When you’re single, people in relationships are the worst. When you’re in a relationship, single people are the worst. Well, it’s official: everyone is the worst, all of the time, thanks to “normative idealization” – the phenomenon by which a person comes to believe that his or her lifestyle is ideal and feels compelled push it on others. But this self-aggrandizement isn’t necessarily motivated by confidence. A new study in Psychological Science has determined that smug marrieds are more likely to look down on romantically unattached people when they feel threatened about their own relationships. The same is true, in reverse, of unhappy singles. Way to be jerks, guys.
Researchers at Stanford and the University of Waterloo began by measuring how entrenched each subject was in his or her current lifestyle. For singles, how difficult do they expect it would be to find a mate? For those in relationships, how hard would it be to break up? Overwhelmingly, psychologists found that, the more “stuck” (yikes) in a lifestyle someone is, the greater bias he or she will exhibit against people with the opposite relationship status. For example, participants in stable relationships were more likely to agree with statements like “Individuals who are in long-term romantic relationships generally have more meaningful, fulfilling lives than those who are not.”
Before you dismiss the single life in favor of your particular brand of commitment (or vice versa), check yourself before you wreck yourself. Are you really just feeling insecure about your own choices? The grass is always browner on the other side.
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