Well, according to some
research, married people do live longer. However, that’s sometimes just because
they were unsuccessful at killing each other.
I’m a 57-year-old twice-divorced man. Though I never wanted to get
to a point where romance wouldn’t be in my big picture, I’m feeling done with
it. I’ve replaced dating and getting married again with gourmet cooking for one.
I’m really enjoying it, but it worries me. Is it okay to be done?
PHOTO COURTESY AMY ALKON
this notion that your life is pretty much a black chasm of nothingness if
you’re without a “significant other.” Psychologist Bella DePaulo blames this
thinking on what she calls “the cult of the couple.” DePaulo, who researches
the elements of being satisfyingly single, marvels at “the strange implication”
(in a paper by noted marriage researchers) “that people without a stable sexual
relationship are wandering adrift with open wounds and shivering in their
Though we humans evolved to be interdependent
-- people who need people -- we don’t have to be sleeping with those people on
the reg for them to count. In fact, having good friends and close acquaintances
you can rely on is associated with a whole bunch of physical and mental health
benefits, including better cardiovascular health, increased happiness and decreased
stress and depression.
Interestingly, research increasingly suggests that providing social
support may be even better for you than getting it -- psychologically and
physically. A study co-authored by psychiatrist Randolph Nesse on elderly
people who regularly did generous acts for others in their lives is one of a
number that find an association between being a “giver” and increased life
expectancy. Conversely, Nesse theorizes that the rising tide of depression in
our society has roots in how disconnected many of us are, leading to a deficit
in the level of kindness we evolved to give and receive.
Well, you’re set up perfectly to extend
yourself for others -- like by handing them a plate of your gourmet chow.
Consider using your newfound love of cooking to bring a social circle together
around your dining room table. Invite friends over every Friday or so to dine
or even help you make dinner. The cool thing is, before they arrive, nothing’s stopping
you from whispering the same seductive thing you would to a woman: “So ... what
are you wearing?” The turkey: “The same little paper socks you put on me an
hour ago, stupid.”