While comparatively tolerable a few decades before, being single seems to have become a major problem for a range of people in the 21st century. Those, who are not engaged in any kind of relationships, are constantly being reminded of what they consider a problem – even the Facebook service annoyingly offers the user to identify their current status as “single.”
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The ensuing communication problems can be seen as an expected outcome of the factors above. The status of a single person is part and parcel of the modern reality for an increasingly large number of people and at the same time the major cause for psychological and social problems for the specified social tier; therefore, fighting the fear of being single should be viewed as the key coping mechanism for the people, who are labeled by society as “single.”
Not only is such fear irrational, but also very dangerous in its implications for the person affected by it: “An important consequence of fear of being single may be, therefore, to settle for less in relationships in order to gain and maintain a relationship” (Spielman, MacDonald, Maxwell, Joel, Peragine, Muise & Impett, 2013, p. 1049).
There is no need to stress that being single may trigger a range of issues, including both social and personal ones. Moreover, in a range of cultures, being single is often viewed as a negative characteristic of a person, or, at the very least, something to look down at (Pignotti & Abell, 2009). More to the point, being single often affects people in a number of negative ways.
While there are obvious advantages to being single from a certain perspective, such as better career options, the lack of a supportive partner does have its effect on an adult person, who no longer has strong ties to their parents. According to the recent researches, singleness may even cause depression with subsequent suicidal tendencies:
“Other features associated with an increased risk for completed suicide include male sex, being single or living alone, and having prominent feelings of hopelessness” (American Psychiatric Association, 2013, p. 205). Identifying the people, who happen to be affected by their single status the most, one must admit that women seem to have the most issues with their social status (Gordon, 2003).
It should also be noted that the very concept of being single is often used rather loosely to define a variety of social phenomena. The concept of being single is used as opposed to being married; however, the phenomenon is not restricted to denoting the absence of marital bonds. According to the existing classification, singleness can also be identified as the absence of a partner.
Apart from the absence of a marital status, the fact that a person is not currently dating anyone is also viewed as another type of singleness, according to the existing typology; more to the point, the concept of singleness can be identified as the lack of interest towards relationships in general (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).
At this point, such types of singleness as the intended and the unintended one must be named. While some people attain the status of being single after thorough and long speculations, others cannot help being ignored by the potential partners.
Singleness, however, does not necessarily lead to a neurotic disorder. In fact, singleness may turn out a rather neutral factor depending on the temper and the set of personality traits that a person may possess. The confusion lends its way to the fact that singleness is often mixed up with loneliness.
The latter, in its turn, is identified as a state of permanent lack of communication and, therefore, a very negative factor triggering depression and mild neurologic disorders (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).
Hence, being single should not be viewed as a factor that causes immediate problems with communication. Instead, it can be considered a factor that contributes to one’s developing a wrong image of one’s self-based on the existing prejudice and the specifics of the cultural values accepted in the specified society.
However, as far as the typology of being single is concerned, the state of being divorced is, perhaps, the situation that should cause the greatest concern. Although a number of people handle the divorce procedure comparatively easily, a number of divorcees undergo a stage that is characterized by a severe depression; more to the point, the chances of developing a bipolar disorder rise among divorced people:
“Separated, divorced, or widowed individuals have higher rates of bipolar I disorder than do individuals who are married or have never been married, but the direction of the association is unclear” (American Psychiatric Association, 2013, p. 130).
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Outlining the reasons for a person to be single, one must mention that the existing factors affecting one’s decision to remain without a partner are quite versatile. As a rule, among single people, the ones that have made their decision to remain without a partner consciously and those, who have found themselves single due to specific circumstances, are traditionally identified.
Researches show that women are usually more vulnerable to their status as single than men are. Nevertheless, a range of women choose to remain without a partner; some are pressured into it by their career choices, whereas others consciously acknowledge their lack of willingness or experience to engage in relationships with a partner:
“In addition to decisions about remaining single, the majority of women are now delaying marriage, which presents additional issues” (Gordon, 2003, p. 34).
Being single is not one of those phenomena that have been unfairly left out of people’s focus – instead, the issue seems to have been explored to the point where everyone thinks themselves to be competent enough to solve the specified problem. Singleness, its causes, and key effects, as well as the means to stop being single, for the lack of a better expression, have been worn out completely.
The existing pieces of advice regarding being single, however, beg the question whether the phenomenon is to be avoided. Instead of dreading the latter and conjuring the strategies for rushing into the relationships that one may later regret starting at all, the methods of dealing with singleness should be provided. A decent coping strategy is bound to prevent major issues and help one reconcile with one’s state of being single.
Among the key strategies, the necessity to cope with the fear of being left alone deserves a mentioning first. One of the basic stumbling blocks in not only building relationships with another person but also living a full life, the fear of being single tops the lists of key reasons for single people to have emotional and psychological issues, including major communication problems.
Fear, in its turn, launches depression and, thus, unleashes the Pandora’s Box of psychological issues that a person in question may possess.
It cripples people’s basic abilities to communicate, making the problem even worse and, therefore, leaving its victims in a vicious circle of communication failure. Herein the need for fighting this fear lies, and the strategy of exploring the roots of this fear can be seen as a perfect approach of reconciling with one’s singleness.
People need to learn to put up with the state of being single. Spielman et al. (2013) show that a rushed decision to engage into relationships out of fear of being left alone is not only harmful to the person starting it but also unfair to their partner, leaving both sides of the relationship dissatisfied and bitter after the rue reasons for their relationships to be started are revealed.
Relationships must be based on positive attitude, mutual trust and the willingness to share one’s experiences with the loved one, whereas fear only blocks relationships from development, making them stale (Spielman et al., 2013). To acquire an opportunity to engage in relationships, one must work on one’s self-schema (Hafer, 2009) and design a positive image of one’s self.
Even though the state of singleness itself does not presuppose that a person being in it has certain issues, being single still means putting up with a lot of pressure, which emerges both from the social prejudice and the recognition of the need for support and love. By designing a strategy, which will help the single person get their priorities in order, one will be able to help the person in question avoid major issues triggered by their social status.
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.
Gordon, P. A. (2003). The decision to remain single: Implications for women across cultures. Journal of Mental Health Counseling, 25(1), 33–44.
Hafer, J. (2009). The role of self-schema status in moderating cognitive dissonance. Villanova, PA: Villanova University.
Pignotti, M. & Abell, N. (2009).The negative stereotyping of single persons scale. Research on Social Work Practice, 19(5), 639–652.
Spielman, S. S., MacDonald, G., Maxwell, J. A., Joel, S., Peragine, D., Muise, A. & Impett, E. A. (2013). Settling for less out of fear of being single. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 105(6), 1049–1073.