Many singles are happier alone

Studies show that living the single life should be seen as a positive experience.

Many singles are happier alone

A new study released by the University of Auckland shows that, contrary to popular belief, single people don’t necessarily have lower life satisfaction or poorer health.

The study, published in Social Psychological and Personality Science, showed that relationships could be a source of great anxiety, especially for those who try to avoid conflict in their lives.

Lead researcher Yuthika Girme believes that the stereotype of the ‘miserable single’ simply isn’t accurate

“It’s a well-documented finding that single people tend to be less happy compared to those in a relationship, but that may not be true for everyone,” she said. “Single people also can have satisfying lives.”

Some 4000 New Zealanders, aged 18 to 94, participated in the study, answering questions about relationships, as well as their views on maintaining them. The survey found that people who fear relationship conflict were just as content when single as they were in relationships.

Many participants felt that being single opens doors, especially in the fields of career and travel, and many believe that leading a solo life actually improves relationships outside those of a romantic nature.

“Some single people can actually maintain better relationships with family and friends,” said Ms Girme.

The New Zealand survey showed that divorcees, widows and single parents enjoy a “happy and fulfilling life” devoid of the tension associated with being in a relationship.

The results of a 2014 YourLifeChoices retirement insight survey showed that more than 25 per cent of seniors aged 65 are single. This figure closely reflects national statistics that, regardless of demographic, one in four Australians live alone.

Society often pressures people to have a partner because it is considered more socially acceptable, but it’s important for singles, and their friends and families, to realise that they don’t need a partner to be okay.

“We can have a roof over our head, have laughs with our friends, food on the table, enjoy life and truly be happy without a significant other,” says Sexual Health Australia’s Desiree Spierings.

Read more at www.abc.net.au
Read more at www.stuff.co.nz
Read more at www.aifs.gov.au
Read the report Demographics of Living Alone

Opinion: A life alone isn't always lonely 

So society says it’s more ‘normal’ for people to be involved in a relationship. What do they know? The most important thing is that you are happy.

Living alone can carry with it a social stigma, even suspicion, that those who are single can’t build or maintain a relationship, when the reality is many people choose to live alone and are happy, and the stereotype of the single person is actually out-dated.

According to the Australian Institute of Family Studies’ (AIFS) Professor David de Vaus, living alone may not be a choice for all, but it should be seen as a mostly positive situation.

“If there’s one message that I think comes out of the research, it is that there isn’t a cause for moral panic,” says Professor de Vaus. “People who live alone continue to engage with their friends, continue to mix and engage with their family.”

An AIFS survey showed that the number of people who live alone has risen since 1946, when eight per cent of Australians lived as singles, to 24 per cent in 2011. Statistics also show that more women live alone than men – in 2011, 39 per cent of women aged 70 and over and 40 per cent of those aged 80 and over live alone, compared to just 19 per cent of men. Fifty-four per cent of those are widows. Not surprisingly, the numbers show that the older one becomes, the more likely they are to live alone.

Living alone is a double-edged sword. Whilst surveys may say that being single shouldn’t be a negative, it does still come with its share of challenges. Research conducted by Merck Sharp and Dohme (MSD), contrary to the New Zealand study, showed that people who live alone are more likely to be poorer, and that they may be more susceptible to depression. There are also concerns about increasing occurrences of undernutrition and difficulties arising for those who experience health issues such as hearing loss, loss of sight and mobility, and recurrent symptoms of illness and disease.

Whatever the surveys say, the important thing is to do whatever makes you happy. If you enjoy your own company, or feel that the loved one who you have lost can never be replaced, or are satisfied with your level of activity and social engagement, then there’s nothing wrong with living alone. The opportunity to live out your days doing as you please should be seen as a blessing and not a burden.

However, it is still important to stay connected, because with solid social connections, a healthy lifestyle and a great support network, living alone can be a very positive experience.

Do you live alone? Is it your choice to do so? How do you find the experience? Do you have any suggestions for those who live alone that may help them lead a happier life?





    COMMENTS

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    jackie
    26th Aug 2015
    11:20am
    Being single is total freedom. I love it.
    renya
    26th Aug 2015
    11:50am
    I love living by myself. I have never known such serenity and enjoyment in life as being on my own. I do what I want, when I want how I want and if I want. I do have an active social life and am very involved with community and family, but when I am home alone it is my sanctuary. I take good care of myself, cook healthy and interesting meals, have family and friends over sometimes. But most of the time I live in quiet solitude, enjoying the breeze, my gardening, reading, listening to music I like, watching what I like on TV, going to bed and waking when I please. It's the ultimate freedom. No one spends my money for me, I save and travel where I want - wonderful. Perhaps I savour my alone-ness more for having put up with a very bad marriage for many years. I still shudder when I try to imagine life back with the ex. No thank you. And no, I don't yearn for another man to love and share life with even though I do enjoy the social company of some lovely men that I know.
    Nan Norma
    26th Aug 2015
    12:40pm
    Sounds fantastic.
    rtrish
    26th Aug 2015
    1:33pm
    Right on, renya!
    Annamaria
    26th Aug 2015
    4:58pm
    I love living alone also renya. I like to go to bed early and get up early. If I lived with someone who liked the opposite I would find it hard especially if the TV was loud or if the other person was noisy in other ways

    A close male friend is good to have if you need to get in a tradesman as they can stand by you in this situation.
    margie
    26th Aug 2015
    12:02pm
    I've always known this, I live alone through choice after divorcing many years ago and have never regretted a single day. People need to know they don't need someone to complete them, if you are lucky and find that special person good on you, but don't settle just because you are afraid to be on your own. It's a good idea to try living on your own first and just see that you don't have to rush out and settle on the first person you find and end up being miserable for the rest of your life.
    rtrish
    26th Aug 2015
    1:34pm
    Well said, margie.
    Happy cyclist
    26th Aug 2015
    1:45pm
    I'm with you Margie. I love living alone, wouldn't have it any other way. The only annoyance is that people always assume you would rather have a partner if you had the chance. Believe me, I've had chances but not interested anymore. I think a lot of people do settle on the first person because society makes single people feel somehow inadequate. Thankfully, I never cared what society thought -- but many people do.
    Nan Norma
    26th Aug 2015
    12:02pm
    I think it made be harder for a man to be single. An older women is more likely invited into a family circle than a man as men can, unfortunely, to be treated with supicion.
    KSS
    26th Aug 2015
    1:28pm
    Single women are also treated with suspicion Nan Norma especially of she is attractive! And what's worse is that it is other women who are the most suspicious!!!
    Happy cyclist
    26th Aug 2015
    1:48pm
    You got that right KSS. I have to laugh when women think I am after their husbands. Have they looked at their husbands recently! I think women want to believe single women want what they have because it makes them feel better being saddled with some boring man -- not that all men are boring but it always seems to me that the women who are afraid of single women are the ones saddled with the most undesirable men.
    Capn Dan
    26th Aug 2015
    9:46pm
    Love being a single mature guy. Have an intellectual lady friend for a good discussion and a bottle of red. A widow who likes to cuddle in my bear cave or a tickle in her empty nest boudoir. Gardening, sailing, concerts, curling up with a good book, or at least someone who has read one. Make home brew and play music loud. Howl at the moon; snuggle by the fire. Tonight relaxing, thinking, cooking and looking forward to my single bed for a great sleep; an early, busy morning and will cook a nice brekky. Many older guys want someone to be their mommy or slave. Their problem. I enjoy my freedom and so do my friends.
    particolor
    26th Aug 2015
    10:00pm
    Beats livin with Big Foot !! :-)
    Precious 1
    27th Aug 2015
    1:12pm
    Nan, I love em all the men as long as they are other peoples...........
    Precious 1
    27th Aug 2015
    1:15pm
    Yes suspicion is or can be a norm and I found that out myself........
    Ronin
    26th Aug 2015
    12:30pm
    With my wife for nearly 40 years before she left what I'd believed to be a good marriage with normal ups and downs. Tried a couple of relationships, but it just didn't feel right.

    Have now been alone for seven years and I enjoy it. I can be myself, please myself and do what I want when I want. Miss home-cooked meals and occasionally miss the intimacy, cuddling on the sofa or chatting about our day or life in general, but overall quite content and no drama!
    Swinging voter
    26th Aug 2015
    1:20pm
    Being happily single is a good thing while there is good health, extended family and/or loving and kind, reliably caring friends. But just try getting old totally alone. Friends usually hang around for a week or so during a personal crisis but quickly return to their own problems and families. Increasing numbers of singles do prefer their own company, choosing not to marry and not to have children with all the accompanying stresses. In this mobile world, siblings often move permanently overseas. Parents die, a few "friends" will visit and chat on a regular basis, but if there's no other "real" family - sounds like there's going to be a burgeoning mental health crisis in a few years' time. I can understand people being happily single if they have divorced after building a family. But there is another rapidly growing demographic that seems not to have factored in the longer-term downside of being joyously alone, 24/7/52.
    KSS
    26th Aug 2015
    1:31pm
    Sounds like you want a partner for the sole reason of whinging to them at will and at length. Surely not?
    Swinging voter
    26th Aug 2015
    3:10pm
    What a nasty reply! No, I've observed many lonely older men and women who naturally embraced their hey-day singledom and noticed how sad it is later when they have no-one to love and support, and receive love and support in return. When you see many people, highly independent and enjoying their single life until they find themselves in a hospital emergency room being asked the question, "Who is your next of kin, and who do we contact" only to hear that single soul say, "No-one, there is no-one", perhaps you will think a little more considerately KSS, about the sincere point being made. As to your unkind assumption, I "do not want a partner for the sole reason of whinging to them at will and at length". I have a husband who I have looked after, and who has looked after me. Think before you speak, dear. Not nice.
    KSS
    26th Aug 2015
    3:29pm
    Oh dear! What a patronising view you have of the older single person. Smug in your own little world, feeling sorry for all those who lived a different life. Re-read what I actually wrote. Perhaps you need to look at how you express yourself before throwing rocks in the greenhouse.

    And by the way, it is not just older single people in emergency departments who get asked about next of kin and can't answer. It happens everyday in a hundred different ways. Not everyone has a family. But you wouldn't know about that either would you.