How many women are single in America? Data and statistics

To get an idea of the percentage of single women in the US, I looked at this nationally representative survey of unmarried people (including divorced and widowed) from 2012.

When asked about relationships, the survey participants said:

  • I am actively seeking a relationship: 12.7%
  • Not actively looking, but if I met the right person, I would consider it: 46.8%
  • Don’t have time right now: 5.9%
  • Prefer to stay unattached: 15.4%
  • I am currently dating someone: 16.9%
  • Would just like to date lots of people: 2.2%

Unfortunately these are very ambiguous terms and could mean different things to different people. For instance, someone who “would prefer to stay unattached” might also be interested in “dating lots of people.”

But if we take these at face value, the most important statistic is those who are currently dating someone: almost 17%. This means that about 83% of unmarried people are available in some way.

The majority of unmarried people–almost 60%–are either actively seeking a relationship or open to one. And most of the rest–those who prefer to stay unattached and those who would like to date lots of people (total of 17.6%)–seem to be available on some level as well, at least for short term or casual relationships (which can often turn into more serious relationships).

The last group, at 5.9%, say they don’t have time right now for a relationship. But these people are also potential candidates for short term flings or one night stands.

So we can estimate that anywhere from 24% to 83% of unmarried women are available for dating or sex, depending on what a guy is looking for (short term vs. long term, casual vs. exclusive, etc.). And needless to say, even women with boyfriends (that 16.9%) sometimes cheat if they aren’t satisfied or happy with their relationship.

In 2013 according to the Census there were about 35 million unmarried women between age 18 and 50 (about 19.4 million of those were between 18 and 30). So we can apply the above percentages to these populations and get an idea of the number of available women: anywhere between 4.6 million and 30 million depending on your specific age preferences and what you are looking for in dating/ relationships.

In the old days, things were simple: you were either completely single (not dating, kissing or having sex with anyone), or you were in a committed relationship. Today, things are very different. A person may be living independently and have an independent lifestyle, but still going out with or sleeping with people on a regular basis. Another person may only make out with people they date. Or they may date more than one person in simultaneous long term arrangements.

The best way to think about relationships today is on a spectrum, instead of a black-and-white, either/or situation where you are either “single” or “in a relationship.” There are many possible situations aside from total celibacy or committed monogamy.

To me, a real “relationship” starts to happen when your lifestyle and emotions really get affected or tied to the other person.

When you go out with a girl for the first time, make out with her, or even have sex with her, you should generally assume that she is still meeting other guys, making out with them and even sleeping with them, or at least open to it. You should not assume that a girl is only sleeping with you until you specifically discuss exclusivity with her. And it cuts both ways–until this is an exclusive relationship, it is still your prerogative to meet and date other women.

Most women are not interested in juggling multiple guys, even if they want independence or casual sex. One guy is usually enough for them, assuming the sex is enjoyable (and if it’s not, then they probably won’t be with him for very long). But still, you can’t assume anything until you have an open and honest conversation. (Admittedly, this requires a level of honesty and understanding that many people, male or female, do not possess.)

And even then, cheating still happens. In the next post I will look at the data on cheating.


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