Sex & Sociability

Question and commentary on connections, both sexual and social

Couples

Have you experienced the Noah's Ark Syndrome in which the world seems to favor those who are coupled? Read More

My experience

With coupling is this:

It matters more in the under 50 age that couples are romantically involved.

In the over age 50 set, which I am, I "couple" and travel with my sister. We do almost everything together and no one bats an eye. In fact, older women travelling together is such the norm that there doesn't seem to be any issues. I never feel left out. I am married but I rarely travel with my husband (he prefers to remain at home).

The definition of "couple", to my experience, incudes all couples once one reaches certain age (although I cannot speak of same sex couples experience).

I am enjoying life to the fullest with my sister as a non romantic "couple"!

Responding to Mary

Two women together could be any relationship to strangers - friends, lovers, spouses or sisters. Who asks? Back in the 1960's I worked with a man who lived with his "brother". They were, in fact, lovers but were not out to the world. They entertained frequently in an apartment that contained only one bed but the fiction of brothers was maintained. They usually entertained twosomes too, of whatever relationship they really were.

I think if you traveled alone without either husband or sister you would encounter the Noah's Ark syndrome.

Allow me to clarify

Perhaps I was less sensitive to the overall experience of Noah's Ark. I certainly don't think it does not exist, however, I may have been less sensitive to what you speak of.

I was single and lived alone, until age 48, no children. I literally lived overseas for years (that meant renting a house or apartment out in town, alone), and sailed the oceans too (that translates to being on active duty in the US armed forces for 25 years). I had a social life that mostly included other single people who had no children, and also included socializing with those who were known as geographical bachelors - those who's families lived apart from where they were serving.

I often travelled alone (no boyfriend either many times) once I was settled into whatever duty station I was living in at the time. This included frequent, solo travel for sightseeing purposes and fun into cities such as Tokyo, Athens, Seoul, and other locations around the world.

Now that I am married, if I allowed it, my social life would be even LESS than when I was single. Why? My husband rarely socializes, we don't do couple things. So I continue on socializing exactly as I did when I was single.

So my experience of being single versus being married is the opposite of what you speak of.

No doubt that Noah's Ark is alive and well socially, however, perhaps I didn't care much about being married or coupling for the purposes of increasing my social life. From what I experienced and saw, marriage couples has LESS fun than single folks, and certainly didn't seem any more happier.

My late in life marriage did not open any doors to more socializing (I have to still make my own opportunities). I think the experience of becoming more social (getting more invites with other couples) when coupled is highly dependent on whom you marry. If the person is a non socializer you aren't going to get an increase in social life simply by being married.

Absolutely

I live within a community in a major city. In most of my activities and interests I am accepted and appreciated as a single woman. Nobody seems to care whether I am couple or not.

In the last decade my neighborhood has increased in value causing the homes to become more expensive. The single people have moved out and the newer people all seem to be married double earners, you basically need two incomes now to afford the mortgages. These new high-earner couples rarely speak to me. The seem to find interest in other high-earner couples and give me the cold shoulder.

Since I already have a wide social network outside of my neighborhood I'm fine with the shunning, but some of the single people who don't have such wide social networks are feeling isolated and offended. Events have recently gotten quite interesting. The high-earner married couples took over the civic association two years ago and ejected all the volunteers who were not married. Now there have been several hot issues that have not been handled well by the civic association and all the neighbors are really really angry and there is a great deal of talk about marital exclusivity. The civic association meetings are a real pressure cooker.

Possible reasons

I've experienced this, too. A more subtle example is when you find yourself in a social situation with couples (especially married couples), they only want to talk about "couple things" so that single people are unlikely to be able to contribute to the conversation. It's possible that some couples are aware that they have a tendency to do this and don't want to make singles uncomfortable.

Another, less benevolent motive for single exclusion is the fact that single people are generally seen as sad, pathetic, desperate losers. They don't want to be around someone who is single because it might make them look like a loser. Others actually look at single people with disdain, believing (as do most single people, actually) that single-ness is evidence of some deep character flaw. If he/she were a good person, someone would have claimed them by now. If he/she were a good person, they would be part of a couple so that they could share their goodness with someone else instead of selfishly keeping to themselves.

There's also the role that jealousy plays when half the couple is insecure. People in heterosexual couples don't want to see their partner spending too much time with a same-sex friend. They also don't want to be seen by their partner spending too much time with a different-sex friend. I confess, I don't know what the dynamics of homosexual insecurity are, but there are lots of insecure people out there thinking all sorts of irrational things, so I'm sure there are at least some people in homosexual relationships who worry about their partner spending "too much" time with a different-sex friend, fearing that their partner might be "secretly straight", or at least fear that their partner might value the lifestyle of appearing straight more than the love of their partner.

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Isadora AlmanM.F.T., is a Board-certified sex, marriage, and family therapist, lecturer, author, and syndicated advice columnist of "Ask Isadora."

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