Four Uses for a Wedding Gown

Do you think wedding gowns are only for wedding days? Nonsense! You aren't watching enough TV. Here are four more uses I discovered this summer.

The Rise of the Couple and Demise of the Rest: How Did This Happen?

How and why have couples ascended to a place of dominance in contemporary American society, leaving so many other important relationships and life pursuits devalued, dismissed, and neglected?

About Those 20-Somethings: Maybe They Are On to Something

Some sociologists would like to believe that the criteria for transitioning into adulthood are "completing school, leaving home, becoming financially independent, marrying and having a child." But as this week's NY Times Magazine notes, today's 20-somethings do not always do as they are expected. I asked the scholar featured in that story, Jeffrey Arnett, what should count as criteria for reaching adulthood in contemporary society. 

When Will We Be Able to Say, without Getting Ridiculed, that We Want to Stay Single?

The statement that many singles actually want to be single routinely elicits ridicule - unapologetic, unselfconscious ridicule. Why is this? Is it useful to consider the sociological context? For example, imagine the reaction in 1956 to a woman who said she wanted to work in construction or a man who said he would love to cut back on work and stay home with the kids. 

Questions about Single Life? I’m Compiling a Book of Answers

I'm currently compiling some of the most frequently-asked questions, along with my answers, into a brief book tentatively titled, "A Decade of Questions about Single Life." (Actually, it's been more than a decade.) Here are the categories of questions and some sample questions in each category. Want to add any?

CNN: ‘Still single? What’s the matter with you?’

The title of the story CNN was featuring recently was, "Still single? What's the matter with you?" The story skewered the myth that there is something wrong with you if you are single. In so doing, though, it perpetuated still another myth about people who are single. 

About Those Photos Shared Online: Do They Tell Us More Than We Used to Know About Each Other?

There are so many ways in which we seem to be sorting ourselves into ever more like-minded groups. But what happens now that we can scrutinize each other's photos online? Do we learn that some of the important people in our lives are not as similar to us as we had assumed? 

Singles or Couples: Who Has More Confidants? More Diverse Confidants?

In a study that will soon appear in print, more than 2,000 Americans were asked to name their confidants. They were also asked whether each confidant was or was not a family member. People who are married or living with a partner have someone right there under the same roof as a potential confidant. Does that mean that they have more people with whom they discuss important matters than single people do? Is the set of confidants any more or less family-focused for couples than it is for singles?

PT Blogger Answers My Questions about Sex, Single Parenting, Steve Pinker, and Stupidity

After reading Sex at Dawn, I had some questions for fellow PT blogger Christopher Ryan. He offered intriguing and gracious answers to my sometimes-skeptical inquiries about sex, single parenting, who is and is not a buffoon, and celebrity scholars.

Why Validation Matters: Insights from 5 Just-Published Studies

When you tell someone about something good that happened to you, and they respond with enthusiasm, that makes your positive experience seem even better. The person who responds in a validating way benefits, too. The validating interaction is also good for the relationship between the two of you. If your good news is met with indifference or disparagement, though - well, that's something else entirely. 

Misleading Claims about Marriage Slip into the Prop 8 Ruling

In the Prop 8 case, the judge ruled that it was unconstitutional to ban same-sex marriage. Did he also, unwittingly, make the case for ending marital privilege? 

Dealing with the Put-Downs

How should you react when other people put you down, make snide remarks, or refuse to recognize your accomplishments?

It’s True: They’re Mad at You for CHOOSING to Be Single

A study conducted in Israel revealed some of the same stereotypes of single people that have been documented in other countries such as the U.S. and Germany. The authors also found that singles who said that they chose to be single were viewed more harshly and elicited more negative emotional reactions than singles who said that they were looking for a long-term romantic partnership. 

Today Is Not Their Wedding Day, and I Toast Them and Honor Them

Today much of America will fuss over a young woman and man who have already lived lives of unimaginable privilege. Some $3 million will be spent to celebrate their relationship. I'm thinking about other people today. 

Stealth Singlism: The New York Times Shows How It is Done

When there is a conventional wisdom about a topic (for example, that married people are better than singles), be especially cautious about media reports of the latest studies. Here's a case study of stealth singlism, as practiced, sadly, by the New York Times.

If Marriage Keeps Changing, Does That Mean It Has No Real Essence or Value?

Why do the GLBT advocates who want in on marriage prevail over those who want more radical change? Why did second wave feminists care more about making marriages equitable than about valuing other ways of living? I'm exasperated, but social historian Rebecca Davis is not. She tells me why. 

Money Problems Have Nothing to Do with Marital Problems, and Other Bad Advice from the Past

I ask Rebecca Davis whether the marriage movement has always focused primarily on "fixing" the lives and marriages of poor people. I also ask her if Americans will ever take seriously the question, "why pursue marriage at all."

On Asking How to Be Married, and Not Whether to Be

What does marriage counseling have to do with the topic of this Living Single blog, a reader wondered. I asked the author of More Perfect Unions how she would answer that question. She said that "instead of simply teaching people to have ‘healthy' marriages, marriage counseling taught Americans to define marriage itself as a healthy state of being. The flip side [was that living single was] implicitly understood to be less desirable." 

The American Quest for Bliss in Marriage Has a Checkered Past

Rebecca Davis, author of More Perfect Unions: The American Search for Marital Bliss, told me that "marriage counseling, when it first began in the United States in the 1930s, was more concerned with heterosexuality than it was with marriage." As recently as the 1970s, counselors wondered whether marriage could "cure" homosexuality. "Another popular line of thinking was that premarital counseling should begin at birth." 

Are Aunts and Uncles the Forgotten Kin?

Finally, aunts and uncles are getting some recognition from the family scholars who have long neglected them. Is there anything special about aunts and uncles who are single? 

Death and Marital Status: The Link Is Not What You Think

Do you think that if you get married, you will live longer? Do you think that getting divorced shaves years off your life? Do you think that staying single is a life-shortener? Do I have a study for you! 

Oh, No, They Didn’t! Unsolicited Advice and Product-Promotions for Singles

I just realized that my post office box and e-mail inbox contain the makings of a short course (as brief as this one post) on stereotypes and misperceptions of people who are single. The pitches I receive from publicists and from people pitching their own products capture a lot about the reign of singlism in contemporary society. 

Are Americans Becoming More and More Isolated? [UPDATED]

Remember the media panic back in 2006 about the increasingly isolated and lonely Americans? Reports were everywhere. Not nearly so widely publicized are new analyses and new studies suggesting something far less dire about the state of social ties in American life. And guess who may be especially UNLIKELY to be friendless? The most devoted internet users. 

Check Out My New Website and Personal Blog!

My website has been completely redesigned and updated and I've added a personal blog. There I will contribute more posts, shorter posts, and more personal posts about single life than I do here at Psych Today, and I'll also write about other topics such as liars and their lies. My Living Single blog here at PT will not change. "Bella DePaulo's blog" is a complement to, and extension of, this Living Single blog, not a replacement. 

Where to Go When Solo

Where are some good places to go when you are solo and don't want to stay home? I'm talking about those ordinary times when you want to head off somewhere, maybe for an hour or so, without making plans or meeting anyone. Maybe you are in the mood to be among people though not with anyone in particular.

Is Divorce Contagious?

I don't think very many couples take divorce lightly. When they see their friends divorce, they don't just shrug and decide to do the same thing themselves. Maybe what's contagious isn't just divorce but reflection and contemplation.

The Unrecognized Parallel between Children and Couples

Read this quote from a New York Times story questioning whether it is good for a kid to have a best friend. Do you see the relevance to the way many adults practice coupling? Apparently, no one in the story did. 

People Just Don’t Know How to Be Single?

In response to my post titled, "Couples just don't know how to be married?," a Living Single reader (Alan) proposed an intriguing parallel possibility: Maybe some people just don't know how to be single. 

I Complain About the Over-Hyping of Marriage Education, and the NPR Ombudsman Listens

The uncritical hyping of marriage education classes has continued. On NPR and in an online Q & A at the Washington Post, the Smartmarriages director claimed that the classes are "a huge help," that they can't hurt, and that they work "across the board." I let the NPR ombudsman know that the relevant research does not support these unqualified enthusiastic claims. My point was acknowledged on an NPR blog. 

Rachel Buddeberg: Single-Minded Change Agent

In the third of my series of interviews with single-minded change agents, Rachel Buddeberg shares with us the story of her single identity and singles advocacy. If you read just one of Rachel's answers, make it her response to this question: "One difficulty I've often encountered is the misperception that if you have a positive message about singles or single life, that necessarily means that you are putting down marriage or traditional family life. Have you run into that, and if so, how have you dealt with it?" You will then see why she is going to be an important and fearless voice for many years to come.