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The health benefits of being single

By Compare the Market | 12 Feb 2016
5 min read

How many times have you heard that you can increase your life span and decrease chronic illness simply by having a long-term relationship? You know what we think? That the single life isn’t all misery and longing, so we did some research and can now bring you good news of ‘healthy tidings’, just in time for Valentines Day.

For the love of money

‘Money can’t buy me love’, but it can buy a sense of control. Imagine never having to compromise on the future of your hard-earned bucks, and never needing to lecture a partner on their misspending.

Conversely, think of the whole courtship period when you’re in a relationship: a nearly endless parade of cosy restaurants, premium cinema experiences, weekends away and expensive gifts. Staying single can mean this kind of expenditure is all about you.

Let’s look at this in a few different ways. According to an ABS report from 2009, roughly 2 in 5 opposite sex couples had the same level of (non-school) qualification as their partner. So, some singles end up meeting someone of comparable schooling and workplace experience – which could mean good things for their future finances. However, men and women differ greatly in how much responsibility they’re willing to shoulder when it comes to the household budget.

This may come as no surprise to the womenfolk, as our own Department of Social Services found that women in a domestic partnership almost exclusively manage the finances (regardless of their level of individual input) and make the more selfless financial decisions. The gentlemen, however, have a tendency to dedicate expendable income solely to their own happiness.

Related: Why we’re stressing about health

Tips for couples: Find a money managing method that you’re both comfortable with, and then budget together.

Sleep blissfully

The marital bed: a sanctuary for some, and a space of maddening restlessness for others. Some couples are driven to such discomfort that they have resorted to separate beds or even separate rooms for their beauty sleep, leading to the term that some psychologists have dubbed (somewhat overdramatically) “night divorce”.

Sleep apnoea, restless leg syndrome, chronic pain, frequent toilet visits, differing body clocks, coughing or wheezing and good old fashioned snoring. A laundry list of Things That Steal Your Sleep, and not just for you, but the person you’re cohabiting with. Even a couple who prefer different sleeping temperatures can be constantly at odds under the same quilt cover. These common nocturnal couple-complaints are likely to lead to higher relationship dissatisfaction according to this high-level review of the available literature.

But for all you singles, it’s sweet dreams!

Furthermore, a lack of sleep can lead to greater hunger and appetite, and difficulties in losing weight – according to Lifehacker Australia. We talk more about healthy waistlines for couples and singles later in this article.

Tips for couples: Agree on a sleep schedule, get any medical conditions (such as snoring) attended to, and consider whether sleeping separately is the recipe for happiness – if all else fails.

Travelling solo

Oh, those poor couples who travel together. One wants Paris, the other wants Auckland, and they ultimately throw in the towel and head to Fiji.

Surely this is no way to take a vacation! On your own, you could be shopping in Hong Kong without dragging along an unwilling partner, skiing in Aspen without being held back by any clumsy amateurs, or seeing the opera in Salzburg at the last minute (there’s usually seating for one available, while pairs of seats are difficult to reserve).

A ticket for one, according to this story from the BBC, will get you more interesting conversations, more exciting invitations, and the food you want, when you want it. That sounds like a recipe for holiday bliss!

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Tips for couples: Don’t want to compromise on vacations? Use this opportunity to reconnect with friends or family by travelling with them instead. When you return, set off for a weekend away with your partner (closer to home, if money is tight), so you can both reconnect.

Being single can be good for your body

Love can bring self-satisfaction and drive you to pleasurable activities, such as sitting on the couch and overindulging in your favourite food. It can even literally slow you down, according to this couples study.

When the heft of evidence shows that happy couples tend to put on weight, it’s clear that being in love can amplify the worst of your health habits, ensuring that gym memberships go unused and the fridge stays full.

Tips for couples: Set health goals together, and treat each other like a life coach (without the expense). Additionally, figure out some rewards for meeting your goals (e.g. new clothes, a fancy dinner) to keep you going when times are tough.

Do it your way

Maintaining a single status can be a chance to really love your own company. And when you are exactly happy from within, you are suddenly quite the catch to others – if that’s what you want.

And what happens when someone endlessly fascinating and fun comes along? You may just feel like letting someone in to share your healthy single life…just make sure you don’t fall into the traps above!

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