Archives for Relationships
Who invites their spouse or partner to participate in substance abuse programs, and how much does the partner’s participation matter to the success of the treatment? That’s what Social Work Professor Evan Senreich wanted to know when he set out to study LGBT and heterosexual clients of substance abuse programs. He got his answer, but he also discovered something else entirely. The people who had the most impressive rates by far of staying away from drugs or alcohol after being in treatment were the women who had no partner at the time of their treatment.
In a public library in Blackpool, England is a room filled with cozy couches and armchairs, coffee tables, and comforting food and drinks such as tea and biscuits and jam. It is one of several public Living Rooms in England, with some in the works in the U.S. Anyone can stop by one of these public Living Rooms and engage in conversations with others, or just sit quietly. People can leave after just a few moments, or stay as long as they want. The Living Rooms are nonjudgmental spaces. Guests are often asked to help in small ways – for example, they might be asked to brew the tea or bring a cup to one of the other guests. Some end up offering to help in bigger ways, such as by repainting the reception area. Sometimes the most significant help that is exchanged is the camaraderie and empathy.
Some of the world’s most scintillating conversationalists come totally undone when their conversation partner is a single person. All they can seem to come up with is, “So, are you seeing anyone?” Americans spend more years of their adult lives not married than married, and there are more single people than ever before. Yet remarkably, other people often assume that what single people want, more than anything else, is to become unsingle. It is as if they think that single people have no interests and no passions in their lives, no jobs and no people who are important to them.
“If someone says, ‘You complete me,’ RUN!” That’s the title of a book by Whoopi Goldberg. It is one of the many wise things she learned from a lifetime of experiences and now wants to share with her readers.
At the end of the year, I like to look back and see which of my many “Single at Heart” blog posts readers liked best. Here’s what I found:
Back when I used to read advice columns more often than I do now, I noticed that there was an issue that would come up again and again, especially around the holidays. Readers were upset that they routinely gave gifts to certain people who never acknowledged them. Often, though not always, the gift-givers were grandparents who mailed their gifts and never received a word of thanks from their grandkids or the kids’ parents. The readers wanted to know what to do: Make a stink about it? Stop giving the gifts? Just keep doing the same thing and keep your feelings to yourself?
If you are alone and feeling down, do you think you are sad because you are alone? Just about every relevant movie, novel, love song, advice column, media story, and fairy tale encourages that way of thinking. If only that Prince or Princess Charming came along, we are led to believe, then all our wishes would come true, we would never be lonely again, and we would live happily ever after.
We single people are not all the same. Social scientists rarely acknowledge the important distinctions among us. Perhaps one of the most important ways that single people differ is in their choice about living single. Some people have chosen to be single, whereas others are single by circumstance and would rather be coupled.
Can you tell whether someone is gay if they don’t tell you? That’s a question about “gaydar,” the term people use for “the purported ability of people to judge others’ sexual orientation based on indirect cues in appearance and behavior.” A recent review paper offers insights on what social scientists have learned so far.
I’m a social scientist, so when I want to know the answers to questions such as, who lives the longest and why, I like to look to big, methodologically sophisticated studies. But there seems to be a certain appeal to those articles that pop up with some regularity, in which the oldest person in the world is asked to explain the keys to his or her long life. Emma Morano, at 117 years-old, is currently the person who has lived more years on this earth than anyone. She seems to have struck a chord, at least with people who share my interests, judging from the number of people who have sent me links to stories about her or shared posts on Facebook.