Half of singles affected by mental health issues

Mental health & wellbeing  |  May 13, 2019

Over half of singles (54%) are affected by a mental health issue with rising rates of diagnosis a contributing factor.  This is according to a study from the experts at eharmony in collaboration with psychotherapist Lucy Beresford. The research revealed that singles are most commonly affected by anxiety (39%), depression (39%) or sleep disorders (18%).  The brutal nature of casual dating can be a factor in exacerbating mental health issues. Being ‘ghosted’ – whereby someone you’re dating disappears – unsuccessful dates and worries about sex with a new partner are the most common mental health triggers amongst singles.

Many people – whether they’re dating or in a relationship – are benefitting from starting a conversation about their mental health. Intimate relationships can provide the support people need to improve their mental wellbeing, and can allow us to experience tolerance, understanding and being loved for who we are. At the same time, it’s useful to be reminded that relationships and dating can create negative triggers for mental health. Whether it’s anxieties around body confidence or sexual performance, feeling like your mental health diagnosis is misunderstood, or confusion around modern dating protocols, knowing that your mental health could be affected means you’re in a better position to take your self-care seriously. If mental health issues are affecting you or your relationship, professional help is available and can make the world of difference.

Trigger points for single people

Influencing this, one in three (33%) singles say that struggling with body confidence has made their love life more difficult.  Meanwhile, over one in ten singles (13%) cite ‘gaslighting’ from a potential partner as a mental-health concern. This is the term originally associated with the 1944 film, Gaslight, starring Ingrid Bergman in which a woman is deliberately forced to question her sanity by a manipulative partner.  However, the picture is beginning to change, as just shy of a third of singles (30%) think that in modern-day dating, it’s no longer taboo to have a mental health issue. This parallels strides being made towards reducing the stigma surrounding it.  And for singles with mental health issues concerned about missing out on love, research demonstrates that these can be successfully navigated within relationships, providing traits such as empathy, adaptability and altruism are present. What’s more, while the overall picture is similar for couples, with half (50%) saying they too are affected by a mental health issue, more than half (56%) say their relationship ended up stronger after they opened up to their partner. 

% who agree

Being ‘ghosted’

Being worried about having sex for the first time with a new partner

Unsuccessful dates

A new date not texting back

Having mental health problems misunderstood

Sexual/physical intimacy

Getting into an argument with someone they’re dating

A date being critical about looks

A date being critical about an element of their personality

Experiencing gaslighting (a term to describe being manipulated into questioning their own reality)

n = 1,001; Percentages rounded; supported

Triggers that affect people in relationships

However, some do still find it harder to open up to a loved one, with a fifth of partners (21%) taking more than a year to do so. This is particularly the case amongst those older than 35, who are four times more likely to hold off on disclosing a mental health illness – possibly a hangover from an earlier, less tolerant society (17% v 4%). Evidently, it’s millennials who are leading the way in removing the taboos around mental health.

% who agree

Getting into an argument with my partner

Having my mental health problems misunderstood by my partner

Issues around sexual activity or physical intimacy

My partner being critical about an element of my personality

Getting naked in front of my partner

My partner not contacting me back when I was expecting a response

A partner having previously cut off communication with me

My partner being critical about my looks

Experiencing gaslighting

Interacting with my partner’s friends

n = 1,001; Percentages rounded; supported

Benefits of being in a relationship

Despite these listed triggers, almost half (42%) of people in relationships said that they felt safe and empowered to discuss their specific issues with their partner, and half (48%) indicated that being in a relationship had a positive impact on their mental health. We encourage those battling anxiety-related conditions to be bold in their search for love. We know that high levels of neuroticism can impact on overall relationship satisfaction. But even if there are mental health struggles present, couples who communicate well, score high on conflict resolution and are adaptable can and do have happy relationships in the long term.


almost half of people in relationships feel that being with their partner has a positive effect on their mental health

Study information
  • Study typeSurvey
  • Region/City/CountryUK
  • LanguageEnglish