“White privilege” and “male privilege” are familiar concepts in our cultural conversations. There is, however, another vast swath of unearned privileges that have gone largely unrecognized, even though they unfairly advantage about half of the adult population in the United States. We’re talking about marital privileges. People who marry enjoy social, cultural, economic, and political advantages that single people do not, simply because they are married.
I’ve just put together a collection of 65 of my writings on single life in a book called The Best of Single Life. I think these are some of my most empowering articles, making a strong positive and utterly undefensive case for single life as the good life. In the book, I explain what I think is best about single life, for those who are as enthusiastic about living single as I am, as well as for those who do not want to stay single, but do want to live their single lives to the fullest while they are single.
- Why Singles Are Thriving – Despite All You’ve Heard to the Contrary
- Single Life: We Chose It
- Mocking Those ‘Why Are You Single’ Lists
- The Good Life and the Successful Life
- Savoring Our Solitude: Choosing to Spend Time Alone
- Valuing Our Relationships: Choosing to Spend Time with Others
- Sex and the Single Person: Have It Your Way – or Just Skip It
- Are We Missing Out by Being Single – or Are They?
Here’s a sampling of some of the 65 articles in the collection:
- 7 secrets of successful single people
- Who wrote the book of love? Happy single people
- Fear not: The advantages of people unafraid to be single
- Are single people more resilient than everyone else?
- Why aren’t married people any happier than singles? A Nobel Prize winner’s answer
- Wedding porn doesn’t turn us on: Age at first marriage has never been higher
- The last ‘why are you single’ list you will ever need
- Elements of the good life: Our list is too short
- Sweet solitude: The benefits it brings and the special strengths of the people who enjoy it
- The happy loner
- Best things about living alone – for people who mean it
- Single, no children: Who’s your family?
- If you are single, will you grow old alone? Results from 6 nations
- Who keeps siblings together when they become adults?
- Bigger, broader meanings of love and romance
- Getting married and getting sex (or not)
- Asexuals: Who are they and why are they important?
- Are monogamous relationships really better?
- 23 ways singles are better
- What you miss by doing what everyone else does
- Top 8 reasons not to marry
- Keeping marriage alive with affairs, asexuality, polyamory, and living apart
- How many married people wish they were single?
- The end of marriage
I hope you enjoy it! (You can find my other books here.)
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.
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.)
Way too many people think that married people live longer. They think it is a fact. It is not. I have been debunking this for years, starting with Singled Out. Every time a new study comes out that is relevant to the myth of the long-living married people, I take a close look to see what it really says.
First, an off-topic NOTE: My apologies for not posting here as regularly as I would like to. Apologies, too, to the people who asked me about guest posting and are still waiting for me to respond or follow through. I’m behind for good reasons. I’ve been traveling, doing interviews, and working on a proposal for my new project on the creative ways that people are living other than in detached nuclear family households. (You can tell me about yours here.) Meanwhile, I have promised at least nine posts a month to PsychCentral for my “Single at Heart” blog, and I never want to let my Living Single blog go unattended for long. So “All Things Single (and More)” has tended to be the neglected child.
Now, on to the Spinster Superheroes of comedy.
[Bella’s intro: In my last post, I gave a name to the series that has actually been ongoing for some time: Perspectives on Single Life. The first entry posted specifically under that name is from Maya Bernadett. She takes on the pressure to just settle, a topic that, unfortunately, continues to be timely. There are a number of lines from this essay that I especially appreciate, but I think my favorite is the very last one. No cheating – don’t skip ahead to the end! Thanks, Maya, for sharing your essay with the readers of “All Things Single (and More).”]