Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After Paperback – Oct 30 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
DePaulo fastidiously defines the various categories of singlehood-divorced, widowed or just plain never been married-and gives their struggle a voice in this intriguing cultural study. According to DePaulo, "singlism" is the pervasive discrimination single people face in politics and everyday life, though DePaulo makes it clear he isn't equating it with racism or sexism. Rather, DePaulo uncovers society's immediate associations-conscious and otherwise-with the word "single," including the implication of loneliness, homosexuality and/or a personal defect that prevents a single person from achieving the dubiously enshrined goal of marriage. In addition, this exhaustive study reveals how marriage has come to represent the foundation of both American society and politics, and how the resulting system of discrimination pervades even in this modern age of financial freedom-including increased tax burdens, decreased social security benefits, and real-world wage disparity. In identifying the stigmas of being single and debunking myths like "marrieds know best," DePaulo has given this complicated subject the attention and respect it deserves, opening a dialogue without offering any pat solutions.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“Singled Out may be the single most important book you buy this year.” ―Bookworm Sez
“Gleefully debunks a number of sad-sack "facts." According to DePaulo's myth-busting research, [singles] are every bit as happy, healthy, and long-lived as couples.” ―Seattle Metropolitan
“If you're sick of your family asking, "So when are you gonna settle down?" or your boss saddling you with a fatter workload than your married coworkers, you will love Dr. Bella DePaulo's insightful, irreverent book.” ―Michelle Goodman, author of The Anti 9-to-5 Guide
“An engaging new book that brims with invigorating wit and unparalleled perspective.” ―Tucson Citizen
“Intriguing cultural study . . .DePaulo has given this complicated subject the attention and respect it deserves.” ―Publisher’s Weekly
“DePaulo dismantles [a few other] claims of the pro-marriage lobby.” ―Windy City Times
“Don't miss Bella DePaulo's Singled Out.” ―Sasha Cagen, author of QuirkyAlone
“She has a message for singles and couples alike: If you forget about your nonromantic relationships, you're missing out on a whole lot of love.” ―Santa Barbara News-Press
“An expose of the widespread cultural bias facing unmarried adults in America.” ―Harvard Magazine
“[A] terrific book” ―Amy Alkon, Syndicated Advice Columnist
“A masterpiece…filled with inspirational quotes…Every single should read this book” ―Yuspie (Young Urban Single Professionals of Indiana) Book Club
“[Shows that singles] can be as productive, charming, fun, moral, and wise as their coupled counterparts” ―Virginia Quarterly Review
“DePaulo combines her training as a social psychologist with wit and sharp analysis, bringing the entire "marriage is better" argument down like a house of cards.” ―Windy City TimesSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
DePaulo starts out by showing us how prejudice against singles has played out in history and then goes on to debunk the claims of Waite & Galligher, scientifically demonstrating how their erroneous claims that married folks are happier, healthier, live longer, and even have more frequent and more enjoyable sex were founded on biases studies and statistics. She discusses the fact that society equates marriage with validation. And how about the perks and benefits of most government entitlements, such as Social Security? Or running for political office? Up for a promotion? . . . Well, your chances are certainly better if you're married. DePaulo humorously shows how TV shows, magazines, and even talk shows tout the Holy Grail of Marriage--with the wedding ceremony as the ultimate climax in life. She uses the acronym BLAME to describe society's view of singles: Bitter, Loveless, Alone, Miserable, and Envious. Whoa! Does that spark a vision of the ol' "Lonely Hearts Club" or what? Seems the gist of the media message is that single equals lonely. Singles are portrayed as immature and self-centered. Self-centered, asks DePaulo? How about the debauchery of weddings? How self-centered is that?
In her bio, Dr. DePaulo, a social psychologist who did her graduate work at Harvard, is single and Living Happily Ever After in California--certainly qualified to write Single Out. She invites you to visit her website at [...Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I wrote my original review when only about halfway through this book. I wanted to update the review with my final impressions, which ended up farther toward the positive end of the scale.
In general, I think DePaulo is onto something very important here, insofar as trying to de-pathologize singlehood and encourage the inclusion of many more definitions of relationship and family than is currently allowed. Not only is society already changed beyond going back, it was never the mythological construct we imagined existed in everyone's house but ours.
I enjoyed the book most where DePaulo shines: in sticking to statistics or an academic presentation of facts that help to demythologize both marriage and the single life. This included findings from scholarly studies and a revealing look at how society interprets in different ways behavior that is similar between singles and couples.
The author is least appealing when repeatedly seeming to sneer at or dismiss intimate bonds between couples entirely. One case made for the immaturity of people who marry was facile, denigrating, and two-dimensional. It's not that she didn't present some valid points to consider but it was hard for me as a reader to get beyond what seemed like a fair amount of anger towards the very idea of coupledom.
DePaulo rightly deplores singles being portrayed as cardboard figures with only one thing on their mind: marriage. Then she turns around and portrays most coupling-type folk as cardboard figures with only one thing on their mind. She seems to take the stance that she's accusing society of bestowing upon marrieds by making singlehood the morally superior path.
What I like is that her discussion rejects the pathology of singlehood. What I don't like is a lack of consideration that intimate pairing may have emotional rewards and benefits that are legitimate, even if not being superior to the emotional lives of singles.
What's missing for me is a discussion of intimacy. Whether a person is single or married, deep attachment and emotional intimacy seems closely tied to emotional health as determined by a number of measures. It's unclear to me where this fits into the broader discussion of DePaulo's topic.
I'm very happy that this book seeks to eliminate the bias against singles and to demythologize marriage. I thought I had already left many of the myths of "The One" behind but this book made me more aware of the subtle markers that culture leaves on our psyches in regards to single status. I can honestly sense a shift in my own thinking about this issue, and that, I appreciate.
I had heard of the author when I was an academic and even cited some of her articles in my own research. Then out of the blue, she asked permission to use a quote from me in this book. I was delighted with the request and the topic.
Having read DePaulo's academic articles, I anticipated a superb book and I was not disappointed. In fact, Singled Out vastly exceeded my expectations. I've given away 2 copies. One recipient said she bought 4 more to give away. And we don't usually buy books, let alone give them as gifts.
Unlike many popular psychology authors, DePaulo uses her research training to make significant points. The book is worth reading just to go through Chapter 2, an eye-opening look at the way research results can be distorted to meet an agenda. And any single person will laugh out loud at DePaulo's opening satire: What if we subjected married people to the indignities, frustrations and hassles that single people take for granted.
DePaulo asks, "What does research tell us about the specific benefits of paired relationships?" In fact, it's only in the last hundred years or so that the "pack of two" became privileged in our culture.
After reading Singled Out, I found myself seeing the world differently. I keep picking up hidden messages everywhere, especially movies and television. A singles column in my local paper really should be called relationship seeking. Singles groups? More of the same.
However, I do see signs of hope. For example, the Doonesbury comic strip featured a celebration of singleness. A columnist in the Chronicle of Higher Education advised a questioner to prioritize her career over her relationship: good jobs, said the columnist, can be scarcer than good mates.
And although Sex and the City did get everyone coupled up at the end, as DePaulo points out, we did get glimpses of smart, attractive women who went to movies alone. What single person can forget the scene where Miranda's law firm colleagues assume "single" is code for "lesbian?"
But we've got a long, long way to go. As DePaulo points out, everything from tax codes to medical services to vacation packages favors couples. Doctors frequently assume our symptoms have neurotic origins; "just get married and your symptoms will go away" or, "You're alone so you have time to make up symptoms." Famous singles get asked about their dating life (do we really care if Condoleeza Rice has a boyfriend?) and single politicians lack credibility. The consequences for singles and for society are huge.
On a lighter note, this book solves the problem of what married couples can give their single friends. Give them this book and buy an extra copy for yourself. You'll all change for the better.
"I do wish married people would understand that a lot of singles actually WANT to be single. Why does that bother you?...It is like the story my (happily married) friend...likes to tell about meeting the late Ann Landers, who said, `You tell that Richard Roeper to figure out what's keeping him from getting married and to fix it!'""
The above is found in this meticulously well-researched book by social psychologist Dr. Bella DePaulo (who is unmarried herself). (Specifically, the above quotation comes from an essay written by movie critic (of TV's "At the Movies with Ebert & Roeper") and columnist Richard Roeper's reaction to two married friends who wanted Roeper to get married.)
I think it's important for people to know what social psychology is: it is that branch of psychology that concentrates on any and all aspects of human behaviour that involve persons and their relationships to other persons, groups, social institutions, and to society as a whole. Social psychology exchanges freely ideas, models, and methods with other social sciences, particularly sociology.
This is why I chose this book. It's based on an objective social science (or, at least, it tries to be) and not on subjective opinions. This book is not a "diatribe" or a rant.
The best chapter in this book, in my opinion, has the title, "Science and the Single Person." Here, DePaulo looks at data and their numbers with regard to different kinds of people (single, married, divorced, etc.). She then interprets the data. The final conclusions are eye-opening and completely unexpected.
Then we proceed to examine the myths of being single that form the core of this book. Here are the myths that each form an independent chapter for analysis:
Myth #1: Marrieds (that is, married couples) know best.
Myth #2: You are just interested in one thing--getting coupled.
Myth #3: You are miserable and lonely and your life is tragic.
Myth #4: Like a child, you are self-centered and immature and your time isn't worth anything since you have nothing to do but play.
Myth #5: (For single women). Your work won't love you back and your eggs will dry up. Also, you don't get any, and your promiscuous.
Myth #6: (For single men). You are horny, slovenly, and irresponsible, and you are the scary criminals. Or, you are sexy, fastidious. frivolous, and gay.
Myth #7: (For single parents). Your kids are doomed.
Myth #8: You don't have anyone and you don't have a life.
Myth #9: You will grow old alone and you will die in a room by yourself where no one will find you for weeks.
Myth #10: (Regarding the term "family values"). Let's give all the perks, benefits, gifts, and cash to couples and call it family values.
In all chapters, Depaulo delves into history, tells us true stories, and logically analyzes arguments.
Finally, you would expect a book like this to be overly harsh on married people or couples. Actually, it's not. The book tries to be fair and balanced.
In conclusion, this book is an intriguing cultural study that gives a complicated subject the attention and respect it deserves. I leave you with other quotations regarding marriage and the single life (the title of this review is actually a quotation uttered by Mae West):
(i) Marriage is like a besieged fortress. Everyone outside wants to get in, and everyone inside wants to get out. (Quitard)
(ii) My wife and I were happy for twenty years. Then we met. (comedian Rodney Dangerfield)
(iii) People think I'm gay because I'm single, slim, and neat. (comedian Jerry Seinfeld in the sitcom "Seinfeld")
(First published late 2007; 15 chapters; main narrative 260 pages; notes; bibliography; acknowledgements; index)
<<Stephen Pletko, London, Ontario, Canada>>
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.