Single at Heart: The World’s Most Joyful and Unapologetic Single People

For these people, single life is their best life. Here’s what we know about them.

Bella DePaulo
Dec 17, 2020 · 5 min read
Photo by Courtney Cook on Unsplash

If living single is your first choice, if it is how you live your most authentic and meaningful life, you are probably single at heart. People who are single-at-heart are not single because they have not found The One, because they are unlucky in love, or because they have issues. They are single because single suits them. It is who they really are.

You may be single-at-heart even if you are in a romantic relationship, and even if you are married. Maybe you got into the relationship because it was what you thought you were supposed to do — who ever heard of single-at-heart anyway? — and now you want to honor the commitment you made. Or maybe your relationship is not a very conventional one, and leaves room for your single-at-heart inclinations. People who are single at heart are far more likely to be solo single people than coupled, but I use the term single “at heart” to let in some people who have romantic partners. (I had to be persuaded.)

My wish for the single-at-heart is that you can live your best life, without apology. If living single is not feasible for you, for whatever reason, then I hope you can find ways to nurture your single-at-heart self, whatever your relationship status.

I am currently writing a book about people who are single at heart. In it, I will describe the results based on more than 8,000 people from over 100 nations who completed the online single-at-heart survey. (They are not a representative sample, just those who learned about the survey and decided to log on and answer the questions.)

Previously, at my blog at Psych Central, I reported the findings based on the responses of the first 1,200 people who completed the survey. Because it will be a while before my book is published with the more up-to-date analyses, I want to share my preliminary findings here. Not all single-at-heart types share all of these interests and qualities — and there are a few others I will report in my book as well — but if you are single-at-heart, you will see yourself in at least some of them.

Characteristics of People Who are Single-at-Heart

(based on first 1,200 survey responses)

· They love their solitude.

· When they are tempted to allow themselves their favorite indulgence (such as junk food or trashy TV), they prefer to do exactly as they wish rather than having a partner to join them or dissuade them.

· They see themselves as self-sufficient; that is, they like handling problems and challenges mostly on their own.

· When they are thinking of making a big change in their lives, they don’t want to make that decision with a romantic partner; instead, they prefer to make the decision that feels right to them, without worrying about whether a partner would approve or whether the decision would interfere with a partner’s goals.

· They do not want to have a partner as a plus-one for just about every occasion; they would prefer more options, such as attending events on their own or with friends or just staying home.

· When they set out to pursue noble goals such as reading inspiring books or eating right or getting lots of exercise, they prefer to pursue those plans alone or with friends rather than with a romantic partner.

· They have a sense of personal mastery — a can-do attitude and a sense that they can do just about anything they set their mind to.

· They are not all that interested in searching for a long-term romantic partner.

· If they have a minor mishap such as a fender-bender, they are relieved not to have to explain to a romantic partner why they messed up.

· If they had to choose between meaningful work with lousy pay and uninspiring work with great pay, they would choose the meaningful work.

· If they were in a romantic relationship and it ended, their predominant emotional reaction was more often relief rather than sadness or pain.

Tips for Being Your Best Single-at-Heart Self

If you recognize yourself in some of the characteristics listed above, then do what you can to be your best single-at-heart self. For example, you can give yourself the gift of solitude. Allow yourself the time and space that you crave. You will benefit from that alone-time (psychologically, emotionally, creatively), and if you get your required dosage, I bet the people around you will benefit, too.

If you like being self-sufficient, then go for it. Self-sufficiency does not necessarily imply a lack of interest in different perspectives or opinions. Instead, it means that after considering whatever input you find valuable, you ultimately make the decision that feels right to you.

If you are not interested in pursuing long-term romantic relationships, then don’t. Never mind that other people will be incredulous when you say that you like your single life. Never mind the naysayers who will insist that you are just in denial or whatever other psychobabble they offer up. Part of owning your single-at-heart status is being true to yourself.

You are not living the life that other people want you to live or that conventional wisdom dictates. You are living your own best life. What could be better than that?

[Want to learn more? Other writings about people who are single at heart are here. Take a look at this collection of articles on all sorts of topics relevant to single life. Watch my TEDX talk, “What no one ever told you about people who are single.” Check out my website. Find my other stories on Medium here. Finally, my “Single at Heart” blog that I have been writing for Psych Central since 2011 is ending in 2020; I am updating many of those posts and moving them to this blog on Medium.]

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Bella DePaulo

Written by

“America’s foremost thinker and writer on the single experience,” according to the Atlantic. Author of “Singled Out.” Harvard PhD

Fourth Wave

Changing the world for the better, one story at a time, with a focus on women and other disempowered groups

Bella DePaulo

Written by

“America’s foremost thinker and writer on the single experience,” according to the Atlantic. Author of “Singled Out.” Harvard PhD

Fourth Wave

Changing the world for the better, one story at a time, with a focus on women and other disempowered groups

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