With Valentines Day around the corner, many single people feel pressure to find a significant other. However, others are starting to see the holiday not just as a chance to celebrate their romantic life, but rather, as a chance to treat themselves instead.
In a report of social trends, a record amount of young adults reported being single, with an increased desire to settle down later or never marry (Wang & Parker, 2014). In fact, 67% of people ages 18-29 had priorities other than marriage and having children. Similarly, 32% of unmarried adults said they are unsure about ever getting married and 13% were completely sure they never want to. So what’s with this shift in life goals and directions? Well, there may be some science-backed advantages to being single.
In recent years more and more people are becoming aware of the psychological benefits of genuine attachment outside the realm of marriage. For example, the bond between parents and children is just as important in regards to attachment and loneliness as whether or not you are married. It’s crucial to not let negative associations of singledom cloud the many benefits of solitude. Here are 4 reasons to embrace being single!
Not having a significant other means you have more time to get to know yourself and figure out who you really are. Do you ever feel like you need a rebound after a breakup? According to science, DON’T! Repetition compulsion is a psychological phenomenon where being hurt in the past causes us to want to jump into new relationships with the wrong people in order to subconsciously ease the pain (Kitron, 2003). The term was coined by Sigmund Freud in 1914 but has vast modern research and interpretations. For example, in a study of 92 undergraduate students who recently experienced a breakup, the majority of participants reported feeling higher levels of personal growth when choosing to stay single, rather than jumping into another relationship (Tashiro & Frazier, 2003). If you choose to stay single for longer, you’ll actually heal better with the opportunity to learn from your past.
Aside from learning from the past, when we are taken out of typical social norms or environments (for example, being in a relationship), we are also removing the people and objects that confirm and define our identities (Storr, 1989). Being taken out of familiar situations and contexts fosters reconceptualization, self-examination, and coming to terms with change. Use being single as an opportunity to try new places and experiences to find out what you like and what kind of people are best for you!
Lastly, in studies on the differences between singles and married people, researchers found that single people have a much higher sense of self-determination and are more likely to experience continued personal development and growth (Fowers, Lyons, Montel & Shaked, 2001). The same study also found that single people value meaningful work and hobbies in comparison to married people. This linked them to higher levels of self-sufficiency and, in return, decreased feelings of negative emotions. These findings were the opposite for married people.
Single people may also be fitter and healthier than their “taken” counterparts. A recent study found that people who have never been married get the most exercise (Nomaguchi & Bianchi, 2004). What’s more, divorced people also exercised more than married people. The study drew data from the year 2000’s Health Objectives data file conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics.
These statistics are accounted for by time and how much an individual has of it. In general, single people tend to have more time on their hands in comparison to married people and especially those with children. Don’t view this as a bad thing though. More time means more availability for hobbies and in the case of this study- exercise!
The freedom of singlehood is often a prerequisite for creative activity, so much so that it has almost become a cliche. Think of the solo artist unlocking their creative potential in the wilderness. However cliche it may seem though, it is true. Research has shown that adolescents who do not like being alone often lack developed creative talents (Long & Averill, 2003). Many times, succeeding in creative endeavors requires alone time, such as writing poetry in your journal, or hours of practicing your musical instruments
Creativity is essentially the process of forming expressions in ways that are both useful or valuable to yourself or others (Long & Averill, 2003). Being single facilitates creativity by stimulating the imagination and allowing you to see yourself differently through self-transformation (Long & Averill, 2003). The cognitive characteristics associated with being alone, including limited sociality and personal time perspective, offer individuals the opportunity to take advantage of their creative potential.
Maintaining relationships is an important factor in sustaining positive mental health. Being single means you can focus on all your other relationships aside from just the romantic ones. Being married or in a relationship often demands intense emotional involvement that can sometimes detract from other aspects of your life. A study examining past survey data found that single people are more attentive to their friends and family than married people (Gresetl & Sarkisian, 2006). Moreover, they also put more effort into sibling relationships and are more likely to frequently reach out to their social networks. Specifically, 44% of singles are socially involved with their neighbors in comparison to 23% of people in relationships, and 70% of singles actively make time to socialize with their friends as opposed to 25% of married people.
Not only do single people socialize with their friends more, but they also have a more diverse range of close friends (Hampton, Sessions & Her, 2011). In a study reporting on the findings of a 2008 survey on socialization in correction with technology use, researchers did not find that social isolation has increased since 1985 with the rise of smartphones. They did however find a decrease in the diversity and size of core social networks between people. This finding was less true for people who reported being single, suggesting a positive correlation between singledom and abundant friendships!
Whether or not you choose to stay single is up to you, but remember that there is no one blueprint for living a good life. You should be encouraged to live in the way that works best for you! Don’t think about what everyone else is doing, just work on shaping the best life for yourself.
If you find yourself needing a little push into unlocking your full self-realization potential, give digital therapy apps a try! The LIFE Intelligence app is here to act as your personal life coach through all the ups and downs life has to offer. Aside from relationships, LIFE encompasses all aspects of work-life and mental health. Its 9-step program guides you through mental health, self-awareness, goal setting, regret and time management, decision making, stress management, relationships, conflict resolution, and leadership. So you can do and feel your best, whether solo or hitched.
Mission 4 is particularly relevant to the joys of being single as it teaches you how to manage your time and minimize regrets. Single people tend to have more time on their hands, and this time can sometimes feel like more than you know what to do with. Mission 4.3 helps you become aware of how exactly you’re spending your time so you can later learn to arrange and make the most out of it in mission 4.4. Life is short, but you can learn to maximize it!
Gerstel, N., & Sarkisian, N. (2006). Marriage: The good, the bad, and the greedy. Contexts, 5(4), 16-21.
Hampton, K. N., Sessions, L. F., & Her, E. J. (2011). Core networks, social isolation, and new media: How Internet and mobile phone use is related to network size and diversity. Information, Communication & Society, 14(1), 130-155.
Nomaguchi, K. M., & Bianchi, S. M. (2004). Exercise time: Gender differences in the effects of marriage, parenthood, and employment. Journal of Marriage and Family, 66(2), 413-430.
Kitron, D. G. (2003). Repetition compulsion and self‐psychology: Towards a reconciliation. The International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 84(2), 427-441.
Fowers, B. J., Lyons, E., Montel, K. H., & Shaked, N. (2001). Positive illusions about marriage among married and single individuals. Journal of Family Psychology, 15(1), 95.
DePaulo, B. (2017). What no one ever told you about people who are single. TedxTalks.
Tashiro, T. Y., & Frazier, P. (2003). “I’ll never be in a relationship like that again”: Personal growth following romantic relationship breakups. Personal Relationships, 10(1), 113-128.
Long, C. R., & Averill, J. R. (2003). Solitude: An exploration of benefits of being alone. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 33(1), 21-44.
Storr, A. (1989). Solitude: A return to the self. New York: Ballantine.