Single people are more likely to experience psychological growth and development than those who are married, a psychologist claims.
This is just one perk of being single which is often ignored.
Others include greater sociability and resilience.
The conclusions come from surveying 814 studies conducted over 30 years.
Dr Bella DePaulo, addressing the American Psychological Association’s 124th Annual Convention, said:
“The preoccupation with the perils of loneliness can obscure the profound benefits of solitude.
It is time for a more accurate portrayal of single people and single life — one that recognizes the real strengths and resilience of people who are single, and what makes their lives so meaningful.”
While the advantages of being married are well-known, if over-stated, Dr DePaulo wants the perks of singledom to be acknowledged and understood.
Dr DePaulo finds several advantages to being single, after reviewing the research:
- Single people are more connected to their friends, family, neighbours and co-workers.
- Single people derive more meaning from their work than married people.
- Single people have greater self-determination.
It is the greater self-determination, along with other factors, that may contribute towards single people being more likely to experience a feeling of growth and development as a person.
In addition, single people who feel self-sufficient are less likely to experience negative emotions.
These advantages are seen despite the many benefits that society grants to married people, Dr DePaulo pointed out:
“People who marry get access to more than 1,000 federal benefits and protections, many of them financial.
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.”
Being married, of course, has its advantages as well and Dr DePaulo does not claim one status is better than the other:
“More than ever before, Americans can pursue the ways of living that work best for them.
There is no one blueprint for the 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 who we really are and allow us to live our best lives.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was presented at the American Psychological Association’s 124th Annual Convention by Dr Bella DePaulo.