DOI: 10.1111/fare.12981 ISSN: 0197-6664

Exploring the associations between being single, romantic importance, and positive well‐being in young adulthood

Nicole K. Watkins, Jonathon J. Beckmeyer, Tyler B. Jamison
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Education



The goal was to explore if perceived romantic relationship importance moderated associations between single status and young adults' positive well‐being.


Singlehood is often framed within a deficit framework, with the expectation that being single during young adulthood may be costly for well‐being. That approach, however, does not account for young adults' romantic goals, which may shape how being single is connected to well‐being.


Participants were 909 American young adults, ages 18–35 (M = 26.6, 51% female, 81% heterosexual, 58% White, non‐Hispanic), who completed an online survey in December 2019.


Being single, compared to having a romantic partner, was associated with lower love life satisfaction, general life satisfaction, and flourishing. However, the associations with general life and love life satisfaction were attenuated by relationship dismissal.


Although single young adults reported lower general and love life satisfaction and flourishing, when perceptions of relationship importance were taken into account, relationship dismissal ameliorated the effect of being single on love life satisfaction and general life satisfaction. Placing less importance on romantic relationships may be a promotive factor for single young adults' positive well‐being.


These findings have implications for supporting young adults' positive well‐being, particularly by framing singlehood as normative and, in some cases, preferable to romantic involvement.

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