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Results of the Single-at-Heart Survey: Part 1

Results are in from the first 1,200 people to participate in the survey, “Are you single at heart?” There is so much to tell you from this first, exploratory study of people who are and are not single at heart, so I will write several posts on the topic.

In this post, I will mostly describe the kinds of questions that were in the survey and preview the topics of the next posts. So you don’t need to wait for the next post to learn something about the results, here is the most compelling finding so far: People who are single-at-heart love their solitude.

First, some background about the survey. In it (you can still take it here if you want to), participants begin by answering more than a dozen multiple-choice questions. They are asked, for example, how they feel about spending time alone and about searching for a long-term romantic partner. They are also asked how they felt if they had been in a long-term romantic relationship and that relationship ended.

Questions about the importance of meaningful work and about having the same person next to you in bed each night are included, too. Participants also describe their preferred ways of making decisions and of socializing. They indicate whether they see themselves as self-sufficient, and more.

Then there are a few questions that participants are invited to answer in their own words. I especially liked the answers to the question asking them to explain why they think they are or are not single-at-heart. (That question is copied at the end of this post.)

Over and over again, people who consider themselves single-at-heart declare their appreciation for having time and space to themselves. There’s much more that they value, too. In my next post (Part 2), I’ll tell you how people who are single-at-heart described their feelings about the time they spend alone – in their own words.

People who say that they clearly are not single-at-heart described very different experiences. For them, time alone was often experienced as loneliness rather than sweet solitude. The joy in their lives came from other places. The experiences of the people who are not single-at-heart – again, in their own words – will be the topic of Part 3.

Elsewhere, I’ll move away from the topic of time alone and describe answers to the other questions in the survey. On every question, people who said they were single-at-heart offered very different answers than those who said they were not single-at-heart.

There has never been a formal study of people who are single-at-heart and what distinguishes them from people who are not. The survey I’m telling you about was a first attempt to get a sense of the phenomenon. By analyzing these preliminary results, and taking into account the suggestions offered by participants, I will write better questions for the next version of the survey.

Also enormously helpful were participants’ answers to the question, “What else should I have asked?” I’ll share some of those suggestions with you somewhere down the road.

Because this was an online survey open to anyone interested, the results are not representative of Americans or anyone else. Many more of the people who participated described themselves as single-at-heart than not. After I have refined the survey, I hope I will have the opportunity to administer it to representative samples of people in the U.S. and beyond.

Here’s how participants were asked whether they consider themselves single-at-heart:

This quiz is a first step toward identifying people who are single at heart. If you are single at heart, single life suits you. You are not single because you have “issues” or just haven’t found a partner yet. Instead, living single is a way for you to lead your most meaningful and authentic life. Even people who are not single may be single at heart. Do you think you are single at heart?

  1. a.      Yes
  2. b.      In more than a few ways, yes, but not all
  3. c.      Maybe in a few ways, but mostly not
  4. d.      No

Please explain in your own words why you think that you are, or are not, single at heart.

Single woman photo available from Shutterstock.

Results of the Single-at-Heart Survey: Part 1

Bella DePaulo, Ph.D

Bella DePaulo (Ph.D., Harvard; Academic Affiliate, Psychological and Brain Sciences, UC Santa Barbara), an expert on single life, is the author of several books, including "Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After" and "How We Live Now: Redefining Home and Family in the 21st Century." Her TEDx talk is "What no one ever told you about people who are single," Dr. DePaulo has discussed singles and single life on radio and television, including NPR and CNN, and her work has been described in newspapers such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and magazines such as Time, Atlantic, the Week, More, the Nation, Business Week, AARP Magazine, and Newsweek. Dr. DePaulo is in her sixties. She has always been single and always will be. She is "single at heart" -- single is how she lives her best and most meaningful life. Visit her website at

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APA Reference
DePaulo, B. (2019). Results of the Single-at-Heart Survey: Part 1. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 29, 2020, from


Last updated: 17 Sep 2019
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