http://news.excite.com/news/r/000606/16/life-marriage UPDATE 1-Young Americans want sex, no weddings-study Updated 4:49 PM ET June 6, 2000 By Patrick Rizzo NEW YORK, (Reuters) - Romance and marriage are out while casual sex and low-commitment relationships are in among young Americans, researchers said Tuesday. A study by Rutgers University's National Marriage Project found that young men and women in their twenties, unlike generations before them, aren't interested in finding marriage partners when they date. Instead, as the study's title suggests, they are more concerned with "Sex Without Strings, Relationships Without Rings." "Today's singles scene is not oriented toward marriage, nor is it dedicated to romantic love as it has been in the past," said David Popenoe, co-director of the National Marriage Project and a sociology professor at Rutgers in New Jersey. To be sure, young Americans today did not invent the concept of "free love," such as existed during the 1960s. The difference, researchers said, is that young people today are more concerned with economic and sexual self-gratification than past generations. "They don't really have pictures in their minds that the road they are walking along leads to having a family," said Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, co-author of the report with Popenoe, in a phone interview. The study gathered together "focus groups" of unmarried men and women age 21 to 29, in five major metropolitan areas -- northern New Jersey, Atlanta, Dallas, Chicago and Los Angeles. Most of the participants had some education beyond high school but not college degrees. The study was part of the project's second annual report on the social health of marriage in the United States, "The State of Our Unions 2000." Young people in America today, the study said, are more concerned with having fun and making money and less focused on forming lasting relationships that lead to marriage and raising a family. The report said that young Americans: + favor living together as a try-out for marriage or as an alternative to marriage + believe sex is for fun and has no strings attached + have a fear of divorce + see marriage (and divorce) as a potential economic liability. Oddly, however, most of the young men and women who participated in the study expected some day to meet and marry somebody who fulfilled their emotional and spiritual needs. The problem, researchers said, is that their current mercenary mating habits do not easily lead to the fulfillment of that goal. "There is this more calculated approach," said Whitehead. Whitehead said the men and women in the study, because of the high incidence of divorce among their parents, did not count on having lasting relationships with each other. Instead, they focused more on themselves. "There is a self-protective kind of response to what they see as the high incidence of divorce," she said. One result of all this, the study said, is that many more young women see single motherhood, which was once taboo, as a viable option. While the men and women in the study shared similar mating habits and goals in their early twenties, as the late twenties approached women much more than men wanted a committed relationship. But women also became more disenchanted with the pool of prospective partners and the likelihood of finding a mate. Nearly half of the women in the study said they considered unwed motherhood a socially acceptable option if they could not find and marry the right man by their late thirties. "We may be seeing a massive change that would mean that romantic love and courtship might be giving way to something altogether new. Or we may be in a period of cultural cluelessness," Whitehead said. "Most societies have had a script and young adults have been guided through that script. And now the script is being so radically revised that nobody knows what it is anymore. Or people have torn it up," she said.
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