In a 2018 survey of adults in the U.S., only 31% said they thought it was essential to marry in order to live a fulfilling life. The survey was conducted by a university and a newspaper with quite conservative leanings; they probably hoped for results that were very different.
Saying that you think marriage is not essential for a fulfilling life is not the same as saying you don’t want to marry. I’ve been interested in the question of how many unmarried people really do want to marry, and how many want to stay single, for a long time. According to the conventional wisdom, the answer is obvious – just about everyone wants to marry. But is that really true?
I’m going to address that question in two parts. This is the first. I’m going to describe the results of 5 surveys of adults in the U.S. who were not married. In 4 of them, participants were asked if they wanted to get married. In the other, they were asked if they were currently in a committed romantic relationship, and if not, whether they were looking for a romantic partner.