Living Single

The truth about singles in our society.

Weirdest Thing Ever – at Least in My Life

How could a book on single life lead to this?

Singled Out has been implicated in a marriage. I'm not bragging. That is not at all what Singled Out is about. The book is a myth-busting, consciousness-raising, totally unapologetic take on single life. It is celebratory about living single – and with data to back up the optimism, and (I would like to think) wit to take down the stereotypes and caricatures of single people.

I expected it to be the sort of book that would attract hate mail, but usually, when I hear from people who have read it, they say amazingly gracious things. Probably the most common is that it validated their own sense that single life was right for them, or that it helped them set aside the expressions of disbelief from other people as to whether anyone really could be single and happy.

It was never supposed to have anything to do with anyone getting married.

Here's how that weird occurrence unfolded. In the summer of 2008, Ann Althouse and I participated in a video discussion of singlism (the stereotyping, stigmatizing, and discrimination against people who are single) which appeared in the New York Times. When Ann was preparing for that discussion, she published a blog post with a picture of herself sitting at a café, with her hand over Singled Out. (I used it as the teaser image for this post.) Then, when the discussion was published in the Times, she wrote about it here. That's where the courting began – in the comments section of that blog post.

The commenter pleading with Ann to marry him is Meade. His name doesn't show up until pretty deep into the comments. Here's how Ann describes how it all starts:

In the comments, Meade quotes something I say in the episode: (referring to my then-unshared health insurance and pension benefits) "I've often thought I should just charitably marry someone... I'd just marry them to be nice..." He says:

Gee, I'm single now, happily single, and thought I'd just remain that way.

But considering all the benefits, I guess I'd really be a fool not to take a close look if Althouse were to, just out of niceness, propose to pity-marry me.

What could I offer in return? Let's see - I could prune those redbuds, take out the garbage, trap squirrels.

I don't respond, and the next morning, Meade persists…

If you want to read the rest of Ann's brief account of how an exchange in the comments section turned into a marriage, it is here.

Now here's something else weird. This one, I actually am kind of proud of. When I was writing the title for this post, I had originally written a word that did not end up appearing in the title – "uneccentric." (Maybe it is not really a word but you can tell what it means.) My first idea for the title was, "Weirdest thing ever – at least in my uneccentric life." I think of my life as fairly ordinary and innocuous. The last several months in particular, as I have tried to finish up the first draft of a new book, have felt like Groundhog Day. I get up, write for hours, do some other stuff, write for more hours, then go to sleep and do the same thing all over again the next day.

But as many of you know, I'm also single, and at 60, I have been single all my life and I plan to stay single for the rest of my life – by choice. By joyful, unapologetic, unambivalent choice. Also, I don't have kids. That life, which would have been shameful at times in the past and is still eyebrow-raising in 21st century America, is what strikes me as uneccentric.

[Note to new readers, and reminder to others: My collections of blog posts by topic are available at "Everything you think you know about the benefits of marrying is wrong: The evidence." The collections are mostly about ways in which getting married does not transform you – for example, with regard to happiness or health or sex. But there are other topics, too. One of them, about singles in the military, has a new entry, written by a single sailor describing singlism in the Navy. He is responding to a previous guest blogger, a Navy veteran, who believes that the Navy is a pretty good place for a single person. That blogger, in turn, was commenting on my section on singlism in the military in Singled Out. The conversation never stops, and I think that's a good thing.]

Photo credit: Ann Althouse's son, John Althouse Cohen.

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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