Research varies regarding whether being single makes you a happier person. Your relationship status does not define you or your happiness, and you can thrive as a single person!
While many believe that people are generally happier when in romantic relationships, there is little evidence of that. In fact, some experts suggest that being single can actually improve your life. There are several reasons for this, according to experts. Firstly, relationships can be mentally and emotionally exhausting, and allowing yourself to be single may help you focus on yourself. Secondly, being single forces you to be self-sufficient in the best way possible. Not only that, but nobody is dependent on you either. You only have yourself to be responsible for.
This may sound scary, but it’s a wonderful thing. As a single person, you can be more spontaneous and selfish, and live your life exactly as you wish to. You also have more time to practice self-care, mindfulness and reflection as you develop as a person and learn to enjoy your own company more and more.
Being Single: What the Reserach Says on Happiness
In general, the evidence regarding happiness as a single person is conflicting. A 2008 study showed that single and partnered people reported similar ratings of overall well-being. It was only perceptions by outsiders which differed, as people tended to assume that single people were less happy than those in relationships.
More recently, a 2020 study determined that individuals in long-term marriages had slightly higher well-being at the end of their lives, compared to consistently single individuals and people with a mixed history consisting of various relationships. Still, there’s also evidence that happier people are more likely to get married, meaning the higher well-being of married individuals may not be a sign that this actually results from marriage.
Those who spent most of their lives as singles report equal rates of well-being as those with several relationship histories, including marriages and divorces. Actually, divorce can increase psychological well-being for many people. Research shows that divorced couples generally benefit from ending their marriages, with both ex-partners experiencing increased well-being in the years after their divorce.
Of course, people and their relationships are nuanced. It’s difficult to determine who is happier when partnered and who is happier when single, because each situation is unique and contextual. Experts pointed out that one’s relationship status can hardly predict their happiness because it’s just one small piece of the puzzle. Many people feel stuck in unhappy marriages, while singles can enjoy happy lives full of love and support without romance. If you’re not happy when you’re single, getting into a relationship likely won’t fix that.
Women Are More Likely to be Happier Single
Interestingly, research shows that women are actually more likely to be happier when single than in relationships. Men are comparatively happier when partnered. In her book “All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation”, author Rebecca Traister states that even many psychiatrists have also found that single women are happier than married ones.
Professor Paul Dolan of the London School of Economics reports that unmarried, childless women are the happiest and healthiest population identified in his research. This may be because not only do women commit more physical labor such as cooking and cleaning, but they also put more emotional labor into relationships compared to their male counterparts, in heterosexual relationships.
Women tend to provide the brunt of their partner’s emotional support as well. They more often have strong social support systems, whereas men rely on their wives as their sole confidants. This puts a heavy burden on women, while the men benefit greatly from the relationship.
Tips for Being Single
While there are many studies which point to either singles or partnered individuals being happier, at the end of the day, you are in charge of your own happiness. If you are in a happy relationship, that’s great! If you’re single and looking, remember that it’s much better to be single than to settle for somebody who isn’t right for you. Here are some tips for enjoying your life as a single person.
- Do what you love: Fill your schedule with things that make you feel happy and loved, such as friends and family members, and fulfilling activities and hobbies. If you find you’re struggling to find time to do all the things you’d like to do, you profit from learning how to bullet journal.
- Self-care: Take yourself out or stay in to read or write in your journal. Just make sure to focus on your own growth and happiness on the regular. You can learn how to make journaling a habit, try out or 30 prompts for gratitude journaling, and learn which different types of journals there are that you might enjoy.
- Don’t wait around: Whatever it is that you are waiting to do until you have a partner, do it now! You never know what the future might hold, so prioritize yourself and your goals right now. If you’re struggling to get active, check out our tips on how to get yourself motivated.
- Reach out to friends and family as needed. Remember, there’s no shame in feeling lonely. Everybody gets lonely sometimes, single or not. Use your support system and talk to the people that love you when you are struggling. If you can’t reach out in a specific moment, there are tricks on how to overcome loneliness in the moment, too.
If you’re single and have never felt the urge to fall in love, have sex or be in a relationship, you might be aromatic and/or asexual. Check out our article on the topic to learn more: “Aro” and “Ace”: Understanding the Difference and Relevance
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