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5 December 2005
Men In Relationships Happier
by George Atkinson

A study from Cornell University has found that men and women in relationships are generally happier than other people. Interestingly, even if people were not happily married, they still enjoyed the highest sense of well-being. Next down the scale of well-being and happiness were people who cohabit, followed by those in steady relationships and then those in casual relationships. Single people reported the lowest levels of well-being and happiness.

The study, appearing in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, would seem to suggest that having a romantic relationship makes both men and women happier - and the stronger the relationship's commitment, the greater the happiness and sense of well-being.

The stronger the commitment, the better, said the study's author Claire Kamp Dush.

"Even when controlling for relationship happiness, being married is associated with higher self-esteem, greater life satisfaction, greater happiness and less distress, whereas people who are not in stable romantic relationships tend to report lower self-esteem, less life satisfaction, less happiness and more distress. In general, people appear to feel better about themselves and their lives when they move into a more committed relationship," she explained.

She added that even those in relatively unhappy marriages appear to benefit from being married, speculating that this may arise from the marriage's stability, commitment and social status.

Kamp Dush also wanted to establish whether happier individuals are more likely to enter into committed relationships, or if committed relationships actually improve happiness. She found that moving into committed relationships does make people happier. "Those most likely to move into more committed relationships were actually those who reported lower levels of well-being when first surveyed," she said. "Therefore, if they were using committed relationships as a strategy to improve their well-being, it appeared to work."

Based on material from Cornell University

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