A new study has found that people who are single have more happiness and lead more fulfilling lives.
When you're growing up, you assume that you'll get married. Well, it's what your church, family, friends, and community expect. We start planning our weddings at an early age and dream of what our husband will be like.
But what if things don't fall into place the way society seems to assume it will and you don't get married at all?
As someone who has lived with a partner for over 10 years, I can tell you that people don't understand not wanting a wedding or a marriage, or having a legal commitment. They just can't comprehend it. If you found someone that you want to spend the rest of your life with, why wouldn't you tie the knot? Conventional wisdom believes that married people are happier, healthier, and are never lonely.
People wonder what's wrong with you that makes you shy away from wedded bliss. But according to a recent study, there's absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to stay single. In fact, not being married may lead to a happier, more fulfilling life.
Bella DePaulo, the lead author of the study and a scientist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, said, "Married people are also advantaged [along with financial and healthcare benefits] by the relentless celebration of marriage and coupling and weddings that I call matrimania. Single people, in contrast, are targets of singlism — the stereotyping, stigmatizing, marginalization and discrimination against people who are single."
Now there are more single people than ever before and Americans spend more of their lives unmarried than married. In addition, if someone is married and it doesn't work out, they're less inclined to try it again. Why, if there are so many single people, is the unmarried status still seen as abnormal?
DePaulo presented the study at the American Psychological Association's 124th Annual Convention. She said, "I will make the case [for staying single] for a reason that is rarely acknowledged: Increasing numbers of people are single because they want to be. Living single allows them to live their best, most authentic, and most meaningful life."
After studying 814 cases, DePaulo came to the conclusion that most of these studies didn't look at single people, but instead used them as a comparison group to learn about married people and marriage in general. However, the studies that did focus on single people had some very interesting findings.
"Research comparing people who have stayed single with those who have stayed married shows that single people have a heightened sense of self-determination, and they are more likely to experience a sense of continued growth and development as a person," DePaulo said.
Also, the research showed that single people value meaningful work more than married people do, and they are more self-sufficient.
In her recent book, How We Live Now: Redefining Home and Family in the 21st Century, DePaulo summed it up beautifully: "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."