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Preying For Keeps
There's a perception that single is miserable. It's not true. Not necessarily. But, that mere perception, in the minds of so many, is maybe what makes otherwise content single people miserable. Here's my Advice Goddess column I just posted on the topic:

...The moment your friend got desperate for love is the moment she became extremely unlikely to land any. Ideally, the seduction process should rev up desire in a man, not simulate the experience of a beetle being chased by an entomologist with a giant straight pin.

Like a lot of unpartnered types who go suddenly psycho, your friend probably seemed perfectly happy until that night she marched into some crowded bar and shouted, “I’m nothing without you!” (Who “you” is remains to be seen.) Now, maybe she never really was happy, or maybe she just hit that age where “single” becomes an adult form of cooties. In a recently published study, Bella M. DePaulo and Wendy L. Morris blame this bias on “The Cult of the Couple,” and puzzle at “the strange implication that people without a stable sexual relationship are wandering adrift with open wounds and shivering in their sleep.”

DePaulo and Morris aren’t anti-couple; they were just surprised when their data showed most people suspect single equals loser -- even single people. When they asked 950 undergrads to describe the characteristics of married and single people in general, married people were assumed to be “mature, stable, honest, happy, kind, and loving.” Singles got nailed with “immature, insecure, self-centered, unhappy, lonely, and ugly.” Of course, the truth is, sometimes two is the loneliest number. Is there really anything lonelier than feeling completely alone when you’re in relationship with somebody else?

It doesn’t help that award-winning social scientists keep making bold pronouncements about the transformative power of marriage, like E. Mavis Hetherington’s claim, “Happily married couples are healthier, happier, wealthier, and sexier than are singles.” Don’t be too quick to assume they also have bigger breasts, flatter abs, and are less likely to be abducted by aliens. The above quote from Hetherington’s recently published book was just one of many examples cited by DePaulo and Morris of couple-glorifying sloppy methodology and data analysis. DePaulo told me via e-mail, “I think that cultural notions about singles and marrieds are so pervasive, and so unquestioned, that even respected scholars do less than their best work on the topic.” DePaulo and Morris point out the rather obvious flaw in Hetherington’s claim: She compared only happily married people to all single people. Wow, imagine that: Happily marrieds are more satisfied with their lives than, say, suicidal singles.

If this “You’re Nobody ‘Til Somebody Loves You” propaganda isn’t what’s sending your friend over the edge, it’s probably the alluring idea of “the one” as the one-stop-shopping solution to all your existential woes. Of course, expecting to get your every need met by one person makes about as much sense as going to the corner store for a quart of milk and being irate that they can’t also sell you a Persian rug, a baby ferret, and the Hope Diamond. What you can do is be “the one” -- that special person who gives your life meaning -- and then look for the other one: somebody who matches you pretty well on the stuff that matters, and well enough on the rest. In other words, there is no handsome prince. There might, however, be a moderately attractive auto parts store executive.

The rest of the column is at the link above.

Posted by aalkon at August 31, 2006 7:20 AM

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Comments

You are SO right about that--the only misery in being single is the way many married people feed you little spoons of sh*t. There's nothing worse than seeing PITY on the face of a coworker who is: a) a moron, and b) married to a nagging troll. Or even better, friends who had acrimonious divorces that still cost them thousands in legal fees looking down on me for never having married. Time to climb down out of the trees, folks. Many single people remain that way by their own volition, not due to lack of options.

Posted by: Kristen at August 31, 2006 12:26 PM

'd rather be alone, than with someone and lonely/it takes much more than two strong arms to hold me"

Posted by: Holly Knight at August 31, 2006 12:35 PM

> Singles got nailed with “immature,
> insecure, self-centered, unhappy,
> lonely, and ugly.”

Guilty as charged! Also short. And fat.

By definition, *good* pairing improves people. There shouldn't be any shame in saying this.


> There's nothing worse than seeing PITY
> on the face of a coworker...

Yes there is.

Posted by: Crid at August 31, 2006 1:02 PM

I guess there is something worse--marrying just for the sake of "being married." Sure, "good" pairing improves people (hell, so do good pets), but all those holier-than-thou types in marriages, good or bad, need to quit looking down their noses at people who are often better off than they are, despite being single. There's no shame in saying THAT, either.

And who's to say a marriage certificate improves good pairs?

Wish I could post a picture--I'm 37, unmarried, and anything BUT short or fat or any of the other antebellum stereotypes that are really just substitutions for the word "spinster." Our lovely Goddess is unmarried, her picture doesn't scream "I spend all my days and nights knitting pathetic booties for the children I'll never have...boohoo."

What are you trying to say, Crid? That you buy into all that nonsense?

Posted by: Holly at September 1, 2006 8:57 AM

I guess there is something worse--marrying just for the sake of "being married." Sure, "good" pairing improves people (hell, so do good pets), but all those holier-than-thou types in marriages, good or bad, need to quit looking down their noses at people who are often better off than they are, despite being single. There's no shame in saying THAT, either.

And who's to say a marriage certificate improves good pairs?

Wish I could post a picture--I'm 37, unmarried, and anything BUT short or fat or any of the other antebellum stereotypes that are really just substitutions for the word "spinster." Our lovely Goddess is unmarried, her picture doesn't scream "I spend all my days and nights knitting pathetic booties for the children I'll never have...boohoo."

What are you trying to say, Crid? That you buy into all that nonsense?

Posted by: Holly at September 1, 2006 8:58 AM

> And who's to say a marriage certificate
> improves good pairs?

Me! Married people take an extra step to promise the community that they'll care for the partner. That seems worthwhile.

> her picture doesn't scream "I spend
> all my days and nights knitting
> pathetic booties...

Who's saying it does? I think a fundamental need in human nature is to look down on others. Kristin's complaint is that she's scorned by marrieds; she scorns then in return. It's a draw, neither productive nor instructive. Someone, somewhere is always-always-always going to be looking down their nose at us and clucking. Saying "Daddy, make them stop," --or hurting their feelings before they hurt ours-- will not get us as far as doing what we believe in anyway.

> her picture doesn't scream "I spend
> all my days and nights knitting pathetic
> booties

No one's saying it should. Amy knows she's making a choice and is content... America's a great country that way.

But yes, I buy into the nonsense, though I don't participate. Happy marriage makes less trouble for me to clean up as taxpayer, family member, and friend. It should be encouraged.

Posted by: Crid at September 1, 2006 12:07 PM

Wow, bad edit. I gotta lay off the opium pipe and learn to write these all at once.....................

Posted by: Crid at September 1, 2006 1:12 PM

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