Does true love exist? A large majority of Americans believe it does, and most say they themselves have experienced true love at some point in their lives, including most men and women. But finding true love may not be easy: less than one in five Americans think most of the people around them have found true love, and many who have experienced it — particularly among women — say it is different from what they expected it to be.
But for those who haven't experienced true love, there is reason to be optimistic: Americans are more likely to have experienced true love the older they get, and most who haven't think it's because they just haven't found true love yet, not because they think true love doesn't exist.
While nearly all Americans believe in true love, the percentage that says they have experienced it is a bit lower. Eighty-six percent of Americans think true love exists, while 67% say they have experienced it themselves.
Large majorities of both men and women say they have experienced it themselves, though women (69%) are slightly more likely to say they have experienced it than men are (64%).
But once you attain true love, it may not be exactly what you anticipated. Half of those who say they found true love at some point in their lives also say it was different from what they expected it to be. This is a bit more likely to be true for women than men.
Younger adults have had the most trouble finding true love — just over half of adults under thirty say they have experienced it. But perseverance may pay off in time: older Americans are more likely to say they have experienced true love in their lives, including three in four seniors aged 65 and older.
A large majority of Americans who are currently married say they have experienced true love (though 15% say they have not). Most Americans who are currently divorced or separated also say they have experienced true love, though they do so in significantly smaller percentages, and they are also more likely to say it was different from what they thought it would be like. Most single Americans who have never been married — who also tend to be younger — say they haven't experienced true love.
Those who look to fiction as a guide to finding true love may be in for a rude awakening. Six in 10 Americans think romance novels and rom-coms make true love seem easier to attain than it really is.
The perception that true love may not be so easy to attain may be evident in what Americans see when they look at other people: just 18% think most of the people in their lives have found true love. Still, a majority of Americans think at least some of them have found true love. Those who say they have experienced true love themselves are more likely to see it in others.
As for the one in three Americans who have never experienced true love, it seems many still hold out hope. When asked why, most said they just hadn't found true love yet, not that they don't think it really existed.
This CBS News/YouGov survey was conducted with a nationally representative sample of 1,980 U.S. adult residents interviewed between January 27-31, 2022. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the U.S. Census American Community Survey and Current Population Survey, as well as to 2020 presidential vote. The margin of error is ±2.4 points.
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