Happily Unmarried

Dorian Solot is executive director of The Alternatives to Marriage Project, a non-profit organization that advocates for fair treatment of unmarried people.

She and her partner, Marshall Miller, have been in a committed relationship for nine years. Their book, Unmarried to Each Other: The Essential Guide to Living Together and Staying Together was published in 2002. Solot spoke with us about the growing appeal of the unmarried movement among Americans.

Q:  Is there a trend showing that a growing number of men and women are choosing to stay single?

A:  It's true that the percentage of Americans who aren't married has been increasing since about 1960, but the rate of "singlehood" is by no means unprecedented. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, a higher percentage of women are unmarried (48 percent) than men (44 percent). Most unmarried people would like to be married, but haven't found the right person yet, or know that the time isn't right. Many others are happily single, or in long-term unmarried relationships. People are delaying marriage more, but the change isn't as dramatic as most people think. The average age at marriage dropped artificially low in the 1950s and 1960s — men were marrying at 23, and women at 20. In 1998, it was only slightly higher, 27 for men and 25 for women.

See the next page for more Q&A.