Specialists in the field of psychotherapy have researched celibacy as a transitional stage in a person’s life stages, relational or marital, a demographic indicator. Globally, celibacy has gained momentum in the last decade. More and more people are staying or deciding to be single. Studies show that singleness is tending to become a phenomenon that is more of an identity. While at the beginning of the industrialisation era about 25% of the population was not in a relationship, today the share is half, more noticeable in big cities.
Celibacy, which not long ago was associated with a subclass of another social status, such as single, divorced, widowed, has now become a trend. The perspectives of theoretical and practical approaches to different types of therapy in recent years have predominantly focused on couples or families. In particular, the values and interests of the couple have been studied and reported, to the detriment of single people, who tend to be exposed to judgment from a social perspective.
When talking about single people, i.e. those not constantly involved in a long-term relationship, the deficits of such an existence (loneliness, lack of affection, lack of constant love, social and/or financial hardship, etc.) are more likely to be discussed. On the other hand, also as a perception of singleness, these people are “envied” for their so-called freedom to enter or leave casual relationships and for more personal time.
People who choose celibacy do so either perfectly consciously or constrained by certain circumstances, explains Valentina Simon, a systemic psychotherapist for couples and families:
From the point of view of single people, life can be rich psychologically and emotionally, but also in terms of freedom and autonomy. Loneliness can be savoury rather than frightening, and family, intimacy and love spill over into a wider area than in a nuclear family.
Most studies have focused on explaining the decision of singleness and how living alone affects each person. More recent studies show us that more people prefer to be single, on their own with personal goals involving profession, affiliation to one or more profile groups, and developing patterns and types of outlook and thinking about life that correspond to the choice made.
In 1975-1978, a researcher named Stein distinctly categorized voluntary versus involuntary celibacy. In 2020, another study found that those with a low desire for a partner have a higher degree of social satisfaction and value friendships more than those in stable romantic relationships. This suggests that those who have accepted their situation experience greater satisfaction from social activities and therefore friendship relationships are preferable to a potential partner. Friendship relationships can also be a source of emotional experiences, as well as financial or material support if needed.
In psychological research, celibacy is associated with the support network of friends or family. Singles behave in such a network as “nodes” linking friends or relatives.
It has also been observed that single people tend to be more involved in volunteering, which sometimes avoids the stigma of being seen as selfish. Other aspects that derive from living alone is that these people are more sexually satisfying without necessarily having such contacts more often, and sometimes they may be more engaged in work tasks, either because they depend on it as a source of income or because they need the challenge. On the other hand, the divorced and widowed tend to become more materialistic after such milestones.
In conclusion we can say that living alone is a newly acquired status rather than a derivative of another social status such as marriage or cohabitation. It has evolved as a choice in itself and is often correlated with increased opportunity related to living and succeeding in life.