Being Single is making you Sad and Fat

oh and it’s killing you too…

Fresh garlic mashed potatoes with a sprinkle of parsley to garnish the top, steaming hot rolls caressed to the core with butter, house salads seemingly tossed to perfection by the tender hands of cherubs, and not to forget the pièce de résistance: an entire roast turkey bursting with increments of ferocious flavor from its crispy-skin, juicy meat, and finally the smorgasbord of stuffing found in its center, all of which come together to tantalize your taste-buds…

BORING.

Picture perfect Thanksgiving feasts are what is on most people’s mind during the month of November (and if you like to jump the gun Christmas feasts) but as for me the frigid winds of winter only herald one thing: Cuffing Season.

For those that don’t know, Cuffing Season is the time of year when cold weather and prolonged indoor activity cause singles to become lonely and desperate to be in a relationship, or “cuffed”. The season starts the day after Halloween and lasts until the day after Valentine’s Day, but even in the season’s first full month you can its see effect: people are scrambling to find a special someone to cozy up next to during those long, dark winter nights.

But is that all these special someones are good for? Are they simply mindless meat-sacs who eat all your snacks and use up all your toilet paper, whose sole purpose is akin to that of a human pillow that’ll be casually tossed aside at the onset of the summer sun?

We have data that says that ideology is bullshit.

Based on a study conducted by Scott R. Braithwaite and Julianne Holt-Lunstad of Brigham Young University and another similar study by Scott R. Braithwaite, Raquel Delevi, and Frank D. Fincham of Brigham Young University, Cal State LA, and Florida State University (respectively), college students who’re in committed relationships outpace their single contemporaries in mental health, are less likely to be obese, and engage in less risky behavior that can lead to poorer mental health, physical health, and academic performance.

The first study by Braithwaite and Holt-Lunstad examines the relationship between mental health and relationship status of people of various levels of relationship commitment. While it is true that individuals with better mental health are more likely to be in relationships, the data indicates that relationship status influences mental health as well. With the improvement of satisfaction in a relationship, mental health experiences a similar improvement. Furthermore, data shows that the greater the level of commit in the relationship the greater the benefit in mental health, with marital relationships showing the highest degree of benefit and more casual relationships (i.e. friends with benefits) exhibiting benefits to a lesser extent. Although, of the hundreds of thousands of romantic relationships that exist within the US the majority do not lie within the realm of marital relationships thus many aren’t experiencing the highest levels of benefit to mental health. However, even if the mental health benefits are of a lesser extent in less committed relationships that does not overshadow the fact that said benefit exists.

So… that person you may have a mind to “cuff” not only provides a warm body in your bed but could also provide an endeared solace in your mind.

Still not convinced? Braithwaite, Delevi, and Fincham have the data to turn your mind around.

Examining the effects of committed relationships on the mental health, physical health, and academic performance of college students, Braithwaite, Delevi, and Fincham have concluded that college students in committed relationships fare better in these categories than their single counterparts. Students in committed relationships experience a regulation of behavior like that found in marriage. This regulation of behavior results in those same students committing less risky actions that could lead to the detriment of their health (academic, physical, mental). Such risky actions such as binge drinking and driving under the influences are performed less by students in committed relationships as opposed to their single counterparts. Obviously, not annihilating your liver with daily shotguns, morning beer-bongs, or marathons of rage-cage would prove to benefit your individual health (moderation is key).

Additionally, while condemning risky actions this regulation of behavior also helps students in committed relationships perpetuate healthy habits. Significant others want to bring out the best in their partners and that means applying themselves in life, whether that be in school, at work, or in the relationship itself. Regardless of where, this application of self results in the betterment of the individual and that betterment translates to all parts of the individual’s life.

Of course, not all relationships experience the same kind of benefits as the ones examined in these studies. Surely those in unhealthy relationships could experience a multitude of hardships in their lives that could lead to decreased mental health, physical health, and/or academic performance.

However, these studies go to show that most those in relationships are reaping positivity that translates to their overall health.

I’m not telling you to lock-down whoever you’re with right now for your own selfish-betterment, rather I’m entertaining the idea that in the long run committed romantic connections help promote positive growth over the casual fling.

We are so much more than what we have between our legs.

sources used:

  1. Romantic Relationships and Mental Health by Scott R. Braithwaite and Julianne Holt-Lunstad of Brigham Young University
  2. Romantic Relationships and the Physical and Mental Health of College Students by Scott R. Braithwaite, Raquel Delevi, and Frank D. Fincham of Brigham Young University, Cal State LA, and Florida State University (respectively)