Single people have richer social lives and more psychological growth than those who are married, according to a new study which found that individuals who are not in a relationship have a heightened sense of self-determination.
“The preoccupation with the perils of loneliness can obscure the profound benefits of solitude,” said Bella DePaulo from University of California, Santa Barbara in the US who conducted the study based on earlier studies, which according to her have not really focussed on singles but used them in comparison with married people to learn about the latter.
The studies that did focus on single people showed some telling findings, she said.
A study of lifelong single people showed that self-sufficiency serves them well: the more self-sufficient they were, the less likely they were to experience negative emotions. For married people, the opposite was true, according to DePaulo.
“It is time for a more accurate portrayal of single people and single life - one that recognises the real strengths and resilience of people who are single, and what makes their lives so meaningful.“For example, research comparing people who stayed single with those who stayed married showed that single people have a heightened sense of self-determination and they are more likely to experience a sense of continued growth and development as a person,” she said.
According to her, when people marry, they become insular. Previous studies have shown that single people value meaningful work more than married people, and are also more connected to parents, siblings, friends, neighbours and coworkers.
DePaulo claimed that research on single people is lacking. She said she searched for studies of participants who had never married and, of the 814 studies she found, most did not actually examine single people but used them as a comparison group to learn about married people and marriage in general.
“Considering all of the financial and cultural advantages people get just because they are married, it becomes even more striking that single people are doing as well as they are,” she said.