General Articles

Prejudice in the Bedroom: How Many Pillows Does a Single Person Need?

Saturday, September 20th, 2014

shutterstock_204548422Some societies, such as Finland, care deeply that every citizen has a respectable standard of living. A report on what should count as a decent minimum standard of living in Finland begins like this:

“In recent years, the level of basic security has dropped, and the income of those relying on basic benefits has clearly fallen behind that of the rest of the population though they should guarantee all citizens the right to receive essential subsistence and care, even if their income is insufficient for this or the household faces a situation creating a risk, such as unemployment…”

To try to determine what should count as a decent minimum standard of living, studies were conducted with focus groups and other discussion groups. Participants were asked to specify the level of goods that “facilitates a decent minimum standard of living in which physical, psychological, and social basic needs are met and that enables participation in society.”


The Power of Single People: 8 Ways Businesses Are Finally Recognizing It

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

shutterstock_134465504What is perhaps the best known marketing and communications company, JWT (previously J. Walter Thompson), just published a report about family that would have been unthinkable just a few decades ago.

Among the categories of family in the report were:

  • Kids optional
  • Solo living
  • Pets as family
  • Friends as family
  • Same-sex families

The Best of Single Life

Sunday, September 14th, 2014

single_lifeAs the number of single people continues to grow, now reaching somewhere around half of all adults in the U.S., it is getting harder and harder to insist that all these single people are sad and lonely and bemoaning their status. There are now well over 100 million single people. (I’ll address the question of whether there are really more single people than married ones in the U.S. in a later post.) It is time to stop assuming that they all want to know what they did “wrong” to end up single or how they can be “fixed up,” as if they are somehow broken. Sure, some people would like to be married. But plenty actually love their single lives and intend to remain single. I’ve named this blog, “Single at Heart,” after those people.

Even the single people who eventually want to marry are rarely just wallowing in self-pity about their single status. Increasingly, they want to live their single lives fully and joyfully, and take advantage of every opportunity that single life offers.

So what is it that single life does offer to those open to embracing it?


The State of Singles in the U.S., for a Publication Reporting on Singles Around the World

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

shutterstock_145434979In the Netherlands, a publication called Individual and Society is about to publish its 100th issue. They have a theme – the state of single people around the world. They have asked people in different countries to write brief overviews of single people in their country, which they will translate into Dutch. They asked me to write about singles in the U.S. Below is the first draft of what I submitted to them.

How Many Adults in the United States Are Not Married?

The number of single people in the United States has been growing for decades. In 1970, only 28 percent of all American adults, 18 and older, were single (divorced, widowed, or always-single). By 2013, that number had increased to 44 percent.

Most single people, 62 percent, have always been single. Another 24 percent are divorced, and the other 14 percent are widowed.

How Do Single (Unmarried) Americans Live?

The vast majority of unmarried Americans are not living with a romantic partner. Of the 105 million Americans 18 and older who were not married in 2013, only 14 million of them were cohabiting.

The popularity of living alone has increased greatly over time. In 1970, 17 percent of all American households were comprised of one person. By 2013, 27 percent of all households were 1-person households; that equates to 34 million Americans living alone.

Of the 105 million unmarried Americans, only 34 million live alone and only 14 million live with a romantic partner. That means that most single Americans live with other people such as friends, family members, roommates, or some combination.

What Is the Political Status of Single People in the United States?

Single people are targets of systematic discrimination in the United States. Just on the federal level, there are more than 1,000 laws affording benefits and protections only to people who are legally married. Many of these are tax benefits. Single people are also disadvantaged in their old-age pensions (Social Security). Single people cannot give their Social Security benefits to anyone else when they die; and, no other person can give their Social Security benefits to …


Single in Poland: Meaningful Work, and Connections to Family and Friends

Saturday, September 6th, 2014

shutterstock_157606439In my previous post, “Why are you single? International edition,” I described what single people in Poland had to say about why they were living single. The research came from Julita Czernecka’s book, Single and the City. In her research, the author interviewed 60 financially stable college graduates between the ages of 27 and 41 who had not been in a serious romantic relationship for at least two years, had never been married and had no children.

Here I want to share more about the lives of single people in Poland, and add some of my own observations about how their experiences seem to compare to those of single people in the U.S.


Is This a First for Humans? People Eat Alone More Often Than with Others

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

What could be more sociable than the act of sharing a meal or a drink?

For years, I’ve been researching and writing about one particular variety of eating alone – dining alone in restaurants. I have found that people are often very self-conscious about dining solo. They think other people are thinking mean and dismissive things about them when they do. Those fears, it turns out, are overblown. Other people are just as likely to be catty about the couple they see at the next table.


Part 2 of ‘Othering’ People Who Are Single: Guest Post by Gabriela Denise Frank

Sunday, August 24th, 2014

gabriela_frank_headshot[From Bella: This is Part 2 from guest blogger Gabriela Denise Frank. Part 1 is here: Are You 'Other' If You Are Not a Mother? Part 1.]
Are You ‘Other’ If You Are Not a Mother? Part 2.
Guest Post by Gabriela Denise Frank
First, we must stop relegating single and childless women into a separate caste. (I hate to even write the word ‘childless’ as if this somehow means that’s we’re lacking, but what other word is there, child-free?) Point being, when half of females of child-bearing age today are actually childless, as the article states, we are no longer other. Yet, there is more.


Are You ‘Other’ If You Are Not a Mother? Part 1. Guest Post by Gabriela Denise Frank

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

gabriela_frank_headshot[Bella's intro: In this first of a 2-part post, guest blogger Gabriela Denise Frank offers an enlightening, stereotype-smashing view of what it means to live alone. In this first part, she takes on the "othering" of people who do not fit into traditional categories, such as married mom. In the second, she offers suggestions for transcending the boxes popular culture tries to trap us in. Lots of travel and bold living is involved. I first came across Gabriela's insightful writing at her blog. Thanks, Gabriela, for sharing your smart perspective with us.]


How to Succeed in Our Networked World: 10 Tips from the Ones Who Wrote the Book

Monday, August 18th, 2014

shutterstock_155730194In my last post, I described the three revolutions that have made our 21st century interpersonal worlds so powerful, so fraught, and so distinctive. As explained by Networked authors Lee Rainie and Barry Wellman, the three are the Social Network Revolution, the Internet Revolution, and the Mobile Revolution. Here I will share the authors’ tips for not just surviving in our new world, but thriving.


The 3 Revolutions Rocking Our Social Worlds

Friday, August 15th, 2014

shutterstock_144909694When I was growing up, there was a big telephone stuck to the kitchen wall. I used it occasionally, as did everyone else in the family, but mostly, our contacts with other people took place in person. When I had a question about something relevant to my schoolwork, I looked at my textbooks or the encyclopedias at home; if neither of those had the answer, then I made a trip to the library.

Three revolutions have upended all that and totally transformed our lives. Lee Rainie and Barry Wellman, two of the most accomplished and trustworthy scholars on these matters, explain what’s happened in Networked: The New Social Operating System. The “triple revolution” they describe has these three components:


 

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