Living Single

The truth about singles in our society.

What’s the Big Deal About Single People?

Sex and the Single Girl asked the same question

Single people are the big media stars of the year 2012. Not celebrity singles, but ordinary people, who in ever growing numbers, are living single. That's been happening for about a half-century, but all of a sudden, big-time media sources are noticing and wondering what it's all about. I started listing just the high-profile stories over at "All Things Single (and More)" and got close to a dozen.

What it's all about is something I've been writing about for more than a decade. So let's instead discuss the question of why all of this media attention is happening now. I have lots of thoughts on the matter, but today I want to highlight someone else's observations. At Slate, Katie Roiphe asked, "Why are Americans still so obsessed with single people - and so scared by them?" (Thanks to Kim and Irv for the heads-up about the article.)

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Roiphe compares the attitudes of the blockbuster singles book of a half-century ago, Helen Gurley Brown's Sex and the Single Girl with the contemporary view of single people, and is a tad disappointed. Read the whole story (it is not that long, and it is really good). Here are some highlights.

The classic book by Brown, Roiphe notes, includes the quote, "I think a single woman's biggest problem is coping with the people who are trying to marry her off." She continues:

"The cover of Sex and the Single Girl has a quote calling it 'the sensational best seller that torpedoes the myth that a girl must be married to enjoy a satisfying life,' and it is disheartening that people still seem to be torpedoing that very same myth, that anyone deviating from 'normal,' or living an unconventional romantic life should be a topic of cultural curiosity and conversation. (And the idea that being single should be considered unconventional is itself a sign of the deep, unacknowledged conservatism that runs through even our blue states....)

"All the public drumrolling about deciding not to get married, or to live alone, or to have a baby on one's own, is in direct proportion to the resistance single people still feel from the culture, the curiously old-fashioned outsider status they seem to enjoy."

So, readers, what do you think? Why all the fuss recently about people who are living single?

[On another topic, I'm trying to learn more about two topics - people who are (and are not) single at heart, and the new 21st century living arrangements that do not involve just married parents and their kids living under one roof. I've created two surveys, and if you are interested, I'd love to hear from you.

Click here for the Single at Heart survey.

Click here for the New Ways of Living survey.

Thanks!]

 

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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