Megan Mulroy, LPC

Single people are often stereotyped and stigmatized as miserable and lonely, when that could not be farther from the truth. Recent studies have found that married people become no happier after their nuptials than they were when they were single (DePaulo, 2019). Furthermore, research shows that if a couple divorces, they become less happy than when they were single (DePaulo, 2019).

Although recent research found that singles are doing increasingly well amidst the stereotype, there is still discrimination towards single people. Bella DePaulo, PH.d., created the term “Singlism,” to describe the stereotyping, stigmatizing, and discrimination against people who are single (DePaulo, 2018). Through her research on singles, she found several areas in which single people have unique struggles in their day to day lives. Being single can be a financial burden. Studies have found that married men get paid more than single men. Additionally, it is estimated that singles must pay roughly $2,600 more per year for things such as insurance, memberships, transportation, and other products and services. Single women and coupled women often face sexual harassment in workplace; however, the rates for single women are higher. In a 2017 survey, 42% of single women said that a co-worker had made unwelcome sexual passes, compared to 30% of married women (DePaulo, 2018). These are just a few examples of the hardships singles face.

The good news is that singles are rising above “Singlism,” and finding their own happiness. In his book, Happy Singlehood: The Rising Acceptance and Celebration of Solo Living, Elyakim Kislev drew from interviews of 142 singles and found the following results as evidence that single people are doing far better than the stereotypes of single people have led us to believe (DePaulo, 2019). I’ve listed a few below that stand out:

  • Singles Have More Education: Studies found that singles average 13 years of education whereas married people average 12.2.
  • Singles Are Extremely Social: Singles often have more time to devote to fun activities and seeing the people that they want to. Additionally, research has shown that when couples move in together, they become more isolated from friends and family.
  • Single People Have Healthier Eating Habits: The idea that married couples are healthier come from dated sexist ideals that wives cook their husbands well rounded meals. Kislev’s research found that people who have never been married eat more fruits and vegetables than married people.
  • Feelings of Loneliness Decrease with Old Age: We’re told to find partners to ‘grow old with.’ Research does indicate that married people are slightly less lonely than singles. However, as married couples age, their feelings of loneliness surpass that of lifelong singles. By age 70, single people feel less lonely than married people.
  • Accomplishments: Life goals and accomplishments are very important to single people, and some singles cite that their life accomplishments would not have been possible with a partner.
  • Higher Job Satisfaction: Setting aside salary and convenience, Kislev looked at meaningfulness and self-fulfillment. He found that “job satisfaction contributes to the overall happiness of singles more than it does to that of married individuals.”
  • High Self-Perception: Singles are able to find more happiness through themselves and their positive self-perception than coupled people. People are happier when they feel more positively about themselves, and singles are able to validate internally better than those that are married.

While singles are still facing discrimination and judgment, the research is clear that singles are thriving. Uncoupled people are more highly educated, more social, and leverage technology much better than their married counterparts (DePaulo, 2018). Be mindful of any judgments you may have against married or single people. Chances are they are absolutely living their best life!

References

DePaulo, B. (2018, September 9). Singlism: How Serious Is It, Really? Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/living-single/201809/singlism-how-serious-is-it-really
DePaulo, B. (2019, March 16). 19 Ways Single People Are Doing Way Better Than You Realized. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/living-single/201903/19-ways-single-people-are-doing-way-better-you-realized