Think You’re Better Off Alone? Here’s Why You Should Think Again

Some people come to a point when they feel like giving up on love altogether. A string of bad relationships, endless dating app matches that go nowhere, and painful breakups can all lead to the conviction that you’re better off alone. But according to numerous studies, people who are in healthy relationships have some advantages over those who stay single. Here’s why.

  1. Relationships make you a better person. When you live with someone, you have to learn to be your best self. Your partner won’t put up with you if you give in to your worst tendencies or get too comfortable with your bad habits. Relationships make us better people because you always have someone holding you accountable.
  2. You don’t waste time dating. You can waste hours of your day flicking through dating apps or texting someone you’ve just started going out with. And while some people genuinely enjoy the dating process, most of us are only in it for the relationship rather than the work that goes into finding a partner. When you have a committed partner, you don’t have to deal with the emotional turmoil of being constantly on the market. Being in a relationship saves you time, stress, and uncertainty. Thinking you’re better off alone because it gives you options is a major mistake.
  3. Sex! Couples have more sex than single people. This may come as a shock given that there is a stereotype of the sex-crazed single who hooks up every night with someone new thanks to Tinder and a thriving club scene, but in reality, married couples have them beat. A study of 5,865 people found that 61% of singles between the ages of 25 and 59 hadn’t had sex within the last year, while only 18% of married couples reported the same. While sexual habits vary greatly, relationships give you a reliable source of physical intimacy that single people do not have.
  4. Loving and caring for someone fills your heart. Mutual love and care are some of the most powerful experiences you can have in your life. It makes you feel seen, understood, and validated. Being able to express your love for another person fills your heart with meaning and floods your body with the “love hormone” oxytocin. Loving another person gives your life purpose beyond your own needs and desires and prevents you from becoming fixated on yourself.
  5. Everyone needs attention and connection. Humans thrive on social connection. From the time of hunting and gathering, working in groups and forming bonds have been essential to our longevity and well-being as a species. We are hardwired to build meaningful connections with others, which is why so many people choose to get married or stay in long-term relationships. Being part of a couple is instinctual. It fulfills our need to share our lives with those we love.
  6. It keeps your priorities in the right place. A lot of people spend their lives chasing goals that will ultimately leave them empty, and thinking you’re better off alone so you can chase them is so wrong. It’s easy to get caught up in working 9 to 5 to get one promotion after another, only to realize that you never really liked your job in the first place and more money doesn’t make you happier. When you’re in a relationship, you are constantly reminded that it’s the little things that matter, whether it’s spending evenings at home with your partner, going on trips together, or cheering each other on as you pursue your passions.
  7. Less stress. A study from the University of Chicago found that people in committed long-term relationships produce less cortisol, the stress hormone, than people who are not in relationships. The researchers suggest that this is because people in long-term partnerships are less susceptible to psychological stress, possibly because they have a stronger base of well-being and stability through their relationship.
  8. You might live longer. For decades, life expectancy statistics have shown that married people live longer than their unmarried counterparts. Researchers attribute this discrepancy to various factors, including a higher likelihood of having health insurance, the benefits of having someone to take care of you if you fall ill, and the reinforcement of healthy habits such as exercise and visits to the doctor. They also point to the psychological benefits of marriage which stave off isolation and depression.
  9. You have an adventure buddy. Solo travel is amazing and everyone should have at least one experience of it in their lifetime, but in the end, it’s almost always better to share powerful experiences with others. When you’re single, it can be hard to coordinate adventures with friends and family because they will have different schedules and busy lives. When you’re in a relationship, however, you have a live-in travel buddy and adventure partner.
  10. Marriage gives you a happiness boost. Research has shown that people get a boost of happiness when they get married. The 15-year study found, however, that this is only temporary. People who were unhappy before getting married go back to being unhappy, while people who were already content reported a similar level of contentment years after their marriage. It is inaccurate, therefore, to assume that marriage gives you greater long-term happiness. This will come as no surprise to the many happily single people out there. Looks like you’re not better off alone after all

Better off alone? A healthy relationship has these characteristics

While all of this evidence demonstrates that being in a relationship has advantages over being single, it only applies to healthy relationships. Couples who engage in dysfunctional, codependent, or abusive behavior are far worse off than people who choose to be on their own. Here are the signs that your relationship is healthy:

  1. Mutual respect Respect is a necessary ingredient for love. You cannot truly love someone unless you respect them first, and you cannot feel loved by your partner unless you feel respected by them. Respect means mutual admiration, acceptance, and patience. It means that you don’t try to change each other or put each other down. In a healthy relationship, respect is the foundation.
  2. Commitment Commitment allows you to feel secure in your relationship. Without it, you may feel ignored, unstable, or even unwanted. There are many ways to show commitment, but there is no easy way to establish it other than time. Marriage is a symbolic gesture of commitment, but it is not a guarantee. Only consistency can ensure commitment.
  3. Trust Trust is another key element of a healthy relationship. We all want to make our mistakes disappear, especially when we think our partner will be hurt by our actions or think less of us. But honesty builds trust, and without trust, your relationship will not be strong. Secrecy and the inability to own your mistakes are as corrosive to a relationship as lying, jealousy, and hostility. When you trust each other, you can love fully.
Rose Nolan is a writer and editor from Austin, TX who focuses on all things female and fabulous. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Theater from the University of Surrey and a Master's Degree in Law from the University of Law. She’s been writing professional since 2015 and, in addition to her work for Bolde, she’s also written for Ranker and Mashed. She's published articles on topics ranging from travel, higher education, women's lifestyle, law, food, celebrities, and more.