“It is our unshakable belief in the magic of romance that is making us miserable.”

Photo by Brian McGowan on Unsplash

When a book about romantic love is called “Love, Inc.,” the reader is forewarned: This is not your typical love story. Author and Middlebury College professor Laurie Essig calls herself a romantic. On the first page of Love, Inc.: Dating Apps, the Big White Wedding, and Chasing the Happily Neverafter, she says, “I fervently believe in happily ever after and true love always.” But she has a big problem with romance.

At a time when the world is besieged with catastrophic problems, from climate change and dangerous political ideologies to the concentration of wealth in the wallets of the few…


The relationships that are most romanticized can be among the riskiest

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Who are the people who are important to you now? That was the key question that motivated a significant study of the personal communities of people in contemporary Britain.

Think about the question as it applies to your life. The people can be from any categories — family, friends, spouse/partner, coworkers, neighbors, and so forth. You get to define what “important” means.

Using a series of concentric circles (like the ones in the illustration), put yourself in the innermost circle, then put the people who are the very most important to you in that same inner circle. Add more people…


There is no one story of what it means to be single during a pandemic. Here are 18 accounts.

Amy Martin with her dog, Chloe. Photo by Amy Martin

Some single people have been having a hard time during the pandemic. I get that. But I also became frustrated with the stories in the media that seemed to suggest that all single people have felt devastated during the past year. So I set out to collect other kinds of pandemic stories and write a few of my own (here and here).

When I asked single people to share their stories with me, they were very generous, often responding in great detail. I’m relating just snippets of what 18 people told me — enough, I hope, to give you a…


These scholars explain how people can be supported and protected, regardless of how they live

Photo by Dimitri Houtteman on Unsplash

All around the world, more and more people are living outside of conventional coupled life. How is that working out for them?

In an important new book, The Tenacity of the Couple-Norm, five scholars researched four very different European nations in some depth. Sasha Roseneil, Isabel Crowhurst, Tone Hellesund, Ana Cristina Santos, and Mariya Stoilova studied laws and policies relevant to coupling in each nation, and how they changed over time. They also looked at the role of social movements in effecting social change. …


Move over, romantic relationships. This author, along with many others, is making room for friends.

Photo by Omar Lopez on Unsplash

In Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After, I opened one of the chapters by describing a series on relationships that was published by the Chicago Tribune:

“The relationship partners who were interviewed described how they met, what they valued about each other, and what sealed the relationship. They said the predictable things: “We fell in love.” “We are planning a future together.” “We use the exact same expressions, sighs, and body language without realizing it, often at the same time.” Many experts were consulted. Some of their observations were predictable, too…


The pity some couples express toward singles can convey something they don’t realize

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If you are single, you have probably gotten that “aaaww, poor thing” look more than a few times. You can judge for yourself how that feels. For me, it feels maddeningly condescending and wildly inappropriate, since I don’t feel sorry for myself for being single. I love living single — even during a pandemic. But even if you don’t, I’m guessing you don’t love being pitied.

What I want to pose here is a different question: What does it mean about the coupled person who is pitying you? …


A New York Times travel writer effuses about the joys of sojourning on your own

Photo by Atikh Bana on Unsplash

Stephanie Rosenbloom writes beautifully and lovingly about the time we spend alone. I’ve been wanting to discuss her work here at Medium for some time, but have put it off, since her focus is on travel, and we haven’t gotten to do much of that during the pandemic.

But now we can almost see a time when it may seem safe again. In a New York Times article in February, Rosenbloom made an interesting prediction about that, after consulting with social scientists. She suggested that, as we begin traveling again, “even modest, less costly vacations will give us extreme pleasure.”


She’s single. She has “the ones,” not The One. Was that a key to her resilience?

Kristin Noreen, photo by Jill Bates

Suppose you were bicycling along the side of a road, and a distracted driver barreled into you, sending you careening down a hill, with bones snapping and a wrist severed along the way. You are experiencing a level of pain you never even knew was possible. The crash scene is so horrifying that all the vehicles and personnel associated with fatalities are sent your way. Do you keep trying to breathe, trying to hold onto life? What if you knew that multiple surgeries and painful, relentless rehabilitation was in your future, and that you would never be the same again…


That’s too generous to romantic relationships and too grudging to single people

Photo by Tolga Ulkan on Unsplash

I hear this all the time: “Being single is better than being in a bad relationship” (or a bad marriage). There are other versions, too, such as, “It is better to be single than to wish you were.” Sometimes I read those platitudes in the media and sometimes people say them to me, knowing that I am one who lives my single life fully, joyfully, and unapologetically.

I don’t like those sentiments and I wish people would stop expressing them.

My problem is not that I think the statements are inaccurate. It is true that being single is better than…


The chances of being insured, getting married, and having babies all changed after the Affordable Care Act was passed

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Those of us who are single are stuck putting up with the stereotyping and stigmatizing that I call singlism. Tell someone you are single and from knowing just that one thing about you, many people will immediately assume that you are miserable, lonely, self-centered, and immature. They would be wrong about all of that, as research shows.

Stereotyping is hardly the worst component of singlism. People who are single are also disadvantaged in important ways — for example, in their access to health insurance.

Since Obamacare Was Enacted, Fewer Single People Are Going without Health Insurance

In some countries, access to health care comes with citizenship or residency. That doesn’t happen in…

Bella DePaulo

“America’s foremost thinker and writer on the single experience,” according to the Atlantic. Author of “Singled Out.” Harvard PhD www.belladepaulo.com

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