A few months ago I posted on a French woman’s book about celibacy called, The Art of Sleeping Alone. Today in the Guardian I read a story about the lack of interest Japanese youth have in sex or marriage.
Here are a few of the statistics quoted in the article:
The number of single people in Japan has reached a record high. A survey in 2011 found that 61% of unmarried men and 49% of women aged 18-34 were not in any kind of romantic relationship, a rise of almost 10% from five years earlier. Another study found that a third of people under 30 had never dated at all. A survey earlier this year by the Japan Family Planning Association (JFPA) found that 45% of women aged 16-24 “were not interested in or despised sexual contact“. More than a quarter of men felt the same way. Fewer babies were born here in 2012 than any year on record. Japan’s Institute of Population and Social Security reports an astonishing 90% of young women believe that staying single is “preferable to what they imagine marriage to be like“.
Both men and women said they don’t see the point of love. They don’t believe it can lead anywhere and that relationships have become too hard.
I have been single (never married) for 42 years and celibate for the past 14 years. Given that I never wanted to get married and have children, I can relate to the idea that relationships don’t lead anywhere . . . and that they are hard. Most of the relationships I did have came about because I wanted to be friends with a man I liked, (and he expected the friendship to include sex). A young woman blogger wrote recently about her boyfriend feeling that sex was “an entitlement.” This bothered her. I was thrilled to finally hear a woman talking about this.
Based on my life experience, sex and marriage are overrated; neither are necessary to personal happiness, achievement or fulfillment. If the social pressure to be partnered finally goes away, as is happening in Japan, I think more and more people will choose to be single. I have seen this happening among my friends and their children, and the statistics in the US are showing a growing trend of people living alone.