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The number of parents living together but not married has tripled.And the number of American adults who have never been married is at a historic high, around 20 percent.The way Americans now couple – or don’t – offers insight into not only evolving views of marriage and family, but into the country’s growing economic, racial, and geographic divides.“Just as marriages are no longer alike, singleness is no longer all alike,” says Stephanie Coontz, director of research and public education at the Council on Contemporary Families.But this seemingly simple demographic explanation belies a huge shift in culture.Particularly for college graduates, this delay in marriage has ushered in a new phase of life that sociologists are calling “emerging adulthood” or, less charitably, “delayed adolescence.” This is a time when people focus on their careers and their own personal fulfillment, sociologists say: They go out to dinner, work late hours, and make close groups of friends that are sometimes dubbed “urban tribes.” And while there has been some hand-wringing about this, with worries about a lack of maturity among young American adults today, a number of scholars who study singles point out that this group is the antidote to another point of cultural anxiety: the decline in community. If your tried-and-true methods of meeting singles are getting stale -- flirting at the gym, going to bars, shmoozing at the dog park -- perhaps it's time for a change of venue.
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