Single and Happy? View on Relationships is Key
By Amy Norton
FRIDAY, Aug. 21, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Single people can be just as happy as those in romantic relationships — but it may depend on their temperament, a new study suggests.
Over the years, research has found that single people tend to be less satisfied with their lives, compared to those with a significant other. But that reflects only the average experience; and some studies have found that the single life can bring some advantages — like closer relationships with friends and family.
The new study adds another layer: Single people can, in fact, be just as fulfilled as couples — but it may partly depend on how they approach relationships in general.
The key, researchers found, is whether a person prefers to avoid conflict and drama in relationships. In that case, the single life appears just as satisfying as being coupled, on average.
In contrast, people who are unfazed by relationship ups and downs tend to be less happy when they’re single, according to the findings, published online Aug. 21 in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.
It all suggests that for some people, being romantically unattached removes a major source of stress, according to Yuthika Girme and her colleagues at the University of Auckland, in New Zealand.
“I think this study underscores the point that you can never say one-size-fits-all,” said James Maddux, a senior scholar at the Center for the Advancement of Well-Being at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.
“There are many paths to happiness,” said Maddux, who was not involved in the study.
At the same time, though, people who constantly strive to avoid conflict in relationships may tend to be on the neurotic side, said Maddux. And some of them might benefit from changing their perspective.
That’s often one of the goals in couples’ counseling, he explained. People learn to better manage the downsides of their relationship and focus more on the positive aspects.
So people who hate conflict should not discount a potentially promising romantic relationship, according to Maddux. “You can change,” he said. “You’re not stuck.”