Are you happier alone?

Time and time again researchers produce evidence showing that being in a relationship brings happiness, better health and stability to most people. In fact, the results tend to suggest that the risk of premature death is reduced. Importantly, however, relationships have to be loving, caring and supportive. An unhappy relationship can cause stress and poor health.

At the same time, surveys suggest that the health risks from being alone or isolated are comparable to the life-shortening risks associated with cigarette smoking, high blood pressure, and obesity. So is there any good news if you are single and perhaps prefer to be alone?

According to the Office for National Statistics (2011), more than half (51%) of the population in England and Wales over the age of 16 are unmarried. These statistics do not include those who are in committed, non-registered relationships. Even so, there are quite a few people in the UK who are single and, of these, there is a significant number who don’t want to in a long-term relationship.

Do all these survey results mean that everyone should somehow look for a happy relationship? Human by nature are gregarious and like company. But, for some, a relationship may be bad for them. Research released from New Zealand (2015), shows that for a subsection of the singles population being single could be better for them.

The survey of more than 4,000 people found that those people who dislike arguments and do everything they can do to avoid upset are as content being single as those in a supportive relationship.

The researcher, Yuthika Girme from the University of Auckland, found that those people who avoid drama in their lives are happier being single. For them, not being in a relationship removes the anxiety they feel associated with relationship conflicts. Conversely, she also found that those who do not fear conflict are happier in relationships.

Relationships and commitment aren't for everyone. While some may never want to be in a committed relationship, for others, it may that a relationships isn't right for them, right now. Our lives are all different and our timelines don't always suit what is considered the norm.

So, for some people, being in a relationship might not be the healthiest option. The challenge they may face, however, is society’s judgement around their single status. There is still a lot of pressure to be in a relationship whatever age you are. But if those who want to be single learn to accept themselves as they are, this may not be a problem. They possess good self belief and can deal with others' judgements.

Others may have difficulties dealing with pressure from family and friends because being married, or in a committed relationship, is seen by many as ‘natural’. Working with a therapist may help those who want to be single tackle those pressures in a healthy way, as well as learning how to express how they feel to friends and family, without risk of upset. Sometimes, all it takes is an openness and understanding. Not everyone wants - or needs - to be in a relationship to be happy. Times are changing and what we want in life is very different from what was expected years ago.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Canary Wharf, E14 4AS
Written by Owen Redahan, MBACP. B.Sc.(Agr)
Canary Wharf, E14 4AS

Owen works with individuals and couples. He focuses mainly on issues around self-esteem, relationships, sexual addiction and work problems using CBT and person focused therapies.

He holds a diploma in Counselling and is Vice Chair of ATSAC (the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity). He is based in Canary Wharf (E14).

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