Over a quarter of Brits (26%) frequently feel unhappy in their relationship

· Characterised as ‘singlephobia’, more than half (54%) of people in unhappy relationships are too afraid to go it alone

· Meanwhile, over one in ten (13%) accept their relationship is wrong, but admit being unhappy has become ‘normal’

More than a quarter (26%) of Brits regularly[1] feel unhappy in their relationship, yet over half (54%) of these are not prepared to make the break and move on.

This is according to a new survey from relationship experts eHarmony, which reveals the prevalence of ‘singlephobia’ in the UK, in other words, the deep-seated fear of being alone.

The survey also reveals that feeling ignored by a partner (33%), repeated arguments (22%) and a lack of understanding (21%) are the most common challenges for people in unhappy relationships, with one in ten (10%) admitting that they are not even sure they love their partner.

Inevitably, staying in a relationship with the wrong partner can have a highly negative impact, with many suffering including heightened stress levels (39%), feelings of depression (28%) and anxiety (25%).

Wellbeing experts at eHarmony have subsequently launched the ‘School of Happiness’, a dedicated content platform for both singles and couples, designed to help rebuild self-confidence and promote happiness this New Year.

eHarmony psychologist Dr Linda Padadopolous says:

“Emotionally, this research picks up on something that I see time and again in my clinics – the fact that people have been unhappy for so long that they normalise their negative feelings – they become comfortable in their discomfort. If this sounds familiar, I would recommend finding some time to re-evaluate your relationship, questioning whether it fits your current life goals. If it doesn’t, it could be of more benefit to learn to how to be happy as a single person as opposed to in a partnership with the wrong person.

“While there is a perceived stigma attached to being single – fuelling so-called singlephobia – with the right support it can also be a fantastic opportunity for growth.”

According to eHarmony’s research, practical concerns also fuel singlephobia. Over a quarter of Brits (26%) admit to staying in a relationship that they know isn’t right as they have children together, while one in five (20%) note that money worries force them to remain with their partner.

Looking at more emotional reasons behind the phenomenon, one in six (15%) state that the problem lies with the fact that they still like their partner but see them as more of a friend, while a similar amount (13%) admit that being unhappy in their relationship has simply become normal. The perceived notion that being part of a couple is preferable to being single also features highly (13%).

The research corroborates the view that being single has many positive benefits – especially in comparison with staying in an unhappy relationship. Singles note that not having a partner allows them to live life on their own terms (62%), provides a renewed sense of freedom (62%) and allows them more time to see friends (21%). Interestingly, of those thinking about ending a relationship in 2017, January was revealed as the month most people plan to break up with their current partner.[2]

Rachael Lloyd, spokesperson for eHarmony.co.uk, says:

“The fact that over a quarter (26%) of Brits are frequently unhappy in their relationships suggests they’re feeling significantly stuck. As a society we perpetuate negative stereotypes about being single, with women in particular being cast as tragic singletons. This is hugely unfair and obviously doesn’t help.

“At eHarmony we’ve spent decades studying the key ingredients that create happy, lasting relationships, connecting highly-compatible people who want the same things.

“Whether people are in relationships or single this New Year we want to empower them and our School of Happiness is, hopefully, a positive step in the right direction.”

The School of Happiness project was created by eHarmony experts to help boost happiness and self-esteem in 2017. For more information, visit (www.eharmonyschoolofhappiness.co.uk).