Love & Affection Articles

Challenges of Living Single at Every Age: Part 3

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

shutterstock_191344598Our Conversation with Wendy Wasson Continues

[This is Part 3 of a four-part series on how the experience of living single changes over the course of the adult years. In Part 1, I introduced the series. Part 2 was the beginning of my conversation with therapist Wendy Wasson; we focused on singles approaching the age of 30. In this Part, we discuss the fears and misperceptions facing single people.]

Bella: One thing that really bothers me is the conflation of being single with being alone. Sometimes single people are assumed, by definition, to be alone. It is not just in everyday informal conversation that you hear insinuations like this; it is in the media and even in some scientific writings. Is this something that comes up in the clinical setting?

Almost 30, the Hardest Time to Be Single? Part 2

Saturday, March 21st, 2015

shutterstock_148287611A conversation with Wendy Wasson

In the first post in this series, I described the widespread belief that living single only gets harder as you proceed through midlife and then through later life. I also said that my guess, in most cases, is that just the opposite is true. I think that single people are likely to find their lives full of more joy and less angst as they proceed through their adult years. I found a few snippets of research that supported that possibility. Still, I admitted that the most convincing study of this question has yet to be done.

In this post, I’ll begin my discussion of this topic with Wendy Wasson. Dr. Wasson is a psychotherapist who, in her practice, has worked with many single women of different ages. She is also one of the creators of the website MySingleSpace, and for nearly a decade had conducted SingleSpace workshops. She has a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Northwestern University, where she has been on the faculty of the Feinberg School of Medicine.

At What Age Is It Hardest to Be Single? Part 1

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

Recently, a reporter asked me how the experience of living single is different at different ages. Is there a time when it is especially difficult? A time when it is not that difficult at all? I remembered that a few years ago (before I started blogging for Psych Central), I published a conversation I had with a very insightful psychotherapist, Wendy Wasson. I just reread that conversation and found Dr. Wasson’s perspectives just as fresh and penetrating as I did the first time, so I wanted to share them here.

This is the first of the four-part conversation. In the coming days and weeks, I’ll publish the next three parts:

  • Almost 30, the Hardest Time to be Single? Part 2
  • Challenges of Living Single at Every Age: Part 3
  • Single After 40 and Single Again: Part 4

Babies Born to Single and Cohabiting Mothers: The Latest Data, and Predictable Angst

Friday, March 13th, 2015

shutterstock_259018874“More babies are being born to unmarried, cohabitating parents in America than ever before. This has some sociologists are worried. Will children lose out on the benefits of living in a financially solid home? They might, but there is a way to address that: stop biases against single people.”

Another Spin on the Marriage-Go-Round: New Data on Americans Who Marry Over and Over Again

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

shutterstock_240207763You don’t need to be an American to know that Americans just love marriage. Matrimania – the over-the-top hyping of marriage, coupling, and weddings – is pervasive. But the evidence for our special relationship with marriage is not just in the popularity of shows like The Bachelor or the tedious regularity with which TV shows, movies, and novels end at the altar. It is also in the hard numbers – Census Bureau data on the frequency with which Americans get married, and then get married again, and then get married still again.

It is a pattern with Americans. Andrew Cherlin told us all about it, by putting together the data that were available to anyone who wanted to take a look, in his aptly-titled book, The Marriage-Go-Round. Americans, he demonstrated, are more into marriage and coupling than people in any other countries in the Western world. Americans marry more, divorce more, and engage in more short-term cohabiting relationships.

The Real Fairy Tales — Grimmer Than the Grimms’, and Less Sexist, Too!

Sunday, March 8th, 2015

shutterstock_208526833In different renditions of fairy tales, there is a hierarchy of realness. The Disney versions are chirpier than the dark versions published by the Grimms. But even the Grimms’ editions have been cleaned up relative to more authentic renderings.

Unknown to contemporaries until a few years ago is the cache of fairy tales collected by Franz Xaver von Schonwerth in the 19th century. I just learned about them in Laura Miller’s interview of the esteemed Harvard folklorist, Maria Tatar, published at Salon.

Miller explains that “Schonwerth considered scholars his natural audience, and as a result the tales he recorded are bawdier, racier and significantly more scatological than the collection the Grimms published under the title ‘Children’s and Household Tales’.” What I found even more intriguing were the many ways in which the Schonwerth tales were less sex-stereotyped and sexist.

115 Years Old, Still Single, and Still Living Alone

Sunday, March 1st, 2015

italian240“Can staying single really help you live forever?” That was the headline of a story at Fusion, picking up on an article at the New York Times that zipped around the internet soon after it was published – fittingly, on Valentine’s Day.

Our heroine is Emma Morano of Italy, born in 1899 and now one of the five oldest people in the world. She has been single since 1938 (so, for 77 years). Times reporter Elisabeth Povoledo said of Morano that she is “convinced that being single for most of her life…has kept her kicking.” In Morano’s own words, “I didn’t want to be dominated by anyone.”

Patricia Arquette, Jon Stewart, and the No Good, Very Bad Week for Women Who Are Single or Have No Kids

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

patricia240To be single or an adult with no kids is to be in a group that is often stereotyped, stigmatized, or ignored. Those derogated and marginalized categories are different from other stigmatized categories, such as certain racial groups, because there is far less awareness of the prejudice and discrimination. That means that there is also less effort put into the avoidance of boorish behavior toward people in those groups. And it means that sometimes even people who consider themselves open-minded and anything but bigoted in fact behave badly – without even realizing it.

In just the past few days, there have been two high-profile examples. The first has already gotten so much attention that there is a backlash to the backlash. I’m talking about Patricia Arquette’s acceptance speech at the 2015 Oscars when she won the award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Boyhood. Here’s the key part:

The Invisible Boyfriend or Girlfriend: Best New Thing for Playful Subversives?

Saturday, February 21st, 2015

invisible240Have you heard about the new, hot things called The Invisible Boyfriend and The Invisible Girlfriend? It’s getting buzz all over the place. NPR explains that “Matthew Homann says he came up with the idea a few years ago, when he was newly single from a divorce and people wouldn’t stop asking him if he was seeing anyone.”

Do Fretful Discussions about Living Alone Drive You Mad?

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015

aloneinbed240It has been quite the week for angst about living alone. On the latest episode of Grey’s Anatomy, aptly titled, “The bed’s too big without you,” the high-powered, ultra-talented female doctors were hanging around waiting for their printer to produce body parts when they launched into a discussion of how hard they found it not to have someone else in their bed. One after another, they moaned and decried the sadness of living alone, until, at last, the youngest of the group admitted that she loved having her bed to herself.


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Recent Comments
  • Jason: “The proportion of adults that had married only once has decreased from 1996, from 54 percent to 50 percent of...
  • Paul: I am a 49yr old male with Asperger’s who has never had a girlfriend, never been on a date and never had...
  • Bella DePaulo, Ph.D: Thanks for sharing this, Tricia. I also found Wendy to be wonderfully insightful.
  • Tricia: Where were you, Wendy, when I was 20?! Wow. What a great piece. I’ve been single for about 5 years now...
  • Alan: I’d agree, I was more anxious about being single when I was in my 20s. Once I hit 30 I started to get...
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