Forever alone? Maybe it's for the best

Greater numbers of adults are finding themselves single, for various reasons (file)
Greater numbers of adults are finding themselves single, for various reasons (file)

Some Kiwis might be better off staying forever alone.

New research at Auckland University has found people who place great importance on avoiding conflict and disagreements are generally happier when they're single than when they're in a relationship.

Lead researcher Yuthika Girme, a psychology doctoral candidate, surveyed more than 4000 New Zealanders with "high avoidance social goals".

While for most people being single results in "slightly lower life satisfaction and poorer physical and psychological health", she found for these individuals, the reverse is true.

"Individuals motivated by avoidance goals who find relationships difficult to manage may be relieved from the burden they experience when trying to maintain their relationships and manage negative relationship experiences," Ms Girme writes in journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

"The current results illustrate that these social changes do not mean that all people who are single, even those who are strongly motivated to sustain close relationships, are facing a less satisfying life."

For some people, trying to avoid conflict with their partner can contribute to "anxiety, loneliness, lower life satisfaction, and an unhealthy focus on negative memories", says Ms Girme.

People who "seek to maintain relationships by enhancing intimacy and fostering growth together as partners" were generally more satisfied with their lives, especially if they were in a relationship.

But on the other hand, they also "experience the most hurt and pain when they are single".

Ms Girme says the research is important because greater numbers of adults are finding themselves single, through delaying marriage, higher divorce rates and growing numbers of solo parents.

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