There are questions about single life – including my single life – that I am rarely asked anymore. They are the kinds of questions that just assume that because I am single, I must be sad and lonely and constantly fantasizing about leaving my supposedly pathetic single life and becoming a happy and healthy married person.
I think I don’t get asked those questions anymore because I have been such an outspoken advocate of single people and single life. I have been doing research and writing and speaking about single life for two decades. What I have learned about single people from my own work, and other people’s, is that our negative stereotypes of single people are all wrong.
I don’t like to say that it is okay to be single. That is far too grudging. For some people – those who are “single at heart” – living single is how they live their best, most authentic, most fulfilling, and most meaningful life.
Not everyone is suited to single life, and some people who are single wish they weren’t. But even the single people who do not want to be single should never have to apologize for their single status. After all, we don’t ask married people to explain why they are not divorced, even when we know their marriage is on the rocks.
I think there is another, more important reason why I don’t get asked certain questions about single life anymore. The number of unmarried Americans has been growing by leaps and bounds. In 1996, there were 77 million adults in the U.S. who were not married. By 2015, that number shot up to 109 million – nearly half of all adults 18 and older. When almost every other person is not married, it is hard to insist that all 109 million of them are messed up. And, with numbers comes a louder and more self-confident voice. Single people aren’t just going to sit back and take it when other people try to paint them as losers.
However, the new and more affirming portrait of single people has not reached everyone. There are still people who seem to believe that single life is awful and single women are bitter. One of them recently asked me if I would answer some questions for the website psych2go.net, described as “psychology for millennials by millennials.” I admit that I was taken aback by the questions at first. But then I was grateful that she asked them. If she was wondering about these things, other people must be, too. I appreciated the opportunity to respond.
Below are some of the questions I was asked. Regardless of whether you like living single (or think you would), try to think about how you would answer these questions in a way that stands up for single people, without going beyond what the research supports.
Then, take a look at my answers, and let me know what I left out or what I could have said better.
- I want to say Wow, I can definitely not do what you have been doing. I feel like being in a relationship is really important to me and having a companion has really helped me grow throughout the years. What made you decide on staying single?
- People say being single affects your health, what are your thoughts on that?
- What is the difference between having love and no love in your life (significant partner)? Is it true that woman without love is more bitter?
- Being single, would you experience depression and having the want and need of someone there with you?
- As a single individual, would the thought of marriage and having children come to mind?
- Lastly, have you ever been in a relationship and if so, how did you decide on being single?