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Loneliness Even Unhealthier Than Obesity

Loneliness Even Unhealthier Than Obesity, Should Be A Public Health Priority: Psychologist

Loneliness should be a major public health concern, according to an American psychologist.

Loneliness is a major health risk, like obesity or smoking, and public health programs should address it in the same way, says a psychologist.

New research by Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Brigham Young University, found that social isolation contributes as strongly to mortality as does smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

“This is something that we should all be taking seriously for our health,” she said.

Holt-Lunstad’s research, presented at a conference of the American Psychological Association, analyzed studies on mortality risk to find out how feelings of social isolation and loneliness compared to other risk factors. She found that it has a greater effect than obesity or exercise.

Having few social connections is associated with various health effects, she said, such as cardiovascular problems, immune response, cognitive decline, and cellular aging, she said. But having other people around helps in other ways too: people are more likely to take their medication, to exercise, and to visit the doctor with encouragement from others.

“Our relationships help provide a sense of meaning and purpose in life. And that can translate to better self-care as well as less risk-taking,” said Holt-Lunstad.

Isolation

It’s an important message at a time when more Canadians than ever are living alone – one of the risk factors examined by Holt-Lunstad in her research.

Census data shows that 28.2 per cent of Canadian adults lived alone in 2016 – the highest proportion since Confederation. And, for the first time, this was the most common household type in the country.

This is partly due to Canada’s aging population, according to Statistics Canada, though more than one-in-10 Canadians under 60 also lives alone.

But everyone can feel the effects of loneliness, said Holt-Lunstad.

“We tend to assume that this is an issue that may be specific to older adults or the elderly, and while of course, that population is important to consider, it’s not isolated to that group,” she said.
“When we look across the data, this affects both men and women. We don’t see any effect in terms of it being stronger in older age and in fact, we have some evidence to suggest that it may be stronger in those under 65.”

 

Until the age of 60, men are more likely than women to live by themselves. This reverses after 60, likely due to men’s lower average life span, meaning there are lots of widowed women. More than half of women over 85 are living alone, according to census data.

A recent survey of seniors by the Canadian Association of Retired Persons found that more than 16 per cent of respondents reported lacking companionship. Fourteen per cent said they have nobody to talk to.

And another survey by the Vancouver Foundation in 2012 found that 25 per cent of residents of that city said they were alone more often than they would like to be.

Public health programs

Holt-Lunstad would like to see information about the effects of loneliness be included in public health programs in the same way information about the dangers of smoking or obesity is.

“I’ve heard people say things like, ‘You can’t put good relationships in the water.’ Or, ‘We can’t legislate that like we may be able to do with a Clean Air Act,’” she said. While that’s true, she believes people should prioritize their relationships in the same way that many have started to do with regular exercise.

“If we approach it as we can all be working on nurturing and fostering our own relationships, this may have a much broader population-wide impact.”

She also believes that research about the health impacts of loneliness should be included in medical training so that doctors can screen their patients for social isolation and provide information when needed. Kids should also learn about relationships the same way that they learn about nutrition, as a way to prevent future problems.

Holt-Lunstad’s research will be published next month in the journal The American Psychologist.


By Leslie Young   National Online Journalist, Investigative       Global News
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The Solution to Millennial Loneliness

How do we stop being so lonely?

On a cold, moonless night, the co-owner of Macy’s department store and his wife were aboard the sinking Titanic. Mrs. Straus distributed blankets to the women and children in Life Boat No. 8. But, when asked to enter the lifeboat herself, she refused to leave Mr. Straus’s side. “All these years we have traveled together, and shall we part now? No, our fate is one,” she explained. Two sailors tried to force her in, and she wrangled herself free, looking at her husband. “Where you go, I go,” she said. The couple was last seen arm in arm on the deck, the finale of their forty years together.

Today, a different sentiment dominates. It’s closer to, “Where you go, I might consider visiting.” The individual comes first.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about why millennials are lonely. In short, it’s because loneliness is contagious (literally), and the internet exacerbates it. Our “infectious isolation,” I concluded, is mounting.

This is problematic for lots of reasons: In animals, social isolation shortens lifespan, promotes obesity and diabetes, hinders psychosexual development, and increases cortisol levels. In humans, social isolation has, according to Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection, “an impact on health comparable to the effect of high blood pressure, lack of exercise, obesity or smoking.” Socially isolated people are more than twice as likely to die of heart disease. They’re also more stressed, less creative, have lower self-esteem, and feel less in control of their lives than non-lonely people.

So how do we stop being lonely?

I think the answer starts with priorities. Social connection has become less important to us. One large cross-sectional study found that subjective loneliness actually declined slightly between 1978 and 2009 in adolescents, while objective social isolation increased. High school students in 2009, the study’s authors write, “reported fewer friends with whom to interact, but less desire for more friends.” Meanwhile, empathy decreased, and insecure attachments increased.

This is consistent with my own experience. Since graduating college, I’ve put friendships on the back burner. I even emailed someone wanting to grab coffee a couple months ago that “I’m just incapable of making friends right now. There’s a little too much going on with work.” The fact that today many people’s best friends are from college may attest to the amount of effort we put into friendships after college.

When I was suffering from a bout of loneliness last year, my boyfriend told me to just go out and meet people. Well, I’m not that lonely, I thought. But recovering from our society-wide isolation will require effort.

Just meeting people, however, isn’t enough. We also need to sacrifice for them. In response to my last article, several readers pointed out that trust is missing from many modern friendships. I think trust is the feeling that someone has your back no matter what. And, today, the truth is very few people do.

In a 2012 op-ed for the New York Times, Sherry Turkle wrote that we’re “increasingly drawn to technologies that provide the illusion of companionship without the demands of relationship.” Millennials may be lonely not just from insufficient social interaction, but also due to insufficient social obligation.

Generational researcher Jean Twenge has found that millennials are significantly more likely than adolescents in the 1970s to describe themselves using traits like “independent” and “assertive.” The resulting gains from this attitude are real, and shouldn’t be discounted — particularly for women. But it’s also, in a way, too bad.

My friends and I have talked about how you never know whether to stay in a city, because your friends could leave soon for some better job somewhere else. If you stayed, hoping they’d stick around, you’re SOL. (Even the prospect that you’d consider them before your career is embarrassing.) Our solution to get everyone to stay put, we joke, is to build a commune. But we know that will never happen. And we know, if we get a better opportunity elsewhere, we’ll leave.

Our commune dream is for something quasi-contractual to keep us together. This is also why, though millennials are marrying later, many of us quietly crave a ring. But marriage, indeed, is a perfect example of our stubborn determination to be a, or at least give, the bird: we’re marrying later — by an average of six years since 1960 — to extend our geographic and professional autonomy.

Amazingly, research has found that attachment to even just a place reduces loneliness. If everyone decided to remain in the same city or town for a lifetime, as they did for centuries before now, we’d receive the two best remedies for loneliness: a home and a community.

I know that’s unrealistic. But before genuine connection sinks altogether, it’s worth thinking about what such a loss would actually mean. Seventeenth-century English poet John Donne wrote that, “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent.” We like to believe we’re floating free. But we need each other, and acting otherwise results more in isolation than true independence.

A version of this article originally appeared on Forbes.
Apr 25, 2017    Caroline Beaton      The Gen-Y Guide


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Is Living Alone the Unlikely Answer to Loneliness?

New research shows that people who live alone are less lonely.

The authors of the book Loneliness describe their concern that Western societies do not take the inherent gregariousness of humans seriously enough. They note that “the latest figures show that ever-greater numbers of people are accepting a life in which they are physically, and perhaps emotionally, isolated from one another.” Among the evidence they cite in support of that fear is the growing number of people who live alone.

It seems intuitive that people who live alone would be lonelier than people who live with others. Most single people do not live alone, yet single people are believed to be lonelier than married people. I’ve found evidence of this in my own research, and researchers in other countries have as well.

A new study of loneliness, based on a large sample of German adults, examined the links among loneliness, living alone, and living single. The research was based on data collected in 2013 from more than 16,000 Germans ranging in age from 18 to 103, who represented more than 10,000 households.

The authors found that when they compared people who lived alone to people who lived with others—focusing on that key aspect of their living arrangement and not letting other factors muddy the picture—the people who lived alone were less lonely.

They also tried to make the case that single people are lonelier, and seemed to imply that if they were to get married, their loneliness would subside. But they ended up showing that they really don’t understand basic methodologies, and that they don’t appreciate, psychologically, how the experience of living single after you get divorced or become widowed could profoundly differ from the experience of living single all your life.

Loneliness and Living Alone: The Link Is Not What You Think

When the authors simply compared the people who lived alone with those who lived with others, the people who lived alone reported more loneliness. But people who live alone differ from the people who live with others in all sorts of ways, so we don’t know, without looking more closely, if living alone really is linked with greater loneliness.

Fortunately, the authors took this step. They found that one way people who live alone differ from others is in their income. So they controlled for income statistically, which means that they essentially compared people at the same level of income to see how loneliness differed between those living alone and those living with others.

Here’s what they found: When people who live alone have the same income as people living with others, the people who live alone are less lonely.

The authors conclude that “living alone may even have beneficial effects on the quality of one’s social relationships” and add, as researchers often do, that more research is needed. Many studies already show the ways in which single people are more connected to other people than married people are, and demonstrate that it is the people who marry, rather than those who stay single, who become more insular.

The research does not show that living alone is a cure for loneliness. Among the people who live alone are those (we don’t know exactly how many) who chose to live that way. If people who prefer living with other people were urged to live alone, we don’t know what would happen. Maybe they would make an effort to form and maintain the kinds of social ties that keep loneliness at bay. Or maybe they would just end up lonely.

The Link Between Loneliness and Single Life

The authors used their data to compare three groups:

  • People who are single and not living with a partner;
  • People who have a romantic partner but are not living together; and
  • People who are living with a romantic partner (and are often married).

They seem to think they know what they are going to find, because in their view, previous research shows that, “Being married is robustly associated with lower levels of loneliness.” They report that in their own research, “average loneliness levels were highest among singles and lowest among those living with their partners.”

The implication seems to be that if only those single people would get married, their loneliness would dissipate. The authors never quite say that married people are less lonely because they are married, but that seems to be the implication.

The problem is, neither their data, nor the data from the previous research they cite, could ever establish that getting married causes people to be less lonely. In fact, the design of the studies and the comparisons they use are a set-up, biased to make married people look less lonely than they really are. The studies compare only people who are currently married (or living with a romantic partner) to those who are single. They set aside all of the people who got married, felt desperately lonely in their marriage, and then got divorced. No, wait—the authors of this paper did not set them aside. If the people who got divorced are still single, the authors included them in the single group, along with the lifelong single people.

And what about people who are widowed, and who may indeed feel deeply lonely without their spouse? They are also included in the group of lifelong single people.

Here’s what their data really show: If you include all of the people who are widowed (and may well be quite lonely) in the group of single people, as well as all of the people who chose to marry but then divorced (and may also be feeling lonely on their own after having been married), then the people who are left in the married group are less lonely than the people who were included in the single group. But does that mean that if all the single people got married, they would become less lonely? No, the research does not show that at all.

In fact, even by using the technique that gives married people a great big unfair advantage, the results were a lot less definitive than the authors expected. When they looked separately at three age groups, they found that romantic relationship status didn’t matter among the adults younger than 30. People who were living with a romantic partner (and often married), people who had a partner but were not living with that partner, and people who were single (with no romantic partner) all experienced about the same levels of loneliness. Among those older than 65, the singles were a bit lonelier, but the differences were small. Only among the middle-aged group (ages 30-65) were the people living with romantic partners noticeably less lonely than the single people.

The article could leave readers with the impression that those people were less lonely because they were married (or cohabiting). An alternative possibility is that the married group looks less lonely because so many of the people who were lonely in their marriages got divorced (and then the authors put them in with the lifelong single people). The article doesn’t discuss the fact that the single group also includes people who are widowed, and are probably lonely because they miss their spouse. The implication seems to be that being single means you’re lonely, and if you’re married, you’re not lonely.

I want you to think smarter than that.

When the authors state in their article abstract that the “late-life increase in loneliness could be explained by…higher proportion of singles in this age group,” the implication seems to be that single means lonely. That might lead you to think, “Oh those poor old people, they are lonely because they are single.” But maybe they are lonely because so many of them are widowed. Maybe they spent so many years of their lives married that they don’t know how to lead a full, rich, socially connected life as a single person. And maybe lifelong single people do know how to do that.

Actually, there’s no need to qualify that last statement with a “maybe.” We already know, from lots of research, that lifelong single people have more friends than married people, and do more to maintain their ties with friends, siblings, parents, and neighbors. It is when people get married that they turn inward and pay less attention to the other people in their lives.

Clinging to Ideology, Not Facts

  • The arguments in the article seem to be rooted in an ideology of marriage, which maintains that just about everyone wants to marry and that people who get married are better off physically, psychologically, and interpersonally than they were when they were single. I believe this because of the way the authors talk about single people and partnered people. For example:
  • When discussing loneliness in older people, they say that “the absence of a significant attachment figure (spouse, partner)” is important. Do you see what’s wrong with that? This suggests that only a spouse or romantic partner counts as a significant attachment figure. No matter how close you may be to a lifelong friend, a sibling, or anyone else; and no matter if your relationship with another person meets all the criteria for an attachment relationship, your attachment figure is not considered a significant one if that person is not a spouse or romantic partner.
  • The authors say that “the formation of an intimate relationship and partnership in young adults is a developmental accomplishment.” It is, if that’s what you want.  But not everyone wants that. There are young adults (and adults of every age) who are uninterested in that goal. In this article, marriage is portrayed as an accomplishment. That’s an ideological assumption, but it is stated more like a fact — and this is in a scientific publication.

When the authors find, to their surprise, that romantic relationship status has nothing to do with loneliness among adults younger than the age of 30, they try to explain it this way: “[Y]ounger people can compensate for the absence of a romantic partner through a larger social network in both private and professional life.” The key word is “compensate.” It reveals the assumption that romantic relationships matter more than any other relationships, to all people, and therefore if adults do not have such a relationship, they need to compensate for that somehow.

The compensation assumption is especially remarkable in light of the authors’ own findings. Relationship status did not matter as much as they thought it would. Results were not consistent across the three age groups, and they did not mean what the authors said they did. But another factor matters, in predictable ways, and in consistent ways across the three age groups: having friends.

What’s more, there was no undermining the importance of friendship, no matter how the authors analyzed the data. People with more friends were less lonely. The results were that simple. But nowhere do we learn anything about how people need to compensate for not having friends.

Bella DePaulo Ph.D.   Living Single   Sep 26, 2016


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Are You Ready For A Relationship?

10 Ways to Know You’re Ready for a Relationship

When speaking about relationships, we often discuss what would make someone a good man or what would make them a good woman in terms of being a partner. I think what often goes overlooked, is the introspective aspect of building a solid foundation with someone, and what it really means to be “ready” for a relationship.

It doesn’t matter if you find the man or woman of your dreams if you’re not ready to have them in your life. It also brings about the possibility of the harsh truth that they may not be interested in you in return, if you’re not in the right place emotionally.

So, what does this all look like?

You will be as good as you can, as often as you can.

I was going to say “you’re ready to do your best for someone, every day” but let’s be realistic — we are all human and we all have good days and bad days. We can only give so much and sometimes need to be supported ourselves.

What’s important here is that you’re ready to put solid, consistent effort into your partner, your relationship, and even developing yourself. If you’re not ready to do that, then it’s best to not commit to someone who would do it for you (yet).

You’ll put someone else’s interests ahead of your own.

There is compromise and sacrifice in every relationship. This could mean anything from watching a type of movie you don’t like, to moving to a new city or state for the one you love. The bottom line is, in a happy, healthy relationship — your partner’s happiness is just as important as your own.

Your willingness to put them first at times is a signal of your readiness to commit.

You understand the importance of communication.

Communication is the backbone of a relationship in terms of keeping both partners feeling heard and understood. Nobody can read your mind, nor should they expect you to try to read theirs. Being able to openly and honestly communicate with the person you’re committed to can make or break your relationship.

You’ve got some semblance of a path in life.

It’s difficult to plan a future with someone who has no future plans for themselves. Things change and life throws curveballs at us — nobody can be expected to have it all figured out, but giving it a try is a good start.

You can let the little things slide.

No matter how well two people get along, odds are you will not like every. single. little. thing. about the other person. There may be small quirks that you’ve got to accept (and maybe ignore). If you get annoyed by everything they do, it will cause unnecessary tension in the relationship.

You’re ready to accept someone as they are.

You can’t enter into a relationship with the hopes of molding someone into who you want them to be. It’s important to note that in a healthy relationship, both partners will motivate each other to become the best versions of themselves — this is not the same as trying to change someone’s nature.

Happiness comes from the ability to be honest, and the ability to be honest comes from being able to open up to someone without being judged.

You don’t look for someone to complete you.

You, right now, are a whole complete person. If you think you need to be in a relationship in order to be “complete,” you will always be looking for something you can never find. True fulfillment and satisfaction comes from within, and you cannot fully, effectively give yourself to someone until you’ve found it.

You don’t need someone to complete you, only someone to accept you completely.


You are happy being single.

If you’re not happy being single, you won’t be happy in a relationship. As said in the point above, true happiness comes from within. Single is simply a word to describe someone who is strong enough to live their life by themselves until the right person comes along to share it with.

If you’re constantly searching for a relationship out of loneliness, you will find yourself with the first person who comes along that is interested in you. We all need to have the dignity and self-respect to only commit ourselves to those who deserve it, and the only way to be able to wait for that is to be happy before they come along.

Your ex is no longer a factor.

We all have a past, and the new person in our life needs to be able to accept that. But, we also have to accept that about ourselves, and be able to leave it in the past. Obviously this is not cut and dry if there are children involved or other mutual commitments independent of the relationship.

I understand that in some rare occasions people stay friendly with their exes or maybe even spend time together, but in most situations, in order to truly move on we need to spend time completely cut off from them. No communication, no time together, nothing.

Until you are completely over your ex and can give your full time and attention to someone new, it is better not to commit.

You are ready to blend your life into someone else’s.

While a relationship cannot be your entire life, it does permeate its entirety. You become connected with their friends, families, hobbies, pets, living situations… and they become connected with yours.

Sure, some privacy is important, but your willingness to fully accept someone into your life and routines is what will let the other person know you truly care and are ready to make a commitment to them. They will become your teammate in taking on life together. You will be building bridges between your lives rather than walls.

More important than some sort of “checklist” though, is something nobody else can ever tell you — how you feel inside. I believe when we reach the right phase in life or come across the right person, we will know we are ready to leave the single life behind and build a life alongside them.

But, until that person comes along, it’s important to work on ourselves and define our own happiness which we can then share with them.

When you are ready, you will know.

By James Michael Sama     Jul 13, 2014
 
James Michael Sama is a writer, actor and public speaker who writes regularly on his website jamesmsama.com
 
Follow James Michael Sama on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/JamesMSama
 
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Eight Signs You May Not Be Ready for a Relationship

I know what you’re thinking right now. “Of course, I’m ready for a relationship. It’s what I’ve been waiting so long for! I just need to know how I can get one started!”

Well, I’m certainly not arguing that you want a real relationship. I’m asking if you’re ready for a real relationship. That one’s tough to answer, because it entails really looking at yourself and your beliefs, attitudes and behaviors in a real, open, and honest way. And that’s never easy.

One thing I can tell you is that I’ve been there. I’ve been in that spot where all I could think about was how I so wanted a real relationship, with all of the affection, understanding, support and love that comes with it. And that’s when I asked myself this very same question and I realized that I didn’t like the answer. I had some major changing to do. So how do you know if you’re ready for a relationship before you start one with either the wrong guy or Mr. Right at the wrong time?

If you’re showing any of these warning signs, it means you have some work to do on yourself before you can be in a healthy, happy relationship with someone else:

1. Your compass is not pointing north. Your great-guy compass is off. It’s consistently pointing you to the wrong type of guy. This typically happens because you’re subconsciously trying to sabotage the relationship from the beginning by choosing a guy who’s not actually relationship material.

Your friends and family have warned you that he’s a player, or a loser, or a (enter your favorite derogatory term for a bad boyfriend here) but you’ve written them off, believing that you’re going to be the one woman that can change him into the perfect partner. No, the truth is that inside you know you won’t change him, and that’s actually fine with you because you subconsciously fear a deep relationship.

2. You need a man to feel happy. You feel miserable unless you’re coupled up. If you get an invite to a party or event, and you don’t have a man to bring, then you’re likely to make up an excuse, send your regrets, pass up the night out and sit at home feeling sorry for yourself because you are “oh, so alone.”

Then, you spend the entire night Googling “best places to meet men” and reading articles about what men find attractive instead of doing something that would make you happy (like going to the party you were invited to.) The truth is that if you did meet a great guy while in this mindset, you’d hold on so tight so quickly that you’d most likely strangle the relationship anyway. Find what makes you happy before you’re in a relationship, then find someone to share that happiness with.

3. You believe you can save him. Many women have a savior complex and they find themselves a project guy. What this really means is that they’re looking for dysfunction so that they have the drama in their lives that they subconsciously crave. It may stem from a variety of sources but the end result is that you will wind up with exactly what you’re looking for, a real project. Which, when translated means someone with some serious personal problems of their own. These problems should be left to the trained professionals. Don’t try to be a therapist.

4. You’re looking for someone to save you. If your self-talk sounds something like “I’m such a mess” or “Why am I so insecure sometimes?” then you need to get that taken care of before you can be in a relationship. Otherwise, you’ll either attract a partner that has the savior complex (see above) or you’ll attract a partner with the same issues. And as much as misery loves company, misery plus misery doubles the misery. Don’t go there.

5. You’re looking for someone to complete you. Yes, it’s true. Back in the day, I loved the movie Jerry Maguire as much as all of the other teary-eyed girls in the theater, but the truth is, as much as “you complete me” sounds so romantic, it should actually be “you complement me.” If you’re not a whole person to begin with then the only thing you’ll be completing is your part in a completely dysfunctional relationship. And while that may still make for a good movie (think: As Good as it Gets), it’s no fun in real life.

6. You’re spending more time pursuing love than pursuing your interests.  I realize that in order to meet men you need to get out there and be sociable, whether “out there” means the local ski club or the local web scene and I’m all for that. In fact, I highly recommend it. But if you’re not actively pursuing your own interests at the same time, then there’s a problem. If you’re thinking to yourself right now, “The only thing I’m interested in is meeting a man,” then you’re in the deep.

As I’ve said before, the best way to meet the right Mr. Right is by doing things and going places that you’d do or go to anyway, even if there was no chance of meeting a man. So, if you find yourself on Saturday nights obsessing over and constantly tweaking every word on your online dating profile, then you’re wasting valuable time that you could be spending pursuing your own interests. If you don’t have any interests, then you aren’t very interesting and that means that you’re hoping a guy will add interest to your life. He won’t because he won’t stick around long enough to.

7. You haven’t unpacked your baggage. If you find yourself still dealing with the emotional scars left from the shrapnel of a previous breakup, particularly if you’re still feeling angry then you need to finish your emotional healing before starting a new relationship. Many women believe that a man, sometimes any man, will get their mind off of their ex and into a better place. The problem is that it never really works. What it will do is keep your mind off of the man that you’re now starting a relationship with, cause you to feel guilty, cause him (and maybe you, too) to feel resentful, and generally make a big mess for everyone. Leave the rebounding to the basketball players.

8. You’re bending and twisting yourself like a pretzel to fit what you think the person you’re attracted to might like. If you find yourself trying to be something other than what you naturally are, then it’s a major red flag. This was one of the biggest problems I had in my own dating career, as I pretended to be a skier or a big golf fan when in reality I hadn’t even had an interest in either until I was attracted to a guy who did.

If you find that you’re often trying to change something about yourself thinking it will make you more attractive to the guy you just met, then you are, like I was, lacking in self-esteem and confidence in yourself. Don’t be too hard on yourself, this is very common but it means that you need to work on finding and loving the real you before trying to love someone else.

If any of the above sound like you, then you need to start looking inward and making some changes to your life in order to get yourself ready to be with someone else. The good news? Once you have these licked, you will be ready for a real relationship. And then you’ll be in good emotional shape to start attracting the kind of man that you want to be in a relationship with, and he’ll want to be in a relationship with you too.

Why? Because you’ll both be emotionally healthy. So, when Mr. Right does walk into your life, you’ll both be in the right state of mind, in the right place, at the right time. And it doesn’t get any more right than that.

By Guest Contributor Jane Garapick, YourTango


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Fun Fact Friday

  • Lonely people take longer, hotter showers or baths to replace the warmth they’re lacking socially or emotionally.
  • Marilyn Monroe’s IQ(168) was higher than Einstein’s (160)
  • Singing when tensed helps you avoid anxiety and depression.
  • Too much stress and high blood pressure can lead to a condition called “hematidrosis” – where a person sweats blood.
hugs-hand-holding

 

  • 80% of people keep their feelings to themselves because they believe it’s hard for others to understand their pain.
  • North American school buses are yellow because humans see yellow faster than any other color, which is important for avoiding accidents.
  • Hugging and or holding hands with the person you love has been proven to reduce stress almost instantly.

 

Happy Friday  🙂
 
source:       factualfacts.com       https://twitter.com/Fact       @Fact


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No Partner, No Worries: New Study of Psychological Health

Bella DePaulo Ph.D.         Nov 27, 2016

Older women are psychologically healthy with or without romantic partners

When adults get into their mid-fifties and beyond, how much does a romantic partner matter to their psychological well-being? Matthew Wright and Susan Brown of Bowling Green University, authors of a study recently published online at the Journal of Marriage and Family, expected to find a hierarchy of good outcomes. They predicted that married people would enjoy the greatest psychological well-being. Cohabiters, they thought, would do next best, and daters would follow in third place. They expected unpartnered single people to be worst off, psychologically. That is not what they found.

Instead they found that for women, partnership status made no difference. Whether the women were married, cohabiting, dating, or single and unpartnered, there were no statistically significant differences in their experiences of depression, stress, or loneliness. There were some nonsignificant trends in the data, but even those were not always consistent with the authors’ predictions. For example, the women who were dating tended to experience more stress than the single women without a romantic partner.

For the men, having a romantic partner mattered more than it did for the women, but again, not exactly in the ways the authors predicted. The authors thought that the unpartnered single men would do worse than the single men who were dating on every measure, but that never happened. The men who were dating did not differ significantly from the unpartnered single men in their experiences of depression or stress or loneliness.

The cohabiting men were predicted to do less well than the married men, but that never happened, either. The married men were more likely to report frequent depressive symptoms. They were also slightly more likely to experience stress than the cohabiting men. Marriage was also no protection against loneliness, as married men were no less lonely than cohabiting men. Cohabiting men also did well in comparison to the dating or unpartnered men on two measures of well-being: They were less likely to report frequent depressive symptoms or loneliness.

The unacknowledged psychological strengths of older adults who are not married

The hierarchy that the authors predicted is consistent with the prevailing narrative about marriage and coupling in contemporary society. Married people are supposed to do better than everyone else. Cohabiters should do next best, then people who are dating. Single people with no partners should, in theory, do worse than everyone else. The theory is that these four groups form a continuum of social attachment (with married people enjoying more social ties, and more social and emotional support, and unpartnered singles the least) and also a continuum of commitment (again, with married people showing the most commitment and unpartnered singles the least).

For the older women, though, partnership status did not make a lick of a difference. Married women, cohabiting women, dating women, and unpartnered single women – they were all about the same in their experiences of depression, stress, and loneliness.

For the older men, there were some differences, but not exactly the ones the authors predicted. Married men never did significantly better than everyone else, on any of the measures. In fact, when there was a difference between the married men and the cohabiting men, it favored the cohabiting men. According to the theoretical perspectives that guided the authors’ work, the dating men should have done better than the unpartnered single men, because they supposedly had greater social attachment and greater commitment. But again, the men who were dating did not do significantly better than the unpartnered single men in any way.

For at least 10 reasons, the psychological well-being of the unmarried people in this study – particularly the unpartnered single people – is especially impressive.

  1. Married people are the recipients of more than 1,000 federal benefits and protections given only to them. They include tax breaks, Social Security benefits, special considerations under the Family and Medical Leave Act and much more. Unpartnered single people get none of this largesse, and neither do daters or cohabiters. Why is it that married people do not do better than everyone else psychologically when they have these extraordinary advantages?
  2. Married people also enjoy a vast array of social, cultural, economic, and political privileges simply because they are married. These, too, should have catapulted them far above everyone else in their psychological well-being. But they didn’t.
  3. Among the participants in Wright and Brown’s study, the unpartnered single people – both men and women – were far less well off financially than the married or dating people. The married women’s assets (household assets minus debts) were more than twice those of the unpartnered single people, and for the men, the difference was almost as great. (The cohabiters’ assets were similar to those of the unpartnered single people’s – yet they did as well or better than the married people on every measure of psychological well-being.)
  4. The unpartnered single people in the study were the least likely to be employed. For the men, the difference between the unpartnered and everyone else was especially large.
  5. Unpartnered women in the study were least likely to have some college education. Among the men, only the cohabiters were less likely than the unpartnered singles to have some college education.
  6. Unpartnered men and women in the study were least likely to have private health insurance. For the men, the difference between them and everyone else was especially large.
  7. People who are not white, who have the challenges of racism in addition to singlism, were disproportionately represented among those who were not married. Among the women in the study, the proportions followed the proposed hierarchy precisely, with the fewest people who were not white among the married, then the cohabiting, then the dating, and the greatest proportion among the unpartnered. For the men, the distribution was similar, except that the dating men included a greater percentage of people who were not white than the unpartnered men.
  8. The unpartnered single people in the study were also disadvantaged by the authors’ decision to lump together all unpartnered single people, regardless of whether they were divorced or widowed or had always been single. (They were constrained by the sample size, but other researchers do the same thing.) People who are divorced and widowed, especially if their marriages ended fairly recently, may feel especially depressed, stressed, and lonely. Lifelong single people often do quite well psychologically. By including the previously married in with the lifelong single people, the study likely underestimated the true psychological well-being of lifelong single people.
  9. The single people in the study were also disadvantaged methodologically in another way. The married group included only those people who were currently married. The previously married, who often do less well than the married people and the lifelong single people, got assigned to one of the other groups. The authors’ prediction was that the people who got married would do the best – but the people who got divorced and widowed did get married. They just didn’t stay that way. The authors – like just about everyone else who studies marital status – gave the married group an unfair advantage by excluding from that group everyone who got married, hated it, and got divorced. They compounded the unfairness by including the previously married with other groups, such as the lifelong single people, whose psychological well-being may have looked even better if they were studied on their own.
  10. Even if the authors had found exactly what they predicted, with married people doing the best and unpartnered singles the worst, the design of their study would not allow them to make the claim that the married or partnered people were doing better because they were married or partnered. The people in the four groups were all different people. Consider, for example, the unpartnered single people who chose to be single, who perhaps were single at heart. If they were to marry or cohabit, they might not experience any improvement in psychological well-being – and in fact could end up doing less well, psychologically – even if the people who chose to marry or cohabit did better. (In this study, especially among the women, they generally did not do better.)
  11. The authors are not alone in giving short shrift to the methodological issues that disadvantage single people, and they are not alone in citing uncritically claims about the benefits of marrying that have been extensively critiqued. The methodological issues are basic ones but rarely fully acknowledged in the research on marital status. (This is explained in more detail here, here, and here.)
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The authors offered one possible explanation for why partnership status didn’t matter for the women: Wives do more caregiving than husbands, so they may not get the same benefits from their partnerships that men do. That explanation, though, overlooks all the research showing that single people do more of the work of caring for their aging parents than married people do, and that single people are more likely to step in to help people who need help for three months or more, even when those people are not family members. So single women are in some ways doing more of the work of caregiving than married people, yet, in this study, they are doing just as well as partnered women in their psychological well-being.

Considering the profoundly important ways that the unpartnered single people are disadvantaged – both in the society at large, in this particular study, and in the specific methodology of this study and so many others – perhaps the most significant question raised by the present study (and the research on marital and relationship status more broadly) is, how is this possible? How is it possible that the unpartnered single people in this study were disadvantaged economically, educationally, in their employment status, in their access to private health insurance, and faced more racial stigma and discrimination as well, yet they held their own on every measure of psychological well-being? (In some of their analyses, the authors tried to control for these differences and a few others, but it made little difference.) With so much going against them, why didn’t the unpartnered single people do worse than everyone else, as the authors predicted they would? How is it possible that single people are stereotyped, stigmatized, marginalized, and discriminated against, and still live happily ever after? That’s a question hardly anyone addresses.

What mattered more than having a romantic partner

The focus of the article was on romantic partnerships and their purported benefits. But for the women especially, the predicted benefits of having a spouse or cohabiting partner or dating partner simply were not there.

Those romantic partnerships were supposed to provide the social attachments and commitments that enhanced people’s psychological well-being. For the most part, they didn’t. The data the authors reported actually did show the importance of social ties, just not the narrow romantic ones that were at the center of their interest.

All participants answered questions about social support, assessing the extent to which they could open up to their friends and family, and rely and friends and family when they have a problem. Social support did matter, for both women and men, in almost every way.

Although romantic partnership never mattered for women, social support from friends and family always did. Women with more social support were less likely to report frequent depressive symptoms, they were less likely to experience stress, and they were less likely to be lonely. Social support from friends and family mattered to men, too, though not quite as much as it did for the women. Men who had more social support were less likely to report frequent depressive symptoms and they were slightly less likely to experience stress.

In the section of the article in which the authors discussed the meaning and implications of their findings, they never mentioned what they found about social support. They never suggested, for example, that perhaps social support from friends and family, and the reciprocal support participants likely provided in return, constituted the very social attachments and commitments theorized to be so special to romantic partners. They never urged their colleagues to consider the possibility that support from friends and family is more important than romantic partnerships. Instead, they said their findings “demonstrate the need to consider the benefits of non-marital unions for older adults.”

Other research has already shown the significance of ties beyond romantic ones to people of different marital statuses. It is single people, more than married people, who maintain ties with friends, neighbors, siblings, and parents. When people marry, they become more insular. They lean on one particular social attachment and commitment, the one to their spouse. The hierarchy perspective considers one kind of relationship, a romantic relationship, to be paramount, and marginalizes all the other significant people and relationships in our lives. Maybe that’s one of the reasons the authors did not find what they thought they would.

Details of the study

Participants were about 1,000 people, ages 57 through 85, from a representative national sample from the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project. The project was a longitudinal study but the authors of the present study analyzed the three dependent measures (depressive symptoms, perceived stress, and loneliness) from only one point in time, Wave II of the data. The other variables in the study, including partnership status, demographic characteristics, socioeconomic resources, and social support, were measured at Wave I.

Depression was assessed by the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale. It includes items such as “felt depressed,” “felt everything was an effort,” and “did not feel like eating.” The authors created a measure that separated people into those who experienced depressive symptoms frequently and those who did not experience symptoms as frequently.

Perceived stress was measured by participants’ answers to questions such as “I felt difficulties were piling up so high I could not overcome them” and “I was unable to control important things in my life.” The authors created a measure that separated people into those who rarely or never experienced those stressors in the past week, and those who experienced them more often.

Loneliness was assessed by participants’ answers to three questions: How often do you feel that you lack companionship? How often do you feel isolated from others?  How often do you feel left out? (When single answer that last question, they may be describing more than a feeling, as, for example, when coupled people exclude their single friends because they are single.)

Summary

There actually is a hierarchy of value and respect, and it is just the one the authors described: married people are valued and respected the most, and given the most benefits and protections; cohabiters are in second place, followed by single people who are dating. Single people without romantic partners are the most stereotyped and stigmatized. The authors thought that psychological well-being would follow the same hierarchy, with married people enjoying the most and unpartnered single people the least. There are many reasons why it would be reasonable to expect that, including all the ways in which married people are advantaged and single people are not – both in society in general and in the specific way this study, and many other studies of marital status, are designed and analyzed. But that’s not what they found. Partnership status made no difference whatsoever for the women: the married, cohabiting, dating and unpartnered single women were all about the same in their experiences of depression, stress, and loneliness. Partnership made some difference to the men, but not always in the way the authors expected. For example, married men never did significantly better than the cohabiting men in any way. The dating men also did no better than the unpartnered men on any of the measures of their psychological well-being. The key question left unanswered by this study is: How is it that single people do so well psychologically, when they have so much stacked against them?

The fact that partnership status did not matter to women (and did not always matter to men, either) doesn’t mean that social ties and interpersonal commitments don’t matter. They do matter, when ties beyond the narrow romantic ones are considered. The men and women with more social support from friends and family experienced less depression and less stress, and the women less often felt lonely.

 
References
Wright, M., & Brown, S. L. (2016). Psychological well-being among older adults:
 The role of partnership status. Journal of Marriage and Family.
Currently available online; will appear in print later.
Bella DePaulo (Ph.D., Harvard, 1979) is a social psychologist and the author of Singled Out: How Singles are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After (link is external) (St. Martin’s Press) and How We Live Now: Redefining Home and Family in the 21st Century (link is external) (Atria), and other books (link is external). Atlantic magazine described Dr. DePaulo as “America’s foremost thinker and writer on the single experience.” In Singled Out and in her other work on people who are single, DePaulo has drawn from social science data to challenge the stereotypes of people who are single. DePaulo has also offered seminars and workshops on the science of singlehood. She is the recipient of a number of honors and awards, such as the James McKeen Cattell Award and the Research Scientist Development Award. DePaulo has published more than 100 scientific papers and has served in various leadership positions in professional organizations. She has written op-ed essays for publications such as the New York Times, the Chronicle of Higher Education, Newsday, and the San Francisco Chronicle, and she is also a contributor to the Huffington Post. Bella DePaulo has discussed the place of singles in society on radio and television, including NPR and CNN, and her work has been described in newspapers (such as the New York Times and the Washington Post) and magazines (such as Time, Business Week, and Psychology Today). She is a Project Scientist at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Visit her website at BellaDePaulo.com (link is external).

 sources: www.psychologytoday.com


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Fun Fact Friday

  • A survey says that those who wear black are seen as serious and reliable — almost 50% women and 64% of men agree that black exudes confidence.
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strawberries
Strawberries actually contain more vitamin C than oranges

 

  • Falling in love has similar neurological effects as the high produced from taking cocaine.
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Happy Friday  
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