Before she was The Bachelorette, Angie Kent was single for eight years. Picture: Channel 10
Before she was The Bachelorette, Angie Kent was single for eight years. Picture: Channel 10

Being in a couple is no guarantee of happiness

Want to lead a happy, healthy and socially connected life?

Then stay single.

Don't get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to love and be loved. In fact, I think being in the right relationship is one of life's greatest joys, and when I am truly connected to the right man, my heart sings.

However, I do think that sometimes we fall into the trap of thinking we will only be happy if we are one of two.

That's why we tend to treat singledom like it is a condition that needs to be cured ("Surely there's someone we can match her up with?"), make assumptions about the number of cats a single woman might possess, and usually only represent solo folk in popular culture if they're depicted as being lonely, misfits, or desperate to partner up.

MORE FROM DANNIELLE MILLER: It's actually not hard to do the right thing

I've been "consciously uncoupled" for the past seven years. And I'm far from alone in this choice.

There is a global rise in the number of single people. In Australia, one in four women between the ages of 35 and 65 are single. Even in countries with near universal marriage, such as in Indonesia, there's a growing trend to put marriage off.

Sami Lukis has written extensively about the happy single life (and a lot of disastrous dates along the way). Picture: Lachie Millard
Sami Lukis has written extensively about the happy single life (and a lot of disastrous dates along the way). Picture: Lachie Millard

Does this mean we will see an increase in loneliness and despair? Not necessarily.

Social Scientist Dr Bella De Paulo told the Ladies, We Need To Talk, podcast that, "We have this whole mythology about marriage (that) you'll be happier, healthier, live longer, and be morally superior." But, she explained, "the most recent studies are showing that when people get married they … are just as happy or as unhappy as they were when they were single."

There's also a wide body of research that shows singles have richer, more diverse social ties than their attached counterparts, and do more volunteering.

Singles are inclined to exercise more and sleep better (there's no partner tossing and turning, or snoring, to disturb their slumber).

Being in an unhappy or toxic relationship is also likely to significantly impact not just on your metal heath, but on your physical wellbeing as well. Studies show women with high levels of conflict in their relationships tend to have high blood sugar levels, high blood pressure and experience fatigue.

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So I'm calling for a moratorium on the phrases thrown at singles that are all too often patronising and pitying:

Now that you've stopped looking, you'll find the one!

This always strikes me as insulting to those singles who would like to buddy up. Are we saying that all that active looking and open-mindedness is actually to blame for their solo state?

Unhappy days. Being single is much better for your health and mental well being than staying in an unhappy or toxic relationship. Picture: iStock.
Unhappy days. Being single is much better for your health and mental well being than staying in an unhappy or toxic relationship. Picture: iStock.

But it also reeks of passive entitlement; surely we're not destined to have our Soul Mate land in our laps.

If your friend tells you she is happy not being in a relationship, support that choice rather than implying she has previously hampered her own efforts to seek love, or is still existing only in a limbo-like state before her real life as someone's other half can begin.

Can you take my shift on Saturday night?

Singles can be discriminated against at work when co-workers assume they have nothing better to do during the holidays or on weekends than to take on extra shifts.

Earlier this year Dinglan Experimental Middle School in Eastern China announced that in addition to providing family leave for couples, two half-days of "love leave" per month would be made available to single and childless teachers. This time, Principal Zhao is reported as saying, is so that staff may relax or "enjoy life and experience its beauty."

 

Proving that there’s a Kardashian for every occasion, Kourtney Kardashian is an example of the happy single life. Picture: Kelly Sullivan/Getty Images
Proving that there’s a Kardashian for every occasion, Kourtney Kardashian is an example of the happy single life. Picture: Kelly Sullivan/Getty Images

 

How progressive - and much needed. When a married employee says they need to take time off to care for their sick spouse or child, employers are usually sympathetic.

Why should the single who needs time off to care for an ill parent or close friend not be met with the same understanding?

MORE FROM DANNIELLE MILLER: Forget your spouse - it's your teenager who needs the love

So what's wrong with you?

I don't think there's anything wrong with me. Do I have peculiarities? Don't we all. But I'm not single because I have been found faulty. Rather, after having a series of happy-until-we-weren't relationships (I am still friends with all my significant ex partners, which I think speaks volumes) I have simply decided not to nest again. That may change - but it's unlikely.

But either way, I know I will be fine.

Because my heart can sing amazing solos as well.

 

Dannielle Miller is a teen educator, parenting author and CEO of Enlighten Education.