Media Releases

U of T study finds that fear of being single leads people to settle for less in relationships

December 3, 2013

TORONTO, ON – Fear of being sin­gle is a mean­ing­ful pre­dic­tor of set­tling for less in rela­tion­ships among both men and women, a new Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to study has found. The results are pub­lished in the Decem­ber edi­tion of the Jour­nal of Per­son­al­i­ty and Social Psy­chol­o­gy.

“Those with stronger fears about being sin­gle are will­ing to set­tle for less in their rela­tion­ships,” says lead author Stephanie Spiel­mann, post­doc­tor­al researcher in the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to’s Depart­ment of Psy­chol­o­gy. “Some­times they stay in rela­tion­ships they aren’t hap­py in, and some­times they want to date peo­ple who aren’t very good for them.” She adds, “Now we under­stand that people’s anx­i­eties about being sin­gle seem to play a key role in these types of unhealthy rela­tion­ship behav­iours.”

Inves­ti­ga­tors sur­veyed sev­er­al sam­ples of North Amer­i­can adults, con­sist­ing of Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to under­grad­u­ates and com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers from Cana­da and the U.S. The sam­ples includ­ed a wide range of ages.

“In our results we see men and women hav­ing sim­i­lar con­cerns about being sin­gle, which lead to sim­i­lar cop­ing behav­iours, con­tra­dict­ing the idea that only women strug­gle with a fear of being sin­gle,” says co-author, Pro­fes­sor Geoff Mac­Don­ald of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toronto’s Depart­ment of Psy­chol­o­gy. “Lone­li­ness is a painful expe­ri­ence for both men and women, so it’s not sur­pris­ing that the fear of being sin­gle seems not to dis­crim­i­nate on the basis of gen­der.”


For more infor­ma­tion or to obtain a PDF of the study, con­tact:

Stephanie Spiel­mann, Ph.D.
Post­doc­tor­al Fel­low, Social Psy­chol­o­gy
Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to
Depart­ment of Psy­chol­o­gy
Tel: 416–978-3210