Science is challenging the archetype of the sad and lonely single person.
Single people are more likely to lead richer social lives and experience more psychological growth than married people, according to Bella DePaulo, a scientist at the University of California, Santa Barbara who presented her review of research at the American Psychological Association’s recent annual convention.
She extols the single life in an APA news release:
“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.”
DePaulo says research shows that, compared with married people, single people:
- Have a greater sense of self-determination.
- Are more likely to experience “a sense of continued growth and development as a person.”
- Value meaningful work more.
- Are more connected to parents, siblings, friends, neighbors and co-workers — married people are more “insular.”
- Are better served by self-sufficiency: The more self-sufficient they are, the less likely they are to experience negative emotions. For married people, it’s the opposite.
Citing federal marriage statistics from 2014, DePaulo argues that this is partly why unmarried Americans over age 16 now outnumber their married peers.
The 60-something researcher, who has always been single herself, wrapped up her remarks at the convention by citing the last page of her book “How We Live Now: Redefining Home and Family in the 21st Century“:
“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.”
For tips on how to thrive financially as a single person, check out “The Single Woman’s Path to a Happy Retirement.”
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