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

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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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Creative Commons License

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…

Marina Keegan’s viral essay and book

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Photo by Kelsey Chance on Unsplash

In the title essay from The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories, Marina Keegan, on the eve of her graduation in 2012, wrote movingly about what her time at Yale had meant to her. There, she said, she had found “the opposite of loneliness”:

“It is not quite love and it’s not quite community; it’s just this feeling that there are people, an abundance of people, who are in this together. Who are on your team. When the check is paid and you stay at the table. When it’s four A.M. and no one goes to bed…

“Yale is full…

Some people feel free to mock aromantics or write them out of existence

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Photo by Kimberly Mears on Unsplash

Asexual (Ace) and aromantic (Aro). Those concepts were barely recognizable to anyone just a decade or so ago. Now, both ideas are making their way into our cultural conversations. Asexuality got more attention, more quickly. By 2017, enough scientific research and theorizing on asexuality had been published to support a review article. It dispelled early doubts, and concluded that asexuality is a sexual orientation and not, as some skeptics had suggested, a sexual dysfunction. Three years later, in 2020, Angela Chen published her important book, ACE: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society, and the Meaning of Sex.

I hope aromanticism…

Single women in 1960s popular culture as unlikely agents of social change

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Mary Tyler Moore statue, Wikimedia Commons

I spent way too much time during my first weeks of college feeling intimidated and scared. I grew up in the small town of Dunmore, Pennsylvania (near Scranton) and went to the very public Dunmore High School, and then there I was, in 1971, at Vassar College. At my high school, when someone said a word with more than three syllables, it was intended as a joke. Those first few weeks of college, I found myself laughing at all sorts of inappropriate times.

The first weekend of my first semester of college, I went to a movie on campus with…

Sex can be wonderful, but being single can’t? That’s embarrassing.

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Ruth Westheimer, Wikimedia Commons

Singles bashing is a national and international sport. It rarely surprises me. But sometimes it really gets to me. That happened today, February 15, 2021, when Dr. Ruth Westheimer posted this tweet to her 99,400 followers:

I have no problem with single people who don’t want to be single, as long as that is their true desire and not just something they feel pressured into feeling or pretending to feel. I also have no problem with people offering advice to single people who don’t want to be single and are looking for help. But I have an enormous problem…

Um, I don’t need a survival guide for Valentine’s Day

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Photo by Roberto Nickson on Unsplash

In my first book about single people, Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After, I included a section about Valentine’s Day:

If you want to see fools rush in to provide well-meaning advice to hapless single people, buy a ticket for Valentine’s Day. One of my favorite examples appeared in USA Weekend in 2003, under the title “How to survive Valentine’s Day without a sweetie.” Here’s what it said.

“Valentine’s Day alone need not be depressing or embarrassing; you can survive and even thrive without a lover if you plan accordingly. …

She’s been married three times, but I think she is single at heart

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Wikimedia Commons

“If someone says, ‘You complete me,’ RUN!” That’s the title of a book by Whoopi Goldberg. It is one of the many wise things she learned from a lifetime of experiences and wants to share with her readers.

I think Whoopi Goldberg is single at heart, as I explain below, but she sure has not spent her whole life single. As she explains:

“I thought that in order to be ‘normal,’ I had to be married. So I got married even though I knew it wasn’t right. When that didn’t work out I tried it again. And then again.”


Emotional independence is different from having no emotional connections with other people

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Photo by Spencer Russell on Unsplash

If the only adult relationships that are celebrated and respected are romantic ones, then none of us can truly be emotionally independent. That’s one of the arguments Professor Rachel Moran made in 2004 in an influential law review article, “How second-wave feminism forgot the single woman,” that is still resonating 17 years later. Single women were marginalized, Moran argued, by a focus on the superwoman who could “have it all” — marriage, kids, and career.

Another significant theme from Moran’s paper was the argument that activists should turn their attention to the goal of emotional independence. First-wave feminism, she noted…

Centuries of wise and witty words from people who love their solitude

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Photo by Emma Simpson on Unsplash

If you are single at heart, meaning that single life is your best life, you probably love the time you have to yourself. But all sorts of people, not just the single at heart, appreciate solitude and try to make room for it in their lives.

Over the centuries, many people have written insightfully or amusingly about solitude. I want to share some of my favorite quotes here. The first set comes from Fenton Johnson’s At the Center of All Beauty: Solitude and the Creative Life. I wrote about Johnson’s inspiring ideas previously, in “Solitaries: Who they are and how…

Bella DePaulo

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

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