Singles Awareness Day: The benefits of being single

(CNN)An increasing number of people around the world are opting to go solo.

The number of American men and women who have never been married, are divorced or are living alone has been on an upward trend for several years, according to the US Census Bureau.
Despite the fact marriages or relationships are less common these days, being single continues to have stigma and feelings of loneliness attached, no more so than on Valentine's Day. Feelings of loneliness among singles not yet having found "the one" still abound.
    However, recent research shows that some people view singlehood as a happy destination rather than a stop on the journey to marriage.
      if you're single, you can redefine the concept for yourself, according to Elyakim Kislev, an assistant professor at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem: You don't have to be lonely, and you're not a failure. Being single can be an advantage instead of a source of agony, he believes.
        Kislev analyzed US and European databases and conducted interviews to examine trends in singlehood and what made some singles happy — finding that for some, happiness was a choice lifestyle or something they came to accept.
        "The fact is that many societies see tremendous growth in the single population and we need to change this image we have that being single means you are frustrated, less worthy or abandoned," said Kislev, author of the research presented in his book "Happy Singlehood: The Rising Acceptance and Celebration of Solo Living."
          Singlehood and living alone are also on the rise in many countries including Japan, Italy and Sweden, various studies have shown. There are ways to turn feelings of loneliness into the ability to feel empowerment and joy at any stage of your life, including during the pandemic.

          Identifying the root of loneliness

          If you're going to try to pull yourself out of feeling lonely, identifying the cause of that loneliness is important, according to Kislev. There are differences between chronic loneliness, social isolation and feelings of loneliness.
          Chronic loneliness is defined as loneliness or social isolation that occurs over a long period of time and affects your mental and physical health, according to the American Psychological Association. It can "increase the risk of developing (health problems such as insomnia and heart disease), psychological distress and behavioral problems," said Dr. Indra Cidambi, the medical director of the Center for Network Therapy in New Jersey.
          Feelings of, or temporary, loneliness are based on subjective, self-perceived feelings of neglect or "a discrepancy between one's achieved and desired levels of social relations," according to experts.
          "Being alone does not make a person lonely, but the perception of being alone is what makes one lonely," Cidambi said.
          Married people can be just as lonely and unhappy as their single counterparts, previous research has found.
          "It was proven time and again that married people can be very lonely and emotionally deprived within their wedlock, sometimes exactly because they are committed to this one person and gave up on nurturing other connections," Kislev said. "Instead of facing loneliness at its roots, many people chase partnership only to discover that loneliness is a standalone problem, the cure for which mainly lies within oneself, as researchers have repeatedly argued."

          What makes some singles happy

          The databases Kislev used included the US Census Bureau and the European Social Survey. He examined relationship trends in more than 30 countries and conducted more than 140 interviews with single people in the US and Europe — people between ages 30 and 78 who comprised all genders, sexualities and socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds.