Living Single

The truth about singles in our society.

10 Myths About Single People: Here Are Numbers 5, 6, and 7

Myths about single men, single women, and single parents

In my last post, I described the first 4 of the 10 myths about single people. Most myths apply to just about all categories of single people. Some particular subgroups of singles, though, seem to attract their very own specially crafted myths. Here I'll describe the myths that single out single women, single men, and single parents.

Myth #5

The fifth set of myths includes the scare stories that are told about single women. Listen up, all you single women! According to the myths, your work won't love you back and your eggs will dry up. Also, you don't get any and you're promiscuous. These myths are ways of undermining anything that single women might love about their lives. Are you a single woman who has a great job that you are passionate about? Better be careful - that job won't love you back! And besides, while you are busying yourself with your work that you only think is making you happy, your eggs are drying up. (There's still another myth in there - that if you are a woman, then of course you are yearning to have kids. How could anything - other than landing a mate - matter more?) Notice also the part about sex. One presumption is that if you are single, then you are probably promiscuous. But if it seems obvious that you are not the promiscuous type, then there's still another myth ready to take you down - you poor thing, you are not getting any. Myths about single people always get you coming and going - no matter how you lead your life, there's a myth out there that can be used to demean you.

Myth #6

The sixth myth is about single men. So listen up, all you single men! The myth-makers know who you are. You are horny, slovenly, and irresponsible, and you are the scary criminals. Or, you are sexy, fastidious, frivolous, and gay. (And of course, they think that the gay part is a bad thing.) Notice the same Catch-22 that was applied to single women. No matter how you live your single life, there is a stereotype handy to make you seem slobby, scary, sex-crazed, or pathetic. Because as we all know, married men always pick up their socks and underwear and they never stray. Also, remember the BTK killer? That was Dennis Rader, the guy who bound, tortured and killed his 10 victims. Think he was a shadowy loner? Wrong! He was married. With children. An active member of his church. Those characteristics did not make him an unusual murderer. Criminologists will tell you that it is utterly ordinary for serial killers to be married.

Myth #7

Myth #7 is aimed at single parents. It is very simple. The myth says: Listen up, single parents, your kids are doomed! I know you've heard this one before. Try to raise children as a single parent, the myth insists, and those kids will end up as drug-addled juvenile delinquents having kids while they are still kids themselves. The myth-makers seem to think that kids raised by married parents have two loving parents, who have perfectly harmonious relationships with each other and with each of their kids, and who both lavish untold amounts of time and resources on those kids in a home free of conflict. But Leave It to Beaver was a TV show - it wasn't real! I'm a social scientist. I've read the journal articles that supposedly show that the kids of single parents are doomed. Some of the studies show no differences at all between the kids raised by single parents and those raised by married parents. Sometimes there is a difference, but it is nothing like what you have been led to believe. Take substance abuse, for example. A national study of more than 22,000 teenagers found that about 5% of the children of married parents had substance abuse problems, and about 6% of the children of single mothers had such problems. So the difference is all of 1%. The vast majority of children of single mothers - about 94% -- are doing just fine.

 

[In my next post -- here it is -- I'll tell you about the last 3 of the 10 myths. At some point - hopefully soon - I'll also address a reader's request for handy sources of my myth-busting evidence. And, as always, I'm way behind on getting to the many interesting links and stories you have been sending me, and I'm even a bit behind on acknowledging them all. I do appreciate everything you send, though, so thank you - and thanks for your patience.]

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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