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Do You Feel Judged for Being Single?

judged for being singleIf you are single, do you feel that you are judged for that reason alone? Do people make assumptions about you that they might not make if you were coupled? Do you think it is worse if you are single beyond the age at which people expect you to be married?

Melanie Notkin, author of Savvy Auntie, recently wrote a popular blog post on those questions. She titled it, “Single and childless: I know what you’re thinking,” and in it, she offers a whole long list of unspoken judgments she surmises other people are making about her. (Actually, sometimes they are spoken.) Here are just a few:

She’s too picky.

She’s not picky enough and made bad choices.

She’s too needy.

She’s not needy enough.

She’s too much of a feminist.

She’s too much of a romantic.

In the end, Notkin offers a rousing response on what her life is really about.

Melanie Notkin’s post reminded me of what I wrote in the second and third pages of Singled Out, when I first explained the concept of singlism:

            To be stereotyped is to be prejudged. Tell new acquaintances you are single and often, they will think they already know quite a lot about you. They understand your emotions: You are miserable and lonely and envious of couples. They know what motivates you: More than anything else in the world, you want to become coupled. If you are a single person of a certain age, they also know why you are not coupled: You are commitment-phobic, or too picky, or you have baggage. Or maybe they figure you are gay and they think that’s a problem, too.

            They also believe they know something about your psychological development and your psyche: You are just not as mature as the other people your age who are coupled. And, at heart, you are basically selfish.

            From knowing nothing more about you than your status as a single person, other people sometimes think they already know all about your family: You don’t have one. They also know about the important person or persons in your life: You don’t have anyone. In fact, they know all about your life: You don’t have a life.

            Because you don’t have anyone and you don’t have a life, you can be asked to stay late at work or do all of the traveling over the holidays. When you are a guest in other people’s homes, they will know where you can sleep: on the couch in the living room rather than in a bedroom with a door that shuts.

            They know how your life will unfold: You will grow old alone. Then you will die alone.

            Are you a single person who does not recognize yourself in many of these descriptions? So am I. I am happy, I have a life, and there is no way I will grow old alone (a matter that has little to do with having a serious coupled relationship or even living alone). That’s just for starters. But it is also exactly the point:  The conventional wisdom about people who are single is a mythology, a gloss. It is not an accurate description of the textured and varied lives of real people who are single. [end of excerpt from Singled Out]

Yesterday (December 18, 2012), I joined Melanie Notkin, Wendy Braitman, Sandy Rosenblatt, and Eleanore Wells were invited to discuss the issues in a segment on Huffington Post Live called “The beauty of singledom.” The discussion lasted less than a half-hour, so with five people in on the conversation, and with some of the readers’ comments read by the moderator throughout, I did not get a chance to say much.

The point I most wanted to make is that not all singles want to be married or even coupled. They are not single for any bad reasons, such as the ones Melanie listed. They are single because they are “single at heart,” and that means that single life is their best life – their most authentic and meaningful life. They choose single life. For them, living as a married person would be a big step down.

[Note: At Single with Attitude, you can find feeds from the blogs of several of the people who were in on the discussion, and from other single bloggers as well.]

Single woman photo available from Shutterstock

Do You Feel Judged for Being Single?

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). Do You Feel Judged for Being Single?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 21, 2020, from


Last updated: 19 Dec 2012
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