Living Single

The truth about singles in our society.

The Unrecognized Parallel between Children and Couples

Exclusivity in children and adults

When I started reading the article I'm going to quote in this post, I didn't expect it to have anything to do with single or married life. It is a New York Times story from a few weeks ago (yes, I'm way behind) on whether a child should have a best friend.

A camp director who was quoted in the article thought not. Here's what he told the reporter:

"I don't think it's particularly healthy for a child to rely on one friend. If something goes awry, it can be devastating. It also limits a child's ability to explore other options in the world."

Think about that for a moment. Are you allowing yourself a bemused smile? I did. I eagerly continued reading, to see whether there would be any acknowledgement that a similar argument could be made about adults who practice what I call "intensive coupling" (looking to their partner to be their everything).

A scholar was quoted a little later in the story who thought children should be encouraged to have best friends. He did mention coupling, but not at all in the way I had in mind. Here's what he said:

Find a Therapist

Search for a mental health professional near you.

"Imagine the implication for romantic relationships. We want children to get good at leading close relationships, not superficial ones."

The implication seems to be that if you have more than one relationship (in the big, broad sense of the word), then all of your relationships will be superficial ones. I don't think that's true of children or adults.

I wouldn't dissuade anyone from having a close relationship of any kind if they are so inclined, as long as it's a healthy relationship. Most of us, though, have big hearts that have room enough for affection for more than one person at a time.

 

Bella DePaulo, Ph.D., is author of Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After. She is a visiting professor at UCSB.

more...

Subscribe to Living Single

Current Issue

Love & Lust

Who says marriage is where desire goes to die?