Is Single the New Taken?
J.Walter Thompson Intelligence a leading intelligence agency has released its report (1) on the future impacts of individualism. Individualism is reflective of not just being single, but also having the individualist mind set and breaking free of the collective e.g. society.
Biologically we cannot escape those innate urges that drive us towards procreation, after-all to procreate is the very essence of any species. However, evolution is creating a dichotomy in the human species one that pushes us to reach our best self alone and one that continues to drive us to procreate through finding a partner.
Often the primal urges can get in the way of you doing you. Not to mention the cultural norms that suggest women should be housewifeing and men should be providing. So how do we start to get our head around a sense of loss from not having met the one or spawned several offspring and accepting this is replaced by the career, travel and friendships that last a lifetime?
Some of the areas that JWT predict will be affected are:
Family structures; this may include how children may be born later, alongside being born into a non-traditional family setup (including those who want to have children without a partner) and how responsibility is starting to lie equally with each partner.
Finances; singles take pride in their financial freedom, which is directly impacted by not having a family, including living on your own and what indeed you may choose to spend your money on e.g. less Next sofa cushions and more real-life endeavours.
Travel; more singletons are being able to fall in love with their wanderlust passion and what sort of escapes they are looking for. These won’t be your average trip to Benidorm with TUI holidays, but more upmarket spa retreats in Vietnam, because why not?
Dining; as a singleton; you may be all too familiar with the shocked look in the restaurant when you advise you only require a table for one. As a wine and fine dining connoisseur myself, I feel not making singletons more welcome is a missed opportunity. I have many friends who won’t dine out on their own due to this culture of dining being for two.
Housing; this is a biggy with individualism not only meaning singledom, but also the rise of freelancers and start-ups. The housing market within the UK actively ostracises those who are single (mortgage rates are often more favourable to those in relationships, as are help to buy schemes) and freelance (self-employed income is looked at post tax, employed income is looked at pre-tax), they really need to get ahead of the times.
Older generations; are also set to look phenomenally different with people not having children to sort out care and many living alone, this could be a huge driver for the importance of community.
Work; long gone are the days of your dad who stayed in his stable job for 20 years. We now expect freedom, discretion and react competitively to get what we are worth rather than waiting. This has given rise to more freelancers, permalancers, self-employed folk, start-ups and whatever other names you can think of. Alongside this, we are seeing people flock to coworking spaces to get back their sense of community and camaraderie.
The influx of the individualist is, therefore, bringing with it a whole new set of values and so societal issues requiring change. Tradition is out the window and being you, being independent, being single, changing career, co-habiting, being open sexually and connecting in more ways than ever before should be at the forefront of any business planning.
Analyses of a half-century of data (1960-2011) from 78 nations around the world, found that the popularity of individualist practices grew significantly in this period (1). interestingly there is also plenty of research that suggests marriage on brings fleeting happiness (2). So with all this in mind a few questions:
Why do we still pay a married couples allowance? (not only does this chastise singletons, but also those whom chose to co-habit)
Why do we celebrate marriage? but yet there is no celebration for couples (or singletons) who have persevered for many years without the certificate.
Why do mortgage providers view couples as more stable?
Why do we celebrate with a stag and hen? but never congratulate our independent pals for supporting themselves for all those years?
Individualists and singletons are here to stay and the world needs to adapt, the winds of change are in action, so harness your potential and get ahead of the tidal wave because ten years from now what we have put in today will make all the difference.
Love Becky xx
1 - https://www.jwtintelligence.com/trend-reports/the-single-age
2 - Santos, H. C., Varnum, M. E. W., & Grossmann, I. (2017). Global Increases in Individualism. Psychological Science, 28(9), 1228–1239. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797617700622
3- Stevie C.Y. Yap, Ivana Anusic, Richard E. Lucas, Does personality moderate reaction and adaptation to major life events? Evidence from the British Household Panel Survey, Journal of Research in Personality, Volume 46, Issue 5, 2012, Pages 477-488. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jrp.2012.05.005