Living Single

The truth about singles in our society.

8 Things You Might Want to Know if You Are Single

In praise of single life

I know I have gotten behind when a Living Single reader writes to me saying, “It’s okay, you know, to put up another post.” Sorry, everyone! Although I have been delinquent in getting my thoughts posted, I haven’t stopped collecting them. So in the spirit of what I used to call my “Singles Collections,” here are some things I thought you should know.

#1 If you are fearless about living single, you probably already know that you are reaping many benefits relative to those who are always worrying about staying (or becoming) single and hatching plots to land on the married side of the tracks. Well, now you have science on your side. In a series of seven studies, researchers showed that people who are not afraid of being single have stronger, more secure, and more resilient personalities, and higher standards. I wrote about that research here and here.

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#2 An analysis of Billboard archives showed that songs about romantic love stayed on the charts, on average, 9.4 weeks. Songs with other themes? 11.4 weeks. (From the December 2013 issue of mental_floss, via Psyngle – thanks!)

#3 It is a big deal when an individual writer expresses an enlightened opinion about single people and singlism on the op-ed pages of the New York Times. It is an even bigger deal when such a piece appears not with an individual name but with the backing of the entire editorial board of the paper. In “It’s Not Only Mothers and Children,” the board outlined several serious ways in which economically vulnerable adults with no children are excluded from, or severely limited in their access to, important federal programs and protections. The editorial sums up with this statement: “In today’s high-unemployment, low-wage and deeply unequal economy, childless adults are not immune to severe hardship and should not be disqualified from help.”

#4 Unfortunately, the New York Times did not do so great in their coverage of that study about marital status and cancer that got so much attention. My critique of their take on the study, and of a scientifically embarrassing editorial in the journal that published the study, is here.

#5 All sorts of people get in touch with me asking if they can write a guest post for one of my blogs but this time I want to put out my own request (with thanks to Alan for suggesting it): If you love your single life and would like to write about that, let me know. I sometimes hear from people who have gotten to like living single after having yearned for coupledom and that’s fine, but what I’m really looking for are life stories from the single-at-heart (scroll down after clicking).

#6 Here’s another good suggestion from Alan: Let’s create a list of rules for living single. His thought is that not everyone has what it takes to be single. There are challenges as well as joys. What kinds of people are up for the challenges and appreciative of the joys? Alan got the idea from all of those claims that wives keep their husbands healthy by nagging them to eat vegetables and go to the doctor, so one of his proposed rules is, “If you can’t take care of your own health by yourself, you shouldn’t be single.” (By the way, I have yet to find a study that actually demonstrates that, rather than just guessing it from other results. Plus those claims about health and longevity [scroll down after clicking] are not what they are cracked up to be.) I would add, as just one more example, “If you don’t know how to enjoy your own company, you shouldn’t be single.” Let’s include “shoulds” as well as “should-nots.”

#7 Did you hear about the article titled, “The Dutch Don’t Care about Marriage”? It featured a big photo of relaxed and happy single people with the caption, “Being single in the Netherlands is pretty great.” I highlighted some of the author’s arguments, and solicited a more skeptical point of view from a journalist living in Holland and doing a project on singles in the Netherlands; you can read both sides here.

#8 Finally, if you are interested, check out “Clicks for causes, Amazon Associates, and a tiny bit of easy income” (scroll down after clicking).

UPDATE: I'm going to take the comment just posted by Anonymous and make it #9: "Psychology Today has never had a Top 10 List that has featured suggestions on how single people can be all they can be. PT seems to be obsessed with happiness and self-esteem, so we could use PT buzzwords to attract readers, "The Best Kept Secrets of Happy Singles", or "Boost your Single Self-Esteem with these 10 Tips", or "Successfully Self-Actualize as a Single with these 10 Ideas". Putting my snark aside, I bet the collective "we" could knock out 10 great tips in a heartbeat and come up with a great list that can be edited by Bella." [From Bella again: Let's go for it. Post your Best Kept Secrets to the comments section, or email them to me, and I'll see what I can do.]

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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