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Being Single May Make You Happier Than Ever

Our resident psychiatrist explains how being your own one-and-only can really pay off.

Q: I love being single, but can you love it too much? I’ve had decent relationships in the past, am happy and fulfilled, and can appreciate how a relationship could enhance my life, but the rewards my coupled friends enjoy don’t seem worth the troubles they also experience. Am I looking at this all wrong?

Increasing numbers of women are single for one simple reason: They want to be. They don’t have intimacy issues, they are not selfish, and they are not single because they cannot find a partner. It’s a deliberate choice. While many may still believe that being single is synonymous with isolation and that the only on-ramp to happiness is marriage, research tells a different story.

Social scientists Natalia Sarkisian and Naomi Gerstel found that single people have more social connections and are more involved in their communities than their married counterparts are. They are also more likely to sociale with neighbors and friends and to reach out to those in their social network. In other words, they are generous and happy. Other research suggests they are also healthier than their partnered peers. They work out more and are in better shape. On top of their physical fitness and active social lives, single people are more likely to experience a sense of personal growth and a feeling that their life is a continuous process of learning and discovery.

One thought to keep in mind: People change. We are ever evolving. Daniel Gilbert, professor of psychology at Harvard University and author of the best-selling Stumbling on Happiness, puts it this way: “Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished. The person you are right now is as transient, as fleeting, and as temporary as all the people you’ve ever been. The one constant in our life is change.” Stay flexible. Keep an open mind. You never know what your future self will think.

Dr. Samantha Boardman is a clinical instructor in psychiatry and an assistant attending psychiatrist at Weil Cornell Medical College in New York and the the founder of positivepercription.com.

A version of the article originally appeared in the February 2019 issue of Marie Claire.


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