Why do millennials want to be single in a relationship?

While nurturing the thoughts and desires of forever with a lifelong committed partner, many millennials are adopting a new relationship trend; together but single. They want to have all the joys of a committed relationship without giving up their freedom, sense of self and the simplicity of spontaneously making daily decisions that being in a relationship often takes away, or at least diminishes.

In Isabelle Tessier’s essay, I want to be Single – But with You, she describes a relationship she fantasies with a partner that she is single with in a relationship.

“I want to eat with you, want you to make me talk about me and for you to talk about you… I want to imagine the loft of our dreams, knowing that we will probably never move in together… I want to be surprised, for you to make me say: Take your passport; we’re leaving. I want you to have your life, for you decide on a whim to travel for a few weeks… I don’t always want to be invited for your evenings out and I don’t always want to invite you to mine. Then I can tell you about it and hear you tell me about yours the next day. I want something that will be both simple and at the same time not so simple.”

We can derive from the internet response to this article that, clearly a lot of people relate to her ideas. There is an ever-present desire for companionship and togetherness but still wanting the freedom and independence of singlehood.

My friends and I have often discussed both, times when we wanted singlehood while in a relationship, and when we wanted companionship while single. We also have discussed times when we wanted a relationship for its perks of commitment but still wanted our freedom in singlehood at the same time! Is being single together the solution to this need? Or is this just a classic case of wanting your cake and eating it too?

It is with no doubt that this type of relationship has fewer demands as far as conventional relationship goals. However, it should leave both parties in this relationship satisfied, as long as there is a mutual understanding of the nature in which the relationship will work from the onset. While this type of relationship is not conventional and does not conform to societal norms, it obviously has its perks and mishaps. And while many millennials are opting for this type of relationship, it is not exempt from heartbreak. Who makes the rules; what happens when one party starts wanting more; what if one party goes too far; what if someone gets hurt?

Is this a need that is fueled with the ever-rising desire of alone time? Is this trend arising from the regrets of less self-exploration and the road not taken in singlehood before marriage?

With our ever-changing world, it is clear that much is still to be explored and discussed when it comes to romantic relationships. But for now, let’s keep our minds and hearts open. Each to their own!


Image source: Mira Images

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  • Interesting thought. I think you can sort of have both depending on the relationship. You can still be your own person and ‘not always get invited to their night out’. At the end of the day like you said, to each his own!

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    • Yes, I do agree. You can work out a pattern that works for both parties.

  • Lade

    I totally get this..but i guess it all boils down to humans never being satisfied because the grass always seems greener at the other side.


  • Naz

    After the ‘fall in love stage’ and ‘getting to know each other phase’ it could and would get boring…. So the need to bring in some spontenouity, alone time and freedom feel.
    In this era of intolerance and easy divorce…. In a relationship and feeling single HELPS!!!!

  • Maory

    so true article. Nowadays its obvious that Millenians do want both.