The connection between relationship status and well-being has many aspects to it.
It isn’t easy to say with full certainty whether being a spouse or a single person (or something in between) is better for one’s health.
That is because people and relationships differ. And because researchers cannot simply assign participants to either remain single or get married, it is not possible to rule out other factors that could be involved.
However, trends do seem to be present among different types of relationships, with strong lessons that everyone – regardless of relationship status – can take a look at to make their living quality a little better.
So, here are 6 ways being single can benefit or harm you.
1. You are less likely to gain weight
A study in the journal Health Psychology conducted back in 2013 revealed that happily married people often gain weight in the 4 years following their wedding. Without the need of having to keep fit for a potential new partner, newlyweds often stop caring so much about the way they look.
Recently, an Australian study in the journal Body Image found that women who feel societal pressure to lose weight before their wedding gained extra weight in the 6 months after. Meanwhile, married men were more prone to become overweight compared to men who were in relationships, engaged, or single, a 2014 University of Minnesota study of young adults found.
Non-sexual as well as sexual touch have enormous positive effects both on a physical and on an emotional level.
There is a simple immediacy to touch that words cannot possibly have. Also, there are some health benefits that are much more pronounced when human affection is expressed in tactile ways.
3. You are more likely to exercise on a regular basis
According to Bella DePaulo, Ph.D., a visiting researcher at the University of California Santa Barbara,
“Many single women and men care about their health and their well-being”
“They exercise, eat right, and live overall healthy lifestyles.”
In a University of Maryland study conducted in 2004, for instance, single adults exercised more regularly than married ones, including people with children.
A UK survey from 2011 mirrored these results, finding that 76% of married men and 63% of married women did not meet the medically suggested 150 minutes of weekly physical exercise.
4. Surgery may be more dangerous
Going through a surgical procedure always comes with risks, no matter if you’re single or married. However, a 2012 Emory University study discovered that singles were 3 times more likely to lose their lives in the 3 months following heart surgery (and 71% more likely to pass away in the next 5 years) than those who were married.
Those who were married tended to have higher optimism regarding their recovery before going under the knife, but they also had lower rates of smoking than singles – a vital factor in their higher 5-year survival rates. However, even these findings aren’t presenting the full picture. In 2011, a RAND Corp. survey conducted with the alumni of the Wounded Warrior Project, found that veterans who had never tied the knot reported higher levels of resiliency – the ability to recover from illness, or struggles in life – than married, separated, or divorced people.
Singles also may be at a higher risk of getting heart disease, according to a study conducted by scientists from Keele University in the UK and Macquarie University in Sydney.
5. You may have more close friends
And you may even be a better friend to them: In 2006, a University of Massachusetts at Amherst study revealed that singles were much more likely to keep their friendships intact than married people (with and without children).
Other studies have also found that singles tend to keep closer contact with their brothers and sisters and they are also more involved in volunteer work.
“Single people—especially single women—often have networks of people who are important to them”
“They have ‘the ones’ rather than ‘the one,’” De Paulo says.
6. People may stigmatize you – but maybe just for a while
Singles are often seen as lonely and miserable, says DePaulo, which can have a bad effect on a person’s general health. However, that may not be the case for much longer: recently, the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that, for the first time, most adults in the US are not married, with singles people coming up at 50.2%.
“I do think that as the number of single people continues to grow—to well over 100 million adults just in the U.S.—it will be increasingly difficult to maintain the stereotypes and caricatures of single people,” DePaulo says.
“There are just too many single people who are happy and healthy and love their single lives, and too many people who know single people who are thriving, for the misperceptions to endure.”
DePaulo has some good advice for those who might be worried about this issue:
“Living your single life fully, joyfully, and unapologetically—even as other people are insisting, without any good scientific basis, that you must be less healthy than your married counterparts—is a good way to maintain your good health.”
Do you believe that married life is more beneficial to one’s health than single life? Let us know your thoughts on the topic by joining the conversation in the comments and please share this article if you’ve found it of value.