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Particularly for college graduates, this delay in marriage has ushered in a new phase of life that sociologists are calling “emerging adulthood” or, less charitably, “delayed adolescence.” This is a time when people focus on their careers and their own personal fulfillment, sociologists say: They go out to dinner, work late hours, and make close groups of friends that are sometimes dubbed “urban tribes.” And while there has been some hand-wringing about this, with worries about a lack of maturity among young American adults today, a number of scholars who study singles point out that this group is the antidote to another point of cultural anxiety: the decline in community.College-educated singles are moving into old downtown buildings and spending money in revitalizing urban centers.“Just as marriages are no longer alike, singleness is no longer all alike,” says Stephanie Coontz, director of research and public education at the Council on Contemporary Families.Understanding the various facets of the new Singles Nation, it turns out, is key to understanding much about America today.And the number of American adults who have never been married is at a historic high, around 20 percent.
(They recently bought a house in Brooklyn together.)“We have the same stupid fights and the same wonderful stuff as in any relationship,” Mr. A female college graduate getting an apartment on her own would have been seen as indecorous.
• • •There is little debate that American adults are far less likely to be married than they were two generations ago.
In 1950, married couples represented 78 percent of households in the United States.
Today, she says, “I am unmarried, unattached, and have no partner.” Still, she says, friends take umbrage when Ms.
Dublin calls herself a single mom, since her ex-husband also cares for their sons.