Even the best relationships have their problems. Maybe one of you is investing more emotional energy than the other; one of you isn’t pulling your weight around the house; or maybe you don’t even see eye-to-eye on the most basic issues (in which case, good luck).
This means many people think it’s simply too much effort to bother with romantic liaisons at all – and according to a new study, women are more likely to be happier riding solo than men. The research, by consumer analysts Mintel, found that 61% of single women are happy with their uncoupled status compared to 49% of single men, the Telegraph reported.
Single women were also more likely not to have actively sought out a relationship in the last year than men — 75% compared to 65% of solo men. In particular, single women between 45 and 65 were far happier than single men of the same age — 32% of women claimed to be very happy alone, compared to just 19% of men.
Unfortunately, the researchers didn’t specify the participants’ sexualities so it’s unclear whether the finding would be the same for lesbian women and gay men.
On the face of it, it’s good news for women — we’re more than happy fending for and spending time with ourselves, thanks very much — but the reasons behind the data are potentially pretty disheartening. According to Professor Emily Grundy, director of the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex, it’s because women usually put more effort into heterosexual relationships than men.
“There’s evidence that women spend longer on domestic tasks than men and I think they also do more emotional work — so they still do more housework and cooking and things as well as more emotional labour,” Grundy told the Telegraph. Women are also more likely to try to deal with problems or arguments that arise in the relationship, as well as do most of the physical labour, such as housework, she added.
Feminists have long theorized that women tend to perform a double — and even triple — shift of paid labour, domestic work and the emotional work of supporting their (male) partners, an idea that this study seems to support.
However, there’s also a possible positive explanation for why women are more likely to relish singledom, Grundy suggested. Apparently, women are better at socialising while single than men, who tend to rely on their female partners to fraternise in social situations. “Women tend to be better at having alternative social networks and other confidantes whereas men tend to rely quite heavily on their wives for that and have fewer other social ties,” she said.
“Certainly there’s a common finding from a lot of studies that women who don’t have a partner tend to do more social activities and more friends compared to women with partners whereas with men it’s the reverse —men without a partner tend to do much less of that.”
That’s definitely something to console yourself with if you ever do feel sad about your single status – as a social butterfly, at least you’ll never be lonely.