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Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After [Paperback]

Bella DePaulo
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 30 2007
"Singled Out debunks myths and stereotypes about single people and lays the groundwork for social, political, and economic change."
-- Thomas F. Coleman, Executive Director, Unmarried America
 
Drawing from decades of scientific research and stacks of stories from the front lines of singlehood, Bella DePaulo debunks the myths of singledom---and shows that just about everything you’ve heard about the benefits of getting married and the perils of staying single are grossly exaggerated or just plain wrong. Although singles are singled out for unfair treatment by the workplace, the marketplace, and the federal tax structure, they are not simply victims of this singlism--single people really are living happily ever after.
 
Singled Out Debunks Ten Myths of Singlehood, Including:
-Myth--The Dark Aura of Singlehood: You are miserable and lonely and your life is tragic.
-Myth--Attention, Single Women: Your work won’t love you back and your eggs will dry up. Also, you don’t get any and you’re promiscuous.
-Myth--Attention, Single Men: You are horny, slovenly, and irresponsible, and you are the scary criminals. Or you are sexy, fastidious, frivolous, and gay.
 
“Elegant analysis, wonderfully detailed examples, and clear and witty prose…A must-read for all single adults, their friends and families, as well as social scientists and policy advocates.”
--E. Kay Trimberger, author of The New Single Woman
 
“The singles movement is coming to a bookstore near you.”
--Associated Press
 
“Fascinating  . .this book could hardly have come at a better time. As much as societal adulation of the couple discriminates against single people, Singled Out suggests that it can also undermine marriage.”
--The Christian Science Monitor

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Product Description

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.

Review

"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."
--Time Magazine
 
"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 Times
 

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ALLBOOKS REVIEW Oct. 13 2007
Format:Hardcover
The hook lies on the front cover of the book jacket: "How singles are stereotyped, stigmatized, and ignored, and still live Happily Ever After". In Singled Out, Dr. DePaulo debunks the American "Matrimania" myths in a logical, scientific manner that's (thankfully) peppered with plenty of anecdotal humor and written in a loose, non-academic style that makes for an easy, enjoyable read.
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 [...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth the Read Feb. 20 2011
Format:Paperback
This book is well worth the read. I heard about it on CBC Radio and bought it right away. Married people may not be as interested but it's a definite for singles, especially for those who feel unfulfilled without a partner. It will make you want to be single! The ways we discriminate against singles in our culture, without realizing it, is unbelievable! A must read for those interested in human rights and philosophical issues. The book is educational and well researched. Bright Reader
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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  54 reviews
136 of 149 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good case somewhat weakened by new dogma Dec 17 2006
By Brian V. Hunt - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
"Singled Out" has some very good information and makes solid points about the subtlty of the constraining aspects of culture that define segments of the culture considered out of the norm, like single people. Where it falls down is in creating its own dogma about coupledom that is strident and seems to want to negate any consideration of merit for partnering.

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.
57 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Single this book Out for Superb Reading Dec 23 2006
By Dr. Cathy Goodwin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Almost any single person has been affected by myth and stigma. Supposedly we're misfits with empty lives, doomed to die alone, frustrated at never achieving the perfection of coupledom. Finally, someone lets the cat out of the bag. We're normal and happy.

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.
27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marriage is a great institution, but I'm not ready for an institution May 9 2008
By Stephen Pletko - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
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"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>>

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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A voice in the wilderness Dec 11 2006
By Francois Arouet - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
With all the recent brouhaha surrounding marriage, marriage, marriage, here comes Bella DePaulo to clear the air and pull the wool from over our eyes. Though written by an expert who knows her stuff this book is not what you'd expect from an academic and that alone is a breath of fresh air. It's a fun read. If you are single and have been brainwashed into feeling like a second class citizen, or if you are married and feel concern for your single friends or children, then this book should be at the top of your list. It's time to stop mourning and begin the celebration. This is a book that really needed to be written and it stands unique amongst the droll, vapid, shallow, drivel that represents the nickle-and-dime 'wisdom' of the 'self-help' genre. Though I have always loved the single life I will never look at it in quite the same way again. Bella DePaulo is a much need voice in the wilderness. The PERFECT gift for those who are single (for any reason) and worry about the future or those parents ridiculously tormented over their single children. I don't know why it took Bella DePaulo to open our eyes to the obvious fact that Eisenhower isn't president any more but I guess we should our victories as we find them. Singled Out is unique. There is nothing else like it. What a joy!
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An eye opener Nov. 26 2006
By Happy Hubby - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
As a married baby boomer, I should have hated this book. But I didn't. DePaulo expresses her unconventional views with force and panache. As she notes, our culture is filled with prejudice against singles and it's just not fair. This blatant, crude, unapologetic "singlism" is bad for singles and for everyone else too. By pressuring people into ill-advised marriages, it sets them up for nasty divorces. All humane people should read this book and reflect on its eye-opening message.
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