Social psychologist Bella DePaulo’s book Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After gave me one of those “click” moments—after reading these words, suddenly the world just looked different:
…the way coupling is envisioned in contemporary American society is not universal, it is not timeless, and it is not human nature. Instead, the reigning American worldview may well represent one of the narrowest construals of intimacy ever imagined. Where once the tendrils of love and affection reached out to family, friends, and community, reached back to ancestors, and reached up to the heavens, now they surround and squeeze just one other person—sometimes to the point of asphyxiation.
Besides being a beautiful writer and a thoroughly knowledgeable researcher, DePaulo is a totally original thinker. Reading her work makes you step back and think, “Well of course we don’t each need a partner. Partnering is great, but it’s not necessary for happiness.”
You wouldn’t know that, of course, if you just took a quick glance around at our consumer culture and familial expectations. DePaulo writes, with great humor, about the sad face and sigh that people give single people—especially ladies—when they hear the oh so sad news that they haven’t coupled. She also talks about the legal ramifications of living in a society that glamorizes marriage to the point of absurdity (um, 50% failure rate people) and the scientific bunk that’s out there claiming only coupled people can lead fulfilling lives.
For me this book was particularly interesting, not because I am single (going on eight years with mister man for me), but because I’ve always had a confused relationship with the idea of marriage and this clarified it even further. It’s not cool that we assume people should want to be married (what DePaulo calls “singlism”) in the same way it’s not cool that we assume people are heterosexual or a particular religion. (click on link to continue reading)
Causes Bella DePaulo Supports
Alternatives to Marriage Project