Living Single

The truth about singles in our society.

Becoming Single Again: How Has it Made You a Better Person?

Telling a different, and more accurate, story of single life

So there I was, happily reading a true crime essay in the New Yorker by George Pelecanos. The entire piece, except for the last two paragraphs, is about his youthful dabbling in crimes and misdemeanors. There was nothing all that great about the essay, but I kept reading. Then I got to the end:

“I got married that fall. Four years after that, I wrote my first novel, and two years later my wife and I had our first child.

“I grew up.”

Oh, please.

I look to the New Yorker for thoughtful literature. This just seemed like mindless ideology.

We have some idea about what getting married means for men, and prevailing matrimaniacal claims to the contrary, the results are not always pretty. (See, for example, “Does marriage civilize men?” and “Naughty or nice? Single men and married men.”)

That’s not to say that some individual men (and women) do not benefit from marrying. But theirs is hardly the sole story to be told, or even the typical one.

So let’s grab the reins of the prevailing narrative and drag it out of the ideological ditch. Tell your stories. Have you ever divorced? Have you ever become widowed? Then tell us, how did becoming single-again make you a better person?

There is no need to feel constrained to tell only your own stories. Do you know of any memoirs, stories, biographies, or other accounts of people who benefitted from becoming single again?

What about the data? Previously, I’ve reviewed studies showing that soon after divorcing, people generally feel happier and happier over time. Do you know of other evidence of ways in which people do better once they are no longer married?

Stories are powerful and evidence anchors us to the reality-based community. Let’s get on this.

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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