While there are a bunch of studies showing that married folks seem to be happier than those who've stuck to singledom, a new study out of Bowling Green State University has found an apparent exception: older women who've never said "I do," per Live Science. The research, presented at the American Sociological Association's annual meeting in August, culled almost 40 years of data from the University of Chicago's national General Social Survey, in which more than 51,000 US adults were asked to rate their typical happiness level as "very happy," "pretty happy," or "not too happy." Researchers then compared data from various groups, including the never-marrieds, the still-marrieds, divorced people, and those who had lost their spouses. The scientists also broke it down further for people ages 60 and older, as widowed and divorced people tend to be on the older side.
To their surprise, the researchers found "never-married, older women are, in a lot of years [of the survey], indistinguishable from ... married older women," co-researcher Gary Ralph Lee says, noting the same didn't hold true on the men's side—never-married males tended to have the same happiness levels as divorced and widowed men. The survey didn't allow for more insight into why the older ladies seem to be more content, though Lee mentions it could be that they've learned to adapt to being single and they instead draw satisfaction from careers, friends, and family. While not speaking specifically to the older female demographic, D'Marge does point out a few studies that have suggested singles exercise more, maintain better social networks, and may not be as vulnerable to depression as their married friends. (How happy you are depends on how you deal with conflict.)