According to Psychology Professor Bella DePaulo, who looked at more than eight hundred academic studies lasting over thirty years, being single may actually be healthier than being married. For most of human history, society has looked towards marriage as a step in life. I encourage you to read my review on the 400-page “History of the Wife” for some interesting concepts surrounding marriage throughout history. But now, DePaulo’s thesis states that “being single allows people to live their best, most authentic, and most meaningful life”.
For centuries, marriage has been considered a necessary factor in society. One that creates a family unit to work in society while “training” the next generation – the married couples’ kids. We’ve seen multiple changes in social roles – especially in the so-called typical family unit – in the last few decades; thus, we’re seeing the social value of family change before our very eyes.
As stated in a previous article, divorce is a relatively modern invention. Now it’s incredibly easy to grab a divorce and move on. While this is great for moral choices and human rights (as in, if there’s an abusive relationship or adultery of any kind the family unit can just be terminated), it does burn fear into the hearts of traditionalists, in a sense.
DePaulo, who teaches as the University of California, has claimed that “research comparing people who have stayed single with those who have stayed married shows that single people have a heightened sense of self-determination” and that “they [single people] are more likely to experience a sense of continued growth and development as a person.”
Thus, everything about the conventional functions of marriage may be wrong after all. Or, in the very least, everything about marriage is being increasingly questioned.
But, that isn’t to say that the pillar of family in our society is collapsing. Let’s take some statistics from The Independent, who have reported that there “are 16.2 million” single individuals residing within the United Kingdom, comparative to the “23.7 million” married people living alongside them. While yes, the single rates are increasing quicker than the marriage rates, one could easily determine this to be a shift in population overtime.
This is just another reminder for traditionalists: that the so-called “typical” family unit hasn’t really been affected by what they have claimed for years would completely ruin it. Gay marriage has been legal now in the United States for over a year, yet the “conventional wisdom” of marriage and the “typical” family unit remains. Divorce rates have gone up, but so have second-marriage rates – meaning that marriage still remains impactful in our society.
Being single hasn’t really impacted the social urge for marriage. But psychologically? Being married has really impacted the mentality of our society.