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Singlism and Matrimania: The Short Version of What the Terms Mean

I coined the terms “singlism” and “matrimania.” I’m often asked what they mean. Good thing, because people often get that wrong, particularly with regard to singlism. (It does not mean being single.) I’ve written detailed explanations of these terms before. Here I want to offer a shorter version, as part of the series, “Questions I’ve been asked.”

You use terms like singlism and matrimania. Did you coin them? What do these terms mean? How do they manifest?

Yes, I coined those terms. Singlism is the stereotyping, stigmatizing, marginalizing, and discrimination against people who are single. Singles are stereotyped when other people think they are miserable, lonely, immature, self-centered, and so forth, because they are single. They are stigmatized when people think there’s something wrong with them because they are single – for example, that they have “issues.” Single people are marginalized in a society in which so much of social life is organized by the couple. They are discriminated against in federal laws – more than 1,000 of them – that benefit and protect only people who are legally married. Those are just a few examples. There are many others.

Matrimania is the over-the-top valuing and hyping and celebrating of marriage, couples, and weddings. It is pervasive. We can see matrimania in all the movies and TV shows and novels that build up to a wedding, as if that’s the most amazing thing that can ever happen to a person. We see it in the oohing and aahing that happens when someone announces that they are engaged. We see it in the weddings that get more and more extravagant.

Again, those are just a few examples of a phenomenon that is rampant. (You can find some others here.) My issue isn’t with the valuing of romantic couples and weddings; it is with the over-valuing of them, to the exclusion of all the other important relationships in our lives – for example, with close friends, parents, other relatives, mentors, and so forth.

Singlism and Matrimania: The Short Version of What the Terms Mean

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." 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

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APA Reference
DePaulo, B. (2018). Singlism and Matrimania: The Short Version of What the Terms Mean. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 27, 2020, from


Last updated: 28 Nov 2018
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