Singletude: A Positive Blog for Singles

Singletude is a positive, supportive singles blog about life choices for the new single majority. It's about dating and relationships, yes, but it's also about the other 90% of your life--family, friends, career, hobbies--and flying solo and sane in this crazy, coupled world. Singletude isn't about denying loneliness. It's about realizing that whether you're single by choice or by circumstance, this single life is your life to live.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Singles Are Healthier Than Unhappily Marrieds

Breaking news, singles! This study on the correlation between marital status and blood pressure has been making the rounds of the online news hubs, so if you haven't read it, point your browser there.

We've been force-fed a lot of propaganda about how marriage guarantees a longer, healthier life even as many of us singles have stood on the sidelines of marital feuds and wondered how the heck those couples could sleep at night, let alone outlive us. Well, the scoop is that a marriage certificate doesn't mean squat if the relationship isn't fulfilling. In fact--surprise, surprise--it's better to be single!

The researchers measured blood pressure in 204 married partners and 99 singles and collected measures of marital satisfaction and adjustment from the couples. As expected, higher levels of marital satisfaction and adjustment were associated with lower blood pressure. But the big news is that couples who scored poorly on marital satisfaction and adjustment had blood pressure levels that rose through the roof, surpassing those of happier couples and singles. In fact, the dissatisfied couples had blood pressure readings that hit the danger zone!

The bottom line: It's much better for your health to be single than to be unhappily married.

For singles, this isn't news. It's something we've known all along. Not that we're running around pumping our BP monitors like some people check their BlackBerries, but we've likely seen our coupled friends stressed over everything from infidelity to who's going to cook tonight, and in the meantime, we've been retiring each evening to a comfy couch, a free remote, and a bed that no one has to make in the morning. Since most of us have been in relationships, we can also contrast our currently unruffled emotions with the bumpy ride we took through the final stages with the ex. What a fun house.

You can't argue with the facts about a good marriage. There is a lot of evidence that happy partnerships boost disease-free longevity. Yet, for some reason, whether self-righteousness, denial, envy, bitterness, or fear of those who are different, society has insisted for some time that all marriages have this protective effect, while we singles, floating along without the pressures of spouse and kids, are doomed to ill health. That's counterintuitive, and now we also know it's blatantly false.

For me personally, one of the unsung advantages of singlehood is the even keel of a predictable, stable emotional rhythm. Even in the best relationships, it seems the heart is always somersaulting over the ups and downs of coupled life--the spats, the misunderstandings, the doubt and rejection. When I'm single, I may miss out on the highs of romance, but I certainly don't miss the lows of heartbreak, and while an absence of the former won't kill you, the latter can by depressing your immune system, elevating your blood pressure, and increasing your risk of heart attack.

Instinctively, I think we've always known that it's better to be single and happy than married and miserable. But it's nice to have it validated anyway.

Do you think it's healthier to be alone than to be trapped in a bad marriage? Have you been healthier as a single than you've been in unhappy relationships?

Fun Link of the Day

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