According to a study published by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, people wary of relationship conflicts can be happy whether they are in a relationship or not.
Yuthika Girme, lead researcher for the study, which was published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, explained that it is well-documented that those who are not in relationships have a tendency to be less happy than those who are. However, that doesn't apply to everyone as single people can also live satisfying lives on their own.
Over 4,000 residents from New Zealand participated in the study, a nationally representative sample of individuals with high "avoidance social goals," meaning they try to avoid at all costs conflicts and disagreements in relationships. Participants were between 18 and 94 years old, with the average long-term relationship lasting 22 years. A fifth of those who participated were also single at the time.
Based on the results of the study, the researchers were able to show that those with high "avoidance social goals" can be just as happy when they are single as those who are in relationships.
This may be because being single takes away some of the anxiety associated with conflicts in relationships. With the study showing single people can be just as satisfied with their lives, it goes against previous research that has shown that those not in relationships usually associate with lower life satisfaction and poorer psychological and physical health.
Alternatively, the study has also discovered that subjects with low avoidance goals, meaning they aren't too concerned about the troubles of relationships, were less happy if they were single.
Girme said that trying too hard to ignore relationship trouble may actually lead to more problems. Prior research said that while having high avoidance goals can help keep people happier when they are unattached, it can be a negative experience when an individual is involved in a relationship, leading to loneliness, anxiety, lower level of satisfaction in life and an unhealthy focus on bad memories.
With divorce rates high, more solo parents and a lot of people delaying marriage to prioritize their careers, the number of people single is rising. In fact, there are now over 128 million singles in the United States, outnumbering married people to represent 51 percent of the adults in the country.
Photo: Ben Seidelman | Flickr