Single people officially run the United States. Well, there are more of them. The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently unveiled data showing that with more than 128 million singles representing 51 percent of the American population, being alone is the new norm in the U.S. But are they happy with their solo lifestyle? A study led by Yuthika Girme from the University of Auckland in New Zealand has found that single people are just as happy being alone as they are being in a relationship.

"It's a well-documented finding that single people tend to be less happy compared to those in a relationship, but that may not be true for everyone. Single people also can have satisfying lives," said Girme in a statement.

Girme and her colleagues surveyed over 4,000 residents of New Zealand with high “avoidance social goals” — meaning they actively try to avoid the disagreements and conflict that come with being in a relationship. One-fifth of the participants were single at the time of the study. The ages of each participant ranged from 18 to 94 with long-term relationships lasting an average of nearly 22 years. A separate survey was conducted involving 187 University of Auckland students.

The research team hoped to compared the results of their study to research in the past that has shown being single can lead to slightly lower life satisfaction on top of poor physical and psychological health. They found that being single removed a lot of the anxiety people in relationships experience through conflict. Participants with “low avoidance goals” who weren’t concerned with the good and the bad of being in a relationship were considered less happy when they were single.

Just because you’re happy being single, that doesn’t mean you should try too hard to avoid all forms on human contact. Single people who actively try to avoid the pitfalls of a relationship can also ruin their chances of being happy when they are in a relationship. High avoidance goals can lead to more anxiety, loneliness, lower life satisfaction, and an unhealthy focus on negative memories. However, people with “approach social goals” — meaning they actively try to stay engaged in a relationship — are only at their happiest in a relationship.

"Having greater approach goals tends to have the best outcomes for people when they are in a relationship, but they also experience the most hurt and pain when they are single," Girme added.

Beyond happiness, more and more research has shown that being single does have its perks when it comes to our physical health. For example, certain studies have suggested that single people are more motivated to stay in shape. They also have an easier time getting a better night’s sleep, having a close group of friends, and are less likely to settle for less than they deserve. Above all else, relying on someone else for happiness or satisfaction can be a slippery slope. In the words of Susan B. Anthony: “Independence is happiness.”

Single Ladies
Relationships are overrated. GIF

Source: Sibley C, Faingataa S, Overall N, Girme Y. upHappily Single: The Link Between Relationship Status and Well-Being Depends on Avoidance and Approach Social Goals. Social Psychological and Personality Science. 2015.