Unfathomable Even to Brilliant, Kind, and Open Minds: The Securely Single

I've been studying singles, single life, and perceptions and stereotypes of singles for more than a decade. One of the most resistant myths is that no one can be truly secure in their single status. Even the most brilliant, kind, and open-minded thinkers get tripped up by their inability to appreciate that single people can be happily and securely single. A recent Psych Today post describing single people as fragile, bitter, vibrator-clutching, porn-watching, and resentful of happily coupled people is a telling example of this. Also, I offer advice for couples on Valentine's Day. 

Getting Married and Getting Sex (or Not)

The National Sex Survey was full of information about rates of sexual problems. Waite and Gallagher do not have much to say on that topic. Here's some of what they skipped over. With regard to some of the problems men might have, such as an inability to maintain an erection, climaxing too early, or experiencing pain during sex, currently married men have nothing over men who have always been single. When the two groups differ on those measures, it is the married men who are more likely to be having difficulties. Men who have always been single also report fewer sexual problems than divorced men. Among the women, the group most likely to be problem-free is not the currently married women.

The Case for Marriage is a Sham

The claim that "marriage is so good" is often based on a widely-cited, but massively flawed book, The Case for Marriage. Much of that book, and the case it tries to make, does not meet the highest scientific standards. Not even close. Getting married does not offer great benefits (except for financial ones, largely a consequence of marital status discrimination), so the finding that many people do not want to marry poses no paradox. 

Should You Marry that Rude, Stinky, Creepy Person Since You’re Not Perfect Either?

Once upon a time, a reporter for a major magazine declared, in all seriousness, that women should just get married already - even if it means settling for someone kind of repulsive. I wish I could say that it happened back in the Stone Age. In fact, though, the insolent story was published by Lori Gottlieb in the Atlantic magazine in 2008. Today, Gottlieb's regressive singlist, matrimaniacal essay, expanded to book length, appeared in print. Don't buy it - the book or the message. 

Shame on You, APA!

The Monitor, a publication of the American Psychological Association, should be a respectable source of accurate information about psychological research. It should also be professional. But in a recent brief report of a study documenting the strong psychological resources of people who have always been single, it humiliated itself. It characterized the state of the literature on marital status and emotional well-being in a way that was inaccurate. It gleefully disparaged single people. It ended the report with a more subtle example of singlism, implying that these successful single people were not living their single lives in a positive way, but instead "avoiding" marriage. Consciousness-raising about singles has a long way to go.

Amazon Pulls Thousands of Books

Since none of the other PT bloggers seem to have mentioned it yet, I thought PT book lovers and Amazon customers might like to know that Amazon has (temporarily, I hope) pulled thousands, if not tens of thousands, of books from its site over a dispute with one of the biggest publishers in the nation. Plus, what to wear on Valentine's Day. 

Can You Identify the Tragedy in This Story?

Which of the following rates a media headline? Abduction? Trafficking of women? Vastly disproportional aborting of female fetuses over male fetuses? Forced prostitution? Wrong. It is none of the above. 

The Happiness Challenge: Can You Be Happy with So Much Stacked Against You?

Suppose you had several major illnesses that left you without a memory of the first few decades of your life, and with unremitting pain, fatigue, hunger, and thirst. A Living Single reader is faced with all of that, and she is looking for suggestions as to how to be happy despite it all. 

Shout Them Out Here: Singles (Un)Friendly Businesses

Living Single readers are right - it is time to vote with our feet! I'm hereby starting an ongoing list of singles-friendly and singles-unfriendly businesses, venues, groups, restaurants, neighborhoods, cities, and all the rest. Post your nominations here.

Yahoo’s Humiliating Headline on Solo Dining

What's wrong with the Yahoo headline, "How Not to Feel Humiliated When Dining Alone"? Maybe the same thing that's wrong with the question, "When did you stop beating your wife?" My colleagues and I have done systematic research on what other people think of you when you dine solo - compared to when you dine as a couple, with a friend, or with a group. Wait till you see what they said about the couples! 

Wedding Porn Doesn’t Turn Us On: Age at 1st Marriage Has Never Been Higher

Ads featuring wedding themes, television shows such as The Bachelor, mate-bait manuals, and all the other wedding porn just keeps coming, but singles aren't buying it. Newly released Census Bureau data show that the age at which Americans first marry has never been higher. 

Not Going Nuclear: So Many Ways to Live and Love

When we describe all sorts of personal communities as "families," and try to analogize them to nuclear families, we mask the many different ways we live and love in 21st century America. Groups of friends who build lives together (and are not just young adults), siblings and other relatives who live together (and are not just elderly widows or widowers), and other intentional communities are all part of the contemporary interpersonal landscape. Couples are living differently, too, in their commuter marriages and their "living apart together" arrangements. Even those couples who live under the same roof are leading lives that are less enmeshed than they were in 1980. 

Latest Claim: Getting Married Makes You Fatter Because You Are Having So Much Fun

Three great catches by Living Single readers: (1) Even when the outcome of getting married is a bad one, you'll read an explanation that turns on the alleged superiority of married people. (2) Did you come up with some awful new fake food, like spray-pancakes? That's perfect for single people! (3) Should you start your own business because Google and Netflix are successful? That's the logic of studies comparing the currently married to single people. 

Do Men Become More Generous After Marrying?

A study of the role of marriage in men's lives showed little indication that men who married became more generous with their money or their time than they had been before they wed. By some measures, they were less giving than they were when they were single. Men who married even did less housework then they did when they were bachelors. 

‘Up In the Air’ Lets Us Down: Guest Review by E. Kay Trimberger

Guest reviewer E. Kay Trimberger gets to the bottom of Up in the Air, a movie that has its strengths but also makes single life seem awful and family life fabulous "in order to mask the real polarity of rich and poor, the powerful and powerless, the moral and immoral." 

Did You Recognize Your Friendship in ‘This Emotional Life’?

The segment on friendship in "This Emotional Life" covered Asperger's, loneliness, conflicts with coworkers, bullying, and suicide. Is that what friendship means to you?

The Health Hazards of Having Been Married

A recent blog post proclaimed that living single is hazardous to your health. Here's what's wrong with that claim. 

Nightline Hosts Pity Party for Successful Black Women

One of stories Nightline aired over the holidays was about black women who are successful in so many ways, but - oh, my - they are single. Nightline brought in a relationship guru to advise them on marrying, not happening to mention that their man was indeed an expert - he had been married three times. This media pity party for accomplished, single black women has been going on for years. I share an excerpt about it from "Singled Out." 

Top 12 ‘Living Single’ Posts for 2009

Here are the 12 posts to the Living Single blog that generated the most interest (page views) for the year 2009, plus a few more all-time favorites. 

People Posting Vile, Hateful Comments: What’s That About?

Recently, some nasty, personal, gratuitous remarks have been posted to the comments section of this blog; others have been sent to me by email. In a way, that's just part of the blogosphere, and I know that others get targeted like this far more than I do, so I'm not complaining. But I am curious.

How Do You Really Want to Live?

Forget about dropping those 10 pounds or organizing your sock drawer. This year, think about how you really want to live your life. 

ASEXUALS: Who Are They and Why Are They Important?

Asexuality poses a challenge to some of our most fundamental beliefs about humans and their feelings.

“Are You Dating Anyone” Retort, and 5 More Tasty Nuggets

Here's a snappy comeback to the question "So are you dating anyone?" 

Should You Stay Home for the Holidays?

This year, consider staying home for the holidays. Try it - especially if you have never done it before. Try it, even if the thought makes you a bit uneasy - no, especially if it does. You never know what you might discover about people you only thought you knew, or what you might learn about yourself.

Remaking the Classics and Showing Some Love for Singles

The classics in books and movies, for everyone from little children to fully grown adults, are getting a remake, and much of the singlism has found its rightful place on the cutting room floor. My main goal in this post is to ask for your suggested revisions for the 40th anniversary edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves, but first the kids stuff. 

Two Scholars Ask: What if Marriage Is Bad for Us?

Two sociologists argue that marriage is not traditional, it doesn't make you healthy or wealthy, it ends up involving more work than love, and leaves you more isolated than if you had stayed single.

Another Longitudinal Study of Satisfaction

A Dutch study, similar to a German one, was just published. Some key results: Lifelong singles in both countries are, on the average, clearly on the happy end of the scale every year of their lives. Those who divorce experience lower levels of happiness, at least for a while, than continuously single people ever do. People who marry and stay married become happier at first but then, little by little, become less happy over time. The main difference is that in the Dutch group, that initial increase in happiness declines much more slowly than it does in the German group. 

Men and Women Who Have Always Been Single Are Doing Fine

Here are the results of a nationally representative sample of people 40 and older who have always been single: Compared to currently married people (a select group of only those people who got married and stayed that way), they are doing just fine. Their psychological resources, such as personal mastery and self-sufficiency, are just as strong as married people's are. In some ways, their psychological resources serve them better. For example, single people who are very self-sufficient are less likely to experience negative feelings, whereas married people who like handling things on their own are more likely to experience negative feelings. 

The Sweetest Love

A story on NPR describes "the sweetest love of all." Can you guess what that is? Plus: sitting next to strangers at dinner, a link to a Q & A with the producers of the cat-ladies film, and a link to a new section of the Alfred P. Sloan Work and Family Research Network on single workers. 

Sashaying Solo into the White House State Dinner – and Much More

I'm far more impressed by two other legitimate guests at the White House state dinner - each sashayed solo into the festivities. Imagine doing that, amidst all the glitter and the cameras, and the hundreds of other guests, each clutching a partner. That, I think, takes real confidence and a sense of self. Also in this post: a single person's thanks, 10 tremendous singles, some jeers, and a few new singles-relevant sites.