Living Single

The truth about singles in our society.

Ditch the Fairytale – and Monogamy?

Author OK with no partners, multiple partners, and living apart.

Any book with a title that begins with “Screw the Fairytale” is probably going to be a book for me. There is such a book, by Helen Croydon. I just learned about it so I don’t have it yet but the way I learned about it was from an essay she published that is filled with provocative quotes. Here are some of my favorites.

#1 About the progress we have and have not made in the fairytale department:

“American teenagers are fortunate enough to live in an era where their future no longer relies on meeting a prince, yet they fail to utilize this…It’s no good having all these victories in the battle for emancipation of women if we still send out a message that finding Mr. Right is the only route to utopia.”

#2 Riffing off Cameron Diaz’s quip that “having more than one lover is better than trying to stick to one,” Croydon offers her own perspective on monogamy:

“Like Diaz, I too would rather retain my single status with a few rewarding lovers to fulfill different needs at different times of my life. Relationships can be a nice addition to contentment but they no longer have to be the main ingredient.”

#3 In Singled Out, I talked about the contemporary infatuation with “Sex and Everything Else Partners” and wondered why we are so inclined to celebrate this habit of looking to just one person to fulfill all of our hopes and dreams and wishes and needs, and so unlikely to recognize the risks of such a strategy. Here’s what Croydon has to say on that topic:

“…it is time to modernize the rules and expectations. That means casting away the fairytale and facing up to the fact that a life partner—should we choose to have one—fulfills only one corner of our emotional, romantic, and sexual needs.”

I especially appreciate Croydon’s inclusion of that qualifier about a life partner – “should we choose to have one.”

#4 On why she likes the idea of living apart from your spouse or romantic relationship partner (called LAT, or living-apart-together, in the jargon):

“Why anyone would voluntarily give up a peaceful breakfast with John Humphrys, happily drinking anything in the fridge direct from the carton, and trade it for morning dramas of lost shirts and a daily telephone conference about meal-planning is something I can never understand.”

[Note: You may want to take a look at “Paris Is for Solos” not only if you are interested in that particular topic, but if you would like to be introduced to someone who writes in a wonderfully enlightened way about single life.]

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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