Is being single for the long-term aligned with your attachment style? Your happiness may be influenced by this factor.

Is being single for the long-term aligned with your attachment style? Your happiness may be influenced by this factor.

Can single people be secure and thriving? A recent study published in the Journal of Personality suggests that they can. While it is often assumed that single people are insecure and struggle to find a partner or maintain a relationship, the research shows that attachment style plays a crucial role in how individuals experience singlehood.

Singlehood is becoming increasingly common around the world. In Canada, the number of young adults aged 25 to 29 who are single has risen from 32% in 1981 to 61% in 2021. The number of people living alone has also increased significantly. People may choose to remain single for various reasons, including personal goals, difficulty in dating, or the end of a previous relationship.

Attachment theory, which explores how we form relationships with others, suggests that our attachment style influences our relationships. Attachment anxiety refers to insecurity and fear of abandonment, while attachment avoidance involves discomfort with intimacy and closeness. People who are securely attached are comfortable depending on others and engaging in intimate relationships.

Research comparing single and coupled individuals has often found higher levels of attachment insecurities among single people. However, evidence also suggests that many single people choose to remain single and lead fulfilling lives.

In a recent study, researchers examined the attachment styles of single individuals and how they related to happiness and well-being. The study included 482 younger single people and 400 older long-term singles. The findings revealed that 78% of participants were categorized as insecure, while 22% were considered secure.

Further analysis identified four distinct subgroups among singles:

1. Secure singles: These individuals are comfortable with intimacy and closeness in relationships. They have a greater number of non-romantic relationships, better relationships with family and friends, and meet their sexual needs outside of romantic relationships. They report higher levels of overall life satisfaction and moderate interest in future romantic relationships.

2. Anxious singles: This group worries about being loved by others and fears rejection. They have lower self-esteem, feel less supported by close others, and experience lower levels of life satisfaction.

3. Avoidant singles: These individuals prioritize independence and are uncomfortable with getting close to others. They show the least interest in being in a romantic relationship but have fewer friends and close relationships. They report lower levels of relationship satisfaction, meaning in life, and overall happiness compared to secure singles.

4. Fearful singles: This subgroup experiences heightened anxiety about abandonment while also feeling uncomfortable with intimacy and closeness. They struggle with regulating their emotions and report lower levels of life satisfaction.

It is important to note that not all single individuals experience insecurity. A significant portion of the participants in the study were secure and thriving. Additionally, being in an unhappy relationship can have worse life outcomes than being single.

Attachment orientations are not fixed and can change over time in response to life events. Supportive and caring behaviors from close others can help alleviate attachment concerns and foster security.

This research sheds light on the diverse experiences of single individuals based on their attachment styles. It emphasizes that many single people are secure and leading fulfilling lives. However, there is still room for improvement in supporting insecure singles to feel more secure and promote happiness.