Travel opportunities, dating apps and a loss of faith in religion may explain why many Australians want to delay marriage until their 30s.
A dating expert says sex and money are also likely driving factors.
It comes as new research revealed Australians want to meet their life partner at age 31, get married at 33 and have children at 34.
The survey of more than 2000 Australians also found millennials want to wait even longer to have kids.
The average age they say they want to start a family is 37.
They also think 36 is the ideal age to marry – three years later than the all-generation average of 33.
The survey’s findings come as no surprise to Lisa Portolan, writer and host of the dating and intimacy podcast, Slow Love.
“Attitudes to marriage continue change as younger generations look to explore their sexuality but also different relationship configurations before marriage,” Portolan told The New Daily.
“There are potentially multiple reasons for this shift – from the rise of dating app usage (affording a range of greater, or even infinite, potential partner choices), through to something as pragmatic as the affordability of your own marital home, which makes the idea of living with parents, or flatmates much more attractive.”
Nearly half (45 per cent) of respondents to the survey, conducted by eHarmony, said they believe marriage is less important than it was for previous generations.
According to the research, men are happy to wait until 35 to marry, while women want to tie the knot by 32.
“Many might also point towards the deinstitutionalisation of marriage, or the dethroning of marriage as a critical milestone, with many placing education, careers, home ownership and even children before it,” Portolan said.
“Australians are looking towards experiences more so than ever before, rather than milestones or possessions.”
Millennials weigh in
Melbourne man Zach Miller, 27, said many people his age were disillusioned by the fairytale narrative of marrying young.
“We’re exposed to more life experiences than previous generations, whether it be through social media or wider networks,” he told TND.
“We can see there are different ways to live and it’s not about having a house or kid by a certain age.”
Melbourne 24-year-old James Emery agreed.
“There is a different mindset to experience the world and travel in millennials than their parents and grandparents,” he said.
“It’s a lot easier and more accessible to live anywhere and do anything, so people think they need to ‘live their life’ before getting married.”
However Lucy, a 27-year-old who lives in north-west Tasmania and did not want her surname published, said attitudes toward marriage were likely different in regional and rural areas compared to the big cities.
“I feel like in regional Tasmania, the benchmark marital age is still mid to late 20s,” she said.
“Many people here prioritise marriage and babies at a young age.”
Australia’s declining interest in religion could also help explain why millennials are snubbing marriage, 26-year-old Mike Liberale said.
According to the 2016 census, nearly a third of Australians said they had no religion – an increase of 19 per cent from 2006.
The largest change was between 2011 (22 per cent) and 2016, when an additional 2.2 million Australians reported having no religion.
Dating apps like Tinder and Hinge could also play a role in shaping millennials’ perspective on marriage, Mr Liberale said.
“I think people are jilted by the idea of ‘the one’ when services like dating apps make it too easy to scrutinise people with the knowledge that you could easily meet another partner within days,” he said.
“Whereas in the past, it wasn’t as easy, so people were probably more forgiving of little annoyances in partners, and were more willing to commit to the long run.”