vivid topic with a diversity of themes that are addressed by both young and experienced researchers from various parts of the world. Finally, the theoretical and social importance of the phenomenon of singlehood is confirmed in terms of funding by the European Research Council with the prestigious Advanced Grant to Prof. Dimitri Mortelmans from the University of Antwerp (Belgium) for the performance of the project entitled ‘SINGLETON. Singleton trajectories. Understanding new life course paths of young adults’. According to the press information, the goal of this grant is to identify the relationship formation pathways of young adults in industrialized countries. This project assumes that there is a fundamental hidden relationship pathway in young adulthood where individuals might be experiencing difficulties in finding the right partner, maintaining a relationship or making a deliberate choice to remain single and for longer periods. Why do we need to introduce the phenomenon of singlehood into the central area of research that is considered to ‘(…) prioritize the study of marital and other serious romantic relationships over other relationship types and singles’ experiences (…)’ (Day, 2016, p. 356)? The answer to this question has already been vividly and clearly provided by other researchers. For instance, Day (2016) noted the following: Given the prevalence of singles and increasing length of time that almost everyone experiences single life, the rationale for continuing the committed relationship research status quo, although previously consistent with statistical norms, may be increasingly interpreted as unfair and exclusionary. (p. 357).

Moreover, in a chapter devoted to the positive psychology of a single life, DePaulo (2018) stated the following:

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Introduction

‘For too long, the ideology seems to have steered our scholarship toward the exploration of what is good and fulfilling about married life and what is problematic or lacking about single life. It has left us largely ignorant of the other half of the human equation: what is meaningful and empowering about single life and risky and limiting about married life. That needs to change’ (p. 251).

Since the scientific efforts aimed at understanding contemporary singlehood have intensified and widened, it is important and beneficial to explore where we are in our singlehood research and to trace the path we have traveled from the first works in the field of psychology and other disciplines undertaking considerations of old spinsters and bachelors to works in which contemporary singlehood is tentatively beginning to be treated as an authentic, full-fledged path of human development in adulthood. This need has been strongly articulated by DePaulo (2014), who coined the term ‘single at heart’ to refer to individuals for whom a single life is suitable, who are single because of having problems or not finding a partner, but for whom a single life is meaningful and authentic. If we use Google to search terms such as singlehood, singles, never-married, book, guide, or various combinations of these words, we will obtain results showing how many books on singlehood have been published in the English language alone. To list all the titles of the books found seems to be an almost impossible task and certainly a task that would take up much time and space in this book. However, to illustrate the multiplicity of the books (including the academic books) on singlehood, I will attempt to enumerate some of the titles that caught my eye. Among various books on singlehood, we find titles such as (in chronological order) ‘The Consequences of Being Single’ (1983) by Douglas Richard Austrom; ‘Keeping the Love You Find: Guide for Singles’ (1993) by Harville Hendrix and Helen LaKelly Hunt; ‘Bachelors: The Psychology of Men Who Haven’t Married’ (1996) by Charles A. Waehler; ‘The Surrendered Single: A Practical Guide to Attracting and Marrying the Man Who’s Right for You’ (2002) by Laura Doyle; ‘Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics’ (2004) by Sasha Cagan; ‘Single, Married, Separated, and Life After Divorce’ (2005) by Myles Munroe; ‘The New Single Woman’ (2005) by E. Kay Trimberger; ‘Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After’ (2007) by Bella DePaulo; ‘The Single Woman. A Discursive Investigation’ (2008) by Jill Reynolds; ‘Single with Attitude: Not Your Typical Take on Health and Happiness, Love and Money, Marriage and Friendship’ (2009) by Bella DePaulo; ‘The Single Girl’s Survival Guide: Secrets for Today’s Savvy, Sexy, and Independent Women’ (2011) by Imogen Lloyd Webber; ‘Singlism: What It Is, Why It Matters, and How to Stop It’ (2011) by Bella DePaulo; ‘Sex and the Single Girl: The Unmarried Woman’s Guide to Men’ (2012) by Helen Gurley Brown; ‘Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone’ (2013) by Eric Klinenberg; ‘Single, Shy, and Looking for Love: A Dating Guide for the Shy

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Introduction

and Socially Anxious’ (2014) by Shannon Kolakowski; ‘The Best of Single Life’ (2014b) by Bella DePaulo; ‘Single and the City’ (2014) by Julita Czernecka; ‘Marriage vs. Single Life: How Science and the Media Got It So Wrong’ (2015) and ‘Single Parents and Their Children: The Good News No One Ever Tells You’ (2015) by Bella DePaulo; ‘Single, No Children: Who Is Your Family?’ (2016) by Bella DePaulo; ‘Not Yet Married: The Pursuit of Joy in Singleness and Dating’ (2017) by Marshall Segal; ‘How To Be Single And Happy’ (2018) by Jenny Taitz; ‘Happy Singlehood: The Rising Acceptance and Celebration of Solo Living’ (2019) by Elyakim Kislev; ‘Single for a Season: How to Be Single and Happy – A Guide for Christian Singles’ (2021) by David Brühlmann; ‘Playing Without a Partner: A Singles’ Guide to Sex, Dating, and Happiness’ (2021) by Megan Stubbs; ‘Singled Out In A Couples World’ (2021) by Christa Smith; and ‘Single On Purpose’ (2022) by John Kim. These books were written in the English language, and undoubtedly, we will also find numerous books in other languages. For instance, in the Polish language, we have books on singles such as ‘Single. Z˙yja˛c w pojedynke˛’ [Singles. Going It Alone] (2008) by Aldona Z˙urek; ‘Kobiety z˙yja˛ce w pojedynke˛. Mie˛dzy wyborem a przymusem’ [Single Women. Between choice and compulsion] (2008) by Emilia Paprzycka; ‘Single i singielki. Intymnos´c´ i seksualnos´c´ osób z˙yja˛cych w pojedynke˛’ [Single Women and Single Men. Intimacy and sexuality of singles] (2016) by Emilia Paprzycka and Zbigniew Izdebski; ‘Zachowania konsumpcyjne singli w Polsce’ [Consumer behavior of singles in Poland] (2018) by Anna Da˛browska, Mirosława Janos´-Kresło, Adrian Lubowiecki-Vikuk and Teresa Słaby; and ‘Rozwaz˙ni czy romantyczni? Socjologiczne studium ekonomicznych i kulturowych uwarunkowan´ z˙ycia singli’ [Prudent or romantic? A sociological study of the economic and cultural determinants of singles’ lives] (2020) by Agnieszka Rychłowska-Niesporek. The above enumerated list of books and guides on singlehood clearly demonstrates that the phenomenon of singlehood has aroused vivid interest among academic and nonacademic writers over the years. Undoubtedly, the content analysis of the listed books alone could be the basis for another book on singlehood. However, even a cursory analysis of the titles of these books reveals the thematic diversity addressed in the books and the variety of the aspects of singlehood analyzed by the authors. The striking thread in the indicated books seems to be, however, the issue of happiness, i. e., how one can be happy when they are single. With so many books on singlehood on the market, one might ask, do we need another book on singles? My answer is Yes. The current book is not a guide presenting how one can be a happy single, which was addressed by the numerous abovementioned books and authors. In contrast, the present monograph is a unique theoretical elaboration on singlehood from a psychological perspective.

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Introduction

The major motivation that governed the effort to author this book was a desire to provide a cumulative review of the past and recent research on singlehood accompanied by a discussion of some persistent problems in singlehood research and to answer questions such as: ‘What do we already know about singlehood?’ ‘Where are we heading in singlehood research?’ How close we are on that path to a psychology of singlehood? Although numerous aspects of singlehood have been analyzed in past studies, in this book, I focused on the two pivotal and most relevant issues largely explored in regard to singlehood, i. e., the reasons and outcomes of singlehood that constitute the foundations and framework of singlehood research. I entirely agree with Girme and colleagues (2022), who made two essential notes in their recent seminal review of the past literature on singlehood. Specifically, I also acknowledge that the field of singlehood research is relatively young, particularly in the discipline of psychology (Girme et al., 2022). I also share Girme and colleagues’ (2022) opinion that since singlehood is such a broad phenomenon, diverse theoretical perspectives can be crucial and useful for its understanding, analogically as there is no one sole theory of romantic relationships. Finally, I also agree with Girme and colleagues’ (2022) suggestion that at this stage of development of singlehood research, the first critical and beneficial step in building a theoretical model for singlehood would be to advance theoretical perspectives to address specific questions about various aspects of singlehood. At the same time, even if I agree that the creation of a more comprehensive theoretical model for singlehood may be premature, I believe that we urgently need to summarize what we already know about singlehood, ponder what we do not know yet and explore how to combine these two perspectives. Therefore, I perceive the current book to be a crucial and necessary stop on the path to building a theoretical model for singlehood in the near future. It is my hope that the current monograph will encourage a moment of reflection, which is now pressing due to the increase in the intensity of research on singlehood.

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Overview of the book

The current book is divided into four chapters, proceeded by the Introduction, in which I attempt to emphasize why the phenomenon of singlehood merits scientific attention. The first chapter ‘Singlehood – what does it mean?’ begins with a discussion of the issue of why singlehood is still problematic in scientific considerations and public debates. Next, I present the definitional issues pertaining to the term ‘single person’ in connection with a brief historical background of the phenomenon of singlehood. In this part of the book, I also referred to several statistics illustrating the shares of single individuals in the selected countries. Finally, this chapter also strongly emphasizes the heterogeneity of single individuals. In the second chapter, ‘Determinants of Singlehood’, I present the major determinants of singlehood revealed in previous quantitative and qualitative studies. At the same time, this chapter offers new insights into the topic of reasons for singlehood. Specifically, I emphasize the need to remember the interconnectedness of factors operating on various levels ranging from sociodemographic to psychological factors in determining singlehood. Furthermore, I propose the broadening and deepening of considerations of reasons for singlehood by employing the view of reasons for singlehood that is in line with Hostelter’s (2009) proposition of primary and secondary control. Finally, I also propose a recurrence of the construct of the ‘desire to have a romantic partner’, which was used in the past literature and appears now to recur in reflections on reasons for singlehood. In the third chapter, ‘Singlehood and Its Outcomes’, I briefly review the major previous findings concerning mental and physical health outcomes as associated with single status. This chapter was, however, intended to predominantly elaborate on new lines in singlehood research in regard to life outcomes associated with singlehood. Therefore, in this part of the book, I elaborate on the attachment model of adult long-term singlehood linking the reasons and outcomes of singlehood (Pepping & MacDonald, 2019; Pepping et al., 2018) and the newest

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Overview of the book

approach offered by Girme and colleagues (2022), highlighting the need for a stronger research concentration on the exploration of the internal diversity of single individuals rather than merely concentrating on comparing single individuals with coupled individuals. Finally, I also propose the possibility of investigating the health outcomes of singlehood in terms of the (in)congruency between desire to have a romantic partner and single status, as well as the possibility of embedding the research on the health outcomes of singlehood in the general conceptual framework proposed by Pietromonaco and Collins (2017), in which interpersonal mechanisms are depicted as linking close relationships to health. In the last chapter, ‘Scientific Future of Singlehood Research’, I attempt to outline the broad future directions of singlehood research that could bring us closer to establishing the psychology of singlehood. Notably, in this chapter, I seek to show that we can make room for singles in science and society, something for which researchers have been clamoring for many years (e. g., DePaulo & Morris, 2005; Roseneil & Budgeon, 2004), by extending human development theory to recognize that development can proceed beyond the procreative family and can involve different, individualized paths in the domain of intimate relationships and roles (e. g., Bühler & Nikitin, 2020; Etzkowitz & Stein, 1978; Rauer et al., 2013).

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Singlehood – what does it mean? ‘The beginning of wisdom is the definition of terms’. – Socrates

Singlehood – why is singlehood still a problem for lay people and scholars? It is difficult to eliminate the impression that the topic of singlehood has been placed and discussed in reference and as an alternative to marriage and family (e. g., Slany, 2006; Z˙urek, 2008). Therefore, researchers publish their studies about singlehood in journals devoted to relationships, marriage, and family. However, even placing singlehood among various contemporary alternative forms of life alongside traditional marriage and family still sets the optics of looking at singlehood through the perspective of missing something, as an alternative rather than a fully-fledged form of life (e. g., DePaulo, 2014a). Why, although singlehood has existed in human history long before today and the scientific debate on singlehood has continued since the 1970s, are single people still subjected to negative evaluation (e. g., Fisher & Sakaluk, 2020; Morris & Osburn, 2016; Ochnik & Mandal, 2016)? Why is the subject of singlehood still not one of the central research areas of psychology, sociology and demography? Why, since DePaulo and Morris (2005) called for “(…) starting a conversation about people who are single and their place in society and in science” (p. 57) 17 years ago and Roseneil and Budgeon (2004) indicated the need to ‘decenter the ‘family’ and the heterosexual couple in our intellectual imaginaries’ (p. 135) 18 years ago, do researchers in 2022 still need to convince readers about ‘(…) the importance of extending the study of the transition to adulthood to include singlehood as a meaningful experience in and out of itself ’ (van den Berg & Verbakel, 2022, p. 9)? However, the lack of room for singles in science, including psychology, is not surprising. In my opinion, it is a consequence of at least four interwoven circumstances.

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First, the need to belong is a fundamental human need (Baumeister & Leary, 1995), and the establishment of relationships is a universal capacity of human beings inherently inscribed in our evolution, enabling the survival of human species (Bradbury & Karney, 2010). Second, from the human developmental perspective, the formation of an intimate bond with a partner/spouse has been considered one of the fundamental developmental tasks in young adulthood (Beyers & Seiffge-Krenke, 2010; Erikson, 1950, 1968; Rauer et al., 2013). In turn, from the perspective of attachment theory, the life partner in early adulthood is the main attachment figure, and over the life cycle, we observe changes in the network of attachment figures (Fraley & Davis, 1997; Rowe & Carnelley, 2005), which consist of its enlargement with new attachment figures, i. e., peers, friends, and during adolescence and adulthood, with romantic partners and spouses (Rowe & Carnelley, 2005). The latter, beginning in preadolescence through adolescence and adulthood, become the main source of support and closeness that parents once were during infancy and preschool and that peers were during the school years (Rowe & Carnelley, 2005). Third, throughout history, the family has been seen as the most acceptable and preferable group of social participation among human beings (Kuklo, 1998; Z˙urek, 2008), and marriage has been considered to be a normative experience for people (Anderson, 1984; Berend, 2000; Bühler & Nikitin, 2020; Z˙urek, 2008). As directly expressed by Kislev (2019), family and marriage were the basic building blocks of society, and throughout history, they played central, unchallenged roles in societies. This centrality of marriage and family has been captured by DePaulo and Morris (2005) in the term ‘The Ideology of Marriage and Family’. This ideology includes sets of personal and social beliefs such as 1) ‘just about everyone wants to marry, and just about everyone does’; 2) ‘a sexual partnership is the one truly important peer relationship’; and 3) ‘those who have a sexual partnership are better people – more valuable, worthy, and important’ (DePaulo & Morris, 2005, p. 57). Moreover, Day (2016) proposed the term committed relationship ideology to depict similar beliefs concerning marriage and committed relationships. The core premise of this ideology is the conviction that being in a relationship is more beneficial than being single, which devalues single status (Day, 2016). The essence of these ideologies has been simply but vividly captured by Kislev (2019), who wrote that ‘it seems that everyone must have a partner to be part of society, as if the smallest piece in the social puzzle must consist of at least two people’ (p. 104). Fourth, social relationships represent a crucial source of meaning in people’s lives (e. g., Heintzelman & King, 2014; Hicks & King, 2009) and an important factor affecting mental and physical health (e. g., Holt-Lunstad et al., 2017). Health benefits as a function of coupled status are reserved for satisfying and supportive relationships (e. g., Piertomonaco & Collins, 2017; Robles, 2014;

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Robles et al., 2014) and may enable partners, among others, to cope with stress and satisfy the need for love, intimacy, companionship, security, personal growth (Piertomonaco & Collins, 2017) and life satisfaction (Grime et al., 2016). Given the four above enumerated factors in connection with the readiness of people, including single people, to defend committed relationship ideology because it provides a sense of predictability and control in the world (Day, 2016), the concentration by researchers and laypeople on intimate relationships is, therefore, fully understandable. However, it also has consequences, such as difficulties in finding room for single people in science and society and in acknowledgment that single life may be, for some of people a chosen path of life and not a source of misery.

Singlehood – what does it mean? Before we can move on to comprehensively consider singlehood, we need to begin with defining singlehood. Even if we start with the cliché that defining singlehood is difficult and agree that the term single may not capture the heterogeneity of single individuals (Z˙urek, 2008, 2016) and may not directly indicate what type of relationship (love, peer, parental, etc.) single people lack (Clark & Graham, 2005), we need to attempt to define how we understand single status. It is not surprising that such an attempt is challenging given that scholars from various disciplines focus on different aspects when defining single status (see Adamczyk, 2012; Adamczyk, 2021; Adamczyk & Trepanowski, 2023). The simple, classic definition of single status was proposed by Stein (1976), who understood a single person as a woman or man who is not in a hetero or homosexual marital or informal relationship. A similar view has also been proposed by DePaulo and Morris (2005), who utilized the terms of legal and social perspectives on single status. Specifically, these authors indicated that from the legal point of view pertaining to civil status, a single person is a person who is not in a marriage (DePaulo & Morris, 2005). In turn, from the social perspective, a single person is a person who subjectively evaluates that he or she is not in a serious relationship (DePaulo & Morris, 2005). Although the legal and social perspectives may undoubtedly be coherent, there may be disagreement in how researchers define single status versus how individuals themselves think about their relationship status. To illustrate the importance of acknowledging individuals’ understanding of their own relationship status, I refer to the examples from our interviews collected with the grant UMO2019/34/E/HS6/00164. Although the definition of being single was provided in our invitation to participate in interviews (we intended to be very clear in stating what participants we were seeking for the study), sometimes over the course of

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interviews (often at the end of the already performed interview), we learned that a person was in a relationship but was not in love with a partner; what linked the interviewee with their partner was sex and joint movie-watching. Other times, we learned that our interviewee had someone but that he or she did not live with this person or was uncertain whether this acquaintance met the criteria for a serious relationship. The issue of subjective perception of singlehood also involves the issue of how single individuals define their own single status. In my first large project concerning singlehood performed within the scope of my Ph.D. thesis (Palus, 2010), as well as in the current project UMO-2019/34/E/HS6/00164, in the interviewbased research, single participants were asked about how they would describe their relationship status. In response to this question, various terms describing interviewees’ single status were provided (see Figure 1). 2009 - 2010 years

2020 - 2021 years

Old bachalor Not in a rela$onship

I am una!ached

Figure 1. Terms Used By Single Individuals to Describe Their Own Single Status. Note. Own elaboration based on the data collected in the years 2009–2010 in the study by Palus (2010) and the data collected in the years 2020–2021 in the scope of the National Science Centre, Poland, grant UMO-2019/34/E/HS6/00164

As Figure 1 shows, single individuals used various terms to describe their single status, and some of these terms were reported both by participants in my study (Palus, 2010) and by those in the current project UMO-2019/34/E/HS6/00164. Four terms that were provided by 36 single individuals aged 21–30 years old (Palus, 2010) and by 40 single individuals aged 20–43 years old in the current

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project UMO-2019/34/E/HS6/00164 were as follows: ‘I am free’, ‘I am lonely’, ‘I am looking for’/‘I am looking for a person’, and ‘I am single’. Figure 1 also shows that in the current project UMO-2019/34/E/HS6/00164, the variety of terms used to describe single status has increased and has been subjected to clarification, as in the case of the term ‘single’, which was accompanied by the additional terms ‘lonely’ and ‘searching for’. At the same time, in the current project UMO-2019/34/E/HS6/00164, our interviewees also used new terms that did not appear in the Ph.D. project, i. e., ‘outside of a relationship’ and ‘not in a relationship’; single women also described themselves as standalone or resourceful, while several single men were keen to use the terms ‘bachelor’ and ‘old bachelor’. The use of the terms ‘bachelor’ and ‘old bachelor’ by contemporary single men (at least in Poland) is quite surprising, even if these terms had more neutral connotations compared to negative connotations attached to the terms of old maids and spinsters (Slany, 2006; Tymicki, 2001). It is probable that single men in our interviews treated these terms as more neutral categories and with some distance and a wink. At the same time, the term ‘bachelor’ can still be encountered in the scientific literature; for instance, this can be seen in the book by Waehler (1996) entitled ‘Bachelors: the psychology of men who haven’t married’, in the paper by Liu and colleagues (2021) on the bachelor status and the sleep quality among Chinese men, or in the paper by Liu and colleagues (2014) on the involuntary bachelorhood in rural China. The variety of terms used by single individuals themselves to describe their relationship status in both cited projects reveals that, like scholars, single people analogically draw attention to various aspects and experiences related to not having a partner/spouse. In addition, lay single people attempt to use those terms that can best reflect the most essential and forefront dimensions of their single status. Therefore, as Figure 1 shows, in defining themselves, single people lean on a social rather than on a legal perspective (objective civil status) and focus more on the psychological, personal attributes of single status, such as by indicating that they are sufficient and resourceful or feel lonely. The inconsistency between legal and social perspectives is not the only difficulty of defining the term single person. For instance, another problematic issue concerns the age at which we can consider a person to be single. Does being unmarried or not being in an informal relationship at 20 or 25 years old make a person single? If it is not the age of 20 or 25 years old, maybe 30, 35 or 40 years old is relevant? What is the age limit beyond which an individual is single or not? For instance, in past studies, the age of 36.2 years old was utilized to distinguish between normative and nonnormative singles, with people up to 36.2 years old considered to be normative singles (Kaiser & Kashy, 2005). In addition, in past studies concerning single women, the age of 30 years old and over has been utilized to define single status among women (e. g., Byrne, 2000; Chizomam &

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Isiugo-Abanihe, 2014), and the age of 30 or 35 years old has also been used by researchers in demography and family studies as a criterion for distinguishing between younger and older single women (Byrne 2003; Ferguson, 2000; Ibrahim & Hassan, 2009; Macvarish, 2006; Simpson, 2003). In his analyses of the data from the ESS, Kislev (2018, 2020a) included nevermarried individuals who were older than 30 years old since this age was recognized as the mean age at a first marriage in the countries enrolled in the ESS survey and because people who are 30 years old face the intensification of internal and external expectations in regard to marrying and consequences of remaining single (Kislev, 2020a). Bergström and colleagues (2019) also noted that “because the early 30s is a peak for partnership formation, the desire to form a couple is strong among those who have not yet settled down” (p. 117). The authors utilized the data collected in the scope of the EPIC French survey on individual and conjugal trajectories (Étude des parcours individuels et conjugaux, INED–INSEE, 2013–2014, metropolitan France) and revealed that individuals from 30 to 34 years old were more likely to be less enthusiastic and negative toward their singlehood (Bergström et al., 2019). Moreover, single respondents in their early 30s also experienced greater pressure from their family and friends, who attempted to find a partner for them (Bergström et al., 2019). Acknowledging the role of age in regard to single status, it is important to highlight that the contemporary changes in the sociohistorical context of human development contributed to the reduction in assigning traditional developmental tasks in the domain of marriage and family to a specific age (e. g., Bühler & Nikitin, 2020), impeding the use of age as a criterion of being a single person. Another issue in defining single status pertains to the duration of not being in a marital or nonmarital relationship. Does not having a partner for one week mean that one is single? Does not being in a relationship for six months make one single? Or does one need to live outside a marital or nonmarital relationship for at least three years to be recognized as a single person? The answers to these questions is not easy and undoubtedly arbitrary, considering that single status may be for some people a temporary state in their lives stage before engaging in a long-term informal relationship or marriage (Kaiser & Kashy, 2005), whereas for other people, single status may be or may become a long-term, permanent state in their lives (Adamczyk, 2021). The issue of time in defining single status has also been considered by Stein (1975, 1976, 1978) in his typology of single individuals, which was based on the dimensions of choice and time. In regard to the time dimension, Stein (1975, 1976, 1978) considered single status as a temporary or stable state, indicating that this classification based on choice and time criteria involved a flexible process rather than a stable categorization. Indeed, in my previous studies (e. g., Adamczyk, 2016; Adamczyk, & Segrin, 2015a; 2015b; Adamczyk et al., 2022a; Palus, 2010) and in work for the

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current grant UMO-2019/34/E/HS6/00164, the duration of singlehood ranged from short periods of time (from six months to one year) through a few years to a lifelong single status (always being single). In my past research (e. g., Adamczyk, & Segrin, 2015a; 2015b; Adamczyk et al., 2022a) and the ongoing project UMO-2019/34/E/HS6/00164, we decided to apply the criterion of being single for at least six months. We chose this period of six months based on the study by Donnelly and Burgess (2008) on involuntary celibacy. The authors arbitrarily assumed that a period of six months is a period after which one can speak of celibacy and the lack of a sexual partner and related difficulties (Donnelly & Burgess, 2008). Because intimate relationships are recognized as involving the experience of ‘(…) a lustful, sexual passion for one another and an expectation that this passion will be consummated’ (Bradbury & Karney, 2010, p. 10), I decided to rely on the criterion of not having a lifetime partner/spouse for at least six months when defining single status in my work. However, other researchers have employed other timing criteria when defining single status. For instance, Schachner, Shaver and Gillath (2008) defined a single person as a person who is “not in a committed relationship for the past three or more years and not likely to become committed in the near future (within the next year or so)” (p. 481). Another criterion that can be utilized in attempts to define single status is the objective fact of living in a one-person household (e. g., Z˙urek, 2008). Naturally, the employment of this objective and simple criterion is tempting, but it represents a very large simplification. Why is this? Imagine a situation in which a person has a romantic partner and is in informal relationships but for various reasons (e. g., religious or economical) does not live with a partner in the same household and lives in his or her own household. Based on the sole criterion of living in a one-person household, we would need to treat this example person as a single person. Furthermore, a person may not be involved in an intimate relationship but for various reasons live with the parents (e. g., due to the economic circumstances or the need to take care of old or ill parents) or live with his or her child/children, which would result in the creation of a multi-person household. Based on the criterion of a one-person household, this person would never be considered to be single. Recently, van den Berg and Verbakel (2022) specified the definition of single status in young adulthood in reference to households by indicating that singlehood is ‘the period after leaving the parental home and before first-time union formation (cohabitation or marriage)’ (p. 2). Despite this clarification, however, it is still possible that some young adults (and not only young adults) may live in their parental homes before they become involved in cohabitation or marital relationships. The above enumerated factors – age, duration of singlehood, or type of household – represent more objective criteria for defining single status. However,

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the previous definitions of singlehood as well as more recent conceptualizations of single status draw our attention to more psychological factors such as desire to have partner, choice of single status, or satisfaction with status. Stein (1975, 1976, 1978), who has already been quoted many times in this chapter, based his typology of singlehood on the dimension of choice and proposed that some single people may be involuntarily single (being single despite their will and choice) or may be voluntarily single as a result of personal choice and decision. Furthermore, the question that often arises as to whether a single person is a person who chose a single status or who remains single because of various external circumstances. For example, this issue has been considered by Hoorn (2000), who, based on the dimensions of desire vs. the lack of desire to have a partner and attitudes toward singlehood (negative vs. positive), classified single individuals into the following four groups: (1) satisfied singles, who want to remain single and who have a positive attitude toward single life; (2) ambivalent singles, who want to have a partner but who at the same time hold a positive opinion about single life; (3) longing singles, who want to have a partner and who are critical of single life; and (4) regretful singles, who want to remain single and have a negative attitude toward singlehood. However, this typology offered by Hoorn (2000) approximately 22 years ago can be now recognized as capturing an important issue of the strength of desire to have a romantic partner and satisfaction with single status, which have been recently acknowledged again as essential factors in determining singlehood outcomes (e. g., Adamczyk, 2017a, 2017b; Beckmeyer & Cromwell, 2019; Kislev, 2020b; Lehmann et al., 2015; MacDonald & Park, 2022). However, the issues of romantic desire and satisfaction with one’s relationship will be elaborated in detail in subsequent parts of the book.

Singlehood – is it a sign of our modern world? Perhaps contrary to many societal beliefs, we need to state that singlehood is not a phenomenon that is only found in our contemporary world (see Z˙urek, 2008). The sociodemographic context of singlehood and its presence in human history has been excellently explained by the Polish sociologist – Prof. Aldona Z˙urek from Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan´, Poland – in her book entitled ‘Single. Z˙yja˛c w pojedynke˛’ (ang. ‘Single. Going it alone’). Z˙urek (2008) has elaborated in detail the situation of single people in preindustrial, industrial and postindustrial societies. An interesting historical, sociodemographic case of singlehood in Poland has also been provided by Prof. Cezary Kuklo (1998) in his book entitled ‘Kobieta samotna w społeczen´stwie miejskim u schyłku Rzeczypospolitej szlacheckiej:

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studium demograficzno-społeczne’ (ang. ‘Lonely woman in urban society at the end of the Noble Republic: a demographic and social study’). For instance, in his book, Kuklo (1998) concentrated on lonely women, understood as unmarried, widowed, abandoned and divorced women, as heads of their households. The author analyzed the place and demographic significance and the economic and social role of the single woman in the structures of preindustrial cities in Poland (Kuklo, 1998). Kuklo (1998) also emphasized that both women living alone (especially the elderly) and those raising young and slightly older children without a spouse in the challenging conditions of a preindustrial city held a socioeconomic position that was very different from that of their married neighbors. The historical analysis of singlehood has also been widely discussed outside Poland. For instance, Anderson (1984) analyzed the social position of spinsters in mid-Victorian Britain and demonstrated that in the mid-nineteenth century in Britain, there was a large number of single and widowed women compared to single and widowed men, which created the so-called ‘spinster problem’, which mainly revolved around difficulties in finding suitable occupations and residential locations for aging single women. Furthermore, in her analysis of letters and diaries of forty Northeastern, white, Protestant, middle-class spinsters, Berend (2000) showed that these women remained single despite the opportunity to marry and that their choice pertained not to the decision to marry or not but to whether they should marry a particular man. Another example of an analysis of spinsterhood in the United Kingdom is a paper by Holden (2005), in which she demonstrated that the status of the spinster was associated with widowhood after the First World War. The above brief indication of historical analyses of single status in the past centuries clearly demonstrates that singlehood is not merely a contemporary phenomenon and that it was present in the past, although the nature and circumstances associated with it definitely differed from the modern concept of singlehood. Since the current book focuses on the psychological aspects of singlehood, there is insufficient room for historical analysis of the phenomenon of living as a single person; however, in line with the view that knowledge about the human past is needed for understanding human development (e. g., Brzezin´ska, 2010), in this section, I intend to briefly summarize the major facts about singlehood in the past centuries that can contribute to a better understanding of contemporary singlehood (see Table 1). As Table 1 shows, in different historical periods of societal development, the prevalence of singlehood, reasons for remaining single and social perception of single people significantly differed. The data provided in Table 1 imply that in traditional societies, remaining single (i. e., remaining outside of collective life) was caused by various external factors beyond people’s control. In turn, in industrial and postindustrial societies, we can observe the decreasing role of ex-

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1) The rising role of personal decision in remain single and living alone after leaving family of origin. 2) Individualization of life careers and transformations of family (loosening of family and marital ties) and marriage, which has become an institution of choice and less stable. 3) Transformations of social organization of life, mainly in the sphere of social security and changes in public awareness.

Major reasons for 1) Staying on the sidelines of society singlehood due to not joining existing social groups; choosing to abandon the collective lifestyle. 1) Remaining single due to situations beyond the control of the person such as expulsion, banishment, escape from persecutors, natural disasters; hope for reincorporation into the system of collective social life

Groups of singles

1) Eremites, shamans, weirdos, changelings, wanderers. 2) Unmarried women and men and widowed women and men.

Industrial societies Industrial society emerged after the Industrial Revolution of the nineteenth century, when the agricultural sector slowly lost its importance and new professions spread rapidly, mainly due to the introduction of new technologies. A rising number of unmarried men and women.

Major traits of societies

Preindustrial (traditional) societies High level of employment in the agricultural sector, low levels of education and undeveloped technology.

1) An increasing number of people in the postproductive age who are aging alone. 2) Children leaving their families of origin more quickly. 3) Significant decline in the strength of family ties in the large family that has become a social object that could be chosen, as other small groups are. 4) Disintegration of ties between spouses and rapid increase in divorce with the beginning of the twentieth century.

Postindustrial societies Decline in industrial employment and the dominance of the service sector, knowledge treated as capital, new ideas becoming the main source of economic growth, and globalization and automation. Until the 1950s, the main reason for living outside the family was widowhood, divorce or special circumstances, such as illness, disability or homelessness. In the second half of the twentieth century, an increasing percentage of women and men gave up or postponed starting a family.

Table 1. Major Characteristics of Singlehood across Preindustrial, Industrial and Postindustrial Societies

32 Singlehood – what does it mean?

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Preindustrial (traditional) societies Negative evaluation of unmarried people as people who did not achieve the fundamental task of marriage. Differences in social perception and social and economic circumstances depending on whether one was unmarried or widowed and on their gender.

Industrial societies Social perception of single people varied as a function of reasons of remaining single with single people who chose singlehood being more negatively evaluated.

Note. Own elaboration based on Z˙urek (2008) and Kobosko (2021)

Social position of single people

Table 1 (Continued) Postindustrial societies In the mid-1970s, the problem of single people was recognized, and numerous scientific publications began to appear. Transformations in the perception of singles occurred, with the gradual disappearance of the stereotype describing a single person as worthy of pity and sympathy. The terms ‘old maid’ and ‘old bachelor’ were no longer used, and instead of these terms, the concept of single, unmarried people appeared.

Singlehood – is it a sign of our modern world?

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ternal circumstances and the importance of marriage in favor of the enhancing role of personal factors as determinants of single status. This role of choice in contemporary singlehood has been emphasized, for instance, by Bühler and Nikitin (2020), who noted that ‘(…) more and more people report having freely chosen to stay single’ (p. 462). At the same time, although the antecedences of singlehood and its nature have changed throughout history, Table 1 shows that a negative social perception of single individuals has existed over the centuries until today. Specifically, as in the study by Fisher and Sakaluk (2020), single people are still a subject of stigmatization and perceive personal or group discrimination toward their single identity with the same likelihood as toward their sexual orientation or national identity (Fisher & Sakaluk, 2020).

Singlehood – what are the numbers? The presence of single people in past centuries does not preclude the notion that the number of single people is on the rise in the United States of America, Canada, Europe and Asian countries (e. g., Bühler & Nikitin, 2020; Himwan, 2018; Kislev, 2020a; Pepping & MacDonald, 2019). The rising trends of single populations were already noted by Douglas Richard Austrom in 1983 in his book ‘The Consequences of Being Single’, where he noted a dramatic rise in the proportion of single adults. In line with the statistics provided by Kislev (2019) in his book ‘Happy Singlehood: The Rising Acceptance and Celebration of Solo Living’, in major European cities such as Munich, Frankfurt, and Paris, more than 50 percent of households are occupied by singles. In the United States of America, the percentage of single people grew from 22% in 1950 to more than 50% (Kislev, 2019). In turn, almost two-thirds of solo dwellers in Canada are not involved in a serious relationship (Tang et al., 2019). Furthermore, in China, in 2014, more than 60 million households were registered, which reveals an increase from 17 million one-person households in 1982 (Kislev, 2019). Finally, as Kislev (2019) indicated, “Japan is probably the global leader in the rise of singlehood” (p. 15). For instance, in Japan, 60% of unmarried women and 70% of unmarried men aged 18–34 years old were not involved in a romantic relationship (Kislev, 2019). Furthermore, in his book, Kislev (2019) also analyzed the data of the United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, concerning the percentage of single individuals between the ages of 30 and 34 years old from 2010 to 2014. The author indicates that singlehood predominantly pertains to the developed world; however, it also spreads across the globe, which is reflected in the increasing numbers of singles in South American, Middle Eastern, and even African countries (Kislev, 2019). Moreover, in Asian

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countries such as India, South Korea, Vietnam, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Malaysia, more people delay decisions to marry, divorce more frequently and live alone by choice (Kislev, 2019). At the same time, Kislev (2019) highlights that transformations in singlehood patterns can also be observed in conservative and ultraconservative societies in the Middle East (e. g., in Iran). In the analyses concerning the ratios of single people, Kislev (2019) concludes by stating that ‘(…) singles today are the fastest growing relationship demographic in many countries’ (p. 17). However, the ratios of single people cannot be easily determined. This difficulty arises from several circumstances. For instance, the possibility of determining the exact rates of single individuals may be hindered by the differences in the minimal age of participants who were enrolled in the research or, in the case of reutilization of studies that were not aimed at exploring singlehood, the lack of a direct question of whether a person does or does not have a partner (beyond the question of having a spouse (see Adamczyk & Trepanowski, 2023)). In my coauthored book devoted to the happiness of single people in Europe, we attempted to determine the ratios of unmarried single individuals in Europe (Adamczyk & Trepanowski, 2023). Specifically, based on the data collected in the European Social Survey (ESS) over a period of 16 years (2002–2018), we estimated the ratios of single adults in 33 European countries (Adamczyk & Trepanowski, 2023). We determined that Turkey has the lowest percentage of single people (26.60%) across all nine ESS rounds and that Russia has the highest (46.63%). Six countries (Turkey, Iceland, Denmark, Latvia, Finland, Norway) have a range of the percentage of singles from 20% to 29%, while 23 countries beginning from Cyprus to the United Kingdom (from 30% to 39%) fall in the middle range. In turn, four countries (Austria, Ukraine, Lithuania and Russia) have percentages of single people in the highest range (above 40%) (Adamczyk & Trepanowski, 2023). In our book, we also determined that the total percentage of single individuals across all European countries in the period between 2002 and 2018 was 34.73% (Adamczyk & Trepanowski, 2023). In addition, over the 16 years of the ESS, there was an increase in the percentage of single individuals by 3.2 percentage points from 32.04% in 2002 to 35.26% in 2018 (Adamczyk & Trepanowski, 2023). At the same time, in a very recent analysis of the data collected in the ESS, van den Berg and Verbakel (2022) used the ESS data from individuals born between 1930 and 1989 in 30 European countries and showed a rise in the percentage of singlehood after leaving home. Moreover, van den Berg and Verbakel (2022) demonstrated that the increase in singlehood was lower or even absent among men, which means that the general tendency of rising single status occurred predominantly among women. Furthermore, in our paper devoted to the exploration of the links between the ratios of single people in 79 countries participating in the 1981–2022 World

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Singlehood – what does it mean?

Values Survey (Inglehart et al., 2022) and sociodemographic and cultural factors, we also determined the ratios of single individuals (Adamczyk & Trepanowski, 2022). For instance, we found the highest percentage of single individuals aged 20 years old and above (57%) in Haiti, whereas the lowest percentage of single individuals (9%) was in China. When only people aged 30 years old and above were considered, the percentages declined to 53% in Haiti and 3% in China (Adamczyk & Trepanowski, 2022). Finally, in my past studies on singlehood that were performed in Poland, the percentage of single individuals in samples of young adults ranged from 37.43% (Adamczyk & Segrin, 2015a) to 46.40% (Adamczyk, 2017) to 33% (Adamczyk, 2022). In turn, the ratios of single people in studies utilizing North American and European samples, for instance, ranged from 28.70% (Carotta et al., 2022) to 31.20% (MacDonald & Park, 2022) to 51.22% (Park & MacDonald, 2022). These statistics as well as analyses presented in our book (Adamczyk & Trepanowski, 2023) clearly indicate that the ratios of single people differ across countries and may vary depending on the criterion employed to define single people, such as age, marital status, or household arrangement, as well as from baseline differences in the occurrence of singlehood and its duration across countries (van den Berg & Verbakel, 2022).

Singlehood – one or more faces? Most likely, ‘diversity’ and ‘heterogeneity’ are the two best words for depicting single people in the most adequate manner. Single individuals do not constitute a homogeneous social group, and in contrast, they differ in numerous aspects of functioning (e. g., Beckmeyer & Jamison, 2023). First, single people vary in regard to the basic trait involving civil status, and single people involve those who are never-married, divorced and widowed (Gajda, 1987; Stein, 2008; Z˙urek, 2008). Second, single people also vary in regard to age, sexual orientation, education level, income level, place of residence and its arrangement, i. e., living in a oneperson or multi-person household and having or not having children (Stein, 2008). Third, to these features, we may add other factors that have already been mentioned in the previous section of the book – such as reasons for remaining single, desire to have a romantic partner, satisfaction with relationships, and having or not having previous relational experiences. This variety of factors along which single people may differ creates many possible combinations of circumstances, thus determining the unique situation of each single person. As in a kaleidoscope, we saw this diversity in the group of 40 single people participating in the interviews in the current project UMO-2019/34/E/HS6/00164.

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Singlehood – one or more faces?

Even if individuals belonged to the same never-married category, they differed in regard to many other features (see Figure 2). Never-Married Individuals Age range: 20 – 43

Dura$on of singlehood: from six months to always being single

45% lived in a large city, whereas 55% lived in smaller ci$es and villages

52.50% lived in a one-person household, whereas 37.50% lived with family members

1 person had a child, whereas 39 people were childless

42.50% had a M.A degree, whereas 32.50% had graduated from high school

50% had a sa$sfactory financial situa$on, whereas 7.50% faced a very difficult financial situa$on 45% reported good physical health, whereas 15% reported not very good health

52.50% reported good mental health, while 27.50% reported not very good health For 45%, the desire to have a rela$onship was not a top priority. 40% strongly desired to have partner, whereas 15% lacked such desire

Figure 2. Examples of Heterogeneity of Single Individuals Based on the Data Collected with Grant UMO-2019/34/E/HS6/00164

As Figure 2 shows, even the homogeneity of single individuals in terms of civil status (being never-married) does not mean that single people are also homogenous in other life domains and traits. Our sample collected for the grant UMO-2019/34/E/HS6/00164 illustrates that sociodemographic and psychological characteristics may substantially differ among never-married individuals, among whom we may meet younger and older people, those who single for shorter or longer periods, those who reside in large or smaller cities and villages, those who do or do not have a higher education, those who live alone or with relatives, those who have a child or are childless, those who are in a good or a very bad financial situation, those who experience good or bad mental and physical health, and, finally, those who report diverse relational desires and goals ranging from the lack of such desires and goals to very strong relational needs. These examples of differences among never-married single individuals demonstrate the diversity of single people in regard to many areas and vividly illustrate how difficult it is to answer the question ‘Who is a single person’? The above indicated factors as well as gender and the reasons behind remaining single not only are the displays of single people’s heterogeneity but also

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may differentiate the sole experience of singlehood and social perception of single people. For instance, both women and men may remain single; however, a woman’s tasks are traditionally defined in terms of ties with other people, of which marriage is assigned the greatest importance (Mandal, 2004). It is for women, not men, that society sets an age limit beyond which they can be considered an old maid (Zubrzycka, 1993). Indeed, for centuries, it was assumed that every woman wanted to get married, and if she failed to do so, she began to be treated as having some deficits (Duch-Krzystoszek, 1995) or as an ‘unattractive woman’ (Tymicki, 2001). Unlike unmarried women, men who remained unmarried were treated with more leniency, with the recognition that they lived this way, for example, because they have a ”lack of time to start a family or devote themselves to their studies, their homeland” (Duch-Krzystoszek, 1995, p. 176). As vividly expressed by Lahad (2019), singlehood among women has been considered ‘(…) waiting with a ticking clock, an expiration date’ (p. 506). Furthermore, single individuals who chose to be single were perceived as less well-adjusted and more self-centered than single individuals who desired to marry or people who were already married (Osburn & Morris, 2016). Moreover, single individuals who intended to marry were viewed more positively than single individuals who did not, but neither group was evaluated as positively as people in marriages (Osburn & Morris, 2016). This differentiation in the experience of singlehood and its perception as a function of reasons for remaining single not only pertains to contemporary singles but can also be observed in preindustrial and industrial societies, which also negatively evaluated those members of society who chose to remain single (Z˙urek, 2008).

Conclusion Singlehood is not merely a modern phenomenon, although the numbers of single people have been shown to be rising in recent decades. Over the centuries, with the transformations of societies, the prevalence and nature of remaining single have also been changing. The historical and sociodemographic analyses imply the shift from more externally determined single status (as in the case of preindustrial societies) to singlehood, resulting in a greater emphasis on an individual’s choice and decision (as in the case of industrial societies). In addition, with a high degree of confidence, we may claim that over the course of centuries, science and social awareness moved from the usage of terms such as ‘old spinster’ and ‘old bachelor’ to the more commonly used term ‘single’. The considerations presented in this chapter reveal that, when reflecting on singlehood, both scholars and lay people face the need to define single status. As I show, the definition of single status is a challenging task since various factors may

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Conclusion

be employed in determining who is a single person and who is not. When defining single status, both researchers and single people themselves may vary in regard to acknowledgment of age, duration of being single, household arrangement, personal choice, romantic desires and goals, and satisfaction with single status. It is not possible to create and apply one universal definition of singlehood. The understanding of singlehood varies depending on scientific disciplines and period of human history. Regardless of what terms we decide to use in academic or nonacademic debates devoted to people who do not have a lifetime partner/ spouse, we need to be aware that we do not agree in our definitions of singlehood, but we need to explain how we understand employed terms to avoid any misunderstandings. This task is of particular importance due to the extreme heterogeneity that characterizes single people (e. g., Beckmeyer & Jamison, 2023; Girme et al., 2022; Pepping & MacDonald, 2019).

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Determinants of Singlehood ‘(…) there are likely to be multiple pathways to long-term singlehood.’ – Pepping, MacDonald, and Davis (2018)

Reasons – why do people remain single? The issue of reasons for adult singlehood is perhaps one of the most widely investigated and discussed issues in the literature. Therefore, in this chapter, I do not intend to repeat in detail the findings concerning the determinants of singlehood that have been widely elaborated in past papers (e. g., Adamczyk, 2017a, 2021; Palus, 2008; Z˙urek, 2008; Pepping & MacDonald, 2019; Prabhakar, 2011; Pepping et al., 2018; Spreitzer & Riley, 1974; van den Berg & Verbakel, 2022). Instead, I intend to present here the previous knowledge on the determinants of singlehood in light of the recent theoretical propositions and empirical findings and additionally offer some new directions for future research in this area. Before considering the subject of the determinants of singlehood, I would like to make a postulation of not considering single individuals merely through the prism of reasons and outcomes of single status and in isolation from the entire functioning and development of single people. A piecemeal focus on the selected aspects of single life (e. g., reasons and outcomes) may lead to a failure to see that single status can be only one of the aspects of a person’s life and is determined by many factors operating at different levels such as society, biology, and psyche. Therefore, I propose to view singlehood from a broader human development perspective that enables the examination of single status as related to other areas of development and psychosocial activity, as well as the complexity and multiplicity of its antecedents and consequences, which go beyond solely relationship and marital status per se. My postulation relies on the proposition of the view of human development provided by the Polish human development psychologist – Prof. Anna W. Brzezin´ska (2010). Based on Brzezin´ska’s (2010) conceptualization of human development, I would like to encourage the application of a similar approach in

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analyzing singlehood. This proposition relying on Brzezin´ska’s (2010) view of human development has been graphically presented in Figure 3.

POLIS

EXTERNAL ENVIRONMENT

EXTERNAL ENVIRONMENT

PSYCHE

SOMA

Figure 3. Three Spheres of Human Functioning That Determine Human Behavior and Are Related to External and Internal Environments. Note. Own elaboration based on Brzezin´ska (2010)

Brzezin´ska (2010) indicated (see Figure 3) that human functioning (and therefore also the functioning of single people) can be conceptualized as encompassing three areas: the psyche, soma, and polis. These jointly determine human behavior and are linked by mutual, bilateral relations with the external environment and the internal environment (genetic equipment) Brzezin´ska (2010). In the area of polis, humans as social beings are subjected to social expectations and requirements and need to gain skills to meet these expectations and requirements, which can be, however, mastered only in line with the possibilities determined by internal resources (Brzezin´ska, 2010). The domain of social and intimate relationships is subjected to cultural norms that determine which relationships may be a source of important social provisions and which relationships or features of relationships are considered essential in people’s lives (Diener et al., 2000; Heu et al., 2021; Heu, Hansen, van Zomeren, Levy, et al., 2021). As a result, social norms defining what type of social relationships (e. g., marriage) should be important for people in a given society may affect people’s subjective well-being (e. g., Wadsworth, 2016), experienced loneliness (e. g., Heu et al., 2021; Heu, Hansen, van Zomeren, Levy, et al., 2021; Yum, 2003) and social support

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(Goodwin & Giles, 2003; Ishii et al., 2017). For instance, in our own analyses (Adamczyk & Łys´, 2022), we determined how culture factors captured in terms of six Hofstede cultural dimensions affect the experience of loneliness and social support of single and partnered individuals. Specifically, we utilized the data collected in the COVIDiSTRESS Global Survey (Yamada et al., 2021) and the COVIDiSTRESS Global Survey – Round II, which was performed in the summer of 2021 and was a continuation and extension of the COVIDiSTRESS Global Survey (Blackburn et al., 2022). Using the data from 111 447 participants, we were able to demonstrate that two dimensions of Hofstede national culture – masculinity and long-term orientation – altered the connections among relationship status, loneliness, and social support. In general, loneliness displayed inconsistent patterns of associations; however, lower masculinity and lower long-term orientation were congruently related to higher social support (Adamczyk & Łys´, 2022). The area of polis in reference to single individuals may encompass social expectations concerning the expectation of finding a partner and marrying at a certain age. Indeed, as we have already shown in the first chapter, throughout history, societies expected their members to follow the traditional life path involving marriage and family, and resignation from the achievement of these fundamental forms of collective life was met with the negative evaluation of single people as deviating from the traditional path of life (DePaulo & Morris, 2005; Girme et al., 2022; Greitemeyer, 2009; Kuklo, 1998; Osburn & Morris, 2016; Z˙urek, 2008). Furthermore, social expectations may also include a specific age at which individuals should achieve the goal of being married (e. g., Bergström et al., 2019; Byrne, 2000; Kaiser & Kashy, 2005; Kislev, 2018, 2020a), and these expectations may also be based on religious beliefs since certain religions may strongly value marriage and family (see Lianda & Himwan, 2022). Therefore, the explicit or implicit social expectations formulated by society and/or members of family/ friends may influence single individuals. At the same time, the behaviors of single individuals can reciprocally influence society, for instance, by challenging the assumptions of ‘The Ideology of Marriage and Family’ (DePaulo & Morris, 2005) or ‘the committed relationship ideology’ (Day, 2016), showing the possibility of leading an alternative life path outside of marriage or informal relationships. In the area of soma, humans are subjected to the pressure of natural biological needs (Brzezin´ska, 2010). From the evolutionary perspective, “intimate relationships in particular are implicated in the mechanism of evolution, and fitness is affected directly or indirectly by the ways human mates attract and select one another (…)” (Bradbury & Karney, 2010, p. 14). In other words, due to shared pressures and common biology, all humans are capable of initiating and maintaining intimate relationships (Bradbury & Karney, 2010), and single individuals

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are no exception. However, this universal capacity for intimacy is not invariable, and its experience and expression can be modified by sociocultural and historical factors (Bradbury & Karney, 2010, p. 14), as well individual factors. This means that some single people, despite the universal capacity for intimate relationships, may achieve this intimacy (or closeness) in other types of relationships that do not include partners/spouses. Some single people may also lack or experience a strong, low or moderate desire to have a partner (see Kislev, 2020b, 2021; MacDonald & Park, 2022; Park et al., 2022b). Furthermore, biological maturity changes with age and influences how an individual perceives, experiences and evaluates his or her reality and which type of relationships he or she is ready to initiate (Brzezin´ska, 2010). For instance, one’s perception of singlehood may vary as a function of age and the acknowledgement of the decreasing possibilities of finding a partner (Palus, 2010), or, contrary to age, satisfaction with single status is likely to rise (Park et al., 2022b). For instance, the age of 40 years old may be a critical turning point for the well-being of single individuals at which satisfaction with single status has been demonstrated to increase (Park et al., 2022b). Finally, in the area of psyche, humans endowed with psychic life perceive, evaluate, compare, and undergo what they experience from inside, from their organisms, and from the outside, from the surrounding world, and decide how to behave in a given situation (Brzezin´ska, 2010). All individuals perceive their environment in a certain manner, interpret what they see and undertake various actions that serve, on the one hand, satisfying their needs and, on the other hand, meeting the expectations and requirements of the environment (Brzezin´ska, 2010). Therefore, the expectation of finding a partner/spouse expressed by the members of society or by family members may be perceived by some single individuals in terms of strong pressure to meet this expectation, whereas other single people may not easily succumb to pressure and may satisfy their own relational needs and goals instead of having external expectations. These expectations can be formulated directly and even in legal terms. For instance, as a curiosity, we can provide information that in Poland in the period from January 1, 1946 to January 1, 1973, childless couples and singles (over 21 years old from 1945 to 1956 and over 25 years old from 1956 to 1973) were obliged to pay a higher income tax (Kroniki Dziejów, 2016). This higher income tax for singles was introduced as a response to the large number of unmarried women after World War II (numerous women lost their husbands in the war, while young girls could not find husbands). Thus, the bachelor tax was intended to discourage men from remaining single (Kroniki Dziejów, 2016). Expectations are not always directly displayed, and very often they can be implicit in, for instance, how space and time are organized, which subjects are available and which are not, and how other people with whom an individual is in emotional and task-based relationships treat him or her (Brzezin´ska, 2010). For

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instance, some public places, activities, or products may be organized in favor of coupled individuals rather than single individuals. At the same time, an individual’s behaviors influence the shape of his or her environment and the expectations of him or her that are formulated (Brzezin´ska, 2010). This means that how single people behave and react in response to societal and family messages influences the social view of singlehood and the dynamics of family relationships. The above considerations allow us to view single people’s development and functioning from a broader perspective, showing that single people, much like other people and regardless of their relationship status, are embedded in external and internal contexts and are subjected to influences arising from three different but interconnected areas. Therefore, depending on which area we will focus on (soma, psyche or polis areas), we may see the selected picture of single people, but we need to bear in mind that it is only one of many views of singlehood that we may have. Translating the above claim into the considerations of reasons for singlehood, I would like to emphasize a notion that has thus far been barely articulated in the literature; namely, I highlight that the knowledge and perspectives provided by various disciplines (e. g., sociology, demography, economics, psychology) on the sociodemographic, economic and psychological factors associated with single status are not mutually exclusive. In contrast, I would like to call for a greater integration of the perspectives and approaches represented by different disciplines to increase our chances to gain a more complete and comprehensive picture of singlehood, its determinants, correlates and outcomes. Furthermore, such a multidisciplinary approach to contemporary singlehood would also capture and reflect the reciprocal connections among sociocultural, demographic, economic, and psychological factors that jointly affect the achievement of major developmental tasks (e. g., Heiphetz & Oishi, 2022), as well as being single. Moreover, as we can see in the first chapter (see Table 1), the reasons and perceptions of single individuals have been subjected to historical transformations, and changes in the sociohistorical context of human development in various domains, including the domain of intimate relationships, also affect the phenomenon of singlehood on social and individual levels (e. g., Bühler & Nikitin, 2020).

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The sociodemographic, economic and cultural determinants of singlehood A comprehensive outline of the factors related to the occurrence of singlehood was provided by Kislev (2019) in his book on happy singlehood. Specifically, Kislev (2019) enumerated eight primary mechanisms that contribute to transformations of the institution of marriage (see Figure 4).

Changes in women’s roles

Risk aversion in an age of divorce Economics, consumerism, and capitalism

Demographic changes Status of marriage

Shi#s in religiosity

Immigra$on Urbaniza$on

Popular culture and the media

Figure 4. Eight Mechanisms Underlying The Changes in the Institution of Marriage According to Kislev (2019). Note. Own elaboration based on Kislev (2019)

As Figure 4 shows, the first factor affecting the status of marriage involves demographic changes (Kislev, 2019) that include the following: 1) the declining birth rates all over the world that contribute to rising singlehood by a) delaying marriage since the biological clock ticks only until the first or second child is delivered; b) lowering the severity of divorce when there are fewer children; c) making the raising of one or two children as a single parent less difficult than rearing more children; and d) making it more likely that someone will grow up in a smaller household, which is related to living with smaller household size in the future; 2) the higher life expectancy that contributes to a greater number of older adults who live alone longer; 3) an imbalanced sex ratio in some regions limits the pool of local potential partners and leads to single status. Indeed, the sex ratio may be an important factor associated with relationship formation (Warner et al., 2011); however,

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in our own analyses of the data from the 1981–2022 World Values Survey (Inglehart et al. 2022), we did not observe a connection between the sex ratio and the percentage of single individuals in 79 countries (Adamczyk & Trepanowski, 2022). The second factor enumerated by Kislev (2019) involves the shift in women’s social roles over the twentieth century (see Figure 4), which includes a decline in the pressure exerted on women to marry and become mothers in Western countries. Currently, women have greater opportunities for professional and educational development, and the social and public perception of single women has been altered and become less negative (Kislev, 2019). Finally, modern medical and technological advancements affect women’s decisions in regard to establishing a relationship, marrying and having a family by providing women with chances to have children outside marriage or informal relationships (Kislev, 2019). The third factor indicated by Kislev (2019) involves averting the risk of divorce (see Figure 4). As Kislev (2019) explains, this risk is related to the calculations made by people between the negative consequences of divorce and the not longlasting and striking benefits of marriage. As a result of the calculations of the advantages and disadvantages of marriage and divorce, people may avoid marriage and treat this institution with greater caution (see Figure 4). The fourth factor considered by Kislev (2019) in regard to changes in marriage and therefore in patterns of singlehood is economics (see Figure 4). Since financial stability is recognized in many countries as an important necessary condition of marrying (Edin & Read, 2005), a lack of economic well-being and stability might discourage people from establishing serious relationships (Addo, 2014; Billari & Kohler 2004; van den Berg & Verbakel 2022). This notion has also been supported in our recent analysis showing the positive and medium in magnitude link between the unemployment rate and the ratios of single adults in 79 countries among single men aged 20 years old and above (Adamczyk & Trepanowski, 2022). Our findings obtained through the analysis of the data collected in the 1981–2–022 World Values Survey (Inglehart et al., 2022) suggest that higher rates of unemployment on a national level may be related to increased rates of single men who – because of the lack of full-time employment or lower earnings – may feel discouraged from initiating a relationship, as they cannot serve as a breadwinner and may be less attractive partners on the marital market for women (Adamczyk & Trepanowski, 2022), taking into account the male breadwinner perspective (see Ishizuka, 2018). The fifth factor enumerated by Kislev (2019) involves consumerism and capitalism (see Figure 4). As Kislev (2019) indicates, consumerism means that individuals may predominantly focus on their interests rather than on others’

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interests and thus devaluate traditional values; with increasing individualistic orientation and the pressure of self-actualization, people calculate whether marriage will satisfy their needs and goals. In turn, capitalism has twofold influences on people (Kislev, 2019), i. e., it encompasses the prioritization of personal preferences and privacy and the rising incomes that create the possibilities to live in congruency with one’s values, including resigning from marriage and family in favor of independence and privacy (Gibson-Davis et al., 2005). Our own analysis (Adamczyk & Trepanowski, 2022) provides support for the opportunities offered by rising incomes. Specifically, we showed that higher gross national income (GNI) per capita was related to higher numbers of total singles, both women and men, aged 20 years old and above. This finding implies that possibilities related to higher GNI may be critical for young people who leave their family of origin and run a one-person household (Addo 2014; van den Berg and Verbakel 2022). Thus, when people have more financial sources to be single and live on their own (SALA; single and living alone; Marsh et al. 2007), the rates of young single people may increase. In regard to this fifth factor, Kislev (2019) indicated the role of transformations in the division of labor and the labor market (see Figure 4), which contribute to the occurrence of new flexibility (including geographic flexibility) and opportunities. As a result of these changes, starting a family and forming a serious relationship may hinder career advancement (Kislev, 2019). At the same time, Kislev (2019) highlights that single individuals fuel the market due to their rising needs for flats in which they can live alone as well for other goods. To illustrate this phenomenon, Kislev (2019) refers to American data showing that single individuals use 38% more products, 42% more packaging, 55% more electricity, and 61% more gasoline per capita than people who live in a fourperson family household. Moreover, media targeting toward single people in regard to domains such as housing, dating, and travel has recently intensified (Kislev, 2019). For instance, single people are known to use online websites and mobile applications to satisfy their romantic desires and goals (Adamczyk et al., 2022b; Degen & Kleeberg-Niepage, 2022; Rychłowska-Niesporek, 2020) and are encouraged to use dating technology by marketing promises ensuring that using these services will result in finding a partner with whom an individual may experience “a romantic spark” and “a satisfying and lasting long-term relationship” (Finkel et at., 2012, p. 39). The sixth factor considered by Kislev (2019) involves education (see Figure 4), with higher education being related to resigning from relationship formation due to the pursuit of individual and professional goals. Some individuals, particularly women from the highest social strata and men at the bottom of the social hierarchy, are most at risk of singlehood (Tymicki, 2001), and this trend has been observed for more than 40 years (see Spreitzer & Riley, 1974). In their article

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published in 1974, Spreitzer and Riley refer to a study of women who were scientists and engineers and were six times more likely than men to be single (42% of women versus 7% of men). The impact of education on singlehood and marriage patterns may arise from several circumstances, such as a shortened time on the marriage market due to a longer education path (e. g., Blossfeld & Huinink, 1991), the connection between higher levels of education and values of independence and individualism (Kislev, 2019), and the source of career-marriage conflict, particularly when both partners work (Silberstein, 1992). The fifth factor discussed by Kislev (2019) involves shifts in religiosity (see Figure 4). Kislev (2019) indicates that societies with high religiosity strongly value modesty and traditional values. For instance, concubinage is strongly rejected in the New Testament because the moral ideal proclaimed by Jesus Christ excludes the possibility of polygamous marriage, divorce and remarriage, as well as marital infidelity (see Paz´dzior, 2007). Furthermore, Himawan (2020) suggests that the experience of singlehood may vary as a function of religious affiliation. For instance, among Muslim and non-Muslim single women, Muslim women may particularly strongly perceive single status as a punishment (Himawan, 2020). Kislev (2019) also indicates that nonreligious people are characterized by a greater openness to singlehood, and the enhanced individualism of nonreligious individuals may help to explain the number of never-married and unmarried individuals. Our own analyses of the data collected in the European Social Survey (ESS) demonstrated that across nine ESS rounds in the period 2002–2018, 40. 10% of never-married single individuals reported belonging to a religion or denomination (Adamczyk & Trepanowski, 2023). Our analyses also showed that the lowest percentage of single people who report belonging to a religion or denomination is noted in Czechia (24.70%), whereas the highest percentage of single people who report belonging to a particular religion or denomination was noted in Cyprus (97.70%). The sixth factor indicated by Kislev (2019) involves a broad category of popular culture, media, and social networking (see Figure 4). Specifically, Kislev (2019) enumerated various means of communication, such as television shows (e. g., Seinfeld, Sex and the City, Will and Grace, Ally McBeal, Girls Friends, and The Big Bang Theory), Facebook or Twitter, which by showing lifestyles that are alternatives to marriage and family encourage reflection on traditional values and forms of living. For instance, Clayton and colleagues (2013), by examining a sample of 205 Facebook users aged 18–82 years old, found that a high level of Facebook usage was linked to adverse relationship outcomes, and these links were mediated by Facebook-related conflict and valid for relationships of 3 years or shorter duration. In regard to Facebook usage, my students – Kinga Zawada and Wiktoria Skurzyn´ska (2021) – performed a study on a sample of Polish adults aged 18–36 years old (M = 24.31, SD = 3.35) and found that individuals

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who reported greater Facebook usage also reported lower satisfaction with their current relationship status (i. e., having or not having a partner; Lehmann et al., 2015). The negative impact on relationship outcomes has also been noted among active Twitter users aged 18 to 67 years old who experienced higher Twitterrelated conflict in romantic relationships, which led to infidelity, breakup, and divorce (Clayton, 2014). The seventh factor discussed by Kislev (2019) involves urbanization (see Figure 4). Kislev (2019) indicates that the increasing number of households in cities is strongly related to the rise in singlehood. This pattern of positive connections between the growth of metropolitan areas and the proportion of single individuals was observed by Kislev (2019), particularly in the United States; however, it was also noted in South Asia, East Asia, South America, and other regions. In our own analysis of the data collected in the 1981–2022 World Values Survey (Inglehart et al., 2022), we determined the positive and medium magnitude link between the percentage of people living in urban areas and the rates of single adults; however, this only existed in the group of total singles and single women and men aged 20 years old and above. This association was not observed in the groups of singles aged 30 years old and above (Adamczyk & Trepanowski, 2022). Among other reasons, the impact of urbanization on singlehood arises from the appeal to single people through the offer of greater numbers of smaller apartments, while families require larger apartments (Kislev, 2019), as well as the increased variety of living arrangements accompanied by a general retreat from traditional families and values to more modern family households (Casazza et al., 2015; Fischer, 1975; Kislev, 2019). The last factor discussed by Kislev (2019) involves immigration (see Figure 4), which is considered to contribute to rising singlehood due to the following circumstances: a) immigrants often arrive alone to search for new opportunities for work and need to assimilate into a new culture; b) immigrants are more willing to move into cities than to rural areas since they offer more economic opportunities, and urbanization is related to rising singlehood; c) international immigration waves are often gender imbalanced, which may limit finding a suitable partner; and d) immigrants may have greater freedom in choosing singlehood, as they remain distant from their family and community that may adhere to traditional forms of life, such as marriage (Casazza et al., 2015). The view of factors related to the rise in singlehood proposed by Kislev (2019) is one possible proposition. Another identification of these factors has been proposed by van den Berg and Verbakel (2022). These authors have enumerated the five major factors responsible for the rising numbers of people being single after leaving home. These factors are shown in Figure 5. As Figure 5 shows, the factors enumerated by van den Berg and Verbakel (2022) generally overlap with those mentioned by Kislev (2019). Under the

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The contracep$ve and sexual revolu$on

The Second Demographic Transi$on (SDT)

Rise in singlehood

Educa$onal expansion

Uncertainty on the labor market

Social mul$plier effects

Figure 5. Five Major Factors Leading to a Rise in Singlehood After Leaving Home According to van den Berg and Verbakel (2022). Note. Own elaboration based on van den Berg and Verbakel (2022)

umbrella of the first factor, ‘The Second Demographic Transition’, van den Berg and Verbakel (2022) also indicated the role of changes in family behavior from the 1960s that encompassed the occurrence of cohabitation, the postponement of marriage and parenthood, the rise in childlessness, and a shift from traditional values and dependence on the family toward individualism and self-realization. These authors also emphasized the significance of the contraceptive and sexual revolution (Billari & Liefbroer, 2010; Lesthaeghe, 2010) (the second factor in Figure 5), which created an opportunity to postpone childbearing and fueled the greater acceptance of sex outside of marriage and the greater prevalence of premarital sex (Furstenberg, 2008). The third factor in van den Berg and Verbakel’s (2022) outline involves educational expansion, i. e., an extended age at which individuals complete their education and an increased delay in labor market entry, which results in postponing union formation (Billari & Philipov, 2004). However, our own analysis of the data from the 1981–2022 World Values Survey (Inglehart et al., 2022) did not provide evidence for the connections between the education dimension of the Human Development Index (HDI) measured by the mean of years of schooling for adults aged 25 years old and above and expected years of schooling for children of school entering age and the rates of single adults in 79 countries (Adamczyk & Trepanowski, 2022).

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The fourth factor enumerated by van den Berg and Verbakel (2022) pertain to the increased uncertainty in the labor market, which contributes to delays in family formation. This circumstance was also indicated by Kislev (2019) under the umbrella of the factors termed ‘Economics’. Just to recall, these links between greater uncertainty in labor and family formation changes were reflected in findings obtained in our analysis of the data collected in the 1981–2022 World Values Survey (Inglehart et al., 2022), which showed that higher rates of unemployment were related to higher rates of single men aged 20 years old and above in 79 countries (Adamczyk & Trepanowski, 2022). Finally, the fifth factor outlined by van den Berg and Verbakel (2022) and not enumerated by Kislev (2019) involves so-called social multiplier effects (Billari, 2004). This means that when people see that other individuals live alone and have greater opportunities, infrastructure, and networks to be single, they feel more encouraged to be single (van den Berg & Verbakel, 2022).

Psychological determinants of singlehood In terms of Brzezin´ska’s (2010) previously mentioned conception of human, the category of sociodemographic, economic, cultural and religious factors elaborated in the previous part of the chapter can be identified as belonging to the area of polis. In this part of the chapter, I would like to briefly delve into the determinants of singlehood that belong to the area of psyche in Brzezin´ska’s (2010) terms depicting human development. In general, past research has revealed that the reasons reported by individuals for being single might be classified into three major categories: (1) personal choice, (2) external circumstances, and (3) personal deficits or self-blame. In the first category, people make a personal choice to be single. This choice may, in turn, result from the recognition of the lack of limitations of being in a relationship and the desire for independence and freedom (Austrom & Hanel, 1985; Lewis & Moon, 1997; Palus, 2010; Prabhakar, 2011) as well as high marital expectations, the pursuit of a career, disappointment in love or parental objections to a marital choice (Prabhakar, 2011). Moreover, it has been indicated that this category of single people is currently on the rise (Bühler & Nikitin, 2020; Pepping & MacDonald, 2019). The second category includes external circumstances or “barriers” as reasons for being single (e. g., the lack of an appropriate person with whom to establish a relationship or unreciprocated love) (Frazier et al., 1996; Palus, 2010). Regarding this category, it should also be noted that external circumstances such as the choice of priesthood or choice of life as a nun (Braun-Gałkowska, 2008) and an imbalanced sex ratio in connection with female marriage migration in some

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countries may cause difficulties in finding a spouse for men (Liu et al., 2014). Factors such as financial constraints, the loss of one’s parents, the inability to find a suitable mate in one’s own caste, and health/disability (Prabhakar, 2011) may also determine singlehood. Finally, the third category pertains to personal deficits such as shyness, a sense of being unattractive, low self-esteem, difficulties in maintaining long-term relationships (Austrom & Hanel, 1985; Lewis & Moon, 1997; Palus, 2010) and selfblame (Lewis & Moon, 1997). Specifically, Lewis and Moon (1997, p. 125) used the term “self-blaming explanations” to designate single women’s reasons for being single, which included four categories of factors: (1) physical (e. g., overweight), (2) personality-related (e. g., shyness, lack of social skills), (3) psychological (e. g., selfishness, low self-esteem), and (4) cognitive (e. g., intelligence that is too high or too low). Moreover, Lewis and Moon (1997) emphasized that the single female participants in their study tended to switch between “internalizing and externalizing the blame” (p. 124), i. e., fluctuating between referring to internal factors and external factors as explanations for being single. The exploration of the reasons for being single has often led to the establishment of types of single people. For instance, in my research performed in the scope of my Ph.D. thesis and the published book entitled ‘Wybrane psychologiczne uwarunkowania braku partnera z˙yciowego w okresie wczesnej dorosłos´ci’ [Selected psychological determinants of the lack of a life partner in young adulthood] (Palus, 2010), I identified six major reasons for being single. Based on these reasons, I distinguished six types of single people. Since the results concerning this typology were elaborated in the book published in the Polish language, I will briefly outline here the results that were obtained through the qualitative analysis of data collected in interviews that I performed with 36 single young adults (22 women and 14 men) aged 21–30 years old. The first category, entitled ‘I haven’t met the right person’, included 16 participants (44.40%) who had never been in any relationship, as well as those who had ended relationships. They believed that they had not met the right person who met their expectations and with whom they would like to form a relationship. The participants in this category were less likely to point to personal deficits, such as difficulties in sustaining long-term relationships, as reasons for being single. This group of individuals reported responses similar to those revealed in the study by Frazier et al. (1996), in which those who were single focused mainly on external circumstances or “barriers”, including not meeting a person who would suit them and whom they would suit. This was illustrated by a 27-year-old woman who had never had a partner:

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‘(…) I have some specific patterns and I demand something both from myself and from someone else, so I think I just haven’t found such a person yet, where there would be interest on both sides plus common needs and goals that we would pursue (….)’.

Single young adults in my study not only talked about not meeting the right person but also about their expectations for a long-term relationship in general. This was illustrated by a 21-year-old man who had never been in a relationship, who remarked, ‘(…) Somehow I don’t care about a fleeting acquaintance or some experience, just that there should be one (…).’ The second category, ‘Time to take a breather after a breakup’, included 13.90% of the singles in this study (n = 5). Although individuals in the second category can be considered a subgroup of the first category to some extent, I classified them in a separate category because the theme of ending a relationship and wanting to work through certain issues took center stage in their statements. The participants in this group had ended relationships recently or several years prior and expressed the need to find ‘time to breathe’ to work through certain issues. After a period of painfully felt loss and the belief that loneliness is superior to life in a relationship, there is a period of indifference and calmness, which precedes a time of so-called ‘getting back on one’s feet’ and recovering from negative experiences (Beisert, 1991). With the passage of all these stages of loss, true acceptance of the breakup and the establishment of new, more mature interpersonal contacts become possible (Beisert, 1991). This is how a 28-year-old woman, who had separated from her boyfriend four years prior, described her experience: ‘(…) after the breakup I needed time for myself, I wanted to be alone to recover, rebuild my self-esteem and find out what I wanted’. For many people, the ‘breathing time’ after a relationship ends is immeasurably prolonged due to not meeting the right person with whom they want to build a new relationship. Such experiences were shared, for example, by a 28-year-old man who had ended his 4-year relationship two years prior: ‘(…) after that last relationship, I wanted to give myself time (…), but that period has already extended a bit (…)’. For those in the second category, being single was viewed as a stage between one relationship and the expectation of a new relationship, with this state of waiting or searching for another partner involuntarily turning into a permanent state for some participants. In the literature, the question of the temporariness versus the permanence of single status is considered to be a fundamental issue in the analysis of reasons for being single (Stein, 2008). In my own research, 63% of the participants considered the lack of a life partner to be a temporary situation in their lives, while 33% considered it to be a permanent situation. Similarly, in a study by Darrington and colleagues (2005), almost all of the respondents de-

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scribed the state of singlehood as a temporary condition that eventually leads to marriage. In my study, the perception of singlehood as a temporary state might have been related to the fact that the participants were in the period of early adulthood (the average age in this group was 24.85 years old). Most likely, in a group of older single people, the perspective of viewing a single life as something permanent or temporary would be shaped differently because of the changing so-called potential of life, that is, the anticipated amount of time ahead (Worach-Kordas, 1990). Young adults, by virtue of their considerable life potential, may expect their chances of finding a partner(s) to increase with the passing years. Therefore, many participants expressed hope that the lack of a partner would end at some point, even though this state might last for many years. Although the participants expressed hope that the lack of a partner would be temporary, the analysis of the collected research materials allowed me to conclude at the same time that 40% of women, compared to 21% of men, perceived this situation as permanent due to its prolonged and unchanging nature over multiple years or due to their previous noninvolvement in an intimate relationship. The predominance of women among the participants who considered the lack of a partner to be a permanent situation is not surprising in the context of the fact that for centuries, it had been assumed that every woman wanted to get married, and if she failed to do so, she began to be treated as though she had some deficits (Duch-Krzystoszek, 1995) or as an ‘unattractive woman’ (Tymicki, 2001, p. 78). Indeed, society sets an age limit for women beyond which they can be considered an old maid (Zubrzycka, 1993). Unlike unmarried women, men who remained unmarried were treated with more leniency, with the recognition that they made their life choice for valid reasons such as that they have a ‘lack of time to start a family or devote themselves to their studies or homeland’ (Duch-Krzystoszek, 1995, p. 176). The third category included the same number of participants as the second category (13.90; n = 5) and was termed ‘Shyness hinders me’. This category included those who in their statements pointed to shyness as a reason for not having a partner. This is how one respondent, a 24-year-old woman who had never had a partner, talked about her shyness: ‘(…) shyness prevents me a lot from making contacts at all (…) I am embarrassed by contacts with men. (…) I’m afraid of what someone will think of me or I’m afraid I might not be accepted (…)’. Previous findings have showed that shyness can be an obstacle to normal social functioning and can be associated with withdrawal in interpersonal contacts and difficulties in establishing and maintaining social contacts (e. g., Arygle, 1994). Similarly, in a study by Austrom and Hanel (1985), 23% of singles cited personal deficits, including excessive shyness, as a reason for being single. In addition, in a study by Donnelly and colleagues (2001) on involuntary celibacy,

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89% of men and 77% of women indicated their shyness as a barrier to establishing and maintaining relationships. Although shyness was the dominant thematic thread in the respondents’ statements, it should be noted that another type of personal deficit also emerged in the interviews with young adults as a reason for being single. Specifically, they had a sense of physical unattractiveness and low value compared to those who have partners. Similar experiences were also indicated by participants in the already cited study by Donnelly and colleagues (2001), in which 47% of those who had no sexual experience, 56% of those who had had a sexual partner in the past but were not currently in a relationship, and 9% of those who had not engaged in sexual activity, although involved in a relationship, spoke of their weight, appearance and physical attributes as factors that lowered their attractiveness in the perception of potential partners. It can be assumed that feelings of a lack of physical attractiveness may also translate into the sphere of interpersonal contact with the opposite sex. This finding was confirmed in the words of a 27-year-old woman who had been single for eight years: ‘(…) I think I’m ugly, hopeless, hideous, because no guy likes me, so I’m hopeless’. The fourth category, ‘He or she doesn’t want me’, included four singles (11.10%) who reported as a reason for being single that their interest/affection was not met with reciprocation from the other person. This was illustrated by the statement of a 26-year-old woman who had been single for three years: ‘(…) I met someone with whom I wanted to continue to lead this life, but it didn’t work out (…) he didn’t want to bond’. Additionally, a 27-year-old woman who had been single for eight years stated that ‘(…) all those guys whom I liked so much, however, are not interested in me (…)’. I participants in the fourth category did not adopt a passive attitude of waiting for love in the sphere of relationships with the opposite sex. The stories of young adults revealed that all of them saw themselves as initiating contact with women/ men. This was confirmed in the words of a 26-year-old woman who had been without a partner for three years: ‘(…) I try to seduce, I know how to flirt (…) I was taught that rather concrete proposals come from men, and from women at most flirtation or some seduction’. This active attitude of both men and women in the search for a partner/spouse does not always have the desired effect, which is confirmed precisely by the stories of young adults who had experienced a lack of interest or reciprocation of affection from the other person. In their statements, the participants did not provide reasons for why their affection for the other person was not reciprocated. Thus, the question remains open, but it can be assumed that both factors related to the so-called sociological field of choice, i. e., territorial proximity and similarity of social conditions, and factors related to the psychological field, in which similarity between people and subconscious factors play an important role, were

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at work in this situation (Braun-Galkowska, 2008). This field creates a kind of internal pattern for potential partners, which is often expressed in the statement “He or she is (or is not) my type” (Braun-Galkowska, 2008, p. 92). All of these determinants, working together, determine the selection sieve of people whom a person feels are attractive to him or her (Braun-Galkowska, 2008). The fifth category, ‘I’m a loner type’, included four singles (two women and two men) (11.10%) who pointed to their own choice as the reason for being single. In the most general terms, it can be said that young adults belonging to this type declared that they did not want to be tied to another person. Many adults are single by choice (e. g., Braun-Galkowska, 2008; Bühler & Nikitin, 2020; Pepping & MacDonald, 2019; Pepping et al., 2018) and prefer this lifestyle, but some of them, due to actual or imagined circumstances, do not find a life partner (Lewis & Moon, 1997). As other authors have indicated, in some cases, it is possible to speak of a conscious and voluntary choice to be single due to dedication to an idea, science, art (Braun-Galkowska, 1989; Gajda, 1987), but in most situations, especially among women, this choice is rather partial, as they generally plan to marry, but for various reasons (death of a loved one, abandonment, unrequited love, unfavorable family arrangements, being in an environment where it is difficult to find suitable candidates for a spouse), they do not always succeed (Braun-Galkowska, 1989, 2008). On the other hand, some individuals live alone because of their desire for self-realization and convenience and their unwillingness to take responsibility for others; instead, they invest their time and energy in work and careers (Braun-Galkowska, 2008). However, the reasons listed above were not included in the statements of the young adults participating in my previous investigation. They did not talk about dedication to an idea, science, or art, investments of energy in work and career, or experiences of unrequited love. In their case, the reasons for not having a partner were of a different nature. The lack of need to commit to a relationship may also be related to certain plans for life that have no room for another person, as in the case of a 25-year-old man who had never been in a relationship: ’I’m such a solitary type (…) in the kind of lifestyle I lead, there is no room for someone (…) with whom it would be necessary to share this time somehow’. The decision to be single may also be partly dictated by observations of their parents’ married life and a desire to avoid entering into a relationship that might function similarly. A 27-year-old woman who had never been in a relationship explained that ‘(…) It always seemed tiring to me as I watched my parents, the fact that married life consumes an awful lot of energy (…)’. On the other hand, a reluctance to submit to another person was mentioned by a 28-year-old woman who had been single for four years: ‘(…) when a person is

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alone for a long time, that is, at least I am like that, then later you do not even want to bend too much (…)’. Thus, in the participants’ statements, we can observe a tendency to indicate (1) a lack of need to find a partner and engage in a relationship, (2) an unwillingness to compromise for the sake of another person, or (3) perceptions of marriage and family life as involving many difficulties. This type of statement indicating a lack of need for a partner/partner also appeared in a study by Reynolds and colleagues (2007), in which women, countering the negative evaluation of them by others, claimed that marriage is not what they want. On the one hand, such an attitude protects them from having their single life judged as a failure (for if they wanted to find a partner, they would certainly find one), but at the same time, it exposes them to the risk of being accused of rationalizing their decision (Reynolds et al., 2007). The last category, ‘I work a lot’, included two singles (9.10%) who referred to the excess responsibilities related to work and education as the determinants of not having a partner. In their case, investing additional time and energy in work depleted the pool of free time that could have been devoted to searching for a partner. This was illustrated by the statement of a 25-year-old woman who had been single for seven years: ‘(…) I know why I don’t have a partner now. Because now I’m studying all the time, or I’m flying somewhere, or I’m doing something, and I generally don’t have time’. This type of reason for being single is accentuated in the sociological literature, which indicates that for many women today, it is more important to strive for life independence by getting an education and a job than to look for a life partner (Z˙urek, 2006, 2008). Sociologists consider one of the main reasons for the decline in the number of marriages and the increase in the number of unmarried people to be the difficulty of reconciling work and family responsibilities and the lack of adequate financial, housing and professional conditions needed to create a marriage (Slany, 2001; Z˙urek, 2008). In Western European countries, young adults are expected to achieve economic independence, which, in the case of women, often involves deferring the decision to take on marital and parental roles (Rostowski, 2009). The difficulty of balancing family life and professional life may actually specifically induce women to postpone the decision to engage in a long-term informal relationship or marriage. The significance of these issues was confirmed by the statements of women and men in Grzeszczyk’s (2005) study and in my own research. On the other hand, the question of the direction of the relationship between work and single life naturally arises here: do additional work or education-related responsibilities make it more difficult to find a partner and/or maintain a close relationship or does the lack of a partner prompt people to take on more activities.

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The typology of singles, also based on the data collected in the interviews with 60 singles aged 25–40 years old in reference to the reasons for remaining single, was proposed by the Polish sociologist Julita Czernecka in her book ‘Wielkomiejscy single’ [Singles and the city] (2011/2017). This typology is presented in Figure 6. Typology of singles based on the reasons for being single Uncompromising singles

Happy singles

Tamed singles

Preference of being single rather than being in a casual rela$onship with an unsuitable partner

Being single as a result of the lack of the need to be in a longterm rela$onship

Being single as a normal situa$on to which individuals are accustomed

Roman$c singles

Hurt singles

Being single as a result of wai$ng for a great love

Being single to avoid being hurt again in a rela$onship

Figure 6. Czernecka’s (2011) Typology of Singles Based on the Reasons for Being Single. Note. Own elaboration based on Czernecka (2011)

As Figure 6 shows, Czernecka (2011) distinguished five types of singles based on the major reasons reported by interviewees in response to the question posed to them about their reasons for being single. The first type of singles, termed ‘uncompromising singles’, involves individuals who adhere to the principle ‘it’s better to be single than to be with anyone and anyhow’. These singles often indicated that they were single because they witnessed negative relationships among persons close to them and did not want to replicate these negative models in their lives. This category of singles also included people who had experienced unsuccessful relationships themselves. This group also held very high expectations in regard to a potential partner, and this group admitted that they currently preferred to be single than to be with a random person or to be in a relationship by force. The second type of singles, termed ‘happy singles’, included individuals who were happy and completely accepting of their single life. These individuals did not feel the need to be in a long-term relationship and preferred only acquaintances of a fleeting nature. These singles perceived their single status as a kind of break or rest after serious relationships, as well as an opportunity to develop their own careers and passions. The third type, termed ‘tamed singles’, included individuals who said about themselves that they became accustomed to being single. They had been single for a long time and treated this state as natural to themselves, and they did not

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want to shatter the order in their world or give up their own rituals and daily pleasures in favor of a partner. All emotional needs, a sense of acceptance and help in daily life are provided by their loved ones, which is why they themselves often say that they ‘don’t need anyone’. For this group of singles, living alone is “normal”, while being in a relationship is an “abnormal” state. The fourth type of singles was termed by Czernecka (2011) as ‘romantic singles’ who are waiting for a great love. For instance, they stated that ‘I’m single because I’m still waiting for my ideal’ (Czernecka, 2011, p. 230). These singles were deeply convinced of the existence of their soul mate. This group included people who were most often aged above 30 years old. Some of them were always single and had never been in a serious relationship, whereas other singles broke off previous relationships because their partners did not meet their expectations. What unites these individuals is a strong belief that it is worth waiting for a prince or princess from a fairy tale. The last, fifth type of singles, termed ‘hurt singles’, included individuals who adhered to the principle that ’I’d rather be single than suffer again’ in their lives (Czernecka, 2011, p. 230). Despite strenuous attempts, they failed to establish a lasting relationship, and they had only engaged in unhappy relationships. These individuals did not think about forming another close relationship because they felt unable to trust another person and were convinced that the past situation might repeat itself. Most of these singles choose to be single to protect themselves from further failures of love affairs. Finally, the extended analysis of reasons for being single in connection with the analysis of other aspects of being single among Polish men was elaborated by Paprzycka (2013). Specifically, Paprzycka (2013) analyzed the materials collected in interviews with single men aged 29–40 years old who were holders of higher education in the social sciences (mostly in economics) and sciences (e. g., computer science, chemistry). Some of them had completed additional studies or postgraduate studies. They were employed as senior managers, specialists, and experts mainly in the energy industry, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, entertainment, trade, advertising, and counseling. Most of the respondents worked at corporations, and a few were self-employed. Five respondents had lived completely alone for 1.5 to 3 years, two were single for three to six years, five had been without a partner for longer than six years, and three of them had never been in a steady relationship. Most of the respondents described themselves as singles by choice, and only four were currently looking for a partner. Paprzycka (2013) constructed the typology of single Polish men in reference to the type of choice of this alternative form of marital and family life (voluntary singles and singles by choice), attitude toward being single (satisfied, dissatisfied) and the duration of being single. Table 2 presents Paprzycka’s (2013)

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Temporary, involuntary, dissatisfied singles – Difficulty in finding a suitable partner for a steady relationship – Difficulty or with choosing only one partner – Problems in relationships with women –

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Note. Own elaboration based on Paprzycka (2013)

Financial situation

– Subjective perception of financial situation as unsatisfactory and as not promoting investment in family

Personality features, men- – The need for independence and freedom, need for – The problem of recovering from a failed relationship tal health problems dominance – Avoidance of taking responsibility for another person Experiences in relation– Negative experiences in one’s own relationships and – The breakup of a steady relationship due to partner’s ships (own and other peogreater satisfaction with single status decision – The breakup of relationships of acquaintances ple’s experiences) – Negative experiences of acquaintances after getting married

Reasons for Temporary, voluntary, remaining single satisfied singles Relationships with women – Difficulties in finding a suitable partner for a steady relationship – Increasing demands on women combined with age and the experience of being single Style of life – Convenience – Lifestyle – Orientation toward self-realization and career development – Requirements related to the specifics of professional work or the necessary disposability

Table 2. Reasons for Singlehood among Men In Line with the Paprzycka’s Typology of Single Men

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typology of single men, which includes temporary, voluntary, satisfied singles and temporary, involuntary, dissatisfied singles. As Table 2 shows, Paprzycka (2013) has analyzed the reasons for remaining single in reference to five life domains, i. e., relationships with women, style of life, personality features and mental health problems, own and other people’s experiences in relationships and financial situation. The content presented in Table 2 reveals that not all the aspects of functioning are considered to be equally important in determining single status among these two types of single men. For instance, the issue of lifestyle was not reported by men in the category of temporary, involuntary, dissatisfied singles. In turn, the issue of financial situation was not considered to be a reason for single status among temporary, voluntary, satisfied single men. In addition, it is worth noting that among the typologies of reasons for being single referenced in this chapter, the typology proposed by Paprzycka (2013) is the only typology that includes the issue of financial situation as a determinant of single status. This finding is not surprising since this typology concerns single men, and it may reflect the male breadwinner perspective, which emphasizes the role of men’s employment in family income and posits a solid imperative for men to be good providers (Ishizuka 2018).

New insights into the reasons for being single Evolutionary approach In the domain of singlehood research, in general, we lack comprehensive psychological theories that would explain singlehood. This deficit has been, however, recently partially addressed with two theoretical propositions that also offer insight into the reasons for single status. In 2017, in his article, Apostolu provided an answer to the question ‘Why do people stay single?’ by applying the perspective of evolutionary psychology. In his article, Apostolu (2017) presented the results of interview-based research on a sample of 30 Greek-Cypriots individuals and an open-ended questionnaire answered by a sample of 112 Greek-Cypriots respondents. Based on the results of these two types of studies, Apostolu (2017) identified 76 reasons for staying single. These reasons have been classified into three major categories, i. e., 1) freedom of choice (e. g., ‘I want to be free to do what I want’), 2) constraints (e. g., ‘I experience sexuality-related issues’); and 3) difficulties with relationships (e. g., ‘I am not willing to compromise’). Furthermore, in the evolutionary approach, it is assumed that since attraction and retaining mates and passing genes to future generations presents evolutionary importance (Apostolou et al., 2019), certain mechanisms preventing people from remaining without a mate can be expected to exist (Buss, 2017).

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Therefore, Apostolu (2017) suggests that single status can be paradoxically beneficial for some people. Apostolu (2017) argues that in the case of some individuals, singlehood may be a result of their attempts to increase future mating success or possessing traits that hinder the ability to attract potential partners. Therefore, the period of being single may allow people to increase their fitness and success on the marital market due to the acquisition of various resources that are needed to attract a mate, as well as to alter some traits involved in sexual functioning, flirting, and approaching mates (Apostolou, 2017). In addition, Apostolu (2017) suggested that the reasons for being single may vary across genders, as women face costs related to pregnancy and menopause, and other reproductive strategies are more beneficial for women than for men. Based on Apostolou’s (2017) proposition of viewing singlehood from an evolutionary perspective, Trepanowski and colleagues (2021) replicated and extended Apostolou’s (2017) research procedure in their own multi-study investigation in Polish settings. Specifically, Trepanowski and colleagues (2021) performed interviews with 30 individuals (single, casually dating, or married) to explore the reasons for remaining single or the reasons that might lead to being single in the future; they also conducted an open-format questionnaire in which the participants were asked to enumerate at least five reasons for remaining single. Based on the data collected in the qualitative interviews and open-format questionnaire, 66 reasons for being single were identified among Polish adults and were grouped into broad categories, i. e., 1) freedom of choice (e. g., liking to be independent); 2) psychological difficulties (e. g., the sense of not being attractive to other people); 3) constraints (e. g., the lack of willingness or possibility of having children); and 4) difficulties with relationships (e. g., bad experiences in prior relationships) (Trepanowski et al., 2021). In my other publication (Adamczyk, 2021), I indicated that the evolutionary perspective represents a refreshing venue for singlehood research that also allows for the analysis of singlehood from the perspective of universal mechanisms of mating selection and mating performance. At the same time, I still believe that capturing singlehood from the lens of poor mating performance may enhance the tendency to view singlehood from the ‘pathologizing deficit perspective’ (Jackson, 2018) and to perceive single individuals as possessing several shortcomings that reduce their chances of finding a partner and maintaining a relationship.

Attachment model of long-term singlehood Relatively recently, Pepping and colleagues (2018) and Pepping and MacDonald (2019) outlined an attachment theoretical model of long-term singlehood. In the literature, the issue of the links between attachment and singlehood is not new.

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Although attachment theory is a promising theoretical framework for understanding friendship, marriage, romantic and other human relationships (e. g., Liberska & Suwalska, 2011), research devoted to adult attachment focuses mostly on individuals in romantic relationships, and relatively little research has been performed on adults who are not partnered (Schachner et al., 2008); only a few prior studies have directly investigated the link between attachment and relationship status. Examples of these studies include (1) Kirkpatrick and Hazan’s (1994) study demonstrating that securely attached adults at the time of the initial survey were the most likely to be married and the least likely to be separated or divorced four years later; (2) Bookwala’s (2003) study showing that young adults characterized by a fearful (avoidant) attachment style are less likely to be engaged in a serious romantic relationship; (3) Schachner and colleagues’ (2008) study in which single participants were as likely as coupled ones to exhibit attachment security and rely on attachment figures; (4) Schindler, Fagundes, and Murdock’s (2010) investigation revealing that attachment avoidance, but not anxiety, was predictive of not entering into committed dating relationships; and (5) a study by the principal investigator (Adamczyk & Bookwala, 2013) demonstrating that single participants reported a higher level of worry about being rejected or unloved (anxiety dimension) and lower levels of comfort with closeness and comfort with depending on others (depend dimension). The results of prior studies could be summarized as follows: single individuals have at least somewhat higher attachment insecurity than partnered individuals (Pepping et al., 2018). However, the novel contribution offered by Pepping and colleagues (2018) and Pepping and MacDonald (2019) is in showing how variation in attachments relates to different reasons for remaining single and various mental health outcomes. The authors reviewed direct and indirect empirical evidence that was suggestive of the existence of at least three distinct subgroups of long-term singles, i. e., (1) singlehood due to attachment system deactivation; (2) singlehood due to attachment system hyperactivation; and (3) singlehood as a secure personal choice (Pepping et al., 2018). In the outline of the attachment model of long-term singlehood, Pepping and colleagues (2018) also highlighted some inconsistencies in the results of previous studies in regard to the concrete attachment dimensions that predict singlehood. The authors have therefore argued that long-term singles are a heterogeneous group and that multiple pathways may in fact lead to long-term singlehood. In some instances, singlehood may reflect individuals’ anxiety about relationships (attachment anxiety) or their discomfort with closeness (attachment avoidance). Nevertheless, in other instances, individuals’ singlehood may represent a secure personal choice, whereby attachment needs are met outside of romantic relationships. This recognized heterogeneity of single individuals may, in turn, be used to explain the inconsistencies

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in the literature if certain recruitment methods are biased toward particular subgroups of singles (Pepping et al., 2018). Pepping and colleagues (2018) also outlined the associations between specific attachment orientations and unique patterns of cognitive, affective, and behavioral processes. These associations may thus differentially predict reasons for long-term singlehood and reasons that undermine the potential for intimacy. In regard to these cognitive, affective, and behavioral processes related to specific attachment dimensions, it can be concluded that avoidant attachment may contribute to maladaptive behavioral processes associated with relational instability, lack of interest in potential partners, and engagement in casual, uncommitted sex (Pepping et al., 2018). In turn, anxious individuals’ intense fears of abandonment may result in behaviors that could undermine their interpersonal success, even though they have a strong desire for connection. Furthermore, anxious individuals’ destructive behaviors may be associated with relational instability, a high risk of breakups, and less romantic interest from potential partners (Pepping et al., 2018). Finally, in the case of securely attached individuals, long-term singlehood may not reflect difficulties in relationships but rather represent a secure personal choice whereby attachment needs are met in relationships outside of romantic pair bonds. Securely attached individuals may thus form attachments to people other than romantic partners, and these relationships can successfully meet secure individuals’ attachment needs (Pepping et al., 2018). More recent studies testing the links between attachment and singlehood showed that in a sample of 1 930 participants, higher levels of attachment avoidance and attachment anxiety were related to lower satisfaction with singlehood, although after the researchers controlled for life satisfaction, attachment avoidance was not related to satisfaction with single status (MacDonald & Park, 2021). Moreover, higher attachment avoidance was linked to a weaker desire for a romantic partner, whereas higher attachment anxiety was related to a greater desire for a partner.

Desire to have a romantic partner In this part of the book, I would like to return to analyzing singlehood through the lens of the construct of desire to have a romantic partner. This issue has already been mentioned in the first chapter when I indicated that Hoorn (2000) distinguished four types of singles based on the dimensions of desire vs. the lack of desire to have a partner and attitudes toward singlehood (negative vs. positive). The meaningfulness of the construct of desire to have a romantic partner is also unanimously revealed in the statements of single individuals reported in the

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qualitative studies cited in the part of the chapter ‘Reasons for being single – types of singles’ (Czernecka, 2011; Palus, 2010; Paprzycka, 2013). In other words, single individuals themselves vividly express the role of their romantic desires and goals in reference to their single status. Indeed, ‘Desire for intimate relationships and concern about the status of one’s relationships is a normative human experience’ (Spielmann et al., 2013, p. 1050). This acknowledgment directs us to the considerations of affiliation motives, which have been considered from two approaches, i. e., personality and basic need approaches (Schüler et al., 2008). In line with the personality approach, the implicit affiliation motive (need for affiliation) represents a personality trait that differs among individuals (Schüler et al., 2008), whereas in line with the basic need approach, the implicit affiliation motive (need for relatedness) constitutes a basic, universal and innate human need, and this approach does not concentrate on individual differences (Deci & Ryan 2000). The basic need approach is embedded in the Self-Determination Theory (SDT; Deci & Ryan, 1985), which defines the affiliation motive (need for relatedness) as the desire to feel close and connected to others and to establish a sense of mutual respect and reliance with others (Baumeister & Leary 1995; Deci & Ryan, 2000). The need to belong is a universal and fundamental need, and people may be motivated to maintain meaningful and long-term social connections with others to preserve their physical and psychological well-being (Baumeister & Leary, 1995). The need to belong reflects the importance attached by people to close relationships with friends, partners, and family (Leary et al., 2013). Moreover, people vary in regard to the strength of the desire for acceptance and belonging (Leary et al., 2013). However, what about need or desire to have a romantic partner? Is this need/ desire the same as the need to belong, or is it a domain-specific need to belong? Can people desire to be close and connected, for instance, to friends and family but not want to have a partner/spouse or desire to feel close and connected to a partner/spouse? Perhaps the desire to be in an intimate relationship and have an intimate partner might represent a specific subtype of the general need for relatedness and need for affiliation. This notion appears to be supported by the recent proposition offered by Watkins and Beckmeyer (2020), who distinguished between relationship desire and relationship dismissal constructs. This distinction between relationship desire and dismissal is embedded into the recent acknowledgment made by Park, Impett, Spielmann and colleagues (2021) that the understating of people’s experiences in the domain of romantic relationships appears to include the need “to consider the independent operation of forces that motivate people to approach and avoid a relationship” (p. 442). Watkins and Beckmeyer (2020) distinguished between the relationship desire that reflects the degree to which individuals are “interested in romantic rela-

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tionships and view them as an important component of one’s life” (Watkins & Beckmeyer, 2020, p. 175). In turn, relationship dismissal reflects the extent to which “romantic relationships are seen as more problematic than beneficial and an unimportant part of one’s life” (Watkins & Beckmeyer, 2020, p. 175). It should be emphasized that relationship desire and relationship dismissal appear to constitute separate constructs rather than two polars on a single continuum, which implies the possibility of dialectical thinking about romantic relationships (Watkins & Beckmeyer, 2020), i. e., that both involve the perception of relationships in terms of desirable, satisfying, and essential areas of life, as well as requiring sacrifices and compromises (Kefalas et al., 2011). Furthermore, Watkins and Beckmeyer (2020) demonstrated that relationship desire and dismissal were associated with several romantic experiences. For instance, relationship desire was related to greater happiness with experiences in the area of romantic relationships, satisfaction within current relationships, and a stronger intent to marry and to be involved in a romantic relationship, whereas relationship dismissal was linked to fewer romantic relationships, lower satisfaction within current relationships, and a lower intention to marry or be engaged in romantic relationships (Watkins & Beckmeyer, 2020). The role of relationship desire in various outcomes has also been demonstrated in other recent studies that showed that (a) single individuals who were characterized by low relationship desire were more social and benefited from higher support from their friends (Kislev, 2020); (b) a decrease in desire for a partner was found to be related to increased social satisfaction within one year (Kislev, 2021); (c) lower desire for a partner was associated with higher sexual satisfaction (Park et el., 2021); and (d) lower desire for a romantic partner was related to higher levels of attachment avoidance, whereas stronger desire for a partner was related to higher attachment anxiety (MacDonald & Park, 2021). Finally, in our current project UMO-2019/34/E/HS6/00164, the role of desire to have a romantic partner also emerged. First, in our interviews with 40 single individuals, we observed that single individuals differ in regard to the strength of this desire. Among our 40 interviewees, we noted that 18 single individuals (45%) indicated that they would like to have a romantic partner but that it was not a priority for them at that moment in life; 16 single individuals (40%) reported that they strongly desired to have a romantic partner at the moment; and six individuals (15%) indicated that they did not want to have a romantic partner and that they did not care if they would have a partner in the future. Second, in our quantitative pilot investigation on a sample of 666 single Polish individuals aged 18–56 years old (M = 32.69, SD = 6.90), we determined that the desire to have a romantic partner measured at Time 1 was negatively and strongly related to the decision to remain single at Time 1 (r = -.50, p