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Aug 21, 2015 11:51 AM EDT

Single People May Have A More Satisfying Life Than Those In Relationships

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Single people are just as happy as those who are in a relationship, according to a recent study.

Researchers at the University of Auckland in New Zealand found that although being in a relationship can provide happiness and a sense of security, "including a baked-in sense of support and a defense against loneliness," single people are perfectly happy without a romantic partner-in-crime, Entrepreneur reported.

"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," Yuthika Girme, lead researcher of the study, said in a statement.

With a high divorce rate, solo parenting, and many people delaying marriage to pursue career goals, the number of single people is on the rise. Single people now outnumber married adults in the United States, with more than 128 million singles representing 51 percent of the adult population.

For the study, researchers collected and analyzed data from more than 4,000 New Zealand residents, Discovery reported. They found that people with high "avoidance social goals," or those who try at all costs to avoid relationship disagreements and conflict, were just as happy being single as other people were in relationships. Being single may remove some of the anxiety triggered by relationship conflicts for those individuals.

Conversely, researchers also found that people with low avoidance goals who aren't concerned about the ups and downs of a relationship were less happy when they were single.

Girme said trying too hard to avoid relationship conflicts actually may create more problems. Although it's a good trait for single people to have, it can have negative effects in a relationship, contributing to anxiety, loneliness, lower life satisfaction, and an unhealthy focus on negative memories.

The findings are detailed in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

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