Living Single

The truth about singles in our society.

Single at Heart: The Missing Pieces

What else do we need to know about being single-at-heart?

When I tried to answer the question of my last post, “What does it mean to be single at heart,” I drew my answers from the first 1200 responses to my survey. That means that what I learned was limited by what I thought to ask.

Happily, one of the questions I did think to ask was what other questions I should have asked. Many survey participants offered suggestions. I’ll share some of them here.

At the heart of the survey were the questions that were designed to discern what separates the single-at-heart from the not single-at-heart. In the first category below are additions to that list. Other people suggested further background information I should have gathered – those ideas are in the second list. In the last list are questions about other experiences that would have been interesting to ask about. (I may not have put each question in its most appropriate place.)  

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The responses so far to just this one survey question (asking what else I should have asked) go on for 14 pages. So the lists below include just a sampling. I have done some minor editing of wording and combined some responses. For some of these questions, the wording would need to be modified if they were to be included as actual survey items.

Part 1: What Else Might Separate Those Who Are and Are Not Single at Heart?

  • How do you prefer to spend your holidays and vacation times?
  • How do you feel about dining alone in a restaurant? How about going to social events on your own?
  • How would you feel about having a romantic partner but not living with that person?
  • Do you think you can have a long-term, intense romantic relationship and still be free to live your own life?
  • When a romantic relationship ends, are you eager to start another one?
  • When you see happy couples, how does that make you feel? How do you feel when someone you care about gets serious about a romantic relationship partner?
  • Compared to other people around you, how interested are you in romance?
  • Do you ever feel guilty about enjoying your single life?
  • Do your family and friends think you are single at heart?
  • When you face challenges in life, do you prefer to face them with a partner, with friends, or on your own?
  • What is the place of sex in your life? Are you satisfied with it? If not, how do you wish it were different?
  • Is monogamy important to you?
  • Would you consider marrying for financial reasons?
  • Would you rather be in a mediocre romantic relationship than in no romantic relationship at all?
  • Are you worried about growing old alone?
  • Are you worried about dying alone?
  • How important are friends to you?
  • Is there anything you dislike about being single?

Part 2: What Other Background Information Should I Have Asked About?

  • Do you have any children? Do you want to have children or wish you had children?
  • Do you have any pets?
  • How important is religion to you?
  • What is your romantic relationship history? If you have had long-term romantic relationships, how would you describe the quality of those relationships?
  • Have you ever faced a serious challenge such as caring for an aging parent or your own serious illness?
  • [Several people said I should have included scales measuring personality traits and individual differences such as introversion/extraversion and attachment style.]

Part 3: What Other Experiences Should I Have Asked About?

  • Why do you think being single works (or does not work) for you?
  • Do you ever feel pressured to be apologetic about doing your own thing?
  • In your decisions about how to lead your life, do other people’s criticisms or expectations play a role?
  • How do you feel when other people ask if you are “seeing anyone” or imply that you should be?
  • Have you ever been excluded from a social event because you were single?
  • Have you ever been treated differently in the workplace because you were single?
  • Have you always felt that you were (or were not) single at heart? Have your experiences been different at different times in your life?
  • When you first moved out of your parents’ house (if you did), how did you feel about that?
  • How are single people viewed and treated in your country?
  • Of all of the married or seriously coupled people you know reasonably well, what percentage do you think are happy?
  • How happy are you?

Other posts about the single-at-heart survey are here:

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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