Living Single

The truth about singles in our society.

CNN: ‘Still single? What’s the matter with you?’

What’s wrong with saying it just hasn’t happened yet?

Seriously. That was the title of the story CNN was featuring recently: "Still single? What's the matter with you?"

Interestingly, though, the short answer proposed in the story was this: Nothing. Nothing is wrong with you.

I like that.

The slightly longer answer, though, is one I like a little less: "It just hasn't happened yet."

The CNN story is a short version of the book, It just hasn't happened yet: bogus, ridiculous, absurd explanations as to why you're still single and how to deal with them plus a few silly things we do to ourselves, by the same author, Karin Anderson. I discussed it previously in my post, "It just hasn't happened yet?" (Check out the many thoughtful comments, too.)

In that post, I suggested the reversal heuristic - writing an analogous title of a book about why you're married. I also noted Jill Reynolds' discussion of the psychological quandaries that may come with the "just hasn't happened yet" way of thinking.

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My main point, though, was that the book - and now this CNN story - takes for granted what I consider to be a myth - that all singles are yearning to become unsingle. Consider, for example, the answer Anderson offers to the question of why some people are married while you are not:

"THEY GOT LUCKY. And we will too someday, but it just hasn't happened yet."

Here's my answer:

"It has already happened for me -- I'm single! I'm already lucky!"

Also, I thought about the life I wanted and went after it. That's more than luck.

Let's come back to that CNN title. It is great if it draws in readers who expect to read a litany of tragic flaws, only to discover that the answer is no, there's nothing wrong with you. That could be enlightening, and maybe even more so than if the answer were in the title. Still, I worry about all the people who ONLY read the title, or just the first few paragraphs of the article, and end up absorbing more of the myth that if you are single, there is something wrong with you. So I would have preferred a different title. (By that way, in a lot of publications, writers don't get to provide their own titles - someone else writes them. I don't know if CNN is one of those places.)

[Thanks to Debby and my older brother for the heads-up about the CNN article.]


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.


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