Generally speaking, sociologists find that people in relationships tend to be happier and more satisfied than single people. But a new study makes clear that for some, being single is the way to be. It all depends on how individuals deal with conflict in relationships—those who hate it and try to avoid it at all costs report being just as happy when they're single as people in committed relationships, the New Zealand researchers write at EurekaAlert. In researcher-speak, such people have high "avoidance social goals," and when they're in relationships, they often end up being miserable. “It’s a well-documented finding that single people tend to be less happy compared to those in a relationship, but that may not be true for everyone,” says lead researcher Yuthika Girme of the University of Auckland.
Her survey involved more than 4,000 people age 18 to 94. The results show that "you can never say one size fits all," a George Mason professor not involved with the study tells HealthDay. But before singles start exulting in I-told-you-sos, he adds that people who can't deal with conflict tend to be a little neurotic and might benefit from counseling. Such studies are important as the number of single people rises, notes Discovery, which says 51% of adult Americans fall in the bucket. It cites previous research showing that people who have a strong fear of being alone often end up in lousy relationships, too. "Taken together, these studies suggest that not everyone is cut out for relationships," writes Talal al-Khatib. "The single life isn’t so bad after all." (Another study finds that for those with depression, having happy friends helps.)