Half of 'twenty-something' men shun relationships

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The Independent Online

Forget Bridget Jones: the new breed of singleton is male, in his twenties, and prefers to trade in coupledom for unlimited freedom.

Forget Bridget Jones: the new breed of singleton is male, in his twenties, and prefers to trade in coupledom for unlimited freedom.

Research published this week reveals that half of men in their twenties are commitment-phobic. This compares with a decade ago, when only a third of young men stayed single.

Based on interviews with more than 10,000 people, the study by the Gender Institute at the London School of Economics (LSE) dispels the myth that the decline in marriage can be blamed on increasing numbers of couples choosing to live together.

There has also been a slight rise in the number of young women shunning serious relationships - a quarter have never cohabited, compared with under a fifth a decade ago. But the LSE findings show that while women are merely delaying commitment until later in life, increasing numbers of men are not settling down at all.

Roona Simpson, who carried out the study, said one possible reason for the dramatic rise in men rejecting meaningful relationships was the fact there was no longer a stigma attached to people who had not settled down into a long-term union.

"Much of the focus has been on single women and their Sex and the City-type lifestyles, but more research is needed into single men and the sort of people they are," said Ms Simpson, a researcher at the LSE who analysed data provided by the Institute for Social and Economic Research.

"Men have a lot more options these days as to how they live their lives. But this does have wide-reaching implications, such as housing and declining fertility."

Official government figures show that more than a third of British men in their thirties are also classed as single, compared with just over a quarter of women in the same age range.

Singletons may be free to enjoy nag-free lives but men, in particular, could be reducing their chance of a long life. Recent studies have indicated that married men and those in long-term relationships live longer, eat better and are happier than those who live alone. The main reason cited by experts is that their wives take responsibility for their health.

Additional reporting by Aline Nassif

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