If I ask, “Who wrote the book of love,” you may just start humming the lyrics from the Monotones. There actually is a book of love – The World Book of Love, in fact. The subtitle is, “The knowledge and wisdom of 100 love professors from all around the world.”
The book will be published in English eventually, but so far it is only in Dutch. I asked the editor, Leo Bormans, if I could share with you the entry I wrote for the book, called “Happy Singles.” This single person is happy he agreed.
By Bella DePaulo, USA
Here is how my essay was introduced:
“I always loved living single,” says Prof. Bella DePaulo “except for all the stereotyping and discrimination (I call that singlism) and the over-the-top hyping of marriage, weddings, coupling, and romantic love (matrimania).” She has been thoroughly studying love and life of singles. And she didn’t find misery at all.
Here’s what I wrote:
Because of the ways in which marriage and romantic love are celebrated in the media, and even in some academic writings, I assumed that I was mostly alone in my love of single life. Maybe other people wanted out of single life, but I did not. I’m not single because I haven’t found just the right partner or because I have issues. Single life suits me. It is, for me, the most meaningful and productive way to live. I’m single at heart.
Once I began to do research I was amazed at what I found. The beliefs that single people are miserable, lonely, and loveless, and want nothing more than to become unsingle are just myths. Those kinds of claims are grossly exaggerated or just plain wrong. The scientific data do not support them. One of the reasons that so many single people do so well is that they embrace bold and broad meanings of love, big enough to encompass so much more than just romantic love. It is not just in their words that single people honor the many important people in their lives. Several surveys have shown that single people are more likely than married people to be there for their siblings, parents, neighbors, and friends.
A favorite example in my collection came from the late Ted Sorensen – husband, father, and renowned speechwriter for U.S. President John F. Kennedy. When the New York Times asked, “Was your working relationship with J.F.K. the great love affair of your life?” he replied, “Yes, of course.” Sorensen was married, but his fervent embrace of work as a source of love and purpose is a lesson to us all, regardless of our relationship status. In fact, it may be single people who most value work that speaks to their soul. A study of high school students found that those who would stay single into their late 20s already valued meaningful work more than those who would end up married. Nearly a decade later, that had not changed.
The title Liberty, A Better Husband comes from the diary of Louisa May Alcott. The author was writing about the single woman of antebellum America, who “envisioned her liberty as both autonomy and affiliation…Her freedom enabled her to commit her life and her capacities to the betterment of her sex, her community, or her kin.” For generations of women and men devoted to the cause of social justice, the meanings of love and passion have always transcended diamond rings and red roses.
Who is the love of your life? Maybe that love is a “what” rather than a “who.” Or maybe your love is big enough for more than just one kind of person. If you open yourself to love in its biggest, broadest meanings, you are likely to live your best and most meaningful life.
QUOTE: “The love of your life may be a what rather than a who”
Man on a skyscraper image available from Shutterstock.