Being single and mental health

Some fascinating recent research has been focusing on the social life of singles. Single individuals tend to have a lower desire for a romantic relationship when they are more socially satisfied, engage in a variety of activities and interests, and place their friends higher in their life priorities, according to new research published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. The results show that singles with low relationship desire are more social and derive greater support from their friends. These findings also defy common negative perceptions of singles with low relationship desire as having social difficulties or loneliness. 

A rigorous recent study, from the German Panel Analysis of Intimate Relationships and Family Dynamics (Pairfam), link below, a longitudinal survey of more than 12,000 individuals and their partners, parents, and children assessed how satisfied the participants were with their friends and level of social contact, and the relative importance of friends in their life. After controlling for factors such as age, health, education, employment, income, and number of children, researchers found that the importance of friends and social satisfaction were correlated with the degree of choosing singlehood.

The study found that people who desire romantic relationships at higher levels tend to assign their friends lower importance and are less satisfied with their social lives. And vice versa, singles with less relationship desire think their friends are more important and are also more satisfied with their social lives. The study also found that single people, especially those who have been single for a long time, have more extensive social networks than do their married peers, which can help buffer singles against feelings of loneliness.

Being single and being lonely are not commensurate.

(Research source: How do relationship desire and sociability relate to each other among singles? Longitudinal analysis of the Pairfam survey“, Journal of Social and Personal relationships, June 24, 2020).

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