MYTH 1: Being Single is an Unfortunate Plight
Our culture places a strong emphasis on the importance of romantic relationships, which may overly amplify an individual's feelings of loneliness. So, as relationships are glorified as joyous accomplishments worth celebrating, not being in a relationship might elicit feelings of self-doubt or loneliness.
Despite these social messages, 45 percent of American adults today are single as compared to 28 percent in 1960. This change can perhaps be attributed to some demonstrated benefits of being single. For example, the World Health Organization notes that married women, especially those with children, have a higher risk of depression than single women.
MYTH 2: Being Married Benefits your Health and Figure
Physical health benefits have been documented in single women as compared to those in committed relationships. Women who transitioned from being single to getting married or into a cohabitating relationship reported a decrease in physical activity and fitness. Within two years of marriage, women gain an average of five pounds, statistically weighing more than their single counterparts. Dr. Meltzer, an SMU professor, found that, on average, men and women who were satisfied with their marriages gained more weight. Therefore, remaining single may benefit both your health and your figure.
MYTH 3: Being Single is Lonely
As humans, we are social beings. Hence, it would seem that having someone "available" in a relationship would fulfill this need. Contrary to this notion, married adults spend less time with and are less attentive to their friends and family, are more socially isolated and have increased difficulty making new friends than those who are single. Thus, being single benefits social interactions. In fact, research indicates that unmarried people tend to be happier than their married counterparts.
MYTH 4: Single People Have More Sex
Research shows that people who are married are actually more likely to have physically and emotionally satisfying sex lives when compared to single individuals and those who cohabitate. According to Rutgers University Professor Dr. Popenoe, 42 percent of married women report sex is emotionally and physically satisfying, as opposed to 31 percent of single women, and 48 percent of husbands indicate sex is satisfying, compared to 37 percent of men who cohabitate. Thus, contrary to the popular belief that sex decreases after marriage, married men and women report greater frequency and satisfaction compared to sexually active singles or cohabitating men and women.
MYTH 5: Being Married is Better for your Wallet and Mind
One of the most common stressors identified among married individuals involves finances. Adults who are married reported spending more money weekly than those who were divorced or single. Single adults experience financial independence and freedom, resulting in fewer financial worries. Committed couples have to share their time between each individual's responsibilities and desires, whereas a single adult is free to travel, be more devoted to a career and invest in personal interests. Researchers at the University of London found that single women have fewer mental health issues, which may be related to today's married women attempting to have a career as well as children and other traditionally female responsibilities. Therefore, it seems that being married is not always better for your mind or wallet.
So, while February 14 is a day to celebrate love and courting, it's also a great time to celebrate being single. According to the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University, the marriage rate has declined nearly 50 percent since 1970. Currently, there are approximately 100 million individuals in the U.S. who are single. And, according to Jerusha Stewart, author of The Single Girl's Manifesta, "Today's choose-to-be singles differ from the poor-me singles of past generations; there's less of a stigma attached to being single."
This unique opportunity provided to single adults ultimately allows them to focus on self. When a person can truly love and celebrate his or herself, only then can they genuinely share themselves with someone else. The resulting physical, mental and social well-being is the single most important contributing factor to the overall well-being of a society. Thus, the advantages of being single not only benefit you as an individual, but also subsequently have a positive influence on society. Perhaps the greatest benefit in being single is that you have the advantage of pursuing your dreams and making life anything you want it to be.
by Susan Shackelford, Ph.D. and Angela Perea, Psy.D.