In the United States, 51 percent of adults are single. That number will likely only grow with marriage on the decline and divorce rates at historic highs, although not rising as quickly as past years.
Single people outnumbering married couples represents a historic moment in the United States, but the culture still stigmatizes staying solo. Out of those 128 million Americans who aren't married, surely some number of them prefer to avoid long-term relationships, and don't merely find themselves that way by circumstance?
Despite the fact that we live in a society where technology is increasingly connecting more people and bringing them closer than ever before, plenty of folks really do just want to be left alone, finds a study published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science. In fact, despite social norms and cultural expectations, some singles are perfectly happy spending their lives in solitude.
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A survey of more than 4,000 New Zealanders found that singles with high avoidance social goals, or people who strongly preferred steering clear of relationships in order to dodge potential conflicts or other anxiety-inducing situations, reported being just as happy as their coupled up counterparts.
"It's a well-documented finding that single people tend to be less happy compared to those in a relationship, but that may not be true for everyone," lead researcher Yuthika Girme, a psychology doctoral candidate at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, said in a statement.
The Kiwis surveyed ranged in age from 18 to 94 years old. One-fifth of the study's participants reported being single, and of those in long-term relationships, the average last 22 years.
High avoidance individuals aren't the only ones who might be better off single. A paper published in 2013 in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology determined that people who harbor a strong fear of being single often end up in relationships that leave them unhappy.
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"During relationship initiation and maintenance, those who fear being single may prioritize relationship status above relationship quality," the authors write in their journal article, "settling for less responsive and less attractive partners and remaining in relationships that are less satisfying."
Interestingly, however, those who had a strong fear of being alone but also single were no more or less depressed than those with the same anxiety who who were in less gratifying relationships.
Out of those studied, the researchers found between 15 and 20 percent of participants either anticipated fear of being single or already reported feeling it.
Fear of being alone can certainly lead to unfortunate relationship decisions, but many more are happy with their lifestyles. Single or married, plenty of people, no matter their relationship status, believe they made the right choice - and that their decision is what's best for everyone, research published in the 2013 in Psychological Science found.
In fact, they often express how those within their social network might be better off had those individuals enjoyed the same relationship status.
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Why would anyone feel the need to evangelize being single or married? According to the researchers, oddly enough, it might be a coping mechanism to deal with aspects of their lifestyle that these individuals are dissatisfied with.
Taken together, these studies suggest that not everyone is cut out for relationships. The single life isn't so bad after all.