Think of a single woman. What do you picture in your mind? If you’ve fallen for the rhetoric that’s been shoved into your eye holes ever since TV and movies first became a thing, you’re likely picturing a sad woman shoveling Ben and Jerry’s down her gullet while surrounded by a cadre of yowling, hungry cats. The media wants us to believe that women are nothing without a committed partner and a traditional marriage. Conversely, the media paints married men as withered and whipped–always longing for the bachelor freedoms of their unencumbered youth.
How true is the rhetoric, though? Are women actually sad to be single and happier when we’re married? And are men only happy when they’re alone with a cold beer and a hand in their pants? According to a few studies, it turns out everything you know about men and women and their happiness is wrong.
Women are happier when they’re single.
Put aside the sadness, ladies: You’re much more likely to enjoy being alone than the guys–at least according to this study. Market research group Mintel found in a survey of UK adults that 61% of single women are happy being alone while only 49% of single men could say the same. Perhaps it’s because more and more women are being comfortable with the idea of being without a partner, rather than constantly lamenting the lack of one. Mintel’s Jack Duckett says:
It is easy to assume that all singletons are actively looking for a partner; however, our data shows that this is far from always being the case. Much of this reluctance to look for a partner can be attributed to the young increasingly prioritizing their education, careers and financial stability over being in relationships.Jack Duckett, Mintel
It isn’t just women who have yet to be married who find the solitude preferable–it’s formerly married women, too. When you look at numbers for divorce, you get a clearer picture of who’s happier in the marriage. Speaking of which…
Men are happier when they’re married.
A good (though admittedly not foolproof) way to measure the happiness of each gender in a heterosexual marriage is looking at divorce data. According to a 2015 study by the American Sociological Association of divorces filed from 2009 to 2015, 69% of those divorces were filed by women. Conversely, only 31% were filed by men. You could jump to two different conclusions based on those numbers:
- Women are unhappier in their marriages than men are.
- The unhappiness might be on par, but women are far less likely to put up with it.
Either way, it’s the women who are making a stand and getting out, preferring the emotional upheaval of divorce and the resulting solitude over staying in an unhappy marriage.
Maybe you want to measure men’s happiness by their lifespan. All things considered, women have a higher lifespan than men. A study reported by Healthline found that men who are married live longer than men who are single. Clearly the women in their lives are having a positive effect on them.
The real question is: Why? What about marriage is shitty for women and great for men? I have an unscientific theory.
What are we really getting out of these marriages?
It all comes down to expectations vs. reality. While every marriage is different, I’ve heard from too many women to count that their marriages boiled down to this: They did all the work (emotional, household, etc.) while their husbands sat back and did nothing in return. There’s been a trend on TikTok lately of women talking about how their husbands wouldn’t even do anything for them for their birthdays, despite being asked and reminded multiple times. Then there are the husbands that use weaponized incompetence to get out of doing even the smallest chores.
So, of course men are going to be happier with this scenario. When they were single, men had to do their own laundry, do all their own planning. When they’re married, they have someone to do everything for them. The idea that a husband is there to take care of you just isn’t true. Wives are clearly the ones in that role, acting more as mothers than lovers.
And the wives? They quickly learn that they were so much better off alone, hence the drastically different numbers between women and men who file for divorce.