Single or Coupled
Which team are you on? The single side, where you find yourself constantly being bombarded with ‘sound’ advice on how to become un-single? Or the side that gives the ‘sound’ advice, coupled (not meant to be a pun) with the tinge of pity? Although, do singles generally feel it’s their role give ‘sound’ advice to twosomes about how best to un-partner? I think not.
Let’s have a look at the singles first. Well-meaning coupled friends are so eager to offer condescending advice like, “you’ll meet someone when you least expect it,” (this is the cue to roll your eyes) or, “go online – everybody does it – it’s nothing to feel embarrassed about,” (cue the rolling of eyes again). You are just too nice to shut them down. Remember my column in the last edition of Ruby about being too nice and trying not to offend? Well, you didn’t learn did you? I know this because here you are listening and nodding your head as your well-meaning friend spews out all this drivel about how to be partnered-up, while your brain is screaming out, ‘Shut the ‘duck’ up!’
Back to the elephant in the room - the partnerless elephant, that is. After a brief web search, I see much has been written about the benefits of the single life. Evidently: you stay trim and fit, oh yeah, is that conducive with eating a nightly tub of ice-cream on the sofa alone; you have a healthier social life, how is that possible without a plus-one, dare I ask; you are less likely to drink, oh really you think; you have a better sex life, enough already, now this is becoming ridiculous. Who did this research anyway, one half of a deluded twosome fantasising about the overrated singles’ life?
Then I read about the research that tells us stuff we don’t really need to know. Oh dear, single people have higher levels of depression, anxiety, adjustment problems, and other psychological distress. No wonder friends are trying to get you hitched, no one wants to be friends with this poor sap. Further, people who have always been single are 58 per cent more likely to die prematurely than married people. Now that’s a worry, but that journal article is from 2006 after all. I’d hazard a guess that we have moved on a great deal since then, and besides, if you are single and reading this you’re definitely not a statistic. As you know stats can be manipulated so it’s up to you to disprove this hypothesis and shoot off an angry email to the researchers.
Well, that’s if they are still in the land of the living. So, if in the last nine years any of this team has found themselves single, there is a 58 per cent chance your email will bounce back. Makes a person question whether wedding rings offer some amazing invisible protective force field, like something from a 2009 Star Trek episode, doesn’t it?
Not content with the above, I sought out more recent research. Fortuitously, I found research claiming the opposite. Go figure! You’d think I’d know better, but I kept searching. A 2015 UK study tells us that single people report a 21 per cent satisfaction rate with their lives, where couples report a 58 per cent satisfaction rate. This really is too much information for a singleton to cope with. So, may I suggest to all you solo flyers to cover all your bases, head down, finger at the ready and quick smart back to Tinder and swiping right. Looks like your very life depends on coupling up.
Anyway, back to the coupled population, with their smug life satisfaction and protective factors. There is a lot to be said about being a ‘we’ or an ‘us’ – it’s socially acceptable and apparently health inducing. Obviously, there are quite a number of benefits that come into play to be so blessed, like having that special someone to generate good times with, which if I may hazard a guess, is usually well documented with Facebook posts and a running tally of month-a-versaries.
Then there’s the open and intimate communication that surely produces a sense of security in an unpredictable world, that is, reciprocal texting 103 times in an hour with cute smiley emoticons and coloured hearts – so sweet. Let’s not forget the physical side of things too; it’s particularly therapeutic to experience the regular release of oxytocin, the love hormone also-known-as the cuddle chemical. Evidently, oxytocin is also a cardio-protective hormone - no wonder couples live longer!
My advice then, to the single folk, you best cuddle your cat like crazy and get your hit of oxytocin. This looks like a guarantee to avoid a premature call from the grim reaper chappie. The cat will probably benefit too – well, until he goes into withdrawal when you acquire the obligatory partner.
It seems to me that we can easily imagine that the other side is having all the fun. But it’s probably just an illusion. We can be somewhat wired toward wanting what we can’t have. It’s probably about the old ‘the grass is greener on the other side’ adage, which seems to raise its ugly head at different times in our life. It’s like that thing that happens when you’re out for dinner – we’ve all been there – where you’re in two minds of what to order, and when the meals come out, darn it, the pasta was what you should have ordered, not the steak. The lucky consumer of the seafood marinara is the envy of all those chomping through their steaks. But is this contented looking recipient of the revered dish secretly coveting your steak, or about to experience the after-effects of a dodgy crustacean? You’ll probably never know, but food for thought perhaps – oops, sorry, another pun.
So, with that said, should you should find yourself feeling alone or lonely during the festive season, and the much-overrated New Year’s Eve - don’t despair – recognise this condition isn’t exclusive to either team. If you want my considered and professional advice - just eat the damn steak and get on with it!
Wishing you all, dear readers, of whatever persuasion, a New Year full of wonderful times and dreams coming true.