Studies have shown that people will settle for less in a relationship for fear of being single.1 Researchers characterize the fear of being single as “…entailing concern, anxiety, or distress regarding the current or prospective experience of being without a romantic partner”.1 This distress can be experienced by people not in relationships and those who are currently in one, but worry about their stability or question its longevity. While most research has focused on this anxiety in women, researchers note that both men and women may experience discomfort when it comes to singledom because both sexes have an intrinsic need to find and maintain intimate relationships.1
How do they know this? Researchers conducted a series of studies, through which they developed the “Fear of Being Single Scale.” They found that individuals with stronger fears were more likely to lower their standards, both in their current relationships, and when selecting new mates.1 In addition, higher scores on their scale “…predicted greater dependence in less satisfying relationships”.1 The more fear a person had, the less likely they would be to end a relationship that they were in, even when they were not satisfied.
What Does This Mean for You?
Women and men who fear being alone may stay in unfulfilling relationships or may be quick to rush into relationships that are not ideal. They’re putting the importance of their relationship status over the relationship itself, which is very problematic.
It is important to be cognizant of any anxiety you have about being single. Recognizing this may prevent you from making a hasty decision and settling for less than you desire and deserve.
Being single should not be viewed negatively. In fact, there are many benefits to being single. Many singles experience more autonomy and personal growth than those who are married.2 Being single enables people to spend more time maintaining close connections with others. Research has also shown that singles maintain greater contact with their friends, neighbors, siblings, and parents than their married counterparts.3 Single people are able to maintain strong bonds in other areas of their lives.
Remember that there is absolutely nothing wrong with being single. The mistake is to give in to societal pressures to be in a relationship or to settle for less than you deserve. Most of all, don’t compare yourself to others in relationships. Instead, value and enjoy the freedoms and meaningful connections that you currently have in your life.
This article is excerpted from a post on Psychology Today.
1Spielmann, S. S., MacDonald, G., Maxwell, J. A., Joel, S., Peragine, D., Muise, A., & Impett, E. (2013). Settling for less out of fear of being single. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 105(6), 1049-1073.
2Marks, N. F., & Lambert, J. D. (1998). Marital status continuity and change among young and midlife adults: Longitudinal effects on psychological well-being. Journal of Family Issues, 19(6), 652-686.
3Sarkisian, N., & Gerstel, N. (2016). Does singlehood isolate or integrate? Examining the link between marital status and ties to kin, friends, and neighbors. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 33(3), 361-384.