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Single minded

Research shows that single women are as happy and fulfilled as their married counterparts, but negative stereotypes persist. Two singletons – a mother in her 40s and a millennial watching her friends settle down – tell it like it really is


“When I tell people I’m happy on my own, they give me a look of disbelief”

Annabelle Dixon, 48, journalist and entrepreneur

‘This is going to be your year,’ a friend declared to me at a party recently. ‘You’re going to meet the love of your life!’ ‘You think so?’ I said. A few years ago, her words would have delighted me, but now they leave me feeling… nothing much. I realised that I’d been having plenty of ideas of what I wanted to do in 2017, and none of them involved meeting a man. So, I told her, ‘I’m really happy on my own, you know.’ And she gave me a look of utter disbelief.

I get that reaction a lot, and I’m not the only one, confirms Bella DePaulo, psychologist and author of Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, And Ignored, And Still Live Happily Ever After (Griffin, £9.99). The word ‘single’ comes with lots of baggage, she says. Many people assume that singletons are unhappy, lonely and selfish, but research defies those stereotypes. ‘Studies that follow the same people over a period of time find that those who get married end up no happier than they were when they were single. In fact, single people are more connected to others than those in couples; more likely to live by their values, for instance, choosing lower-paid work that is more fulfilling. They are less likely to be neurotic and especially inclined to be open-minded.’

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Psychologies February 2017 - Reinvent Your Life in 2017