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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, January 29, 2006

The single files

 •  Join our singles' discussion board
Reader poll: Where do you go to meet other singles?
 •  Hawai'i singles
 •  Outtakes: Inside the Singles Forum

By Catherine E. Toth
Advertiser Staff Writer

Brandon Suyeoka, 28, of Kaimuki, says he enjoys his freedom and is in no rush to find a girlfriend.

REBECCA BREYER | The Honolulu Advertiser

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This is the first of several stories focused on Hawai'i’s singles, with topics stemming from discussions with The Advertiser’s first-ever Singles Forum. If you are interested in participating in our Singles Forum, write to Catherine E. Toth at ctoth@honoluluadvertiser.com.

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By the numbers


Number of Hawai'i residents older than 15 who are single (includes separated, divorced and widowed)


Percent of Hawai'i’s residents older than 15 who are single


Number of Hawai'i residents older than 15 who are divorced


Number of Hawai'i residents older than 15 who have never been married

100 million

Number of unmarried* and single Americans


Percent of Americans older than 15 who are single and unmarried

60 million

Number of Americans older than 15 who have never been married


Estimated U.S. median age at first marriage for women in 2004


Estimated U.S. median age at first marriage for men in 2004

Source: U.S. Census.

*The Census definition of “unmarried” includes all who are not legally married. It may include those who cohabitate, have partners or are widowed.

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In December we asked Hawai'i singles how they felt about living solo. The idea: to set up a sounding board of singles that would generate stories in The Advertiser and help us keep it real.

The response was overwhelming.

Dozens of men and women, ages 24 to 70, replied. There were divorcees and widows, almost-marrieds and perpetual singles.

Our first lesson: There are a lot of hunter-gatherers out there — a number of respondents thought the forum was a hook-up session.

After our first meeting, we learned a lot more: From attitudes in the workplace to the loss of friends to married life, singles — whether content to be an army of one or desperately seeking someone — have a lot on their minds.

Take, for example, Arlina Agbayani, who responded to our call to readers.

Her biggest gripe about being single: getting asked if she's married — and why not.

"There are other things that I do," said the 36-year-old office manager at the state Legislature. "I don't just focus my daily life on finding a mate and procreating."

Finding a husband is somewhere on her list, but not at the top.

"I definitely want the whole family thing, and I totally feel pressured. It's annoying," Agbayani said. "Just because society tells us we should be married at 22, that's not my life. I do my own thing."

Agbayani isn't as alone as she feels.

In Hawai'i, more than 450,000 residents older than 15 are single — meaning they've never been married, or are separated, divorced or widowed. This group makes up 47 percent of the state's over-15 population, according to the U.S. Census.

Looking at the bigger picture, in the United States, there are roughly 100 million single and unmarried Americans, who make up 40 percent of the population.

For the first time, single adults outnumber couples with children as the most common type of household in the U.S., according to figures released last year from the 2000 Census.

More singles than couples men and women waiting to get married — what's the social fabric coming to?

"Marriage used to be a given. Expectations were that we would marry, and social pressure was high," said Tina Tessina, a California-based psychotherapist and author of "The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again." "In today's world, marriage is seen as more of an option, and people don't often realize the importance of companionship until later in life."


The Census breaks down singles into four categories: never been married, separated, widowed and divorced.

Of those, the largest group of Hawai'i residents fall into the never-wed category.

This group makes up 30 percent of the over-15 population.

Glennon Gingo, 45, of Kona, who made time during a visit to O'ahu to take part in our Singles Forum, is among the more than 292,000 Hawai'i residents claiming the never-been-married status.

Being single "just seemed to work out that way," he said.

In his view, age does affect the way people view singlehood, though men aren't as pressured as women to wed.

"I think the older you are, the feeling of others may be that there is something wrong with you," said Gingo, an aquatics consultant and real-estate agent who doesn't feel pressured to settle down. "It's a matter of how comfortable you are with yourself."

Like many singles, Gingo sees the benefits and drawbacks of solo living. He has more time to focus on himself and his interests. But at the same time, he wants someone to enjoy the journey with.

"At times, you would like to share some of the fun that you have with someone," he said.

Jasmine Bigornia, 28, hasn't reached the altar yet, either. But while she feels pressure from family and friends to start a family, most of the urgency comes from within.

"I feel the pressure to let go of my single life and be on the other side of the fence," said Bigornia, who works in accounting and sales. "And it doesn't help that people sort of have an imaginary blueprint in their minds of where they should be and what they should be doing and the deadline for it."

She is actively looking for a partner. She's met guys at clubs and bars but says the dating scene could be improved. And she's been online.

Bigornia is one of an estimated 20 million Americans — or a quarter of all U.S. singles — who visit online dating/personal sites.

Like most Internet daters, Bigornia logs on to find love mostly because it's convenient.

"I'm a workaholic and I don't really have the time to be out there," she said. "I thought it would be a different way to meet people in the Islands without feeling the pressure."

The upside of singlehood for her?

"If anything, it's improving my career," she said. "Being single made me much more focused and ambitious. I've strived to work harder, and it has paid off."


Another growing group of singles are divorcees, who make up about 19 percent of Hawai'i's singles older than 15.

According to a recent AARP survey, 56 percent of single baby boomers — those born from 1946 to 1964 — are separated or divorced from a spouse.

While most don't intend to marry again, according to the AARP survey, about half of older singles are looking for some kind of companionship.

Many single boomers — 41 percent — say not having someone to do things with is the biggest drawback of single life.

"Older singles expect more than previous generations," Tessina said. "Those who are working often regard their careers as primary and relationships secondary. Yes, they want companionship, but they don't necessarily want their relationship to be all-consuming."

After three divorces, Gayle Nakama, 54, of 'Aina Haina, isn't looking for a fourth husband. But that doesn't mean she prefers being alone.

"I will look for someone who will truly let me be me," said Nakama, a legal assistant, office manager and paralegal — for a divorce attorney.

Nakama said she sometimes runs up against prejudices that others attach to being divorced, but she shrugs that off.

She relishes the advantages of being single, including the time she can now spend on furthering her career and being a good mom and grandma.

"If someone sticks a label on you, then it's their loss," Nakama said. "You are who you are, and if they can't accept you as that, too bad for them."

Reach Catherine E. Toth at ctoth@honoluluadvertiser.com.