At the time of writing, it is currently the dead of winter. Or as it’s known to some, the middle of ‘cuffing season’. Cuffing season is the time during the autumn and winter months when people who would otherwise rather be single find a partner to be tied down to (or ‘cuffed’) to avoid loneliness during the dark, cold months. Furthermore, Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. All of this is to say that a lot of people have relationships on their minds. Some are leaning on their long-term partners for intimacy and entertainment while they hole up inside, safe from the winter wind. Others are looking longingly at couples in cafés and bars and wishing they had a significant other. And a third group of people are looking at their new partner they’ve drafted in for cuffing season and wondering if their nascent relationship possesses long term potential.
So what should you do? If you’re single, should you desperately throw yourself at the next individual you see who seems to be sane and practices basic hygiene? If you’re in a relationship should you lock it down and commit? Should you even, dare I say, propose marriage? Or, if you’re even a little uncertain about your partner at all, should you drop them like a bad habit? Are relationships even good? Well, like everything in life, romantic relationships are full of pros and cons. So let’s take a look at them all. Here are eight reasons that relationships suck, and seven why they rock.
15. Sucks: Your Sleep Is More Likely To Be Worse
It’s amazing that married people are overall healthier given that single people are likelier to have better sleep. Honestly, when you think about it, it’s amazing that this is something humans do. Sure, the bed is a great place to get down and maybe to cuddle afterwards. But sleep is a solitary function. And then add up all the weird things that happen when we sleep. Snoring, sleep apnea, sprawling, crowding, erratic movements, somnambulism (sleep walking), sleep paralysis and night terrors, farting, drooling and nocturnal penile tumescence or ‘morning wood’ (random erections). And even if you and your partner are bothered by none of these, you still might have different sleep patterns. If one of you gets tired at 11PM and the other at 1AM, that can be a big problem. So get as big a bed as you can, or maybe even different rooms, because let’s face it: we’re gross when we sleep.
14. Rocks: People In Long-term Relationships Are Generally Healthier
Somewhat confusingly, even though married people exercise less on average, they are still, overall, healthier than their single counterparts. A study conducted by Florida State University in 2010 found that single college-aged people experienced significantly more mental health problems than those in committed relationships. This backs up a 2002 review in the American Journal of Sociology that found that “single men and women have comparatively higher levels of depression, anxiety, mood disorders, adjustment problems, suicidal behavior and other forms of psychological distress”. Married people have also been found to suffer less from chronic health conditions. Furthermore, a study conducted by researchers at Emory and Rutgers Universities and published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior found that married people have a post-heart surgery survival rate that is three times higher than their single counterparts.
13. Sucks: You’re Likelier To Be Out Shape
In 2011, the Department of Health in the UK ran a poll asking people if they got in the recommended minimum of 150 minutes of exercise a week. Of those that did not meet the minimum, 76% of the men and 63% of the women were married. It’s unclear exactly why married people are likelier to exercise less, but it does seem logical. If you’re single, you’re probably trying to impress somebody. You’re either trying to get a date or you’re trying to trick –err, I mean ‘convince’– your boyfriend/girlfriend to stay with you for the long haul. Once you’re married, however, it’s a different story. You might feel less inclined to impress your partner, so you exercise less and less. This can be a major problem in marriages. But don’t forget that there other factors. Married people tend to be older than single people, so they may have less energy and spend more time on their careers. Also, remember that the same poll found that only 27% of adults got the 150 minutes per week of exercise, regardless of marital status.
12. Rocks: Reduced Pain
“Love Hurts”, as the old song says. And it does when it ends. But while you’re in the throes of an intense love affair, you’re impervious to pain! Well, not impervious, but you deal with it better. A 2010 study published in the journal PLoS ONE subjected college students who said they were intensely in love to mild pain (a heat block) and showed them pictures of a loved one or an equally attractive stranger. The picture of a loved one distracted them from the pain, but the picture of the attractive stranger was not as helpful. So clearly, the subjects were not merely distracted from their pain by beauty, but by a real emotional connection. Though, it is unclear whether this applies only to a beloved romantic partner, of if a cherished friend or family member might also help.
11. Sucks: You Lose Instagram Followers
This is probably truer for the ladies than for the men out there. But you’ve probably all observed this phenomenon. And if you’re a woman who possesses the conventional traits of beauty, perhaps you’ve experienced this yourself. An attractive woman posts selfies on Instagram. Maybe she’s hardcore into fitness and yoga and shows off her body. Maybe she’s into dance and posts dancing videos. Maybe she just likes taking selfies. No matter what, people will start to follow her. And a lot of those people will be dudes. But when the pretty girl posts a photo with her beau –or even if she just mentions him in the caption– watch those follower numbers drop. Even dudes halfway across the world with no real chance of meeting the girl will unfollow. Perhaps it ruins the fantasy for them. So if you’re a pretty girl with a new boyfriend and you want to keep those Insta followers, maybe keep your relationship on the DL.
10. Rocks: Binge-Watching Is An Acceptable Activity When With A Partner
Carefully examine the following statements and try to ascertain which one sounds enviable and which one sounds pathetic.
“What did you do this weekend?”“I watched three entire seasons of Friends. And nothing else.”
Or: “What did you do this weekend?”
“I spent some quality time with my partner.”
You see, binge-watching a television program alone is the act of lonely, slovenly, lazy, sad individual. But when you watch something with your partner –no matter what it is or for how long– you’re having quality couple time. The exact same act transforms from a useless, mindless, waste of time into a worthwhile, romantic, bonding experience. This is especially valuable in the winter months. And after watching something with your partner, you can discuss it with them. When you’re alone, there’s nothing you can do with all this new information but to go on Reddit and yell at other lonely people about how Brendan Dassey is totally innocent. Poor kid just wanted to watch WrestleMania.
9. Sucks: You Have Less Control Over Your Life
The binge-watching only works if you and your boo want to watch the same thing. If you want to watch WrestleMania 23 again but your girlfriend wants to re-watch the entire season four of The Bachelorette, you’re in trouble. And so too is it with all things in life. Whether it’s the small things like what you watch or what’s for supper; or the big things like if you’ll raise your child in a particular religion or if you have to move because your spouse got a job offer, people in relationships give up control of their lives. Of course, those in happy relationships will say they get to share their lives with somebody. But they also have to share their lives. If you’re single, you control everything. Want to move to Milan to accept that job offer as a food critic? Go for it! Want to watch pro wrestling all weekend in your underpants? You do you, buddy. When you’re single, you’re the master of your domain. In more ways than one…
8. Rocks: You Have Less Stress
There are also hormonal benefits to being in a long-term committed relationship. We’ll get to some of the better known hormones later, but for now, let’s look at cortisol. A University of Chicago study found that those in long-term committed relationships produced less of the stress hormone. Published in the journal Stress, study researcher Dario Maestripieri wrote, “These results suggest that single and unpaired individuals are more responsive to psychological stress than married individuals, a finding consistent with a growing body of evidence showing that marriage and social support can buffer against stress”. Which is good, because balancing a career, child rearing, and a healthy romantic relationship can lead to some pretty stressful situations. Having somebody you love and trust as a constant in your life boosts your ability to deal with these stresses.
7. Sucks: You Can’t Date
We’ve been looking at people in (presumably) monogamous relationships. But there are people who are in polyamorous relationships, open relationships, and mostly, but not entirely, monogamous relationships (“monogamish”). Within the poly community there is a term, “NRE” (New Relationship Energy). Many poly people accept that there is an exhilaration about a new relationship and they try to incorporate it alongside their long-term committed ones. Monogamous people just have to give it up. Both monogamy and non-monogamy have their challenges, but never again experiencing NRE is one of the harsher aspects of monogamy. When you think of some of the greatest moments of your romantic life, you’re likely to think of first dates, first kisses, and first sexual experiences. Dating is thrilling. The nervousness, the uncertainty, the sexual tension and learning about another person all create an atmosphere of mystery and possibility. And of course even those in the most dedicated of monogamous relationships still fantasize about sex with various partners. And now with online dating, these experiences are more tempting than ever. But in a monogamous relationship, these are experiences you can no longer have.
6. Rocks: You Don’t Have To Date
Let’s say the temptation was too much for you. You became bored and unsatisfied with your partner and this has led to the end of the relationship. And now you’re ready to start dating again. So you download all the new dating apps, post your best photos, write a clever bio, and start swiping. Next thing you know you’re inundated with eggplant emojis, boring conversations replete with poor grammar, and dudes asking if you’ll spank them and dress them in a diaper. Is this dating now?! Unfortunately, for many women it is. And for men –even the one’s who aren’t complete idiots– online dating often consists of getting rejected or ignored by 3 billion of the planet’s 3.5 billion women until one of them finally agrees to meet you… and she looks nothing like her photos. And even if you’re lucky enough to meet a normal, sane person that looks halfway decent, then you have to figure out where to go, what to wear, how much money to spend, then make sure not to talk about your love of Dungeons and Dragons or your 17 cats. Dating is hard.
5. Sucks: People In Long-term Relationships Tend To Have Fewer And Weaker Friendships
How many times has this happened to you? A friend you’ve barely seen in two years sends you a message saying she’s broken up with her boyfriend. So you and your friends take her out to get over it. You have a lot of fun. You hang out every week. Then one week she meets a guy and starts dating him. A few weeks later, they’re in an official relationship. And you never hear from her again. We all have at least one “friend” like this, and they can be of either gender. And you’re not the only one to have noticed this, The psychological community has noticed it, too, and has termed it “dyadic withdrawal”. Various studies have shown that single people are more attentive to friends, siblings, parents and even neighbors, than are people in relationships, both long-term and new ones.
4. Rocks: People Stop Bugging You About Being Single
One of the worst parts about being single is everybody and their brother seems to ask you about it. Sometimes this can be as innocent as, “So are you seeing anybody?” Or it can be the more intrusive, “Why can’t you find a nice boy/girlfriend?”. It all adds up and can make you dread parties and family reunions. People look at you with pity, and why? Just because you’re single? It’s not as if you’re huffing paint and eating Hot Pockets six days a week (I hope). And then you have to deal with people trying to fix you up with somebody. That’s always awkward. But once you’re in a relationship, you don’t have to deal with any of these headaches. Except, of course, eventually people will start asking you when you’re going to get married. Ugh.
3. Sucks: Relationships Make You Boring
Single Friend 1: “So I was at a party last night and I met a real hot and charming guy. I gave him my number and we’ve been texting. I can’t wait for our first date”
Single Friend 2: “Last night was my third date with Gabrielle. We went to an African drum class and then she came back to my place and we hooked up for the first time. It was amazing.”
Married Friend: “Last night was supposed to be date night, but we just ordered food and watched Netflix. But the wifi stopped working so I figured we should just have sex. But he ate too much Chinese food and couldn’t move, so we went to bed at 10:30.”
You’re likely to have heard an exchange similar to the one above. When you’re single, you’re always meeting new people and trying new things. And whether they’re good or bad, you probably have tonnes of dating stories. When you’re in a long-term relationship, the highlight of your day is getting home so you can finally take off your pants. There’s not much new and exciting in your life to talk about. But hey, at least you can fart in front of your partner now.
2. Rocks: Regular Time Under The Sheets and Intimacy Is Awesome
In this week’s obvious news update, regular sex and intimacy is amazing. Not only is it great because, you know, sex is awesome, but there are also clinically proven benefits. Every time you have sex, your body releases the hormones oxytocin and serotonin. Not only do these hormones make you feel relaxed and give you a warm fuzzy feeling, they promote bonding. So every time you have sex, you feel closer to your partner. Studies have shown that after you have sex with your partner several times, your body begins to release these hormones upon merely seeing your partner (though this reaction does dissipate with time). Regular sex also boosts testosterone production, which can help with your energy levels. And having a regular partner with whom you can make love is much more convenient than trawling Tinder every Saturday night.
1. Sucks: They End
Not all relationships end. Some people are lucky enough to die first. But for every couple that gets to celebrate a 50th wedding anniversary, there are hundreds (thousands?) of couples that don’t make it that long. Sure, you and your current partner are obviously going to last forever. But statistically, the vast majority of relationships end in a breakup/divorce. And where will you be then? Let’s hope that you haven’t neglected your friends and family like so many people in relationships do, because you’re going to need them. Because breakups can be profoundly painful. So if you’re one of the lonely and single ones come Valentine’s Day, just look at all those happy couples celebrating their love, and know that one day, they will break each other’s hearts. And then go get a dog. A dog will love you unconditionally (okay, one condition; you have to feed it).