Lead author Stephanie Spielmann, a post-doctoral researcher in the University of Toronto's Department of Psychology, said the research team surveyed several samples of North American adults, consisting of University of Toronto undergraduates and community members from Canada and the United States. The samples included a wide range of ages.
"Those with stronger fears about being single are willing to settle for less in their relationships," Spielmann said in a statement. "Sometimes they stay in relationships they aren't happy in, and sometimes they want to date people who aren't very good for them. Now we understand that people's anxieties about being single seem to play a key role in these types of unhealthy relationship behaviors."
The results showed men and women having similar concerns about being single, said study co-author Professor Geoff MacDonald.
"This leads to similar coping behaviors, contradicting the idea that only women struggle with a fear of being single," MacDonald said. "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."
The study was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.