Inside the Mind of the Modern American Single

Feb 19, 2014 • Culture, Lifestyle

Singles in America 2013 survey from

For the past four years, the dating site has been conducting a survey to keep its hand on the pulse of the American single. In 2013, they teamed up with ResearchNow to get the skinny from 5,329 singles. Everyone’s reported on this already, but they all seemed obsessed with how people apparently all want to fuck at 10 o’clock at night and how Android users seem to have more sex. These are probably the least interesting things about this survey. Let me show you the rest. You’re going to like it.

Ninety-two percent of the men surveyed said they’d feel comfortable if a woman asked them out — in fact, only 25 percent of men want to plan the first date themselves. More myth-busters? You asked for it: 100 percent of the women asked said that they want to be with someone who respects them, and most men say they’re not only not intimidated by a woman who is more educated and has a better job, but that they’d love to date her. Can we all just kill the “nice guys finish last” and “guys are intimidated by successful women” conversations in a roaring fire now? Thanks.

Technology use is fascinating. You probably don’t need a survey to tell you that 60 percent of people admitted that they check their phones during dates even though they themselves think it’s horribly rude to do so. You need to stop doing that. Seriously. Airplane mode. Missing two hours of Twitter isn’t going to kill you.

Twenty-nine percent of singles use video chat (the cost of dating has decreased and while the survey doesn’t give you hard numbers for that, I’d bet that the use of Skype, Facetime and Hangouts has reduced the cost by quite a bit).

Singles today also overwhelmingly prefer emojis to the abbreviations we so lovingly festooned on Usenet (sigh — kids these days). If you have no idea how to emoji your flirting, here’s what I learned while sexting with emoji. Whatever you do, just don’t do that. And don’t over-text, either — both men and women agree that it’s unattractive when people send a second text before they receive a response for the first.

But beware embracing the wonders of technology without getting a sense for the other person! While 76 percent of men seem to love random sexy photos, 75 percent of women pretty much see the dick pic as a foreplay foul. Luckily for you, I’ve a guide that can help you incorporate sexy pics into your texting without getting benched so early in the season. You’re welcome.

You know what no-no is right up there with being rude to the wait staff? Venting on social media. Yeah, that obliquely passive-aggressive whinge-festing has got to go. Forever. No, really. It makes you sound like you’re 16 and never left LiveJournal. What’s more, 84 percent of women and 80 percent of men think that chronicling emotional drama or oversharing on a social network is the best way to get single and stay that way.

And, hey, if you’ve ever wondered if people have “rules” for when to have sex, here’s an interesting factoid: men surveyed seemed to put a lot of emphasis on the number of a date when considering escalating the physical intimacy and attributed significance to the third, the fifth and the tenth in particular. Women, meanwhile, answered that they escalate sexually based on the relationship milestones that have been reached such as commitment, exclusivity, etc.

Eighty-nine percent of singles believe in “together forever” — though only 53 percent of them actually want to get married. Those who do, though, want to do it for the “right” reasons. Only 14 percent of those surveyed consider financial security to be a good reason to marry. Instead, 86 percent placed the emphasis on intimacy — being able to share a life with someone who respects them, who is trustworthy and who makes them laugh. More than ever singles are willing to marry people of different ethnic backgrounds and religions.

In a world of growing mobility and alienation, the power of marrying the right person from the right tribe with the right attributes is losing its hold. Far more important is banding together with someone who gets you and who’ll have your back.

The side effect is what appears to be a growing disdain for anything that doesn’t reflect the super-connected model: commuter marriages, open marriages, separate bedrooms are anathema. No word on how views on cheating are changing as a result — or whether polyamory is double the connectedness or a threat to the couple. Here’s hoping the next survey includes this — along with some animated gifs.

EDITED TO ADD: With regard to likelihood of interfaith marriages, Facebook recently released some stats which seem to suggest that while more couples are dating and marrying outside their faiths, the percentage remains fairly low and that these percentages are a lot lower in more culturally diverse places than in places that are less so.