Are we made for life together?

Many seek to live as a couple, to create relationships in order to feel psychological security. But others choose the path of locomotion and life for themselves. Why?

Models of happiness are diverse. Today, we no longer consider a meeting with the chosen one a necessary condition for being satisfied with our lives. And at the top of Maslow’s pyramid of needs is not love, but self-realization.

Nevertheless, many find it in the family. “My husband and I have been together for 35 years and always share adversity and joy,” says Svetlana, 57. — We are Nikitins, that’s what friends and colleagues used to call us. Probably, it would be simply impossible to divide us now.”

Everyone has a need for affection. But some satisfy it in a different way. “I have a lot of friends, and two or three of them are really close, you can say, kindred spirits. With girls, I prefer to spend a pleasantly short time, so that it does not oblige any of us to anything, “admits 33-year-old Denis. And there are more and more people like him.

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Loners change society

Today, 30.6% of Russians (and this is 44.9 million of our compatriots) choose a solo life. And this is a global trend: “These days, more than 50% of American adults are single,” writes sociologist Eric Kleinenberg in his book “The Life of Solo. A New Social Reality”.

He notes that, despite its increasing prevalence, “living alone” is a phenomenon that is little discussed: “Unfortunately, it is most often seen as one-sided – as a consequence of narcissism. In fact, life alone is more diverse and comfortable than it seems from the outside.

Becoming more and more popular, this phenomenon changes the “social fabric” and the idea of relationships has a strong impact on the process of personal maturation, aging, and dying. Such a life corresponds to the key values of our time – individual freedom, personal control, and the desire for self-realization, which many have been dear since adolescence. “

Studies of the lives of those who prefer to remain without a couple are few. However, it is already obvious that financially independent individuals predominate among singles. They are able to achieve ambitious goals, consistently build a career, learn throughout life. In addition, they communicate more with friends and relatives.

Are we made for the life of the two of us?

Have a contact

The nuclear family — one that consists of two parents and children — is in crisis, statistics show. In 2020, 770,857 couples were registered in Russian registry offices, according to Rosstat, and this is the lowest figure since 1945. And the number of divorces in the same year increased by 12% compared to the previous year and amounted to 782 divorces per 1,000 marriages.

“Families are created and immediately fall apart,” notes family psychotherapist Anna Varga in the article “A Russian Person Believes in a Miracle”. “We tend to form associations by nature, but unfortunately there are no rules left in the modern nuclear family to rely on.”

Despite the fragility of the modern family, many time after time persistently strive to create such a union. What is its value? For 70 years, Harvard University has been investigating the lifestyle, habits of men and women who have partners.

“The main discovery we got: a good relationship in a couple makes us much happier and healthier,” said the head of the study, psychoanalyst Robert Waldinger. By constantly communicating with someone other than us, we get to know not only him better, but also ourselves.

“We are created for life together,” says psychology professor Marina Melia. Communication with a partner causes a whole range of emotions: joy, admiration, sometimes irritation. Being together is a deep contact that has unconditional value.”

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What’s the prediction?

For the first time, psychologists have entrusted the study of romantic relationships to artificial intelligence (AI).

With its help, a psychologist from Western University in Canada Samantha Joel and her team decided to study different aspects of the relationship in a couple. What future awaits the couple and what affects its stability? These are the main questions that worried the researchers.

Psychologists conducted a survey among 11 thousand couples in different countries of the world. Participants in a large-scale study were asked how satisfied they were with their sex life, how often they quarreled with a partner, whether they wanted to break up. The researchers then processed the data using artificial intelligence.

And it turned out that such a subtle matter as romantic relationships is amenable to analysis. After processing a large amount of data, ai identified factors that affect the quality and duration of the relationship in a couple. Here is this “top five”:

  • the desire to continue the relationship;
  • gratitude for the union;
  • sexual satisfaction;
  • the desire to make the partner happier;
  • low level of conflict.

According to these criteria of well-being in a couple, you can test your own relationship. If at least two of them are found in our union, it means that the couple has a chance to develop. But if we do not find a single match, it is worth considering: such a couple has few prospects. In this case, it may be better to be alone for a while.

Are we made for the life of the two of us?

Shared Values

Which couples live happily ever after? There are many different theories about this. Some psychologists are inclined to believe that it is better to be different, to complement each other, others talk about the optimal age difference, seek to calculate the “golden ratio”.

“The point here is not at all what kind of age difference we have, whether we are owls or larks,” Marina Melia is convinced. – The main thing is the unity of life values: what is important and what is not important, what is good and what is bad. When we understand that the same thing is valuable both for us and for our partner, we feel a commonality, a kind of kinship of souls. When we share common values, we unanimously make many decisions. And vice versa.

For example, if relations with relatives are important for us, and for a partner the most important thing is work and status, then when we have to go together to an anniversary or funeral, help a sick relative, disputes, and quarrels begin. Out of mutual consent or disagreement, life in a couple consists.”

The unity of values or their difference is manifested in everything: whether it is necessary to feed the husband breakfast, how to raise children and communicate with them, with whom to be friends, where to go or go. If we have commonality at the level of attitudes and life strategies, then it is much easier to agree on tactical issues.

At the beginning of the relationship, it is already clear whether we have common values. “It is worth starting to live in a couple when you feel that you feel good, you are ready to be together for many years,” emphasizes Marina Melia. A union in which there is mutual support provides each of the partners with a sense of acceptance and security, this feeling helps to more easily endure stress and more successfully achieve their own goals.

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For the sake of children

Historically, humanity has formed pairs in order to raise children together. But today in Russia, almost a third of all families are incomplete. Of the 17 million Russian families, 5 million are families with single mothers, and another 600,000 are with single fathers.

“And the trend is obvious: there will be more and more such families,” notes Marina Melia. Parents do not necessarily raise a child together, but for his development, it is necessary that two images live in his mind: father and mother. Therefore, the task of the parent who lives with the child constantly is to create the image of the second parent. Most often, the child stays with the mother, and it depends on her what the image of his father will be, and not only on how often the father comes, what he brings, maybe he even lives in another country. “

The psychologist cites the example of the family of former US President Barack Obama: “He was two years old when his parents divorced, but his mother painted for her son the image of his father as a confident, strong man, a graduate of Garwarad, and he lived with this image, inspired by him.

Not everyone becomes a single parent by choice. So, according to the law on payments of July 1, 2021, the mother or father is considered the only parent if the second parent died, went missing, is not inscribed in the birth certificate, or alimony is assigned to him by the court. If the parents during the divorce agreed on alimony with each other, then such a parent is not formally alone, although the family is considered incomplete.

Are we made for the life of the two of us?

Be consistent?

The statistics of singles include not only principled bachelors of any sex but also those who found themselves in the interval between marriages. 39% of Russians surveyed in 2021 believe that there are no insurmountable obstacles to divorce, this can always be done. No wonder there aren’t many marriages for life.

“We observe a tendency to create several successive unions,” notes Marina Melia, “the explanation is simple: the duration of active life is increasing. From 18 to 80 years, interests, opportunities, characters change more than once, so it is a rare case when two people develop together and they are just as interested in each other all this time. So we have to learn not only to enter into a relationship but also to get out of it and start new ones, to create a culture of calm separation from scratch. “

There is another option for solo life: “I’m not alone, I just prefer to live alone,” says 32-year-old Irina. “I have a partner, we’ve been dating for two years, but we’re both very independent and not sure we’ll ever want to have a common household.” They consider themselves a couple, although they look like loners to others.

We choose different values: a traditional nuclear family, a guest marriage, or a relationship on the Web. Everyone can ask themselves the question – am I satisfied with the life I lead? And if the answer is “no”, then change the way of life.

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A celebration of loneliness

It often seems to us that bachelors and unmarried women will be especially lonely in old age, but is this true?

How loneliness manifests itself at an older age was investigated by the Israeli sociologist, author of the book “Happy Loneliness: On the Growing Acceptance and Greeting of Solo Life” Elyakim Kislev. He analyzed data on hundreds of thousands of people from 30 European countries, as well as from the United States.

His conclusions are unequivocal: the story of modern loners is different from the story of the proverbial glass of water. It seems that in order not to suffer from loneliness after 70 years, it is not necessary to live with a permanent partner and have heirs.

How often do those who have never married feel lonely compared to those who have tied the knot at least once in their lives? At the age of about 60 years, the feeling of loneliness worsens, and almost equally in those and others, the sociologist found.

But throughout life, bachelors and bachelorettes feel not much lonelier than married ones. There is a difference, but it is not as great as we might assume and is about a quarter of a point on an 11-point scale.

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However, according to another indicator – the increase in feelings of loneliness with aging – the difference between single and married was significant. It turned out that with age, more and more married men and women feel lonely.

“The proportion of married people who feel lonely is about 50% more at the age of 60 than at the age of 30, and by the age of 90, it doubles,” the sociologist noted. And this growth continues until the very end of life. Whereas in the group of those who constantly live alone, there is no such increase. Over the years, they get used to being alone and see more pros than cons in their lifestyle.

Based on the results of the analysis, Elyakim Kislev showed that if we do not marry throughout life, this does not mean that in old age we will feel terribly lonely. It’s exactly the opposite. In addition, single people tend to be happier and healthier. They pay more attention to education and maintain an extensive circle of acquaintances.

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