According to a recent study from Yahoo! Personals, released last month, a significant number of singles are unhappier about being single this year than last year. In fact, out of 11,000 respondents in the second annual "Singles Voice" survey, 66 percent of singles admitted they are unhappy being single and nearly 80 percent admitted they are "single but seriously looking." This represents a sharp increase from last year's survey, which revealed that 51 percent of women and 48 percent of men were happy being single.
The best part about being single is the freedom that comes with making their own schedules, according to 42 percent of respondents, which is up from only 23 percent last year. Still, Sandra Micek, director of marketing for Yahoo! Personals, suggests that terrorism and national security fears may be influencing singles to think more seriously about relationships and family.
"Things that happen in society have a way of seeping in and upsetting people on a number of specific levels," says Stephen Bertman, a futurist and author of
Hyperculture: The Human Cost of Speed
. He maintains that many factors ranging from current events to television shows can influence happiness.
Yes, television shows. Perhaps another significant blow to the singles community is the discontinuation, this year, of such popular television shows as
Sex and the City
. These shows spoke directly to singles, Micek says. "People got a lot of enjoyment out of shows like that. If anything, those shows are pointing out that [singles'] issues were always there but never brought to the forefront," she explains. In fact, Yahoo! Personals conducted a separate survey of
Sex and the City
viewers toward the end of the show's 7-year history, and asked how the show has affected their dating lives. More than 25 percent of single women, the survey states, related to Miranda's skepticism and are thankful she's made being vulnerable okay. Additionally, Samantha inspires nearly one-third of men surveyed, because she has the dating veracity of an 18-year-old. But now these revered characters can only be seen by fans in re-runs.
Some demographic data on these online singles may provide further insight into their unhappiness. For instance, the largest group of people using singles Web sites is not the Internet-savvy 20--somethings. In fact, older Generation Xers and Late Boomers (35-to 49-year-olds), who are perhaps more marriage-minded, are the most active subscribers to Yahoo! Personals, Micek says. This is consistent with a Nielsen NetRatings report, released in June 2004, that tracks online dating sites such as Yahoo! Personals, Match.com, and smaller competitors such as MatchNet (owners of AmericanSingles, JDate and others), eHarmony and Lavalife. According to Nielsen, 41 percent of subscribers are between 35 and 49 years old, 23 percent are over 50 years old, 16 percent are between 25 and 34 years old, and only 14 percent are 24 years old and younger. "People in their younger 20's are just out of college and tend to have less disposable income. People in their 30's spend less time in their social circles, which are probably not as strong as they were [when they were younger]. Their networks change. And, you can only date friends and friends of friends for so long," Micek says.