We grow up in a culture that’s very couple-oriented and so people who don’t find partners or don’t find partners for a long time feel deviant. They feel discriminated against. They’re not invited to parties and so it can cause a lot of unhappiness.
Not everyone really can be happy alone, but some of us can. Yet the culture really pushes us toward coupledom. I have looked at the research by Bella DePaulo, who’s a researcher in this area, about how happy a lot of single people are.
It turns out that there are many life-long singles. In fact, I believe half of the adults in the United States today are single. There are many life-long singles, especially women who are very happy, who are no less happy than married or partnered people. They tend to have a lot of friends, a dozen or more really deep friendships. Can those of you who are married and have children, can you say the same for yourself? Do you have a dozen really deep friendships, people with whom you keep in touch with on a very regular basis?
Single people tend to be very close to their family members – nieces, nephews, siblings, parents. Their friends are their own. When you’re married and with children a lot of your friends are not really chosen by you. They might be your partner’s friends or they might be your kid’s friends’ parents, but when you’re single you tend to choose your friends.
What I like to highlight is that there are a lot of single people who are very happy. And so if you have not found a partner or if you’re not sure if you want to compromise or you want to live with someone else for the rest of your life, there’s a lot of hope for you out there from the available science.
In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think’s studio.
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