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Entries in singlism (6)


Mythbusting Singleness with Dr. Bella DePaulo

Editor's note: This is an excerpt from Bella DePaulo's book, How We Live Now: Redefining Home and Family in the 21st Century. This section appeared on pp. 244-246 of Chapter 8, "There's Nothing Sweeter Than Solitude." You can read more about the book here.

In the stories we tell each other about the workings of society, it is the married people and the traditional families who are holding us all together. Single people—especially those who live alone—are the isolates, holed up in their apartments, lonely and friendless. Yet when social scientists do systematic research, they find something quite different: singles look more like Dan Scheffey than the caricatures. Results of several studies—some of them based on representative national surveys—show that it is the single people, and not the married ones, who are creating and sustaining the ties that bind us. Single people are more likely than married people to do what it takes to keep grown siblings together. They also spend more time helping, encouraging, and socializing with neighbors and friends. Singles are more likely to live with relatives than married people are, and they do more than their share of caring for aging relatives and others in need. Asked the question “Do you currently or have you ever regularly looked after someone, for at least three months, who is sick, disabled, or elderly?,” it was the single people, more often than the married, who said yes. Single people also visit their parents more and exchange help with them more, even when their parents are still relatively young and healthy.

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Fishing for Love

Read our posts on singlism here.


Beyond Sex Organs: 11 Meaningful Facts about Single People

In a previous post, I critiqued the recently-released report of the “Singles in America” survey. The report is the third annual attempt of to perpetuate the myth that what single people care about, more than anything else, is becoming unsingle. The company pretends to don the mantle of science, and gets lots of media attention, so it is important to take the report apart claim by claim, rather than just dismissing it out of hand.

The Huffington Post took the press release from and turned it into a slide show with the title, 10 things you didn’t know about single people. The 10 things included such topics as sexting, sex, more sex, snooping in a partner’s Facebook or email account, hiding things online, dating, and more dating.

Real single people live bigger, more interesting, and more meaningful lives than those very circumscribed topics would suggest. So here, in tribute to the real lives of single people, are 10 meaningful things you might want to know about them.

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Beware of Claims about Single People that Come from Online Dating Services

Have you seen the headlines about the “Singles in America” survey? is oh-so-proud of it. The company boasts of the intellectual firepower behind their study. The survey is touted as “comprehensive” and the CEO brags that, “Since its inception, Singles in America has proven to be an unprecedented source of insight into the ideologies and lifestyle choices of today’s singles.”

Of course, the fact that the survey comes from should set off our scientific alarm bells. But points to their scholars in charge, and notes that the results are based on a representative sample of 5,000 American singles and 1,000 married people. Plus, sadly enough, many media outlets take the findings reported in the press release and run with them, as though they were ferrying precious cargo. So I think it is important to take a close look from a scientific perspective, and offer a less credulous perspective than you might find elsewhere.

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Dr. Bella DePaulo on Bad Advice for Singles on Valentine's Day

Editor's note: We are privileged to be able to share an excerpt from Dr. Bella DePaulo's book Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After. Ten of the chapters in Singled Out debunk myths about single people. This send-up of Valentine’s Day advice is from Chapter 5, which mocks the myth of “the dark aura of singlehood,” which dopily proclaims that if you are single, “you are miserable and lonely and your life is tragic.” 


If you want to see fools rush in to provide well-meaning advice to hapless single people, buy a ticket for Valentine’s Day. One of my favorite examples appeared in USA Weekend in 2003, under the title How to survive Valentine’s Day without a sweetie.

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Are Single People Stigmatized by Society?

If you are single, after graduation there isn’t one occasion where people celebrate you…Hallmark doesn’t make a “congratulations, you didn’t marry the wrong guy” card. And where’s the flatware for going on vacation alone? – Carrie Bradshaw (Sex and the City)

Over the past few decades, the rate of marriage has declined while the rate of divorce has crept up. In spite of these major social shifts, most people still view marriage positively and think of it as the ideal state we should strive for. In fact, we hold the institution of marriage in such high regard that not only do we celebrate and reward marriages with extravagant ceremonies and gifts (even when it’s someone’s second, third, or fourth wedding!), but society also gives preferential treatment to people who are married. This bias favoring married over single people has only recently caught scientists’ attention and we are just beginning to learn how deep this prejudice runs.

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