I love chocolate, but do you know what I love even more? Smart, enlightening writings about single people and single life! Yesterday, to my surprise and delight, one story after another set aside the tired old Valentine’s Day stories about gooey-eyed couples and myths about the transformative powers of marriage and coupling, and instead told some truths – or, in some cases, they at least got close to some truths.
Considering that this is not the first time that the matrimaniacal holiday was inflected with a bit of singles savvy (here, for example), maybe we can start expecting something like this to continue into the future.
Here are some of the sweetest things I found online, or in my email inbox, over the past day or so:
#1 I’m not saving the best for last. I have often made the claim – based on scientific data – that getting married does not make people lastingly happier or healthier or better in most of the other ways that have been claimed (see here). Basically, I have been saying, no, you are not lagging behind by staying single. But this first article makes a bolder claim – that single people, in some scientifically-documented ways, do better than married people. Check out Lauren Friedman’s “5 scientifically proven reasons it’s better to be single.” If you like this story and you are on social media, show it some love.
#2 Then consider this headline: “Single and proud on Valentine’s Day: Futurist Predictions Say Single is the New Black.” The very last sentence of the article is a true single-at-heart sentiment: “Is it really beyond imagination that being single for some, many, most, or even all the years of your life might be one way of leading a meaningful and authentic life on this planet?”
#3 The MarketWatch / Wall Street Journal site offered a story titled, “Why marriage won’t cut your medical bills” with the subtitle, “Conventional wisdom says marriage is good for your health, but science isn’t so sure.” I don’t think it goes far enough in debunking the myth that getting married will make you healthier, and that study of mortality that is mentioned is not all that it seems (my fault – the writer asked me about it but I did not have time at the moment to read and critique it), but the article is a very nice antidote to all those mindless stories that just perpetuate the singlist myth that of course married people are better.
#4 The New Republic stuck a pin in some of the silliest myths about love in “Death to Cupid: Love is not all you need. Far from it.” Some relevant writings of my own are about how we need to recognize and celebrate bigger, broader meanings of love and my data-driven answer to the question of whether it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.
#5 Finally, my brilliant and thoughtful friend from Finland, Mona Bjork, let me know what the Finns were saying about Valentine’s Day: “America gave Finland a wonderful gift—Valentine’s Day. Ever the smart country that it is, Finland did the US one better. They improved it. While most of the world celebrates St. Valentine’s Day on February 14, Finland celebrates “Friend’s (or Friendship) Day” [Ystävänpäivä]. This tradition is a relatively young one in Finland –only since the late 80’s. Rather than the American tradition that dedicates the day to love and romance, Finns celebrate all of their friends.” Thanks, Mona, and thank-you, Finland.
Chocolates image available from Shutterstock.