It’s 2018 and it’s time to tackle sexist myths about women and dating so that you can live better and pursue love with less stress. Time’s Up, so let’s stop spreading strange ideas that maintain women’s inequality. Many people assume that your worth and happiness depend on your relationship status and that you should do whatever it takes to captivate another person’s attention. And now with social media, we’re constantly consumed with filtered selfies that make coupling seem even more glamorously perfect. What do experts in psychology say about happiness and romance? And just to clarify, I’m all for connection, I just don’t want you to feel miserable while looking for a meaningful relationship.
Here are 4 myths about love worth rethinking, since changing your mindset about being single can free you to feel happier, now:
1. Being single says something about you.
When social psychologist, Bella DePaulo, asked participants in an experiment to read this sentence: “Anna has been living in Munich… She is currently single…she plays the guitar and goes swimming,” she discovered that people make certain assumptions about people who are described as “single.” Interestingly, people who are not in romantic relationships are often stigmatized and inaccurately assumed to experience lower self-esteem and reduced life-satisfaction. Instead of falsely judging another person, or worse, judging yourself according your whether or not you have a +1, realize that you are significant – being single is not YOU. You are far more than your relationship status.
2. Happiness hinges on love.
In a study of more than 24,000 people, Richard Lucas, a wellness researcher, and his colleagues found that marriage increased happiness, on average, by 1%! After investigating the topic of love and happiness, David Johnson, a sociologist, concludes that people who marry and stay married tend to repot feeling above-average life satisfaction before they wed. In other words, love stems from happiness, not the other way around. I find this fact so liberating since it confirms that you can be happy before you connect with someone which is way more hopeful that believing you don’t have what you need to feel joy.
3. Play ‘hard to get.’
James Gross, a professor at Stanford University, has spent his career studying how to manage emotions and his research explains that hiding your authentic emotions is both stressful for you and also pushes people away. In one study, when people were told to act less amused by a film clip, people felt less more stressed and experienced less joy when told to look neutral. Acting consistent with how you feel won’t only feel liberating, but as research led by Sanjay Srivastava concludes, people find those who react genuinely to emotional situations to be more likeable. In other words, be free to be you while looking for love.
4. Feel lonely? Find a partner.
Anthropologist Robin Dunbar clarifies that a person does not remedy loneliness, most people need roughly five close friends to experience a sense of fulfilling intimacy, which means that the idea that a person will ‘complete you’ simply doesn’t align with research on connection. Relatedly, in a powerful study on solutions to remedy loneliness, Masi and her colleagues discovered that to feel less lonely, we need to think in ways that allow us to feel connected. Assuming that you are guaranteed to feel isolated or are unworthy because you don’t have a partner is a proven path to feeling badly and thinking you can build enriching relationships will allow you to feel connected.
In the process of looking for love, I hope you remember that a soul mate is a mate. You are whole and happiness and freedom reside within you. Happiness is attractive and charismatic and you don’t need to wait for love to live better.