Be Your Own Lover: Singledom and the Self-Care Generation

Are we choosing to be alone?

Is there a correlation between self-care and singledom? Research shows that in 2022 more than half of Americans reported being single, while the global health and wellness market was valued at USD 4,886.70 billion. This begs the question: Are younger generations hyper-focusing on their appearances, leaving room for meaningful relationships and connections? Is the pursuit of appearance-focused self-care the reason more people choose to remain single? What’s the love yourself concept all about?

One could argue that the self-care generation is about more than bubble baths and face masks, though, with rising awareness of mental health challenges and efforts to fight the stigma against them.

We spoke to Aliza Shapiro, LCSW, better known as @therapist_in_nyc, about the impact of self-love, prioritizing wellness in a post-pandemic world, and how the destigmatization of mental health challenges might be leading to singledom by choice.

How has the practice of self-love impacted the way we view relationships? Does the pursuit of wellness lead to more securely-attached relationships? Read on to hear from the experts:

be your own lover

The Impact of Love Yourself or Self-Love

According to U.S. Census Bureau, more than half (52.4%) of Americans are single. When asked why this might be, Shapiro says that this change is due to our evolution as a society.

Social norms around marriage and relationships are evolving,” Shapiro shares. “Women finally have access to equal levels of success in career and educational achievements, and our approach to dating as a whole has changed dramatically with the rise of technology.”

Shapiro also credits the new wave of mental health awareness that promotes self-love and personal growth with helping individuals level up their relationship styles.

“As men and women evolve and learn to love themselves more, they simply are less likely to stay in toxic relationships,” Shapiro says. “That being said, self-love also commonly leads us to find more securely-attached partnerships. As we learn to wholly love ourselves, we seek out partners that will love us in all-encompassing, committed ways too.”

The data shows that this evolution is certainly needed, as research reports that mindfulness and appearance are an equal future prioritization for 30% of millennials. Not only that, but millennials also purchase wellness products and services more frequently than other generations, with the highest average purchase rate over the past six months of any generation. Is this investment in self-care leading to a deeper understanding of the self and subsequently a conscious choice to remain single?

The Pursuit of Self-Sufficiency

It’s no secret that since the 1950s, relationship norms have changed significantly. Shapiro notes that with the introduction of oral contraceptives, women gained freedom not only in reproductive autonomy but also in their capacity to be more intentional about their partners and careers.

“Relationship norms also dramatically evolved as couples began to cohabitate before marriage,” she says. “Pushing the age of marriage farther across the lifespan and for some, raising questions about the importance of marriage at all.”

Shapiro notes that individuals, and especially women, have become more self-sufficient over time. “That is not to say that we have less of a desire to be in healthy, committed relationships,” she shares. “Rather, we have started to realize that both men and women are able to earn, advance in careers, travel, and create meaning in life without the immediate presence of a committed partner.

“Technology also plays a double-edged sword in dating and relationships. The dating pool has opened up, and we now have access to potential partners across the globe. However, the paradox of choice can make it hard to commit to an imperfect relationship (and they all are) knowing that there are so many other options available.”

“Physical and psychological healing is trending,” she says, “and people are feeling seen, understood, and connected. It’s a beautiful thing.”

be your own lover

Wellness in a Post-Pandemic World

Around 50% of U.S. consumers now report wellness as a top priority in their day-to-day lives, a significant rise from 42% in 2020. This provides a stark contrast to the way that 37% of millennials prioritize appearance more than the consumer average of 30%. It seems younger populations are more concerned with their physical appearance, which correlates with the rise of personal care and beauty and the anti-aging wellness sector.

Shapiro credits a post-pandemic world where many of us are navigating the aftereffects of mental health challenges publicly for the first time.

With 1 in 4 U.S. adults struggling with clinical symptoms of anxiety or depression during Covid-19, the stigma around mental health greatly reduced. Shapiro says she has begun to see an overall normalization around wellness, psychology, and self-care discussions.

Shapiro says that social media has slowly started to become a space of wellness, self-love, and healing due to the reduced stigma about mental health. She also notes that therapists have a platform to share advice and research. “Physical and psychological healing is trending,” she says, “and people are feeling seen, understood, and connected. It’s a beautiful thing.”

How to Prioritize Your Own Wellness

It’s important to note that regarding self-care, only 32% of consumers desire additional products to achieve a better appearance, while 37% want products to help them achieve better sleep and mindfulness. This pursuit of mindfulness and non-appearance-based wellness could mark the shift Shapiro is referencing, where the stigma against mental health challenges is slowing down on social media.

When it comes to prioritizing self-care in your own life, Shapiro recommends setting aside time each day to practice in a form that works best for you. She mentions tactics like getting enough sleep, engaging in regular physical activity, going outside daily, and practicing mindfulness.

Is Self-Care an Impediment to Meaningful Relationships?

It’s worth noting that the personal, beauty, and anti-aging sectors still greatly dominate the global health and wellness market, accounting for around 24% market share at $955 billion globally. This starkly contrasts with the mental wellness sector, which generates $131 billion. So while the pursuit of wellness has shifted to internally-focused calibrations, most millennials remain hyper-focused on the external aspects of wellness.

You can find Aliza Shapiro on Instagram as the @therapist_in_nyc.

U.S Census Bureau: America’s Families and Living Arrangements , McKinsey: The US Wellness Market , Precedence Research: Health and Wellness Market, The Global Wellness Institute: The Global Wellness Economy: Looking Beyond COVID , The Global Wellness Institute: Geography of Wellness

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