10 Good Things Single People Do That Might Benefit You, Too

How single people act, what they value, and what they get out of their values.

Posted Mar 02, 2018

Dmytro Zinkevych/Shutterstock
Source: Dmytro Zinkevych/Shutterstock

For a better marriage, act like a single person.”

That’s what the historian of marriage, Stephanie Coontz, argued in an op-ed in the New York Times. Coontz focused on one of the ways that single people act that is worth emulating — they have wider social networks and interact more often with the people in those networks.

I think there are many other reasons why single people make good role models. Here are 10:

How Single People Act, and What They Are Like

1. Single people act in ways that are good for their health.

  • They exercise more.
  • They also tend to maintain a healthier weight; in contrast, when people marry, they typically gain weight.

2. Single people are environmentally conscious.

A Canadian study showed that people living alone or with roommates use transportation in the most environmentally friendly ways. They walk and bicycle more often and use cars less often.

3. Single people spend more time pursuing their education. Married people spend more time on housework.

The results of the 2016 American Time Use Survey show that the biggest difference in how unmarried and married people spend their time is in the pursuit of educational activities. Unmarried people spend 49 minutes more per day pursuing their education. Married people spend, on average, 42 minutes more every day on household chores than unmarried people do.

4. Single women are especially likely to use a financial windfall to become entrepreneurs.

A British study showed that single women who get an inheritance windfall are more likely than married women, married men, or single men to use that money to start their own business.

5. Single people are giving and caring.

  • They volunteer more often for just about every kind of organization, except religious ones.
  • They are more likely to provide the care needed by aging parents; that’s true for whites and African-Americans, and for both sons and daughters.

6. People who like their time alone have badass personalities.

Single people, of course, are more likely to live alone than married people are. Not all who live alone are doing so by choice, but people who like spending time alone have some admirable personality characteristics: They are especially likely to be open-minded and especially unlikely to be neurotic.

What Single People Value, and What They Get Out of Their Values

7. On average, single people value meaningful work more than married people do.

8. A study comparing lifelong single people to continuously married people over a five-year period found that the single people experienced more personal growth.

9. People who are not married embrace post-materialistic values, such as freedom, creativity, and trying new things, more than married people do. People who have those values are happier than those who do not. Unmarried people get even more out of their post-materialistic values than married people do, and the link between their values and their happiness is stronger for them than it is for married people.

10. Single people get more out of their psychological resources of personal mastery and self-sufficiency than married people do.

Personal mastery is a sense that you can do just about anything you set your mind to. Both unmarried and married people who have more personal mastery are less likely to experience negative feelings. But the link is stronger for single people: They get more emotional protection out of their personal mastery than married people do.

People with the psychological resource of self-sufficiency like doing things on their own. Self-sufficiency serves single people well: The more self-sufficient they are, the less likely they are to experience negative feelings. But for married people, the reverse is true: The more self-sufficient they are, the more likely they are to experience negative feelings.