All Things Single (and More)
Unconventional wisdom about single life, friendship,
and the science of deception
There is a question that comes up now and then when I’m blogging about singles issues: What kinds of events or places work well for single people, especially single people who are not looking for something they can do to help them become unsingle. I just realized that I discovered one of those places during an unlikely vacation.
I have spent a lot of time and effort debunking myths about marriage – for example, if you get married, you will be lastingly happier and healthier, live longer, have more and better sex, more interpersonal connections, and raise more successful children. (You can find links to all of the debunking here.) But there is one claim about marriage that I do not contest – if you get married, you probably will end up better off financially.
If you get married, will you get more sex and better sex? So far as I know, a methodologically persuasive study has never been done. That would involve following people over time as they stayed single or got married or got unmarried, and seeing how their sexual behavior and sexual satisfaction changed (or didn’t change) with those transitions. All we have are studies that compare married and single people at one point in time. You can never know from those kinds of studies if any differences really are about being married vs. single or whether they are about any of the many other ways that married and single people differ other than in their marital status. With that qualification, here’s what we know.
The assumption that if you get married, you will get healthier is so much a part of our conventional wisdom that it is rarely challenged. Back when I was just practicing single life and not studying it, I had no idea that the supposed truism was actually a myth. I figured that out fast, though, once I started going to the original research reports and scrutinizing them. I drew from what I had learned from decades of doing research and teaching graduate courses in research methods, but some of the mental errors in the claims about the research are so egregious that you should not need any formal training to realize how ridiculous they are.
There are a lot of “why are you single” lists popping up these days. I have mostly stopped clicking on the links. Maybe some of them are fine. Back when I used to look at them, though, far too often they came with an attitude that was insulting to single people – that all single people are single because there is something wrong with them and they need to be fixed. That’s an example of singlism and like all instances of that prejudice, it is unfair to single people. Only rarely did the authors ever concede that some people are single because that’s exactly what they want. Maybe they are even single-at-heart – not only do they like living single, but that’s how they lead their best, most meaningful, and most authentic lives.
Earlier in my research life, I studied the psychology of lying and detecting lies. I knew nothing about the academic research on single life or marriage. I just knew the media narrative proclaiming that if only single people would get married, they would be happier, healthier, live longer, and forever enjoy sugar and spice and everything nice. Even though I loved living single myself (except for all of the stereotyping, stigmatizing, and discrimination that I call singlism), I had no reason to disbelieve the conventional wisdom. Until, that is, I actually started reading the original research reports on marital status and life outcomes. I was stunned to find that the many claims about the supposedly transformative effects of getting married were almost always exaggerations, misrepresentations, or just plain wrong. Setting the record straight was one of my motivations for writing Singled Out.
Since that book was published, media claims about the supposed benefits of marrying just keep coming. I have continued to critique one claim after another. Each time, I study the original research report rather than simply relying on press releases. It is amazing what you can find when you actually read the academic articles.
I have been collecting my critiques (and some of my other writings) and organizing them by topic. Below are the ones I have so far. (You may need to scroll down after clicking each link.)
The brief version of this post: I’m an Amazon Associate and I make a tiny bit of money every time someone buys something on Amazon after clicking one of my links (such as this one: http://www.amazon.com/dp/0312340826/?tag=wwwbelladepau-20). You don’t even need to buy whatever product the link takes you to – anything on Amazon is fair game. But it doesn’t work for me! I can’t use my own links to get those rewards. But I do buy things from Amazon, and I would be happy to use other people’s links, or links associated with good causes, so that they can get a tiny bit of money each time I buy something. Anyone want to send me a link? I’ll also post links here that are relevant in any ways to enlightened views about single people.
Now here’s the more detailed version.
As a person completely enjoying the freedom of being single, retirement sounds like a blast. A little planning should go into it, so that the party that is coming down the tracks is absolutely worth the wait. So here are a few things to consider along the ride.
• Always plan for retirement no matter what time of the month it is.
• Take ten percent out of every check and put it away in a savings account.
• Once that ten percent has grown into some money, talk with your bank or your credit union and find ways to begin investing. See what plans they have that will work with your budget.
• Don’t make huge sacrifices along the way. Remember, not all of us make it to retirement, so remember to laugh and have fun as well.
• If your car is still holding together and you can make it a few more years with a repair here and there, don’t buy that new Ford F250 that you have been eyeing at the dealership down the road. Take a deep breath, make those cheaper repairs, and wait a few more years for your investments to grow a little more; as well as the savings account. You just might be able to pay more cash down, and keep the payments lower. Thereby saving yourself money in interest you would have paid.
• Despite the fact that your computer is ready to die, don’t always go for the newest in technology. It really hurts to not to, but it may save you a few dollars in the long run. But, if you can’t afford not to, go ahead and do it anyway. Weigh in all the benefits of either way before you jump to the purchase.
All in all
These few simple things might just get you where you want to be in retirement. Take the advice from your banker to heart, but always be cautious if it sounds too good to be true. Protect your money and it will be there when you need it.
But also remember to enjoy the trip. Life is full of surprises and you want to be the one smiling when it comes your way.
Home owner verses rental
Depending where you are in your life’s work, it should depend upon what you do with a house. If your job moves around a lot, you better just rent; and if you have been where you are for quite some time, it doesn’t hurt to invest in a home that you love.
You don’t have to have something huge, just something you are comfortable in. When the time comes for retirement, if the house is not paid off, you could potentially sell it for enough money so that you can pay off a nice home to retire in. Then you only have taxes and small repairs to worry about. As well as some home owner’s insurance. If you don’t have family to pass it to, then renting is probably the best thing. That way, you don’t have to worry about anything. You are not the owner.
So weigh the decisions heavily and figure out which ones will work the best for who you are. In the meantime, enjoy the heck out of things; you only get one trip through this life.
About the Author: Hi, I’m Blair Thomas the Co-founder of emerchantbroker.com and we’re the #1 offshore merchant account company in the US. I have 10+ years of experience in the electronic payments industry, managing several registered ISO’s and successful agent offices. I work hard during the day and spend my time away from the office developing my music career as a singer songwriter signed to Old Scratch Records.
I agree. In the popular media, in blogs, and even in academic research, discussions of single life are overwhelmingly written about or by single women. In my blog writing, I first expressed my exasperation in the post,