DePaulo's book is brilliant, but it made me so angry. Angry at how many couples (from here on, "marrieds") stereotype, stigmatize, and ignore singles, of course! I already knew that marrieds feel sorry for singles because they're "incomplete," "lonely," and "unfulfilled." But not everyone wants the same thing, not everyone wants the conventional, predictable married life. I enjoy solitute tremendously, and marriage has never been my life goal. I'd rather focus on my career, which is more fulfilling than any relationship I've had. I also enjoy traveling on the weekends whenever I want, spending my money how I want, hanging out with single friends (fortunately I still have several of them). Most marrieds don't plan a weekend to go visit a good college friend (well, maybe they will if it's a couple and not merely a single person) and spend money "selfishly" on food, entertainment, and going to take photographs of old nuclear power plants or other unique trips. Does this mean I'm not grown up? no! It means I know what I like to do, so I do it. It's that simple. I feel like I have to put so much energy into defending my contented state, while marrieds are assumed to be content (although I know that isn't always the case, especially since marriage ends in divorce half the time).
I am almost 26 so it's still "acceptable" for me to be single, but people still ask why I don't have a boyfriend. "Don't you want to get married one day?" "Are you dating anyone?" "Don't you want to have children?" "You're attractive, why aren't you with anyone?" (there must be something wrong with you!) I used to feel inferior when asked those kinds of questions, especially in college when people were frantically getting engaged, much like a Baskin Robbins gets raided on the day they sell ice cream for 31 cents per scoop. Better get some before it runs out, ya know. But gradually, I became confident in my singleness by my junior year. This book really reinforced my feelings and it was as if DePaulo was reading my mind for most of it. Especially the chapter about why anybody should CARE if we're single of not? Get a life, marrieds..perhaps you should worry about decreasing your divorce rate instead.
I also liked the part criticizing how society gives a hard time to singles who still live with their parents. I still live with mine but am not "mooching" off them. I pay rent, my car payments, my car insurance, my phone bill, my college loans, and other expenses. I am saving up for my own condo (not because it screams "Single person!" but because it's the only thing I can afford in my area). I have a good relationship with my parents and I give a lot back to the economy, much like the Japanese women. I know that I go out and have a social life more than a lot of marrieds I know. And I'm not going out just to look for a husband either, grrrrr!
I have a good male friend in his late 30s. Some people have asked me if he's ever been married. When I answer No, one of them remarked, "There must be something wrong with him." Actually, there isn't. He just doesn't believe that marriage would improve his life. It's overrated and not a "fix-all" solution. He likes being single! He's happy being single. Is that so difficult to understand? Apparently, it is.
Sure, sometimes I think it would be nice to be married, to have that one person who is supposed to be your best friend, lover, etc. But I'm not going to go around actively looking for it because it's not worth it. If it happens, it happens, but I know I wouldn't mind being single for the rest of my life. I don't need another person to make me feel complete. I'm not going to waste time obsessively searching for the right person (dating is much more of a waste than being contentedly single). Ooh, I must be bitter with this attitude! Sometimes I am, but usually I just think, why try to change my life when I love how it is right now? And marriage could also make my life much worse - you never know if it will work out or not, and you could end up devastated by infidelity, abuse, etc (also true in serious unmarried relationships, i know, but people generally have higher expectations of a fairytale perfect marriage, especially with all that commitment). I know a few married men at work who are cheating on their spouses. Obviously, not all marrieds even respect marriage. How then, can this type of person look down on singles as inferior?
I was especially disgusted with Chris Matthews' treatment of Nader. How dare he imply that because Nader did not consume as much as the marrieds (such as no house, no car), that he was less of a person, less responsible? He is really a thousand more times responsible than Newt Gingrich or Bill Clinton, who have made a mess of their marital relationships. Nader is responsible enough to never embarrass a wife (or any other woman, for that matter) on international television. HE never made a mockery of the all-important marriage as others have done. And he is environmentally responsible for not owning a car because, wow!, he doesn't need one, which makes perfect sense (although not to Matthews). Singles rarely get credit for their accomplishments. I admire him and politicians like Condi Rice all the more because of their singleness.
How are people more "grown up" just because they're married? Nineteen year olds get married and are no more grown up than 19 year old singles. In fact, I argue that 19 years old marrieds are much more stupid and insecure than singles their age.
Have to mention one more thing. Once I was invited on a weekend trip where I would be set up with some guy. But I immediately turned it down because I was buying my new car that weekend. An organizer of the trip then asked me, "Which would you rather have, a new boyfriend or a new car?"
"A new car." Of course. I needed a car, but I didn't need a boyfriend...and still don't.