Individual, Family & Group Psychotherapy
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Jun 20

Myths About Living Single


By Katie Kerns
Google “health benefits of marriage,” and you’ll find that scientists have put a lot of time and effort into studying why getting hitched is good for you. “Marriage Is Good for Your Health,” “Marriage, the Key to a Better Life,” and “Single People May Die Younger” are just a few of the spouse-exalting headlines that pop up.

But in honor of National Singles Week — and for all of those happy, healthy uncommitted folks out there — we’ve combed the latest studies and surveys to debunk a few of the negative myths about singlehood. We’re not knocking marriage — we just think it’s time to recognize that there are plenty of benefits to living the single life too.

Myth: Married people are happier and healthier than unmarried people. Hollywood does a great job of painting singlehood as lonely, unstable, and downright dismal (think Bridget Jones crying into her ice cream, alone on New Year’s Eve). But one recent study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships found that people over 40 who never settle down are just as emotionally healthy as their wedded peers. When researchers compared more than 1,500 40- to 74-year-olds — both married and never married — they found that the latter group’s “psychological resources” (factors that promote well-being and prevent depression, such as self-sufficiency and optimism) were just as strong.

And while marriage has been shown to have a protective effect against depression, heart conditions, and other health problems, other findings prove that not all marriages are good for you. One study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry found that unhappy matrimonies can be extremely harmful to both emotional and physical health (while those content, never-been-married folks are doing just fine).
Myth: All single guys are commitment-phobes. Think all of those George Clooney-esque bachelors out there will never settle down? That may be true for some, but it turns out that most unmarried men aren’t terrified of commitment. A recent study funded by (conducted by researchers at Rutgers University and Binghamton University) found that single men have just as high hopes for getting married one day as women do. Although age did play a factor — men aged 21 to 24 and those older than 50 were actually more inclined toward marriage than women of the same age, while guys in between these years were a little less commitment-friendly — this study may help refute the eternal-bachelor stereotype once and for all.

According to the study’s lead researcher, Helen Fisher, PhD, the notion that men aren’t the marrying kind has been wrong all along. “The study supports what I have long suspected: That men are just as eager to find a partner, fall in love, commit long term, and raise a family,” she wrote on’s blog. “It’s an illuminating, indeed myth-shattering, new set of scientific data.” However, Mark Regnerus, a sociologist at the University of Texas at Austin, recently told Time that he believes what’s shifting is women’s attitudes toward marriage — females are becoming more independent and less worried about securing a ring, which has evened out the playing fields.
Myth: All unmarried people are married to their jobs. There’s a misconception in the dating world that if you’re a hard worker, you have no interest or time for love. But in a recent survey of more than 4,500 single people from the dating site Zoosk, 64 percent of single guys reported that they’re actually more productive in the office when dating someone (about half of women said the same thing). That means these people are harmoniously dating and working — without wrecking the relationship or the career.

Keep in mind, however, that there’s a fine line between being a hard worker and being an obsessed, always-on-the-clock employee. According to Workaholics Anonymous, one of the tell-tale signs of workaholism is that those long hours at the office start having a negative effect on relationships. So if that new guy you’ve been dating keeps canceling plans with you for his job, perhaps it’s time to terminate the relationship.

Myth: All singletons are cynical about love. “Love stinks (yeah, yeah).” These romance-bashing lyrics by the J. Geils Band may sound like an anthem for single people everywhere, but research shows many people flying solo are just as sappy when it comes to love as committed ones. In the same study, 41 percent of singles said they believed in love at first sight — and 76 percent said they thought if they ever married, they would stay married forever.
Myth: Young bachelors and bachelorettes are promiscuous. Kids these days! Turns out, they’re waiting longer to have sex. A 2011 governmental study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that 29 percent of 15- to 24-year-olds are virgins — up from 22 percent in 2002. In addition, a recent National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy survey of more than 5,000 people between the ages of 15 and 24 found that there has been a decline in sexual activity in this age group over the past 10 years.

Why are young people waiting before they hop in the sack? Researchers aren’t exactly sure, but believe it could have to do with greater awareness of sexually transmitted diseases and sexual health.
Myth: Unmarried couples who cohabitate are ruining their chances of a happy marriage. Good news for the two-thirds of couples who choose to move in together before saying “I do”: Your pre-marital shack-up isn’t doomed. Research on 13,000 people from the National Center of Health Statistics found that cohabitating couples who get married later are just as likely to live happily ever after as those twosomes who wait until they’re married before living together.

So what’s with all the finger-wagging? The study’s researchers explained that the previous studies that found that cohabitating couples have higher divorce rates are decades old — and their findings may be outdated.

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