In Ireland, Taking Single Life Seriously
In Ireland, single people are getting some respect. The Irish Times recently published a lengthy article on singles. “The single thing,” by Laura Slattery, recognizes that there are people who are single at heart. It acknowledges and explores singlism and matrimania. And, it has attitude.
I’ll skip directly to my favorite part, the bottom line:
“…for both the single-and-looking and single-at-heart, there may be some satisfaction in watching Irish culture transform into something less singlist – and remembering, as Bridget Jones’s friend Shazzer rants so impressively, ‘There’s more than one bloody way to live.’”
Irish singles are up against some of the same obstacles as singles in the U.S. For example, as Professor Anne Byrne pointed out, the Irish constitution describes the nuclear family as “the natural primary and fundamental unit of society.” (I critiqued that belief in the last chapter of Singled Out.)
Single people in Ireland, and members of the creative class, are not just swallowing all the matrimania. They are writing their own scripts.
Slattery spotlights the playwright Una McKevitt, whose documentary-styled play, “Singlehood,” has been a big success. “Most entertainment is about people starting off single and ending up in relationships, or sometimes it’s about a relationship breaking down,” McKevitt said. She wanted to avoid that, and instead focus on living single rather than the quest to become unsingle. The play has the tagline, “Because any dope can be in a relationship.”
In a particularly clever section of the article, Slattery muses about the many different ways of being single and thinking about your single life:
“Singlehood, it seems to me, is a spectrum. There’s happy to be single, and happy despite being single. Permasingle. Single again. Single and looking. Single and incomplete. Single and free. Single by day. Single, but it’s complicated. Single and heartbroken. Single, and the sight of couples holding hands makes you want to puke up a heart-shaped vomit tribute to their clammy-palmed love.
“Single, but you have had more sex this decade than half of your married friends. Single, but your lover might not call you that. Single, but ask me again later. Single and getting a full night’s sleep, thanks. Single, but not available for unpaid overtime. Single, but when did I get so old that “single” became the primary way in which other people define me?”
The article closes with accounts of singlehood from five different people in five different decades of their lives. That’s also a nice idea, except that none of them really wants to be single. In a detailed and thoughtful piece, that, to me, was the only false note.
[Note. Thanks to Anne Byrne for the heads-up about the Irish Times article. Together with Deborah Carr, Anne wrote the article, “Caught in the cultural lag: The stigma of singlehood.” It was published as part of the special issue of Psychological Inquiry on singles in society and in science. That’s just one of her many contributions.]
Irish girl photo available from Shutterstock
DePaulo, B. (2013). In Ireland, Taking Single Life Seriously. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 25, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/single-at-heart/2013/02/in-ireland-taking-single-life-seriously/