Archives for Love & Affection

General

How Should I Live?

Have you found your "lifespace" – your place, your space, and your people? Are you living where and how you most want to live? Are you living with or in connection with the people you care about the most, or on your own if that's what feels most authentic to you?

Regardless of how you feel about how you are living now, do you fantasize about (or worry about) how you will live in the future?

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General

Who Changed Your Life?

In the Community of Single People, we have been trying to come up with a list of movies that do not feature a romantic plot or end with a wedding. It is amazing how challenging it can be to do so. The same is true of fiction. When I have the time to read a novel, I don't want to get sucked into the same trite story of two people meeting, facing obstacles, and ending up together in the end. My list of relevant titles is never long enough. On TV, even shows that should be safe from the typical matrimaniacal themes rarely are. It is as if the most creative minds in screenwriting and in literature are sapped of all imaginativeness when it comes to fashioning a plot or a sensibility that is not a romantic cliché.

We need ways of thinking about life that are bigger and broader than marriage and romance. So when I find someone who has burst out of the box of boredom, I like to give some credit. Those people are showing us the way to recognizing and celebrating lives that are not all about marriage and romantic relationships.

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Love & Affection

Can You Know You Want to Be Single If You’ve Never Had a Serious Romantic Relationship?

A reader emailed me, telling me about some of the ways she fits the profile of people who are single at heart. For example, she loves solitude and can go for days at a time without seeing anyone else and not feel lonely. But she has never had a serious romantic relationship – for example, she's never lived with a romantic partner. So can she really know if she is single-at-heart if she has not experienced an intense romantic involvement with another person?

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General

Radically New Families and How They Are Becoming More Ordinary

Family. It used to seem so simple: mom and dad, married, with their kids, all living under the same roof. That's the nuclear family model. It is our idea of tradition, even if "it was dominant only for a brief period and only for some people."

Now all the standard criteria for what counts as family have become optional. Families do not need married parents (they can be cohabiting), families do not need one mom and one dad (there are same-sex parents), families do not need two parents at all (there are single-parent families), and families do not need to live in the same household (after divorce, separate households are often set up but the people in the different households still consider each other family). Even households that do not include kids are often perceived as family by other people, especially if the households are comprised of a married couple.

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Love & Affection

The Good News No One Ever Tells You about Single Parents and Their Children

I have been scrutinizing the research on single parents and their children for more than a decade. I've learned lots of things, but perhaps the most important one is this: all those predictions you hear about how the children of single parents are doomed are grossly exaggerated or just plain wrong.

I included a chapter on the topic in Singled Out and have continued to write blog posts and other articles after the book was published. I thought that was sufficient. But the wording of the recent Supreme Court ruling sent me over the edge. While trying to make a positive case for same-sex marriage, Justice Kennedy egregiously put down families that do not include married parents. The claims he made were not just derogatory, they were inaccurate.

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Love & Affection

Are We Happiest When We Are with Our Friends?

In an article in the prestigious journal Science, Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman and his colleagues reported the results of a study in which 909 adults described whom they were with all day long during the previous day. For each of their social interactions, they also indicated how they were feeling. How happy were they? How much were they enjoying themselves? To what extent were they experiencing negative feelings such as anger, worry, or sadness?

The participants spent time with lots of different kinds of people – their spouse or romantic partner, relatives, friends, children, clients or customers, co-workers, and their boss.

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General

Hector’s Search for Happiness Ends with a Cliché

Fair warning: This post includes a spoiler and the spoiler (about the end of the movie) is the whole point. I'm talking about "Hector and the Search for Happiness."

I stumbled upon the movie when I was browsing Netflix for something to watch. I didn't know that before the story became a movie, it was an "international bestseller with more than two million copies sold." I had never heard of the book or the movie before. I don't know if the movie is faithful to the book. I sure hope not.

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General

Amidst All the Matrimania, the Power of Friendship Endures

We've heard a lot of flowery prose about marriage lately, both within the Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage nationwide and in the ensuing commentaries. I don't think marriage is the key relationship of the 21st century, though – I believe it is friendship.

Somewhere around half of all American adults are single. Many who do marry cycle in and out of coupled life (as, for example, when they get married and then divorced). This is the big picture of our lives today: Americans now spend more years of their adult life unmarried than married – and that's been true for years.

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General

SCOTUS Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage: Wiser Views Than Those of the Justices

"We need to have a conversation." How often have we heard these words when some controversial issue is broached? The Supreme Court ruling that made same-sex marriage legal across the nation has launched countless conversations.

Many of the conversations are celebratory. To activists, the ruling is a huge step forward on a long path to social justice. I'm all for social justice and civil rights. But the ruling lets more people into marriage while all single people are still unjustly left out of all of the benefits and protections awarded only to those who are legally married. It is a broader conceptualization than we had before the ruling, but it is still a very narrow view of the people and relationships and life pursuits that matter.

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