AUCKLAND, New Zealand, Aug. 21 (UPI) -- At any given moment, there are thousands of people looking for an escape route from their relationship. Generally speaking, however, people in relationships report being happier than those who aren't.
But that doesn't mean single people can't be happy.
"It's a well-documented finding that single people tend to be less happy compared to those in a relationship, but that may not be true for everyone," Yuthika Girme, a psychology doctoral candidate at the University of Auckland, said in a press release. "Single people also can have satisfying lives."
Girme's new study -- published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science -- suggests that for some people being single is just as satisfying as being in a relationship is for others. Those people aren't just any people, however. They're people with high "avoidance social goals."
For people who prefer to avoid the anxieties and conflicts of relationships, being single can bring just as much happiness as a committed relationship brings to others.
A survey of some 4,000 adults in New Zealand showed that adults with high avoidance social goals, those who work to avoid conflicts in relationships, tend to be as happy or happier when single. About a fifth of the survey respondents were single at the time of the study.
But avoiding conflict doesn't tend to work out for those in relationships. Those with high avoidance social goals, who were in relationships, were more likely to report feelings of anxiety, loneliness and lower life satisfaction.
Not surprisingly, people who have high "approach social goals," who direct their energy toward promoting intimacy and growth in a relationship, tended to be happier in their relationships and fared much better with a partner than alone.
The findings suggests happiness, whether while single or not, is largely dependent on outlook and approach.
"Having greater approach goals tends to have the best outcomes for people when they are in a relationship, but they also experience the most hurt and pain when they are single," Girme said.