Single people have richer social lives and also experience more psychological growth and development than people who are married, says an interesting study.
“The preoccupation with the perils of loneliness (associated with singledom) can obscure the profound benefits of solitude,” said Bella DePaulo, scientist at the University of California-Santa Barbara.
The authors cited research that shows single people value meaningful work more than married people, as well as are also more connected to their parents, siblings, friends, neighbours and coworkers.
Conversely, “when people marry, they become more insular,” DePaulo said.
For the study, the team conducted a review of recent research that examined the effects of marriage and singledom on aspects like personal growth and happiness.
They rued that research on single people is lacking.
Most of the studies found were not motivated by any desire to better understand single life, but rather to point out ways in which married people are doing better.
“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,” DePaulo noted.
However, the studies that did focus on single people revealed some telling findings.
For example, a research that compared 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.”
Another study conducted on lifelong single people, showed that self-sufficiency serves them well. The more self-sufficient they were, the less likely they would experience negative emotions. However, it is contrary in case of married people, DePaulo explained.
He also said it is striking to note that all the cultural and financial advantages enjoyed by people just because they are married is equally enjoyed by those who are single.
However, despite the advantages of staying single, the researchers don’t claim that one status is better than the other.
“There is no one blueprint for a good life. What matters is not what everyone else is doing or what other people think we should be doing, but whether we can find the places, the spaces and the people that fit with who we really are and allow us to live our best lives,” DePaulo stated.
The results were presented at the recently held American Psychological Association’s 124th Annual Convention in Denver.