Archives for Love & Affection
What is the key difference between romantic relationships – which are valued and respected and pondered and studied and celebrated and, well, romanticized – and all of the other close and meaningful relationships in our lives? Relationships with our closest friends, that may have outlasted most marriages. Relationships with parents and children, and the kin and chosen kin we hold most dear. They key difference is sex – or at least the potential for sex to have an important place in the relationship.
[Bella’s intro: For decades, I have been yearning to find books about single people who live their lives fully and joyfully. Books that do not make some tired old romantic plot the centerpiece, but instead showcase the kinds of experiences that can make single life so meaningful and so fulfilling. Fiction would be great. Nonfiction, as in memoirs of real single people, maybe even better. Sadly, those kinds of books are hard to find. So it was a pleasant surprise to discover Edie Jarolim’s new memoir about her life as a writer, Getting Naked for Money: An Accidental Travel Writer Reveals All. I told the author that if an endorsement from me would ever be of value, she was free to use this: “Edie Jarolim is a single woman leading a rich, complicated, exasperating, inspiring, and adventurous life of a writer. Fortunately for all of us, her insights, wit, and story-telling skills are superb. More, please!”
Do you have people in your life who feel like family even though you are not related them through legal or biological ties? Do you also have ties with biological or legal family members, such as parents, grandparents, children, a spouse, in-laws, siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, and other family members? If you answered yes to both questions, then the next question is: How do your two kinds of families relate to each other? Is there one best way for them to relate to each other – the way you should aspire to achieve?
Never before in recent American history have friends been so important to our everyday lives. They are important because they embody American values of equality, choice, self-expression, individualism, freedom, fluidity, and flexibility. They are important because our families have never been smaller than they are now, because fewer people are marrying, and those who do marry are getting to it later in life than they once did. And rates of remarriage are dropping. With fewer brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins and all the other relatives who used to gather around during holidays and other days, Americans increasingly look to the people they choose to have in their lives, rather than the people assigned to them through family ties.
In 1960, more than a half-century ago, only 8 percent of all children lived only with their mother. By 2016, that number had surged to 23 percent. That’s one of the most striking differences in how children are living, according to a new report from the Census Bureau.
To most Americans – and probably most Westerners – romantic love is the greatest love of all. In fact, romantic love is sometimes considered the very definition of love. We often use “love” as a shorthand for romantic love, just as we use the word “relationship” without even thinking that we need to specify that we mean “romantic relationship.” Before I started studying single life, I had no idea that contemporary American views of love and intimacy were so narrow. Then I spent a long time reading.
Romantic Photos, Texts with Boyfriends, and Other Everyday Ways of Undermining Women’s Career Aspirations
It all seems so innocent. The romantic photographs. The enthusiastic conversations about great dates. Texting a boyfriend. Thinking about a boyfriend as Prince Charming. Yet research shows that all these everyday life experiences may have the potential to undermine women’s interest in serious careers, perhaps especially careers in math and science.
Romantic comedies are a staple of the movie industry. They are utterly predictable and there is already a surfeit of them, yet they just keep coming. It would be nice if they were just mindless entertainment. Then those of us who find them tiresome could just roll our eyes and ignore them. But they are perpetuating a way of thinking about the world that sells us all short.
It came in a beautiful envelope, with an elegant smaller envelope for my reply – almost like a wedding invitation. The organizers of this event for my alma mater, Vassar College, must have had marriage on their minds. The invitation was to an event called “Reflections on an Election Year.” The reply card included the note, “Due to our limited capacity, we ask that you limit your one guest to a spouse, partner, or Vassar alumna/us.”
Singlism (the stereotyping, stigmatizing, and discrimination against people who are single) is different from other more familiar isms such as racism, heterosexism, and sexism. For example, other isms are sometimes linked to violence. On the other hand, because singlism is rarely part of our cultural conversations, people practice it without awareness or apology. What is especially disheartening is that it is practiced unselfconsciously by some of the intellectual vanguard of our times, the cutting edge thinkers and writers.