A new study performed by professors Ashley Ermer and Christine Proulx showed that single adults over the age of 60 rely on friendships more than their married counterparts for emotional support and wellness. This discovery is particularly beneficial for those who forgo marriage and those who divorce.
In fact, the number of divorces nearly doubled between 1990 and 2010 alone. However, as dating apps like Tinder seek to promote single life and its benefits, the friendships in our lives are becoming increasingly necessary.
The study relied on interviews with more than 2,300 adults over the age of 62 between 2010 and 2011. It asked such questions as “who is in your social network?” and “how emotionally healthy are you?”
The study found that a strong social network was able to benefit just about everyone in the study, but it was particularly prominent among single people.
But why do single people rely on friendships so much?
There’s no direct answer, according to the researchers. They posit that single people may rely on friends more due to the absence of a romantic partner. Other theories, however, suggest that the enduring quality of long-lasting friendships allow individuals to create stronger bonds with each other than they do with their spouse, who is subject to change as the divorce rate rises.
Even people who form close friendships on the job are 50% more likely to engage in their work than people who don’t have friends at work.
Friendships are great for our health, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. According to Stephanie Cacioppo, the director of the Brain Dynamics Lab for the University of Chicago, friends help us emotionally, physically, and socially.
“In good friendships we can drop our masks and be our authentic messy, quirky, imperfect selves and be loved for who we are, so it makes sense that [friendship] is good for our health,” she claims.
“For instance, knowing you can count on friends during trying times — even if they are at a distance — lowers your stress level, improves your immune system, your attentional focus, your physical and mental performance, your sleep and your level of motivation.”
Unfortunately, these friendships don’t happen overnight. It takes an estimated 200 hours of effort for a strong friendship to form among strangers or coworkers. This includes talking, sharing, and making memories over time.
For those of us who cannot form friendships, however, there are other avenues to ease the stressors in our lives.
It’s estimated that the global wellness industry is worth $3.7 trillion, making it one of the most lucrative branches of the current economy. This includes fad diets, gym memberships, and vitamin supplements, but it also includes therapy.
There are countless reasons to join therapy, whether you’re experiencing a time of crisis or not. In fact, many online therapy groups and services can be accessed right from your cell phone.
New studies show that there will be at least 2.5 billion smartphone owners by 2020, making telehealth communications all the more accessible.
Though single people benefit from friendships more than their espoused counterparts, there are countless ways for anyone to improve their mental, social, and physical health.