8 Damaging and 6 Good Psychological Effects of Being Single Too Long

27 May 2023
11 min read

Are there negative psychological effects of being single too long? Let’s take a dive! We looked into research on the ways in which not being a part of a monogamous relationship might affect people psychologically and discovered all the good and bad sides of being out of any relationship for too long.

Is Being Single Bad?

The answer to this question completely depends on how you look at it. It isn’t inherently bad for anybody to be living a single life for any period of time. However, there are often issues when the amount of time that somebody spends being single is prolonged for some reason. However, research studies show people who are voluntarily single often fare better in terms of mental health when compared to those who would prefer to have a partner.

While there are definitely benefits to being single, you have to consider the psychological effects of being single too long. Of course, these effects differ from one individual to another, as everyone navigates through their personal relationships in different ways.

A Look at the Good and Bad of Being Single

Disclaimer: There is unending research on this topic and not a lot of consensus. There are also details that psychologists and researchers are just now considering. For one thing, much of the research studies how being single can affect people who would otherwise be in a heterosexual, monogamous relationship. There’s still a lot of ground to cover in terms of singlehood vs. being part of a same-sex couple, or among people who practice polyamory.

According to Smithsonian Magazine, until 2005 the official terms for single men and women were ‘bachelor’ and ‘spinster’. If that makes your inner feminist cringe, you are not alone. The word ‘spinster’ has many negative connations, bringing up an image of a woman who is perhaps unattractive, has a nasty personality, or is less than desirable in some other way.

Meanwhile, the term ‘bachelor’ doesn’t create such an unfavorable image, but perceptions of long-single men can also be negative. Many older bachelors are shamed for not settling down. Some even have their sexuality questioned.

Thankfully, these attitudes are less prevalent than before. We’re even treating singlehood as a positive thing. People who aren’t part of a couple often tout the financial benefits and freedom they experience. But, are we missing something here? Can being single be bad for your mental health?

Just like everything else in this world, there is a good and a bad side to being single. There can be many negative psychological effects on someone who had been in a committed relationship suddenly becoming single – from problems with one’s physical health to the development of emotional and mental health problems. Even with the considered benefits, many young adults who find themselves being single for a long time will suffer a lot of the bad that comes with being single.

Let’s take a look at how being single may affect someone’s well-being, the negative psychological effects of being single too long, and how you can repair yourself after experiencing these effects.

Negative psychological effects of being single too long

What Does Being Single for a Long Time Do to You?

As a human being who may find themselves single after a long and seemingly healthy relationship, you will likely experience some immediate effects of break up. These can include depression, issues with eating habits, and anxiety, to start the list of psychological effects off.

But many people tend to only focus on the immediate effects of being single. As they are the effects that everyone is most familiar with. But what happens when somebody is single for too long? Let’s take a look at some of the effects of not being in a romantic relationship.

1. Reduced Stability and Self-Esteem

Newly single adults tend to have difficulties with stabilization. After all, being single can create a sudden loss of income, which can lead to other things falling out of favor. For example, if somebody suddenly loses half of their in-home income they may find that they have to start selling things, downsizing certain aspects of their life, and generally make changes to the lifestyle they had become accustomed to thanks to their romantic partner.

This reduction in stability can have adverse effects on one’s life, mental health, and of course their potential future relationships. This effect can cause a decline in one’s self-worth over time as one becomes accustomed to their new method of living while still living with fond memories of what used to be.

Related reading: The Making of a Sexual Goddess

2. Lack of Purpose in Life

There are some people who will jump into new relationships almost immediately after becoming single. After all, these people tend to understand the psychological effects of being single and know that that sort of life isn’t for them.

For many other relationships, feeling connections to others, especially in romantic aspects, makes life feel more worthwhile. Someone who has nobody to connect with may feel like they have very little purpose in life as they have nobody to share their lives with.

3. Reluctance Toward New Relationships

One of the psychological effects of being single too long is feelings of reluctance or disdain for new relationships. Being single for too long, especially after being in a committed partnership, can be damaging to one’s mental health as well as have a negative impact on one’s love life.

Somebody who finds themselves newly single may start to even reject close friends as they will be unable to push themselves toward the next relationship. After all, many people often find breakups to be traumatic to a point, and they may find that many other factors make a relationship not worthy of their time.

However, some people take this too far and become reluctant towards all new relationships. While a choice to not want to find the right relationship for one is reasonable, when you start to reject all relationships and friendships that is when it becomes a problem.

4. Self-Sabotaging Your Relationships

Being single may leave more time and energy for your personal social life. However, being single for too long can lead to self-sabotaging of your own relationships.

You may find yourself neglecting your friendships as you find yourself in isolation. You may also find that being single for too long will lead you to feel some feelings of resentment towards your friends that are still in committed relationships.

Related reading: How to Reconnect After a Relationship Break: 16 Tips to Function as a Couple Again

5. You Are More Likely to Pick Up Bad Habits

If you stay single for too long, you may find that one of the psychological effects of this is the picking up of bad habits. For example, you may start to develop feelings of worthlessness, and this in turn can lead to poor eating habits, lack of physical activity, and more that can have an adverse effect on your physical health.

Being single for too long can also cause other issues with one’s physical health. In fact, the stress of a breakup can lead to high blood pressure, which in turn can lead to a heart attack. Of course, this can be prevented with a proper diet and exercise regimen.

6. A Decline in Social Skills

Does singlehood cause you to lose some of your social skills? It depends. There are various reasons people may lose social skills. For example, isolation can be a factor. However, that isn’t necessarily caused by being single for too long. Still, being in a relationship can make us feel more obligated to be considerate of others, and maintain our manners.

Related reading: Introvert Dating: It Doesn’t Have to Be Scary

7. An Increase in Mental Health Problems in Young Adults

There is nothing wrong with being single, but there are undeniable benefits to having a partner. People who are in a relationship are less likely to be lonely and often have someone they can confide in when they are struggling. A partner may be the one who encourages you to seek help when your mental health spirals.

While single people may have that kind of support from friends and family members, their relationships may lack a level of intimacy that leads to a depth of communication required to recognize when someone needs help. As a result, people who aren’t in a committed relationship may suffer in silence.

Positive psychological effects of being single too long

What Are Some Benefits of Being Single?

Just as was stated before, there are some damaging aspects to the end of romantic relationships. However, there are also some key benefits to single life as well, with more freedom and less time constraints. Because of this, many people choose to remain single for prolonged periods before choosing to enter new relationships again. Here are some of the benefits of being single.

1. A Better Social Life

Singlehood lives are a great point in time for you to focus on the relationship you have with your friends and family. As you will not have a partner to focus your feelings on or worry about, you will be able to find yourself in more social situations.

Single guys and women who find happiness with being alone in a sense, tend to spend a lot of time with friends and family as they recognize the important factor that socializing has on their lives.

2. Focus on the Actualization of Goals

When you are without a romantic partner, you may find that focusing on your goals becomes a lot easier. Single people don’t have to deal with getting ready for a date or waiting on another person to approve of their decision to focus on a goal.

They can begin to form their goals, as well as the factors that go into achieving those goals.

Related reading: Male Maturity – When Does It Kick In?

3. No Need to Compromise

When you are part of a relationship, compromise isn’t always an option. On some level, you must be willing to consider the other person and meet them in the middle.

That said, this shouldn’t necessarily scare you if you otherwise feel ready for commitment. All couples set their own boundaries. There’s been research conducted on the impacts of independence vs. control in relationships, and healthier relationships are almost always associated with some level of free will for both partners.

4. Focus on Your Work

You don’t need a research study to tell you that being single gives you more free time to dedicate to your work. This is a good thing if you find satisfaction in your job and feel a sense of accomplishment from succeeding in your career. However, this can turn into a negative if your career obligations stop you from meeting new people, or if you use work as a form of avoidance.

5. You May Save Money

Can being single affect your bank account? It certainly can if being part of a couple causes you to spend money. However, living life without a partner can also hurt you financially. You may not have someone to encourage your financial goals. Also, if loneliness and depression become an issue, spending money can be a way to experience a quick hit of endorphins.

6. Being Single Is a Chance to Learn About Yourself

You can lose your sense of self if you are partnered for too long. This is particularly true if you begin a monogamous relationship at a very young age or have an unhealthy relationship. Being single may give you time to invest in learning more about yourself and engaging in self-improvement.

Is It Possible to Overcome the Psychological Effects of Being Single for Too Long?

The short answer to this question is yes, it is absolutely possible for someone who has had a set relationship status of single for a long time. The amount of time it takes to recover is different for each single person. However, many of the steps that people can take are similar.

  • Speak to a therapist
  • Focus on your friendships
  • Practice good self-care
  • Remind yourself of your self-worth
  • Indulge in a hobby
  • Figure out your strengths

There are many other ways that you can overcome the psychological effects of being single for too long. Some of them are much more specific to you than others will be. However, they all will help with re-establishing a person’s social well-being and good mental health.

Also, if you decide you don’t want to be alone any longer, consider using a compatibility focused online dating service such as the Hily dating app. That way, you won’t just reenter the dating world, you will enjoy the benefits of compatibility.

Singlehood And Your Well-Being

Remaining single for an extended period of time can have both negative and positive outcomes to an extent. However, it is up to the person affected by these points to ensure that they are looking after their own well-being through that time. If you do think that being single might affect you in a negative way, that doesn’t mean you need to rush out and pair up with somebody. It’s okay to wait for the right person while also working on your sense of self-worth. After all, you can’t expect great things out of a relationship you rush into simply to avoid being single.

Relationships Author
Geoffrey Williams
After taking a required Intro to Psychology course as an undergrad, I have never looked back. Since my doctoral program, I have specialized in adult relationship therapy. Through my studies and clinicals, I wrote several articles for professional journals and currently in the midst of writing a book.

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