Given society is portrayed with marriage and coupledom as ‘the norm’, it seems the reality is rather different. More people in Cornwall, for reasons of non-partnership, divorce, separation and widowhood are now ‘lone’ rather than ‘coupled’.

Yet life is made more difficult for lone individuals.Most things are more expensive for single people, such as single-supplements on holidays, and social life generally is geared up for couples.

Maybe this needs to change. Maybe restaurants, for example, could start including dining spots for ‘single’ or non-coupled people.

In Cornwall, as a percentage of all people, 36.8% have never married, 44.48% are married or in a civil partnership, 2.20% are separated, 10.39% are divorced, and 5.87% are widowed. In neighbouring Torridge, the figures are never married 35.7%, married or civil partnership 46.4%, separated 2.41%, divorced 9.67% and widowed 5.71% (figures from census, 2021). This, despite there being broadly higher numbers of marrieds in rural areas.

So, at any one time, the majority or people are not coupled. Some never have been, and some no longer are. Identities are changing, as people are no longer social outliers in making valid life choices which often embrace single life.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) tells us that the proportion of adults who have never married or been in a civil partnership has increased every decade from 26.3% in 1991 to 37.9% in 2021, whereas the proportion of adults who are married or in a civil partnership (including separated) has fallen from 58.4% in 1991 to 46.9% in 2021, as marriage becomes less of a norm. Interestingly, adults in same-sex marriages and civil partnerships are more likely to be younger, have no religion, and have higher-level qualifications than adults in opposite-sex marriages.

The biggest increase of those never marrying or being in a civil partnership is in the aged 25 to 29 years age group, where the proportion increases from 73.9% in 2011 to 84.2% in 2021, and the increase for the aged 30 to 34 years age group is from 49.2% to 58.9%. The number of people getting married is at the lowest rate on record and the median age of those getting married is increasing. You can find out more here.

Additionally, between 2011 and 2021, the number of widowed adults (3.0 million) has decreased by 6.3%, women who are widowed decreased by 8.3%, but the number of men who are widowed increased by 0.6%.

Moving on to divorce, the proportion of adults who are divorced is similar in 2021 (9.1%) and 2011 (9.0%); the proportion of younger adults who are divorced has decreased, whereas the proportion of older adults has increased.

There is lots more detail of the data here. The real issue remains making changes to reflect the new social variations.