Almost all singles have experienced it, being discriminated because you are not married. It is everywhere, from the media, advertisements, your workplace, even your friends and family. You know what they are thinking “Aw, poor thing cannot even find a husband/wife. There must be something wrong with her/him.” And how many times do you have to hear your mother or father say, “When are you going to get married and give me some grandchildren?” Why? What is wrong with choosing to be single? Not everyone wants to be married. Nothing wrong with that at all.
According to the prevailing cultural narratives, single people in later life have two big things going against them: They are single and they are old. Now focus on the older single women and you have the trifecta: They are single, they are old, and they are women! If conventional wisdom got its way, they would be doing terribly. But guess what? They are not. There are real challenges, for women and men, to aging in an ageist and singlist society. Considering what they are up against, it is remarkable how well older single people are doing.
Are single people treated unfairly in the workplace? Here are some of my writings on this topic and other issues related to single people and their work and careers.
Single people are routinely stereotyped, stigmatized, and ignored, as I highlighted in the subtitle of my book, Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After. They are also shamed. Here are some examples of that. Happily, as the number of single people grows and as more people spend more years of their lives not married, single people are sometimes celebrated, too. This collection also includes examples of ways in which single people are celebrated.
Single people have yet to have their moment as a political force. That’s unfortunate, as there are so many ways that they are denied the benefits and protections accorded to people who are married. Here are links to discussions of advocacy, activism, and issues facing singles; the legal and financial costs of single life; politics and voting; matters of privilege; and more.
Every time I learn about a new claim that getting married makes people happier or healthier or more connected or live longer (and all the rest), I go to the original research report to see what the findings really did say. The media — and sadly, many social scientists — routinely get it wrong. No, getting married does not cause you to become lastingly happier or healthier or better off in any way than if you stayed single (well, you do get more money because of all the laws and practices that benefit married people and discriminate against singles).
Here (below), you can find links to all my critiques of these studies. I’ll keep adding more as new claims hit the media that I need to debunk. I’ve also put together 2 books of my writings explaining why all those Marriage Wins claims are so wrong. Marriage vs. Single Life: How Science and the Media Got It So Wrong includes a chapter previously available only in an expensive edited volume, a new paper that is the most powerful and comprehensive explanation of what the research does and does not show about the implications of getting married, plus 39 other brief chapters (many from my blogs). Because I think that new powerful and comprehensive paper is so important, I have made it into a stand-alone book (together with an introduction) in The Science of Marriage: What We Know That Just Isn’t So. (Both are available both as paperbacks and as ebooks. You can read more about them here.) My first book, Singled Out, also includes discussions and explanations of what’s wrong with the claims of married people’s superiority.