If we’ve learned anything from classic Disney films, it’s this; no princess gets her ‘happily ever after’ until she’s tied the knot.
However, as stalwart fans will already know, Disney rarely shows us what happens beyond the big ‘I do’ moment.
So did Cinderella and co actually find that their marriage certificate was a one-way ticket to that long-promised fairytale ending?
Well, apparently not.
A psychologist has now revealed that the concept wedded bliss is, largely, a myth – and that staying single is the surest route to a longer, happier, and healthier life.
Speaking at the American Psychological Association’s annual convention in Denver, Professor Bella DePaulo explained that she had reviewed over 800 different academic studies, all of which analysed the effects of marriage and singledom.
The results overwhelmingly showed that singletons are more sociable, have better self-esteem, and that they will experience more personal growth than married people.
She explained: “The stereotypes insist that single people are isolated and alone; in fact, they are more connected to other people than married people are, and when people get married, they get more insular.
“The stereotypes suggest that single people are self-centred pleasure seekers. But in fact, single people do more than their share of caring for other people.”
Professor DePaulo added: “Single people [also] have a heightened sense of self-determination and they are more likely to experience ‘a sense of continued growth and development’ as a person.”
According to the Office for National Statistics, there are 23.7 million married people in the United Kingdom, as opposed to 16.7 million singletons.
However, when you take into account the fact that, in 2002, there were only 12.5 million single people in the UK, it quickly becomes apparent that unmarried life is becoming a more popular and acceptable life choice.
“Increasing numbers of people are single because they want to be,” said Professor DePaulo. “Living single allows them to live their best, most authentic, and most meaningful life.”
While it’s worth pointing out that marriage can be a great ‘next step’ for many couples, Professor DePaulo’s findings serve as an apt reminder that wedded bliss is not the pinnacle of achievement in a woman’s life.
As a matter of fact, single life is actually good for us, and not a condition that we need to escape from – despite how it is presented in popular culture and the media.
Yes, while married couples are constantly offered reasons to celebrate their relationship status (think weddings, anniversaries, and more), singletons are often made to feel ashamed of their life choices.
As Carrie Bradshaw put it in Sex And The City: “if you are single, after graduation there isn’t one occasion where people celebrate you.
“Hallmark doesn’t make a ‘congratulations, you didn’t marry the wrong guy’ card. And where’s the flatware for going on vacation alone?”
Perhaps Professor DePaulo’s latest study will help to stop the pervasive sense of ‘singlism’ – and remind us to celebrate our own lives and happiness, regardless as to whether or not we meet the status quo.