Archives for January, 2013
Recently, I started talking about a new book, Carlin Flora’s Friendfluence: The surprising ways friends make us who we are. Take a look at those introductory thoughts, and then continue reading here. This post (as well as the one with my introductory thoughts) is a revised version of what I originally wrote. The new version takes into account some feedback I got from Carlin in several emails. She did not ask me to make these revisions; I decided that myself. The chapter, “The incredible perks of friendship,” included this excerpt on how friends “enhance romance”: “Friends are often cast in opposition to lovers, but they turn out to fuel love more often than obstruct it. Friends, in fact, are particularly good at finding you someone new: They introduce people to 35 to 40 percent of their sexual partners. That said, young adults often ditch friends as soon as they take up with a new guy or girl, but Meliksah Demir warns that while a supportive romantic partner can have a greater effect on happiness for ‘emerging adults’ than her parents or friends can, as soon as she’s single, her friends are what determines her level of contentment. So keep your friends around, in case the flames of passion die down.”
Readers of this blog know that I was delighted by the recent Atlantic article meticulously documenting economic discrimination against people who are single. I even called it the best article ever about the costs of single life. So imagine my surprise and disappointment when I discovered that Helena Andrews at XOJane had written a post calling the article another example of “sad single lady headlines”! Just about every point that Helena Andrews made in her essay had me shouting “No, no, no – that’s not what this is about!” Here are some excerpts:
Before I became so passionate about studying and writing about single life (and not just practicing it), my primary area of expertise was the psychology of lying and detecting lies. I still write a bit about that topic now and then, and have published a few books on the topic. With Lance Armstrong and Manti Te’o making so many headlines lately, I’ve been asked many questions by people in the media. So with your indulgence, I thought I’d step away from my usual single-at-heart themes for a moment and share with you the answer to a question I was asked recently: How do men and women differ as liars?
Amy Alkon showed why she is called the “Advice Goddess” when she answered a question recently from a reader wanting to pin the neurotic label on all single people based on a one-time experience with one single person. The reader said that she and her boyfriend had shown up for a dinner party at the home of another couple. An hour after the scheduled time of the dinner, a single friend of the hostess called “with a crisis about what she was bringing, wearing, etc.” After the hostess hung up, she shared her belief that married people are sane and single people – especially those who live alone for a long time – are neurotic.
Kicking off the new year, the New York Times, on January 2, 2013, invited seven people to talk about make-up. That’s right, the paper of record invited scholars, authors, bloggers, and makeup artists to write about “the power of the rouge pot” for its opinion page. The Select Seven were to address the question, “does it [make-up] ultimately damage a woman’s self-esteem, or elevate it?” That’s a question about the wearer of the make-up. What I wonder about are the people making the judgments and dishing out the advice.
I love my single life. I never needed to learn to love it – that came naturally. I’m single-at-heart. I realize, though, that the same is not true for all other single people. I like reading about their experiences, too, especially if they are good writers. J. Victoria Sanders is a very engaging writer. Once I started reading her book, Single & Happy: The Party of Ones, I just kept going. That was so even though, in many ways, I could not relate. For example, a chapter title, “Is it impossible to be single and happy?”, creates no suspense for me. I know the answer. Yet I was totally absorbed in reading about the author’s answer. I don’t need tips for learning to appreciate solitude; I love solitude. Yet, I enjoyed reading and contemplating Victoria Sanders’s recommendations:
I admit it, my last post was a rant. Oh, there was science and critical thinking behind my words, but the emotion was pure rant. I was feeling frustrated. (Still am, but I’ll write more calmly this time.) You see, for as long as I have been studying the science of single life, I have been debunking the same old claim that getting married means that you will get to live longer. In this post, I’ll recap the history of my attempts to debunk this misleading claim. I’ve included links, so if you want to read one or more of these critiques in their entirety, they will be easy to access. I especially like #5, because it suggests the possibility that divorce is not what it used to be, in terms of its implications for longevity.
The media lemmings are off and running, following the latest “death to single people” scare story with not a glimmer of critical scrutiny. They are implying, for the umpteenth time, that single people are doomed unless they hurry up and get married and stay that way, but the finger-waggers are the ones who are all wet.
A recent essay on the Huffington Post is titled, “It’s complicated: The psychology of ‘singlism.’” The Huffington Post attracts about a zillion readers, and unfortunately, author Wray Herbert is adding to the complication he describes by his inaccurate description of what singlism really is. Herbert begins by saying that he “never felt judged, or discriminated against, for choosing to be single or for choosing a partner.” Then he continues with this: “So it came as a surprise to me to read recently about "singlism." Apparently, some people do feel judged, and unfairly, for their status. And intriguingly, this subtle form of discrimination appears to cut both ways. That is, people who are single by choice claim that they are treated unfairly for not tying some kind of knot, while married people -- especially in large urban centers -- feel that they are marginalized in a predominantly singles culture.” The essay ends with one last misleading claim: “In short, singlism is indeed potent and double-edged. Because most people still do opt for marriage, this bias probably hurts more singles overall. But the intolerance that couple people feel is no less real or harmful.” Because I coined the term singlism, and published the book by that name (with contributions from 28 others), I can say definitively that singlism does not cut both ways. By definition, singlism is what single people experience. It is the stereotyping, stigmatizing, and discrimination against people who are single. Although people who are married may feel that they are marginalized, that feeling is not an example of singlism.