Owning Our Good Feelings about Single Life
The name of this blog, “Single at Heart,” is telling. It describes people like me – at heart, we are single. It is how we live our most authentic and meaningful lives. We are not single because we have issues, or because we gave up on dating and decided to “settle” for being single. Living single is how we live our best lives. For many, such as myself, marriage would be a step down. It would be a bad fit with who we really are.
Of course, this is not the party line or the conventional wisdom. I have been studying single life for quite some time, so I am accustomed to the incredulous responses of people who cannot believe that anyone could choose to be single, or could be single and truly happy. Those sorts of people like to believe that we happy singles are just fooling ourselves.
Sometimes it is more than that. Research has shown that sometimes other people are actually mad at us for choosing to be single!
In an email exchange with a man I do not know, I answered one of his questions by explaining that I mostly write for and about single people who love living single. I do not write about dating or other ways to become unsingle.
He was having none of it. He claimed that single women do not want to be single and they do not enjoy single life. Specifically, he had this to say about you, my readers:
“[They] just get to a point in their lives where they say, ‘I’m better off living my life on my terms because it is too short to put up with nonsense.’
“And the other half lack ability to date desirable men.”
Then he added, “That’s different than wanting to be single. That is utilitarian, not preferable.”
He does not know any of you and he does not know me. But in his mind, he “knows” that we don’t really want to be single. Instead, he thinks we are single either because we got totally frustrated with dating or because we “lack ability.” I don’t doubt that some single people fit his descriptions but he seems to doubt that any single people fit my description of what it means to be single at heart.
I don’t think he has any bad intentions, and I know he has lots of company in thinking the way he does. In fact, it is because these kinds of mistaken beliefs about single people are so widespread that I wanted to address them here.
The type of argument being advanced here is significant. He is not saying: studies show that single people are unhappy, and if only they would marry, that would change. I have debunked that claim many times before.
Instead, he seems to be saying that he does not believe what you say about your own feelings. If you say you enjoy your single life, his response is that you don’t really feel that way – you are just saying that you do because you have decided to settle or you “lack ability to date desirable men.” It is an argument based on presumptuousness – the type of argument I have heard and discussed before.
It is a difficult argument to counter because whatever you say in response can and probably will be discounted. It is an argument that denies you ownership of your own feelings or any insight into them. People who make these arguments think they know you better than you do, even though they have never met you.
I hope you will not be worn down by such arguments. More than 3,500 people have taken the survey, “Are you single at heart?” I doubt that the thousands of people who recorded single-at-heart type answers are all just fooling themselves.
Man yelling image available from Shutterstock.
DePaulo, B. (2013). Owning Our Good Feelings about Single Life. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 7, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/single-at-heart/2013/07/owning-our-good-feelings-about-single-life/