Every stereotype of single people bothers me, but this one is especially galling: if you are single, it is because you have “issues.” As if married people don’t have issues. As if single people cannot be mentally healthy and happy. But they can be, and usually they are. What’s more, if single people get married, chances are, they will become no happier and no healthier than they were when they were single.
The stereotype that single people have “issues” is pervasive and it is too often accepted unthinkingly. Single people swallow it and then feel badly about their single lives when they really shouldn’t. Worse still, some psychotherapists and other mental health professionals believe it, and that can be a source of real harm when they work with clients who are single.
I have been calling out mental health professionals who seem to have unrecognized biases against single people:
Some therapists recognize their prejudices and set out to confront them in serious ways. That’s admirable:
Psychotherapy Networker interviewed me. In the introduction, Ryan Howes said, “we therapists need to understand this growing population as something more than people waiting to find the right partner.”
A conversation in 4 parts with psychotherapist Wendy Wasson:
Part 2: Approaching age 30
Part 4: Single after 40 and single again
When mental health professionals work with single people, some of the most important things they need to understand are that (a) not everyone wants to be coupled, or would live their best life coupled, and (b) when single people do have issues, those issues may have nothing to do with the fact that they are single.
If you start therapy and realize that your therapist or counselor seems biased against single people, run! There are lots of mental health professionals out there. Find one who will help you live a full and meaningful life, regardless of whether you live single or become coupled.