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Great That You Are a World Leader, But Are You Coupled? The G20 Couples-Only Dinner

The political world has been abuzz lately upon learning that President Donald Trump met with Russian President Vladimir Putin for nearly an hour at a couples-only dinner at the G20 Summit. The intense interest has focused on the fact that the meeting was previously undisclosed, and the U.S. provided no translator and no recording of the interaction.

That’s not what grabbed me about the story. I gasped when I first heard the phrase “couples-only dinner” in the context of the G20 Summit. I have a problem with just about any couples-only event. At a minimum, they are obnoxious and exclusionary. In some contexts, such singlist events are discriminatory and should be banned. Workplaces, for example, should not organize couples-only events.

The G20 Summit is a meeting of the leaders of 20 of the world’s major economies. Including a couples-only dinner as part of the schedule seems to say to these people: Sure, you are some of the most powerful people in the world, but tell me – are you part of a couple? That’s what matters if you want to get included in this nice dinner.

In fact, the “couples-only dinner” did not exclude world leaders who were not coupled. My best guess is that the “couples-only” description meant that if you were going to bring someone, it had to be a spouse or romantic partner, and not that you couldn’t come if you didn’t have such a partner.

Even so, I’m still appalled. The people who described the dinner as “couples only” included, at a minimum, Eurasia Group president Ian Bremmer and Delaware Senator Chris Coons. Presumably, they got that characterization somewhere else – they didn’t make it up. Stories describing the dinner as couples-only have appeared at places such as CNN and Vox. A Google search of “G20 couples only dinner” currently returns 499,000 results. I did not look at every one, but I perused enough of them to say that I cannot find anyone expressing dismay at the notion of a couples-only event.

Imagine if, instead of a “couples-only” dinner, it had been a “whites-only” dinner or a “men-only” dinner or a “Muslims-only” dinner. We know about lots of isms such as racism and sexism. We know they are wrong. Most people would not want to be practitioners of such forms of prejudice and discrimination, and they would be mortified if they slipped and said or did something bigoted. Singlism isn’t like that. People practice it without apology or even awareness, at the highest levels of power in the world.

Great That You Are a World Leader, But Are You Coupled? The G20 Couples-Only Dinner

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," https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyZysfafOAs. 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 www.BellaDePaulo.com.

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APA Reference
DePaulo, B. (2017). Great That You Are a World Leader, But Are You Coupled? The G20 Couples-Only Dinner. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 16, 2018, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/single-at-heart/2017/07/great-that-you-are-a-world-leader-but-are-you-coupled-the-g20-couples-only-dinner/


Last updated: 20 Jul 2017
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 20 Jul 2017
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.