Whether you’re single by choice or circumstance, you’re used to the inconveniences, annoyances and downright discrimination that comes with being uncoupled. From the thousands of dollars you spend on weddings to the looks of pity from friends and family, being on the receiving end of the worst “matchmaking” ever (i.e., “you’re both single and therefore, a match!”) and trying to weave your way through slow-walking hand-holders on the sidewalk when you’re late for work.
Now it seems even science has turned on us. If you’ve been keeping up with recently released studies, you may have noticed a series of unfortunate reports. First, we were told that people who drink white wine may be more likely to get melanoma. Of course, not all single people are white wine drinkers and vice versa, but I think we can all agree that it’s not ideal.
Then we learned that that the wage gap segues into the age gap because a woman who retires at 55 will pay $79,000 more for health care than a man retiring at the same age. Again, not obviously tied to being single, but it kind of is because women live longer, meaning there’s a good chance we’ll end up alone regardless of whether or not we were previously in a relationship.
Speaking of the twilight years, we also learned this week that women who don’t have close social relationships are more likely to have their cancer return or die from it than those who are well-connected. In fact, “solitary women” had a 60 percent increased chance of dying from breast cancer and a 70 percent chance of dying from any cause, according to the study. Of course, loneliness does not equate being single, but it’s something else for those of us who live alone to think about while we’re strategizing which chair to use to perform the Heimlich on ourselves in the event that we choke.
The latest blow came yesterday, when a study was released indicating that romantic partners play a crucial role in detecting melanoma. You can probably see where this is going. Having someone who sees you naked on a regular basis makes it more likely that someone will spot your weird-looking moles and suggest that you see a dermatologist.
It gets better. The most common places to develop melanoma just happen to be the places where it’s hardest to put sunscreen on yourself, like behind the ears and knees and around bathing suit lines. So not only are you without a constant companion to slather your back in SPF 50, but you also don’t have someone there checking up to make sure those same hard-to-see/reach spots aren’t sprouting problematic moles.
So, yeah, science thinks we’re screwed. But try not to worry too much. Kick back, relax and have a glass of wine — just make sure that it’s red.