Fairy tales and TV tropes have led us to believe that happiness can only truly come from finding a spouse, and that singlehood exists as some kind of grim reminder of what should be or could have been. The deluge of happy couples in pictures on social media only further reinforces this notion, acting very much as a saccharine portrayal of everyday life that for some, feels very left-field.
The honest truth these days is that singles are fully capable of experiencing a contented life. For some individuals, having a partner in their lives results in nothing more than an unnecessary distraction. As crude as it sounds, a solitary life doesn’t exist in binary opposition to a partnered one – it is merely the flip side of the exact same coin.
During a seminar at the American Psychological Association’s 124th annual conference, Bella DePaulo claims that single people may have more fulfilling social lives and experience greater psychological growth than some married people. She observed that single people are more connected with family and friends whereas marriage tends to make two people insular, based on her study of 814 adults. She also found that the more self-sufficient single people were, the less likely they were to experience negative emotions. But with married people, greater self-sufficiency is tied to stress and difficulty.
For certain people, the notion of being able to spend time with people of your choosing rather than to endure someone's else company out of obligation will come as a pleasurable one. Furthermore, having absolute freedom in prioritising your activities can be rather empowering, which would explain how some aggressively driven individuals opt for a life of one instead of settling down.
At the APA Conference, DePaulo was an impartial advocate whether you chose to lead a single life or settling down with someone. She said, “There is no one blueprint for the good life. What matters is not what everyone else is doing or what other people think we should be doing, but whether we can find the places, the spaces and the people that fit who we really are and allow us to live our best lives.”
A sense of normalcy is hardly the only reason there is (nor the best) for entering a relationship. While many are perfectly able to function well in a two-person arrangement, there will be instances where it feels more like a square-peg-in-a-round-hole kind of deal for some. There should never be pressure to conform to a certain expectation in terms of lifestyle choices. If being alone is what makes achieving your dreams more tenable, then power unto you – and don’t let anyone else tell you different!