Most writings about single people are about single women. But do more women stay single?

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In my studies of single people, I’m just as interested in single men as single women. But I seem to be the exception. Overwhelmingly, people who blog about single life or opine about it or even write scholarly books or articles about it, focus on single women. (Recently, we have been hearing more by and about single men, as these books and blogs indicate, but still not nearly enough.)

I think a big part of the reason for that is that single life is supposedly more of an issue for women than for men. Women are presumably more interested in…


Single women are especially likely to start their own business

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It is something almost everyone has fantasized about at one point or another: having a big sum of money land in your lap. What would you do if you won the lottery or inherited a nice sum of money? Do you think the answer to that question would depend on your gender and marital status?

Robert Sauer and Tanya Wilson, economists in Great Britain, studied one particular way that people sometimes change their lives after inheriting money — they start their own businesses. Inheriting money can increase anyone’s odds of becoming an entrepreneur if that interests them. But it turns…


Here’s what was happening during the second and third years of the online Community of Single People

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Ever since I started the online Facebook group, the Community of Single People, in 2015, I have written anniversary posts each year. Two of those were published at a site that has been discontinued, so I am sharing them here. The posts marking the other years can be found here.

The Community of Single People Is 2 Years Old

A few months ago, a reporter asked me to weigh in on a story she was writing on the psychology of deception. That was my previous area of expertise, and sometimes I decline those requests if I am particularly busy. I told her that these days, my interest is in…


Do couples become more insular because they are newly smitten? Because they are busy with their kids?

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One of the big, stereotype-busting findings that has gotten a lot of attention over the past decade is that married people are in some important ways less socially connected than single people. Results from several national surveys, reported by Naomi Gerstel and Natalia Sarkisian, show that Americans who have always been single are more likely than currently married people to support, advise, visit, and stay in touch with their siblings and parents. They are also more likely to help, encourage, and socialize with friends and neighbors.

Research that follows the same people over time shows that couples who move in…


Story collection by Jhumpa Lahiri

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When Unaccustomed Earth, a story collection by Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Jhumpa Lahiri was about to be published, Isaac Chotiner of Atlantic magazine interviewed her. He asked 18 questions. Just four of them were about the themes of Unaccustomed Earth, and three of those were about marriage.

Lahiri does have a lot to say about marriage and family, especially immigrant families and their children. But I was struck by her beautiful renderings of the appeal of solitude, and of quiet, absorbing work. Some of Lahiri’s characters, whether married, single, or widowed, cherish their time alone.

In this excerpt from the…


Benefits need to be uncoupled from marriage and employment, two esteemed scholars argue

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What if we wanted all Americans to be economically secure — what would that take? In an important article, “Uncoupling,” just published in the Spring 2021 issue of the Arizona State Law Journal, professors Naomi Cahn and June Carbone offer an answer: Benefits need to be uncoupled from marriage and employment.

One the most fundamental beliefs of people who advocate for unmarried equality is that no one should have to marry in order to have access to basic benefits and protections. …


On the Gilmore Girls, no one could understand why Rory wanted to stay home alone

Photo by Tony Peters, Flickr, Wikimedia Commons

All these years later, I still haven’t watched every episode of the Gilmore Girls. So far, though, there has been a lot to like about the show for someone like me who is not interested in narratives that place trite matrimaniacal plots at their core. Sure, there is some coupling and some crushes and near-miss weddings, but that’s not the heart or soul of the show.

Mother Lorelai Gilmore and daughter Rory are a single-parent family that shines. I enjoy the friendship and love between them, and the passion each of them has for her work (paid work for mom…


Here are some ways the children of single parents are doing better than the kids of married parents

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Rick Santorum was just fired from CNN after repeated expressions of bigotry toward Native Americans and other groups, too. That reminded me that he has also been bashing single parents and their children for quite some time. When I wrote Singled Out, I used one of his blanket statements about the supposed superiority of the children of married couples as a starting point for my discussion of what the research really does show.

In the chapter, on the myth that the children of single parents are doomed, I first discuss a very disappointing PBS Frontline segment on single parenting in…


The “success sequence” sounds good. Here’s why it’s mostly just propaganda.

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Is there a formula for staying out of poverty? Some have suggested that the “success sequence” is the answer, and politicians and pundits have sometimes repeated that claim. The promise of the success sequence is that if young adults follow these three steps, in this order, they will greatly reduce their chances of ending up impoverished:

  1. Graduate from high school
  2. Get a full-time job
  3. Get married — before having kids

Some of the proponents of the plan want a full-court press of support for the success sequence. That would include “public and private social marketing campaigns on behalf of marriage


Single people have relatively few legal protections. Law professors offer some explanations.

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Under the law, only some groups get protected from discrimination. An important question is, who should get protected? What factors should matter? In a 2014 Stanford Law Review article, “Compulsory sexuality,” Elizabeth F. Emens addressed a related question: What factors actually do matter?

Emens found that in antidiscrimination case law, statutes, and scholarly analyses, 8 factors (described below) improve the likelihood that a particular identity group will be protected under antidiscrimination laws.

The following year, Nancy Leong, “Negative identities,” made the case for greater legal protections for four groups: atheists, asexuals (people who do not experience sexual attraction), single people

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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