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Not Against Coupling, But Beyond It

single and happyMichael Cobb, author of the academic book, Single: Arguments for the Uncoupled, has discovered what so many other people have when they say something positive about single life – they get a lot of pushback. I have found that, too, as an author, but you can get the singles treatment just by going about your everyday life and daring to suggest that you are enjoying your single life.

Professor Cobb told “People attack me for being bitter or not being mature enough to truly commit.” If you are single and like your single life, you probably have your own stories about people telling you that you don’t really like it deep down inside, you are just fooling yourself, and all the rest.

Here’s what Michael Cobb said that his book is really about:

“This book is not against couples — it’s really against the primacy of the couple, the anxious over-importance of the couple that actually makes couples fail because you can’t by definition make a whole world out of one other person.”

It is very similar to what I had to say in the introduction to Singled Out:

“My problem is not with our current interest in coupling or our valuing of it, but in our overvaluing it and our undervaluing so many other relationships and life pursuits. We seem to have lost all perspective on the many ways to lead a good and meaningful life” (p. 26).

Michael Cobb succinctly described his current life: “I’m single right now and I’m happy and I have all sorts of fulfilling relationships, interests and activities.”

In the Globe and Mail (in Canada), Leah McLaren wrote an essay reflecting on Michael Cobb’s book. She ended with this observation:

“Perhaps the point in all this (which Charlotte Bronte instinctively understood) is that we shouldn’t define ourselves by relationship status, but by our relationships to the world. As the late great Nora Ephron observed in one of her final essays, “For a long time, the fact that I was divorced was the most important thing about me. And now it’s not.””

[Notes: This is the second in a set of posts about the conversation in the media about Michael Cobb and his new book. The first post was here. I will write about the book, and not just the conversation about it, in a later post. Thanks again to Elizabeth for the heads-up about the Salon article.]

Woman walking photo available from Shutterstock

Not Against Coupling, But Beyond It

Bella DePaulo, Ph.D

Bella DePaulo (Ph.D., Harvard; Academic Affiliate, Psychological and Brain Sciences, UC Santa Barbara), an expert on single life, is the author of several books, including "Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After" and "How We Live Now: Redefining Home and Family in the 21st Century." Her TEDx talk is "What no one ever told you about people who are single." Dr. DePaulo has discussed singles and single life on radio and television, including NPR and CNN, and her work has been described in newspapers such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and magazines such as Time, Atlantic, the Week, More, the Nation, Business Week, AARP Magazine, and Newsweek. Dr. DePaulo is in her sixties. She has always been single and always will be. She is "single at heart" -- single is how she lives her best and most meaningful life. Visit her website at

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APA Reference
DePaulo, B. (2012). Not Against Coupling, But Beyond It. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 1, 2020, from


Last updated: 18 Sep 2012
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