Sometimes, when you’re single, it’s tempting to envy friends who are cozily ensconced in couplehood. But what’s easy to forget when you’re pining for a constant companion is this: Going solo has its own advantages, too. As proof, here are a few perks you should start reveling in right now.
Advantage #1: You’re more hire-able
If you’re looking for a job, being single gives you an edge. According to CNNMoney.com, unmarried Americans recovered approximately 90 percent of the five million jobs lost during the 2009 recession. Married Americans, in contrast, gained back just 22 percent of the positions they once held. Companies are snapping up singles for several reasons: first, only 42% of U.S. men and women get married before age 29, and younger employees typically have lower starting salaries than their older, more experienced counterparts. And economics experts also speculate that single-income households may have a greater sense of urgency in taking any job that’s hiring, while individuals living in homes with two or more incomes may wait for a position that’s better suited to the applicant’s skill set to open up instead.
Advantage #2: You’re slimmer
Let’s be honest: People in relationships can get lazy in terms of maintaining their looks, and one clear way this manifests is in their weight. One study by Ohio State University found that married people are more likely than singles to gain an extra 7 to 20 pounds of extra padding. Meanwhile, divorce serves as another of life’s “weight shocks” that prompts people to pack on the pounds, particularly for men and people over 30. Your more slender physique, in other words, is better off single.
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Advantage #3: You’re good at everything
Think about it: In most relationships you divide the chores — from who hangs the picture frames to handling the checking account and cooking meals. “But when you’re single, this is all yours. You check your own car coolant, level your own shelves, pay your own bills, cook your own dinners and navigate your own way,” points out Amy Spencer, author of Meeting Your Half-Orange: An Utterly Optimistic Guide to Using Dating Optimism to Find Your Perfect Match. “It can be tiring, of course, but it’s good for you!” That means that whatever curveballs life decides to throw at you, you’ll have the confidence and experience to figure it out yourself.
Advantage #4: You make the world a better place
In one study published in the British Journal of Psychology titled “Men behaving nicely: Public goods as peacock tails,” researchers administered a computer game asking volunteers to donate money to a fund that benefited the common good. Men, it turns out, donated more while in the company of attractive females than they did when they were surrounded by other men. The moral of the story: When the possibility of love is in the air, men try harder to impress others. As Melvin (Jack Nicholson) famously said to Carol (Helen Hunt) in the movie As Good as It Gets: “You make me want to be a better man.” Being single brings out a man’s inner Samaritan.
Advantage #5: You’re free to pursue the life you want
In the best-seller Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert’s husband asks his soon-to-be ex-wife why she couldn’t go find herself within their marriage. (Answer: She would have if she could.) But the hard truth is, many people really need to spend time alone in order to figure out who they are. “When you’re single, you can pursue the life that is most meaningful to you,” explains Bella DePaulo, author of Singlism: What It Is, Why It Matters, and How To Stop It. “You can grow and change in ways that you find most authentic and meaningful; you don’t need to temper your dreams to fit the plans or expectations of a partner.”
Advantage #6: You drink less alcohol (if you’re a woman)
Apparently, marriage drives women to drink. At least, that’s according to one recent study by the University of Cincinnati, in which researchers compared the alcohol consumption levels of married and single people. The reason for this isn’t that marriage is so miserable that women end up hitting the bottle, but because partners’ health habits — specifically, the bad ones — tend to rub off on each other. Case in point: Married men drink less than their single counterparts, but consume more alcohol post-divorce.
Advantage #7: You can squeeze into last-minute spots easier than a pair could
“My single friend went to a stadium concert alone 15 minutes before it started to buy a ticket,” recalls Spencer. “Because he was alone, the vendor offered him the grand prize of a ‘band seat’ — which was one straggling eighth-row center spot for the show. That wouldn’t have happened if a couple had arrived looking for tickets to the show.” And these benefits are everywhere, if you know where to look for them: Being single means you can get to a movie late and still get a perfect seat in the middle if you’re willing to push past a few already-seated folks. You can get the last seat on an airplane or skip ahead on the roller coaster line. And you’re most likely to become friends’ “plus one” guest for fun events or dinners, whereas two people would’ve been impossible to include.
Advantage #8: You can take risks and make life changes with a clear conscience
Want to switch careers, move to a new city or take up skydiving? All of these leaps of faith are more easily done when you’re on your own. “I was able to quit my job and start my own business — even though I didn’t have a client or much of a business plan,” points out Eleanore Wells, author of The Spinsterlicious Life: 20 Life Lessons for Living Happily Single and Child-free. “It worked out well, but it was risky… and perhaps would have been an irresponsible — even reckless — move for me, if I had other people depending on my income.” So singles, use this time in your life to do all the crazy things you’ve ever dreamed of, because that wiggle room narrows significantly once you’re settled down with The One.
Advantage #9: You meet a lot more people — and learn a ton just by sheer osmosis
It’s a fact: Single people are more approachable — on trains, in restaurants, and anywhere else you can think of where people congregate. As a result, they end up being exposed to a lot more of what life has to offer. Ever heard that the best way to learn a foreign language is to date a native speaker, or living in-country? That’s because the best way to learn anything, really, is to spend time with those who have expertise in that area. “I dated a man on and off for several years who was a wine connoisseur,” says Kerri Zane, author of It Takes All 5: A Single Mom’s Guide to Finding the REAL One. “I now know that I love Viognier — I didn’t even know that there was such a wine before I met him! I also got to fly a small plane and hiked some pretty impressive mountains; I had a great time with every new experience.” And even if you two part ways, what you’ve learned stays with you for a lifetime.
Advantage #10: Last (but not least): you still get to have that first kiss
Singles may gripe that the dating scene can be discouraging at times, but amid the lows, there are also some amazing highs — like, say, sharing a first kiss with someone you’ve just started seeing. Almost nothing in long-term relationships can hold a candle to the electricity and excitement of that single, magical moment. So, savor it, singles! Trust me, us coupled-up types are insanely jealous of you each time it happens.