Studies have long suggested that people in relationship are more happier than their single counterparts, but it might not be true as a new study has suggested that single people are just as happy as their committed counterparts.
The new study, carried out in New Zealand, saw participation from more than 4,000 people wherein it was found that people who have high “avoidance social goals” – meaning that people who tend to avoid being in a relationship at all costs – were just as happy as people who were in a relationship. The study participants ranged in age from 18 to 94 years old with long-term relationships lasting almost 22 years on average.
Researchers suggest that being single could be removing the anxiety which is triggered by relationship conflicts. There have been studies previously where it has been suggested that single people may have slightly lower life satisfaction and may have poorer physical and psychological health.
Trying too hard to avoid relationship conflicts actually may create more problems, Girme said. While high avoidance goals may help people be happier when they are single, it can have negative effects in a relationship, contributing to anxiety, loneliness, lower life satisfaction, and an unhealthy focus on negative memories, according to prior research.
With a high divorce rate, solo parenting, and many people delaying marriage to pursue career goals, the number of single people is on the rise. Single people now outnumber married adults in the United States, with more than 128 million singles representing 51 percent of the adult population.
The study also analyzed the effects of “approach social goals,” where people seek to maintain relationships by enhancing intimacy and fostering growth together as partners. Study participants with high approach goals were generally more satisfied with their lives – but also experienced the most happiness when they were in a relationship compared to those who were single. The researchers found similar results in a separate survey of 187 University of Auckland students.
“Having greater approach goals tends to have the best outcomes for people when they are in a relationship, but they also experience the most hurt and pain when they are single,” said lead researcher Yuthika Girme, a psychology doctoral candidate at the University of Auckland in New Zealand.
The research is published online in Social Psychological and Personality Science.