Reasons to celebrate if you’re single
|Attention, unmarried people of America: You can splurge on a fancy new wristwatch without having to explain yourself. You can stay out until 3 a.m. without having to phone home. You can leave the toilet seat up. In fact, there are many, many ways that single life rocks, though you may forget that fact when your relatives are grilling you about settling down.
Not only do you have the freedom to do anything you want — it’s also the best time in history to be flying solo. The marriage rate has hit an all-time low (51 percent of American households, compared to 72 percent in 1960), according to the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are approximately 103 million singles in the U.S. And there’s strength in those numbers: “Today’s choose-to-be singles differ from the poor-me singles of past generations; there’s less of a stigma attached to being single,” says Jerusha Stewart, author of The Single Girl’s Manifesta. “Singles are traveling, buying homes and doing everything they want to — you don’t have to get married anymore to live your life with style.”
Want more specifics on why you should celebrate being single? Here are some fascinating reasons why being unmarried in America actually benefits your life:
View Singles on Match.com
Reason #1: You have a better body
We’ve all been there — you get into a relationship, and suddenly you’re trying out new recipes all the time and cuddling instead of exercising. Well, things tend to get worse with marriage. A Southern Methodist University study of 169 newlywed couples published in the scientific journal Health Psychology found that over the course of four years, happily married couples usually gained weight; less-satisfied couples made more effort to prevent weight gain in order to attract a mate post-divorce.
For the unmarried, though, the motivation to stay slim remains: “Singles look at themselves through the eyes of others and want to be attractive to potential partners,” says Susan Davis, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in New York City and author of Something Rich and Strange: Discovering Your Path to Wholeness, “so they’re still ‘working on themselves.’” In short, being single is way better than any New Year’s resolution or exercise game on the Kinect to motivate you to stay in shape.
Reason #2: You’re more likely to achieve great things in your career
It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you have the time, focus and the lack of familial responsibilities. In fact, your premarital motivation to excel in life may be biologically programmed. According to a study conducted at the London School of Economics and Political Scientists, male scientists who stay single longer peak in their careers later in life and tend to be more productive than their married counterparts. Researchers theorize that men, in general, may show off their talents to win the interest of women and then, once they’ve won a wife, get comfortable and do less. In fact, studies have shown that testosterone levels, which boost action, decrease after a man gets married and has children. Single women in STEM fields benefit, too: doctoral women scientists are twice as likely to have never married or been divorced as their male counterparts. Ambitious singles should know, then, they are primed to achieve — whether that means turbo-charging their careers or honing their rock-climbing skills — and work it!
Reason #3: You do less housework
If you leave a sock on the floor but there’s no one else there to see it, does it really need to be picked up? If you’re a single person, you can contemplate deep questions like this one because you have more free time. According to studies conducted by the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research, single women do about 13 hours of chores per week, while single men spend 9 hours weekly on housework. Married women, on the other hand, did 17 hours of housework (while married men spent 14 hours per week). So the message here is for unmarried men and women alike to enjoy a less chore-filled life; fill those free hours with classes, good books, blabbing with friends — whatever it is that makes you happy.
Reason #4: You can do what you want with your money — including keep it
Go ahead and splurge on that pricey moisturizer or new gaming system you’ve been lusting after, because you don’t have to justify your purchase to anyone but yourself. Once you mix money with marriage, though, things change — and fast. According to a survey conducted by the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE), 35 percent of adults with combined finances have lied about a purchase or hidden a bank account or other financial statement from their significant other. “When you’re single, your finances are your own,” explains Phyllis Chase, M.F.T., a Los Angeles-based psychologist and radio host. “When you’re married, you have to deal with different styles of spending and saving, and you may take on your partner’s debt.” And a marriage that doesn’t make it for the long haul can also have a major negative effect on one’s wealth. According to researchers at Ohio State University’s Center for Human Resource Research, during a divorce, men and women generally lose 77 percent of their personal net worth.
Benefit #5: You’re better rested and smarter than your married counterparts
While snuggling up next to a warm body can be pretty fantastic, according to research conducted by SleepBetter.org, American singles get about half a day of extra sleep per month than couples do. Sleeping two-to-a-bed just isn’t as restful as snoozing solo, and other studies confirm that singles generally get more rest than marrieds, averaging seven to eight hours of sleep a night. Rest enhances memory, mood and concentration, as well as allows your immune system to recharge. And, according to scientists at the University of Luebeck in Germany, creativity and problem-solving may directly correlate with getting enough sleep. In the study, participants were given a math puzzle. Those who’d had eight hours of sleep or more before tackling it were twice as likely to get the right answer as those who’d slept less. So singles, revel in the fact that you’re alert, rested and have that extra brain-power edge.
Reason #6: You’re less depressed
Although the media often perpetuates the image of single people being down in the dumps, overall unmarried people tend to be happier than their married counterparts — if you’re a woman, that is. One report by the National Institutes of Health indicated that married women, especially ones with children, have a higher risk for depression than single women. Researchers at the University of London found single women generally have fewer mental-health issues. “Marriage, in many ways, seems to benefit men more than women,” says psychologist Davis. “For women, there’s more of a loss of self.” And, of course, today’s women often feel like they need to do it all — have a career, take care of the kids and perform other traditionally “female” responsibilities. “People who aren’t married are still investing in themselves,” says Dr. Davis. “It’s not selfish — it’s giving to yourself, and that’s something married people can learn from single people.”
Reason #7: You have better friendships
Significant others are a wonderful thing, no doubt, but friends count, too. And on that front, one study found that, when women get married, they spend much less time with their friends than their single counterparts. Here’s another way to look at this: “Singles don’t rely on just one person to meet their needs. You don’t automatically know who you’re going to spend Friday night with,” says Sasha Cagen, author of Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics. “The plus side is that you have a lot of different people in your life and potentially a greater sense of social possibilities.”
Reason #8: Your solo travel tales are enviable
Married individuals take the most vacations, dominating the market with 62 percent of all trips taken, but singles arguably go on more interesting trips. According to the U.S. Travel Association, singles corner the adventure-travel market, engaging in activities like whitewater rafting, scuba diving and mountain biking. Being single and relatively footloose certainly allows you to expand your geographical — and personal — borders. “I have lived abroad, backpacked for close to a year, have been in love three times and much more,” says Courtney Davis, 27, a media-relations manager in Boston. “With every place and every person, my world has expanded.”
Reason #9: You know yourself — and what you want out of a relationship
You’re a better catch now than you were at 20. You may have signs of, ahem, experience etched on your face, but that’s OK because you’re more interesting and more self-aware. Not only have you grown as a person, but you’ve probably been through the wringer a few times in matters of love and now know what you want — and what you won’t tolerate. Chase says that bodes well for future marital success and may actually decrease the likelihood of divorce. “When people get married young, they often feel like the other person will complete them, and they have trouble moving past that Hollywood myth,” she explains. “But maturity brings so much, because if you’re able to communicate who you are and what you want, the better your chances of having a successful marriage.” And that’s a wonderful message: Your single self is great... and should you find the right person and decide to marry, you’re more likely to thrive in that stage of your life, too.
Dawn Yanek is the author of Women’s Best-Kept Secrets. She frequently appears on VH1, MSNBC, and other networks as a commentator on relationships, celebrities and lifestyle trends.