Is it Healthy to be a Single Person?

Is it Healthy to be a Single Person?

In our modern culture, which usually celebrates romantic partnerships, being a single person is often perceived as less desirable, not normal, or even a phase waiting to be resolved.

Media and societal norms suggest that happiness and fulfillment are mostly found in the context of a committed relationship. But actually, it’s a false claim that leaves single people feeling marginalized or incomplete, questioning whether their solo life could truly be healthy and rewarding.

If you’re also wondering whether your single status could be impacting their health and happiness negatively, you should know that it’s completely healthy to be a single person. In this article, we’ll explain how being single actually affects your emotional well-being and how being single can lead to a fulfilling and healthy life just as much as being in a relationship can.

How Does Being Single Affect Your Mental Health?

Even though being a single person is totally healthy and normal, sometimes it can come with challenges that might affect one’s mental and emotional well-being.

For instance, the lack of a steady emotional connection with a partner might lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation. This, in turn, may create a sense of self-doubt and insecurity, especially when faced with societal norms and expectations that value romantic relationships. Under such pressure, being single might actually affect your mental health negatively, or make it difficult for you to enter new relationships and find deep connections. But surprisingly, people who’ve been single for a long time also report various positive outcomes.

These positive outcomes include greater independence, enhanced personal growth, and the opportunity to develop a clearer sense of self without the influence of a partner. In fact, according to a study conducted by Jamila Bookwala and Erin Fekete, men and women who have always been single are often just as well-adjusted as their married counterparts. The study shows that lifelong singles typically have good psychological health, which is contrary to common myths that suggest singles are more likely to experience negative mental health outcomes (Bookwala & Fekete, 2009).

This research supports the notion that singlehood can be a fulfilling and healthy lifestyle choice, characterized by personal autonomy and satisfaction.

Why People Prefer to Be Single

Today, many individuals choose to remain single as a result of various personal reasons, as well as the benefits this lifestyle can offer. In fact, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center, approximately 50% of single adults in the US are not interested in engaging in romantic partnerships or even going on dates. About 1 in 5 individuals who prefer not to date (61%) believe that dating these days has become harder and prefer to remain single as they have more important priorities in their lives.

Other reasons why people prefer to remain single are past negative experiences related to relationships (18%), feeling that potential partners might not be interested in them (17%), or thinking they are too old to date (17%). Furthermore, 11% of singles are hindered by health issues that complicate their ability to engage in dating.

Therefore, from a psychological perspective, the choice to remain single can be considered a self-protective measure to avoid further emotional distress and disappointment.

As a result of past relationship traumas or ongoing personal challenges, many people prefer to avoid romantic relationships in order to have more control over their environment. This behavior helps them focus on personal recovery, self-care, and self-growth without the emotional demands and compromises that relationships are linked to.

Mental Health Benefits of Being Single

Contrary to popular belief, not being in a romantic relationship can positively impact your mental health in several ways, especially compared to being in an unhealthy relationship. While being in a romantic relationship is often associated with stress and demands, single people usually focus more on their personal growth and mental well-being.

Here are some evidence-based mental health benefits that being single can provide:

1)   Stronger Social Connections

People who don’t have a romantic partner naturally have more time to socialize, invest time in their relationships with friends and family, and develop stronger social support systems. While a supportive partner can also provide significant emotional support, single individuals often broaden their networks and engage more deeply with a wider community.

According to a 2015 study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, singlehood motivates people to get involved in the broader community, instead of isolating themselves (found in both men and women) (Sarkisian & Gerstel, 2015). This positively affects their mental health, since strong social ties contribute significantly to their emotional resilience. It’s also important to note that individuals with a diverse network of connections are less dependent on others for their emotional needs, which can lead to a more satisfying social life.

2)   Greater Autonomy and Control

One of the main reasons for conflicts and emotional distress in relationships is a lack of autonomy. When you’re in a committed relationship, it’s likely that you will negotiate your decisions with your partner, whether they’re small daily choices or major life changes. Even if you have clear boundaries, it’s almost impossible to maintain complete control over personal decisions when another person is involved in your life. This dynamic sometimes leads to frustration and even resentment, especially if you don’t have a sense of personal freedom.

For singles, however, the scenario is different. Single people don’t have to constantly align with another person’s preferences or life plans. As a result, they usually have a higher degree of freedom and complete control over their own lives. This autonomy supports personal growth and self-fulfillment, which are important aspects of overall mental well-being.

3)   Enhanced productivity and creativity

Perhaps not surprisingly, solitude can also enhance productivity and creativity. Individuals who spend more time alone find it easier to focus and generate ideas more freely. This time alone encourages self-reflection, which can lead to deeper self-awareness and understanding of their personal goals. What’s more, if solitude is a deliberate choice instead of a result of social isolation, it can transform periods of alone time into opportunities for significant growth and creative expression.

However, being single positively affects creativity and productivity only if it’s not accompanied by feelings of loneliness. In that case, the benefits of alone time can be decreased by a lack of motivation and a lower overall sense of well-being.

Better Physical Health

Believe it or not, being single is good not only for your mental health but for your physical health and fitness as well. In fact, studies show that married people, as well as those in committed relationships, have less time to engage in physical activities and, on average, have higher BMIs compared to single individuals (Nomaguchi & Bianchi, 2008; Syrda, 2017).

This difference is notable because maintaining a healthy BMI is crucial in reducing the risk of several serious health conditions, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and various types of cancer. Therefore, not beginning a committed relationship can often mean having more time and energy to invest in your physical health.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, being single provides various benefits for mental and emotional health. Therefore, if you’re single and sometimes find yourself questioning this status, remember that being in a romantic relationship is not the only option–even if the broader culture sends messages to this effect.

On the other hand, not everyone thrives in solitude and you might notice you’re struggling to connect with other people and develop the kind of relationship you desire. If that’s the case, seeking support from professional counselors could be a crucial step towards building healthier relationships and enhancing your well-being.

At Health for Life Counseling Grand Rapids, we offer specialized counseling programs for couples and married people, as well as Premarital Counseling, Relationship Maintenance Program, and more. Engaging in therapy will help you understand and overcome personal barriers to forming healthy relationships.

Contact us at Grand Rapids, MI, or Ada, MI, or even talk to our therapists online to enhance your current relationships or prepare for future ones!

Learn more about the Trauma-Informed Counseling Center of Grand Rapids

Learn more about Counseling and Therapy services at Health for Life Counseling Grand Rapids

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