The Health Benefits of Being Single

Single? Stop sweating it and start celebrating it. You’re no longer the Bridget Jones-inspired I’m-going-to-die-miserable-and-alone minority. In fact, you’re emerging as something of a boss, outnumbering your married peers in Canada and the U.S., and enjoying some newly discovered health and wellness perks, too. Single adults are more active, more socially connected, leaner, and more likely to grow and change than their coupled-up counterparts. (Take that, Tinder.)

And yet despite the increasing numbers of fascinating, attractive single women that command mainstream attention (Rihanna! Lady Gaga!), lonely single-girl stereotypes infuriatingly persist. Blame what sociologists call “cultural lag” for the disconnect between fact and fiction when it comes to flying solo, says Bella DePaulo, a California-based social psychologist and the author of Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored and Still Live Happily Ever After. “Our perceptions of single people have not kept up with the big changes in their place in society and how they are living their lives,” she explains.

Previous generations perceived marriage and commitment as a kind of health tonic, making you happier and healthier and “better off in all sorts of other psychological and interpersonal ways, too,” she says. That traditional view is being challenged by emerging research that reveals that contemporary singles enjoy some enviable health and wellness perks. Here are five single-girl bonuses that may make even smug marrieds sit up and take notice.

You’re keeping it high and tight
You may not get to wear the big white dress on that special day, but unlike many loved-up brides, you’ll probably still be able to fit into your bridesmaid’s dress in a few year’s time. That’s because leaving the dating pool isn’t always a boon to your health. In fact, according to the results of a 2013 study, newlyweds are more likely to gain weight after getting hitched. The reason may boil down to simple complacency. Coupled-up folks don’t feel the pressure to look attractive in quite the same way so they let their wellness routine slide.

You never skip Barre
Single people are often more active and don’t skip their workouts—or at least not as often as married people tend to. A 2011 British poll found that the majority of single adults met the standard weekly recommendation for physical activity while the majority of married people did not. Parenthood, as one U.S. study showed, can also decrease physical activity levels.

You’re the best kind of BFF
Far from being sad and lonely, singles often enjoy richer, more connected social lives. A 2015 study found that being single enhances social relationships and that single people make for more supportive and involved friends, family members and neighbours than married people whose social circles tend to contract after they say “I do.” “When people get married, they become more insular,” says DePaulo.

You’re all about the journey, not the destination
Singles answer to no one, and that autonomy is good for self-development. Modern singles get off on growing and changing, on trying new things and different approaches to life. “One of the intriguing ways that single people do better than married people is in their experiences of personal growth,” says DePaulo. “In a study that followed lifelong single people and continuously married people over a five-year period, the single people experienced more personal growth than the married people did.”

You’re happier on your own
Not every singleton is desperate to settle down. Some people are just plain happier on their own. DePaulo calls this group “single at heart” and defines them as “those for whom living single is how they live their best, most authentic and most meaningful lives.” These singles may experience less stress because they don’t deal with the day-to-day conflicts surrounding money and domestic duties that are inherent to a relationship. They may also be happier, too. A 2015 paper that appeared in the Journal Society for Personality and Social Psychology revealed that people who tend to avoid conflict and disagreements are far happier being single than they are in a relationship.