The single life struggle is real for our generation.
I always imagined that I would have been married by the time I was 24 years old. I assured myself I’d meet the right girl in college whom I’d date for a couple years, and once my subsidy ran dry and we graduated we’d tie the knot. Well, I’m 23 years old today, and it looks like that fantasy is not going to pan out according to my timeline.
My story is similar to many of the millennial generation. The truth is, the nation is seeing a lot of change, including more and more adults staying single longer. In fact, the marriage rates in the U.S. are at an all-time low in a century.
In the 1960s, 72 percent of adults were married, with the average age at 21 for first-time marriages. In the 1990s about 68 percent were married at the average age of 24. These days, the Pew Research Center has found that only 51 percent of American adults are married, and on average we millennials are getting married at the ripe old age of 27.
The causes behind this pattern are still being studied. Researchers are aware that cohabitation before marriage, premarital sex and the divorce rates of married couples are all going up. However, these findings are simply correlational.
Sophomore Rachel Peppel considers this to be an economic problem. “It makes sense because there’s such a bigger demand on [our generation] to focus on schooling and education. The pressure switches to our future job before finding a marriage partner.”
Psychology major Abigail Schaefer thinks the statistics don’t pose a problem. “I think it’s smart to get married later because you’ve had time to fully develop your identity and your prefrontal cortex. However, it is harder on our bodies later in life, because we fought the urge to reproduce when we were younger.”
Young couple Austin Leddy and Sandee Shirokova weighed in as well. Upon learning that the average age of marriage is 27, Austin said, “Twenty-seven may be too late. Your life is basically over by then. I’d say 24 years old is a better age because that is when your life starts out.” Sandee added, “It’s so sad that so many people are single, but it all depends on finding the right person. When I met Austin I was trying to not get along with him, but that didn’t work.”
I’d like to believe most of us are waiting for the right person to be our lifetime partner. College is actually a really short part of our lives, and it is an optimal time to find the right person. You’ll get to meet plenty of people your age who are going through the same chapter of life— what more do you need? But for those of you who are single and worried that leaving college without a mate means your prospects will run thin, don’t freak out.
Our generation is waiting longer for marriage. There will be plenty of singles out there in your same shoes . . . until you’re 27, when apparently your life will end.
Jordan is a senior studying psychology.