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Men Who Eat Healthy Are More Likely To Attract Romantic Partners

All the more reason to ditch all that red meat.

Men and women go through many rituals to try to attract a mate, whether it’s putting on perfume or cologne, wearing an outfit they feel good in, making a few jokes, or studying up on a subject to try to impress the person they’re interested in.

For men, however, there appears to be one simple thing they can do to get a few dates, and it has nothing to do with whether they’ve got a cool car.

A new study found that women preferred the body odour of men who ate a lot of fruits and vegetables, and were less attracted to men who ate a lot of refined carbohydrates, such as bread and pasta.

“We’ve known for a while that odour is an important component of attractiveness, especially for women,” said study author Ian Stephen of Macquarie University in Australia.

As the researchers note, our sweat can help signal our health status, which plays a role in how we choose a mate, and in how a mate chooses us.

For the study, researchers examined the skin of 43 healthy young men using a spectrophotometer, which uses a light to find carotenoids (pigments from plants) on skin. The idea is if you eat a lot of colourful veggies, the spectrophotometer will be able to detect that colour on your skin.

The men also filled out a survey on their eating habits and then put on a clean shirt and exercised. After they began to sweat, nine women were asked to smell, describe, and rate the shirts.

“We asked the women to rate how much they liked it, how floral, how fruity,” and other descriptors, Stephen explained to NPR, adding, “Women basically found that men who ate more vegetables smelled nicer.”

Women basically found that men who ate more vegetables smelled nicer.

The men who ate a lot of meat didn’t produce a sweat that was any more — or less — attractive to women, but their odour was more intense.

This, albeit small, study seems to back up previous research that shows that smells make a potential mate more attractive.

“Scent and scent communication do play important roles in human sexuality,” Kelly Gildersleeve, a post-doctoral research fellow at Chapman University, told Men’s Journal.

Scent and scent communication do play important roles in human sexuality.

In a 1995 study, researchers found that women preferred the body odours of men whose MHC compositions differed from their own, and while the study didn’t go into what the men ate, it clearly shows a link between body odour and the mating process.

So it can’t hurt to start eating healthier — not only to attract that special someone, but to keep yourself feeling good, too.

 08/17/2017     Chloe Tejada Lifestyle Editor, HuffPost Canada
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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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This Is What Happens To Your Brain After A Breakup

“Turning on the reward neurons releases repeated floods of the neurotransmitter dopamine. And the dopamine activates circuits inside the brain that create a craving…In the case of romance, the thing you need more of is your beloved.” – Diane Kelly

We’re going to assume, at least for the sake of this article, that someone you once loved someone did not end up becoming “the one.”

Many people reading this article will concede that a such an unfortunate occasion has happened at least once.

The underlying concept you’ll see throughout the article is this: the brain’s complex – and often, unknowable – intricately woven circuitry produces complex feelings that arise from any and all situations; whether positive or negative.

Of course, this includes any relationship that has gone awry.

The motivation behind this article is to explain what happens to the brain following a painful breakup. The benefit of such knowledge is noteworthy in the sense that we will gain a more comprehensive understanding of the neurocircuitry that accompanies a hard felt separation.

It is our hope, then, that this knowledge will enable you to understand why such emotions occur – and what you can do as a rational being to make the best out of a tough situation.

HUMANS ARE HARDWIRED FOR LOVE

Anyone remember the 1980’s commercial “This is your brain on drugs?” This commercial was a well-intended (though rudimentary) depiction of what occurs in the human brain during drug use. Whether or not one is a fan of this ad, it is challenging to object its effectiveness. Following extensive research, the Partnership for a Drug-Free America reproduced a more intensive version of the commercial following a sizeable decrease in drug abuse cases.

As it turns out, the human brain reacts similarly to love. According to Psychology Today, “love has probably started more schoolyard fights, adult feuds, and outright wars than every other catalyst combined – money, alcohol, drugs, politics, sports, etc.”

Simply put, the numerous effects of love on the brain are strikingly similar to those produced by drugs. Similar to how drugs can induce a stagnant effect on the human brain, love (especially deep love) can result in the same – if not exacerbated – neurological effects.

A neuroscientist at the Einstein College of Medicine explains love’s effect on the brain as follows: “Other kinds of social rejection are much more cognitive…(Romantic rejection) is a life changing thing, and involves systems that are not at the same level as feeling hungry or thirsty.”

In other words, when someone we love rejects us, it is as harmful, if not more so, to the brain than social needs (friendships) and primal needs (sustenance).

Wow…can’t say we saw that coming. Wonder what Dr. Oz or Dr. Phil would say on the matter. Anyway, digression aside let’s get down to it.

THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS TO YOUR BRAIN AFTER A BREAKUP

When we separate or reject somebody who we love, the physical effects – shallow breathing, nausea, chest constriction, etc. – are all very real phenomena.

Studies demonstrate that individuals in the midst of a breakup show disproportionate activity in the brain regions that determine the body’s response to physical pain and distress. This is potentially dangerous; and again, the more intimate the relationship, the likelier that adverse and extreme harmful physical side effects arise.

Unfortunately, this counterproductive cognitive response negatively affects other physical channels; including higher blood pressure, weakening of the immune system, and complications of the digestive system. These physical symptoms may persist for days, weeks, or months following a separation; with the duration of such effects highly dependent upon the individual.

Perhaps the most tragic response to heartbreak is a condition known as Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy (aka, “Broken Heart Syndrome) which produces stress hormones in extreme excess, which can, sadly, result in a heart attack, stroke, or even death.

(Sigh…)

WHAT THIS MEANS (AND DOESN’T)

From birth to death (and perhaps beyond), human beings desire to be loved. Regardless of the rapid advancements in neuroscience, we cannot – nor should we presume to – understand the complex mechanisms of love on our brain, body, and soul.

Experience (and science) tells us that love and human existence are inseparable. On the positive side, this inseparability enables us to love and cherish those we hold dear despite any and all circumstances. On the not so positive side, such findings elaborate upon – for better or worse – our dependence on others for connection, friendship, love, and nourishment.

For those currently going through the heartbreak that many of us have endured, it’s important to know that you are not alone. Human beings, by evolutionary design, are resilient creatures. Our brains have the superlative capability of learning, adapting, and rewiring to any past, present or future situation.

REFERENCES:
PARKER, D. (N.D.). QUOTES ABOUT ADAPTATION (102 QUOTES). RETRIEVED MARCH 24, 2017, FROM HTTP://WWW.GOODREADS.COM/QUOTES/TAG/ADAPTATION
KELLY, D. (2015, JULY 20). HERE’S WHAT BREAKING UP DOES TO YOUR BRAIN. RETRIEVED MARCH 24, 2017, FROM HTTP://GIZMODO.COM/HERES-WHAT-BREAKING-UP-DOES-TO-YOUR-BRAIN-1717776450
WEISS, R., LCSW, CSAT-S. (2015, JANUARY 28). THIS IS YOUR BRAIN ON LOVE. RETRIEVED MARCH 24, 2017, FROM HTTPS://WWW.PSYCHOLOGYTODAY.COM/BLOG/LOVE-AND-SEX-IN-THE-DIGITAL-AGE/201501/IS-YOUR-BRAIN-LOVE


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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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Tips for Coping with Loneliness on Valentine’s Day

By Nancy Schimelpfening    Depression Expert    Updated November 12, 2015

I’m afraid I was a bit insensitive with my Valentine’s Day newsletter last year. Here’s some reader feedback that I received:

Oh, right, a depression newsletter talking about Valentine’s Day and promoting the sending of Valentines. I would think that there could be one oasis where my grumpy, depressed self could be free of that crap.

I’ll admit my first reaction was, “How rude! If you don’t like the newsletter, unsubscribe!” Then I thought some more and this guy is totally right.

I’ve completely lost touch with what it’s like to be a single, depressed person on Valentine’s Day. Looking back, I remember many days when I would see happy couples walk by and I would be eaten up by jealousy and anger. If you’re feeling lonely, Valentine’s Day is just a painful reminder of how alone you feel.

During the month of February, everywhere we look there are hearts, cupids, and pictures of romantic couples exchanging deep and meaningful glances. Single people feel as if they have no place on Valentine’s Day. It’s just another day to trudge through life without someone to share it with.

love

To my friend who wants an oasis where his “grumpy, depressed self” can “be free of that crap,” I must apologize for being insensitive to your needs. Rather than falling into the usual “hearts and candy” commercialism, I should have offered you these strategies to create your own oasis from loneliness:

  • Don’t feel there is something wrong with you if you’re not in a relationship. Your worth comes from what you are, not who you’re with.
  • Don’t look back at old relationships as missed opportunities. Look to the future. Even those happy couples you see were single before the met their current love. Unless they’re with their childhood sweetheart you can bet that they’ve had their share of romantic failures too.
  • Treat yourself to something special on Valentine’s Day. You deserve it.
  • Valentine’s Day isn’t just about romantic love. Do you know someone who’s recently widowed or divorced? Do you have a friend who’s just gone through a rough break up? Spend the evening with them and cheer each other up.
  • Take some time to reevaluate what you really want in a relationship. Are your relationships not lasting because you’re choosing partners who aren’t capable of maintaining a mature, loving relationship?
  • Be willing to take a chance. Like they say, you have to play to win.
  • Be a friend to yourself. If you like yourself, the chances are better that someone else will like you too.