A few months ago, a reporter asked me to weigh in on a story she was writing on the psychology of deception. That was my previous area of expertise, and sometimes I decline those requests if I am particularly busy. I told her that these days, my interest is in single people. I added that if she ever wants to write about that topic, I’m happy to answer questions about any aspect of single life except dating or other attempts to escape single life.
She responded with something like, “Okay, I’ll be back in touch next time I write about dating.”
That’s why we need a Community of Single People (CoSP), an online place where we can gather to discuss everything about our single lives, where no singles-relevant topic is off limits except dating and “poor me, I’m single” sorts of sentiments.
This month, July 2017, marks the 2-year anniversary of that Community. We are a Facebook group of 1,946 people from around the world who want to live our single lives to the fullest.
After two years, there is a comfortable familiarity about the group. We’ve come to know one another, especially those who participate often in the discussions. I think each of us knows who we would most like to meet in person. And, happily, some of us have gotten to meet other CoSP members face-to-face, and even form some friendships.
Members have posted from hospital rooms and cruise ships, from their homes and workplaces and outdoor cafes.
Online, our conversations are wide-ranging.
We post stories from the media about single life, including affirming ones that make us proud and ridiculous and insulting ones that we critique and mock.
We share our achievements, our milestones, and some of the small moments we savor. We can do so knowing that no one else in the group is going to undercut our pride by saying that it is too bad we didn’t get to enjoy those experiences with a spouse by our side. We know what it means to value people other than romantic partners. And we know the value, and the profound rewards, of solitude.
We help one another with life decisions, both big and small. One person was choosing between two homes, and posted pictures of both, along with her thoughts about the pros and cons of each. A lively discussion ensued. She made her decision and announced it to the group.
We offer or request practical advice on other matters, too. Topics have included ways of staying safe while traveling, the legal documents that may be especially important to single people, suggestions for navigating the health care system and for making sure that our pets are cared for if something happens to us.
We also share recipes, favorite songs, and suggestions for books and movies that are free of those tedious matrimaniacal themes.
A frequent topic is our experiences of singlism – those instances in which we are stereotyped or stigmatized or marginalized or imposed upon or discriminated against because we are single. Sometimes we are not so sure if singlism is at work, and that is the question posted to the group: Does this sound like singlism to you? We compare notes on possible responses.
Some members have become emboldened by the group to dine alone or travel alone, to take their own accomplishments seriously and plan celebrations, and to speak out for themselves or other single people when they might not have done so before.
It is a closed group – new members need to ask to join – and we understand what the group is about, so it can feel like a safe space to discuss the kinds of issues that might be misconstrued outside of the group.
There are still some sharp exchanges now and then but they strike me as less frequent than they were before. Maybe people who have bad experiences with the group are just quietly leaving, and I rarely hear about them.
Perhaps one of the most important benefits of participating in the group is the daily reminder that not everyone is obsessed with coupling, and that many people are living their single lives fully, joyfully, and unapologetically.
I want to thank all the members of the Community for their contributions to this unique group. I am also immensely grateful to the administrators who field requests from people who want to join and keep the group humming along.
Here are my previous writings about CoSP:
My first announcement of the Community
What I said about CoSP when we had about 600 members
What I wrote on the 1-year anniversary of CoSP