Singletude: A Positive Blog for Singles

Singletude is a positive, supportive singles blog about life choices for the new single majority. It's about dating and relationships, yes, but it's also about the other 90% of your life--family, friends, career, hobbies--and flying solo and sane in this crazy, coupled world. Singletude isn't about denying loneliness. It's about realizing that whether you're single by choice or by circumstance, this single life is your life to live.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thankful to Be Single

With Turkey Day almost here, you're looking forward to digging into some stuffing, mashed potatoes, and catch-up conversation with extended family.

Okay, let's be honest. In reality, you're dreading Aunt Hattie's pukin' pumpkin pie, Uncle Rufus's stories that all begin with "when I was your age," and the inevitable five-pound weight gain.

But whatever you may or may not be thinking about Thanksgiving 2008, chances are it has nothing to do with giving thanks. Yet thankfulness has surprising health benefits. Expressing gratitude combats stress and depression and improves vitality and longevity. It's associated with increased happiness, enthusiasm, and determination, as well as with better job and academic performance and more satisfying relationships.

Contrary to popular myth, which assumes that a holiday centered on family can't possibly be attractive to singles, we know that single people can and do have much to be thankful for. A positive single doesn't merely tolerate singlehood but finds ways to appreciate it. As an example, while I've been single, I've always been most thankful for the additional time I've had to devote to my writing. As precious as relationships can be, they do require a sacrifice of time, which may interfere with beloved hobbies and pursuits. So during the seasons that I've been on my own, I've redirected the energy that I might otherwise have spent on someone else toward the accomplishment of my creative goals.

This Thanksgiving, I challenge you to spend some time contemplating at least one aspect of singleness that you are most thankful for. If you are religious or spiritual, offer thanks by praying, singing, burning candles, or lighting incense. For those who enjoy ceremony, commemorate the object of your gratitude on a piece of paper, then release it to the wind or bury it in the earth like a time capsule. Otherwise, try journaling about what you are thankful for or, if it's not too personal, sharing it with others, especially those who have misconceptions about the single life and who would be inspired to hear how fulfilling it can be.

Oh, and one more thing you should definitely be thankful for--all those single cuties at the gym working off the mashed potatoes alongside you!

What part of the single life are you most thankful for? Why?

Fun Link of the Day

Do you have a question for Clever Elsie about some aspect of the single life? Have a rant or rave about singlehood? Write in, and you just might see your question in a Singletude Q&A or your rant or rave in a Singletude Sound-off!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Singelringen's SinglePower Celebrity Contest

So, do you all remember the Singelringen? That pricey turquoise ring that announces your eligibility to those in the know and your lack of fashion sense to everyone else? (Okay, that's probably a bit harsh. It's attractive for a piece of blue acrylic.)

Well, their PR rep, Linda Sherman, recently informed me that Singelringen is sponsoring the SinglePower Celebrity Contest for the world's coolest celebrity singles, who will be crowned Mr. and Miss SinglePower. Out of 10 nominees of each sex, American actress Drew Barrymore is currently leading the pack for the women, while Germany's hip hop maven Crosijan heads up the field for the men.

Ho hum, right? I agree. But here's the interesting twist: You can vote for any non-celebrity single, including yourself, as a "wild card." According to Sherman, your nominee should be "attractive, proud, strong in a way that makes other people feel appreciated and also a good role model for other singles." The two wild cards who accumulate the most votes will be added to the final running along with the celebrity nominees.

When you vote, you will be entered to win a trip to Sweden, where you will stay in the famed ICEHOTEL, a seasonal world wonder constructed entirely of ice. Singelringen must know that you don't need a significant other to light your fire; cold hands will just as easily stoke a warm heart!

News of the SinglePower competition jump-started my own musings about what makes a single person "cool." In my mind, a cool single is someone who is comfortable with him- or herself and enjoys life to the fullest, whether or not he or she has a romantic partner. He or she isn't afraid to venture out alone and doesn't postpone his or her dreams until marriage. Cool singles are those who may live by themselves but are never really alone, maintaining close networks of family and friends. They know who they are, and when they do couple up, they don't disappear into the relationship or sacrifice their unique spirits for the sake of unity. Most of all, they realize that being single isn't some kind of disease but a normal, often transitional state in which they may find themselves many times throughout the course of life.

What makes a single person cool in your book? Who would you nominate for Mr. or Miss SinglePower? (This is your chance to give the singles in your life some recognition!)

Fun Link of the Day

Do you have a question for Clever Elsie about some aspect of the single life? Have a rant or rave about singlehood? Write in, and you just might see your question in a Singletude Q&A or your rant or rave in a Singletude Sound-off!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

How to Help a Friend Through a Break Up

It's almost midnight, and you've just brushed your teeth, turned off the TV, and pulled back the bed covers when the shrill ring of the phone interrupts your nightly routine. It's a raspy stranger asking if you're lonesome tonight.

Okay, no, not really.

It is, however, your friend, all choked up, announcing that he or she has just been dumped.

As a single, you've probably been there before, although your last breakup may have receded into the past, making it difficult to dredge up the feelings associated with it. Furthermore, your objective view of your friend's recently expired relationship may interfere with your ability to empathize with his or her loss. And then there's schadenfreude, that all too human tendency to snicker at the suffering of others, which may creep into your exchange unbidden. All in all, when you get that desperate, late-night phone call, you may feel about as eloquent as Elmer Fudd, stuttering and stammering in the face of your friend's distress.

If you find yourself at a loss for words when your friend is suffering, you may want to try one of these simple approaches:

DO sympathize or, better yet, empathize. If you can remember what it was like to break up with someone you loved, share that so he or she knows you understand. If you can't, at least express how sorry you are that the relationship has ended and that your friend is hurting. Acknowledge that he has experienced a significant loss, validate her feelings, and confirm that it's okay to grieve about it.

DON'T minimize the loss by telling your friend how much better off he or she is without the ex. While it may be true, it's not what your friend believes or needs to hear right now. Later, he may reach that conclusion on his own, and, at that time, you can support his opinion if you agree. But in those first stages of loss, she may not be able to see her former partner objectively, and if you slam the the ex, she may feel worse for loving someone you've declared a "loser," "jerk," "idiot," or other undesirable. Furthermore, she may feel alienated because you aren't acknowledging her loss. Remember that even if your friend's ex was the devil incarnate, your friend loved that devil! And absolutely no "I told you so's" even if you did tell him so. Good on you; maybe she'll listen to you next time. But today she needs your friendship, not your judgment.

DO promote realistic thinking. Breakups have a way of distorting our views of ourselves and our former partners. If your friend is beating up on himself or glorifying her former partner, inject some healthy realism into the conversation. If the ex belittled your friend, calling her unattractive or unworthy in some way, set the record straight from your more objective standpoint. Similarly, if your friend has idealized his ex, seize opportunities to remind him that the love of his life was a flawed human being like everyone else. (Be careful not to badmouth the ex, though. There's a fine line between realism and wrath. See above.) Another common cause of distress when a relationship dissolves is the fear that the abandoned partner will never find love again. This is another area in which you can help by reassuring him that he will have lots of new opportunities to find a partner. After all, probability is on her side that she will not be single forever.

DON'T condone negativistic thinking. We're talking about those long-winded sighs of self-hatred, those mournful predictions of a life devoid of meaning or purpose without the ex-partner. Sometimes your friend may be fishing for a boost to his or her wounded self-esteem or faith in life, and it's okay to give it, but it can be easy for her to fall into a pattern of fatalistic thinking. If this starts to happen, let him know that that's nonsense and you won't listen to it!

DO let your singletude shine! You know from experience that there are lots advantages to the single state. When your friend moans and groans about how lonely or depressing or unhealthy it is to be single, you're the perfect person to correct him! One by one, answer each of her anxieties with your voice of experience until she has a fuller, more accurate, and hopefully more positive picture of what it is to be single. If you can convey how genuinely content you are with your single life, you can do wonders to buoy your friend's spirits.

DON'T exacerbate your friend's worries by instigating a rant session about whatever dissatisfactions you may have with your single status. Save that for other single friends who aren't currently enduring a breakup. Single or coupled, both states have their pluses and minuses, but now is not the time to bitch about the latter. Stay upbeat and keep the focus on your friend and how you can alleviate his or her concerns.

DO allow your friend to process the loss in his or her own way. Throughout the healing period, your friend may experience a wide range of emotions, swinging from sadness to anger to ambivalence and back again. This is normal. Along the way, your friend may want to distract himself with work, hang out more often with you, or rehash the details of the breakup ad nauseam. Recognize that any way she chooses to deal with it is okay as long as it doesn't hurt herself or others.

DON'T expect your friend to handle the breakup the same way you do. For you, the most natural response might be to talk it out with everyone willing to listen, while your friend may want to be alone, or vice versa. Just because your friend chooses a method of coping that seems foreign to you doesn't mean it's less effective, so don't push him to adopt your personal coping style. That may actually make her feel worse and retreat from you.

DO offer lots of opportunities for your friend to engage in fun, beneficial activities. Invite him to see his favorite band; take her to her favorite spa for a beauty day. Encourage him to reclaim an old hobby; support her as she explores a new craft. It's important for your friend to realize that he or she can still be happy and effective outside the relationship. Many times, a single will sacrifice some of his interests on the altar of The Relationship and lose his precious sense of individuality. A breakup is an ideal time for her to rediscover or even reinvent herself, recommitting to her own personal development.

DON'T withdraw from your friend because he or she doesn't immediately take you up on your suggestions. Keep introducing them, without taking offense if they're rejected, until your friend is ready to welcome the world in again. On the other hand, don't draw your emotionally fragile friend into potentially harmful distractions like drinking or gambling. While these may seem like benign pastimes under normal circumstances, right now your friend's judgment may be impaired, and he is vulnerable to drowning his troubles through irresponsible behavior. Instead of pushing your friend into risky pleasures, be her lookout and guide her away from pitfalls.

DO help your friend seek out new romantic partners when he or she is ready. Your friend may want to jump back into the dating pool immediately, or he or she may revel in newfound singlehood for years. For some people, a few casual dates right after a breakup help them regain their self-confidence, while, for others, they just stir up unwanted memories. Respect your friend's preference, whatever it is, and do your part to help. Accompany him to the bars, help her write her online dating profile, go together to a speed dating session. Give tips and listen to dating stories.

DON'T coerce your friend into dating before he or she is ready. You've probably heard the crude little adage that the best way to get over someone is to get under someone else. But not everyone operates that way. Many of the newly single cause immense heartache to themselves and others by diving into rebound relationships or a series of meaningless sexual exploits. There's nothing wrong with your friend if he decides to be single for awhile or even forever, so keep your well-meaning nose out of her new love life until she invites you in.

DO prepare to let your friend grieve as long as necessary. The length and intensity of the grieving process can vary a lot depending on the length of the relationship and level of commitment to it, the mutuality of the breakup (or lack thereof), and individual response to loss, among other factors. If your friend had doubts about the relationship for several years before the breakup and had already begun to live a more independent lifestyle, she may recover much more quickly than someone who was blindsided by the news that his beloved girlfriend was leaving him for another man.

DON'T hold your friend to your own timetable for recovery. Your friend isn't you, and the circumstances of his or her breakup aren't yours, so that wouldn't be fair. Careless admonitions to "snap out of it" or "just get over it" are painful to someone who would gladly do just that if all it took really was a magic snap of the fingers.

DO protect yourself. As much as you may want to be your friend's crying shoulder, if your spirits are getting soggy from listening to one too many tales of sorrow, you may need to take a break. Be sure to spend time socializing with your more upbeat friends so you can recharge your batteries, and when there are days that you can't support your friend's weighty problems, it's okay to be unavailable. If your friend's grief is turning into severe depression, the best way you can help is by helping him or her find a professional counselor.

DON'T assume the responsibility of "fixing" your friend. It's possible to be crushed by someone else's unrelenting grief if you don't maintain your own emotional boundaries. Don't convince yourself that you can rescue your friend from suicidal threats or debilitating depression. Again, refer your friend to a mental health professional who is equipped to address these problems.

Breaking up is hard to do, not just for the couple but for their well-intentioned friends. Ultimately, you can't erase your friend's pain or urge him through the stages of grief faster than he can travel them. But as a fellow single, you're in an ideal position to help your friend transition to single life, a state that is much more fulfilling and less scary than married America would have us think. Inspire your friend with the joys of single living, and when it's your turn for a breakup, he or she can remind you what you were missing!

What do you say or do to be supportive of your newly single friends during the breakup process? What are you careful not to say or do?

Fun Link of the Day

Do you have a question for Clever Elsie about some aspect of the single life? Have a rant or rave about singlehood? Write in, and you just might see your question in a Singletude Q&A or your rant or rave in a Singletude Sound-off!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Singles Are 93 Million Votes Strong: Who Cares?

Here it is again--Election Day. I hope that you all have registered to vote and will be turning out at the polls en masse to raise your voices for the singles community. But if you're wondering who is raising a voice for us, you're not alone.

We've been a hot topic in Gallup polls, CNN headlines, and, yes, movies. But as singles advocate Dr. Bella DePaulo noted before the primaries and again a few days ago, this hasn't translated into more than a cursory nod from the candidates, not even from Barack Obama, the choice of 60% of single voters.

I'm going to pick on Obama for a minute simply because he is the favored candidate among the majority of singles. If you visit his web site and view the drop-down menu under "People," you will see 23 special-interest demographics. One of them must be "Singles," right? Nope. There are "Arab Americans," "Rural Americans," even "Sportsmen." But no "Singles."

Now point your mouse to "Issues" and select "Civil Rights." I quote: "Obama and Biden will work to overturn the Supreme Court's recent ruling that curtails women’s and racial minorities' ability to challenge pay discrimination. They will also pass the Fair Pay Act to ensure that women receive equal pay for equal work and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression." Where are the words "or marital status"? Nowhere to be found.

How about "Economy"? Surely this is a subject of consequence to singles...But no. The headline reads, "Barack Obama will provide a tax cut for working families." In fairness to him, the following paragraph clarifies that individuals will also be eligible for a tax break. But then why not make the headline more inclusive, replacing "working families" with "workers"?

Hop over to "Healthcare," an issue that disproportionately affects single people. It starts out the right way, referring to what Obama will do for "all Americans," but once he's talking numbers, it's all about families again: "The Obama plan will lower health care costs by $2,500 for a typical family..." Nice to know, but what about for a typical individual? Do we not exist until we have a spouse and kids?

Given this singlism, it's no wonder that Obama's campaign devotes an entire section to "Family" but none to "Singles."

Again, I'm picking on Obama because he's the candidate who's supposed to support the underdogs of this country. A glance at McCain's site will prove that he's just as family-focused, but then, that's a core value of the Republican platform, so it should come as no surprise. And I'm not contending that neither of the candidates should support families; the family unit has always been central to human life, though a smaller, more constricted unit has replaced the historical norm in the U.S. However, we singles represent an enormous swath of the population and should also be recognized as an important constituent group with needs and concerns of our own.

Despite that singles still have a long way to go on the road to equality, I still urge you to make your statement at the polls today. Singletude has already endorsed a candidate, the one whose policies I believe will help singles the most, even if they're not specifically intended to do so. Here's how the candidates stack up on major issues that affect singles:

Civil Rights

Obama--Will work to end employment discrimination, though nothing is specifically promised for singles.

McCain--Civil rights? What's that?


Obama--Proposes a tax cut of $500 per individual and reinstatement of higher taxes on those earning more than $250,000. Wants to dispense with taxes for 10 million low-income Americans and seniors who take home less than $50,000 a year. Will tax record oil company profits and redistribute them to consumers. Vows to pump $50 billion into job growth and health, education, housing, and heating. Will reform the mortgage industry to prevent another housing bubble and subsequent crisis. Supports "fair trade," not free trade, which has shipped millions of American jobs overseas, unions, an increased minimum wage, and tax relief for small businesses and start-ups. Suggests flexible work schedules, although he also wants to expand more specifically family-friendly (presumably "marrieds-friendly") programs. Wants to invest in green, clean energy jobs.

McCain--Vows to somehow strengthen the dollar, for which he apparently has a magic, secret formula. Does not propose tax cuts for the middle class unless you have dependents. Does propose even more tax relief for high-income earners and corporations but not specifically for small businesses or start-ups. Wants the American public to essentially bail out delinquent homeowners. Supports even further deregulation of free trade, which has shipped millions of American jobs overseas. Suggests flexible work schedules, although he also wants to expand more specifically family-friendly (presumably "marrieds-friendly") programs. Wants to invest in green, clean energy jobs but also in traditional, "dirty" fuels and dangerous nuclear power. Will work for various tax breaks on gasoline but will lower the priority on ethanol.

Health Care

Obama--Promises to institute a national health care plan for the uninsured. (Those who are already insured can opt to keep their current insurance.) The health care plan is called "affordable," and tax credits towards its purchase or purchase of an approved private plan are guaranteed to those who need them, although we are not given any concrete numbers. Intends to fund the plan by streamlining bureaucracy in the health care system, increasing preventive care, and allowing the Bush tax cuts for the upper class to expire. Supports the elimination of many current insurance practices that disadvantage consumers such as preexisting condition exclusions, premium inflation, blockage of generic and overseas drug distributors, denial of mental health coverage, and much more. Wants to make health care more affordable for employers.

McCain--Promises a heath care tax credit of $2,500 per individual. However, this is not enough to cover the cost of insurance for the average person over 45 as well as for residents of 13 states in which the average policy costs at least $500 more. Will encourage consumers to buy insurance across state lines, but critics argue that this will lead to a monopoly of cheap, low-quality policies. Hopes to make insurance more "portable," which some claim will abolish the employer-based system. Agrees with some but not all of Obama's industry reforms.

The Iraq War

Obama--Claims he will immediately phase out our presence in Iraq.

McCain--Prepared to hunker down in Iraq for the long haul. Promises "victory."


Obama--Committed to improving the job outlook for low-income Americans (including "perks" that really shouldn't be perks like sick leave and retirement plans) and investing in affordable housing.

McCain--Poverty? What's that?


Obama--Encourages research on women's health issues, tougher laws prohibiting violence against women, female entrepreneurship, and accessible birth control.

McCain--Women? What're they?

Anti-singles Action

McCain would also take actions that would actually work against singles, such as strengthening the institution of marriage to "preserve the traditional family," which smart singles who have read their history books will know is anything but traditional. As usual, I will repeat that I have no objection whatsoever against marriage and, in fact, think it's a healthy, admirable commitment. What I object to is how our government rewards marriage at the expense of singles.

If any of you are still undecided, I hope the above comparison has helped to persuade you in one direction or the other depending on which issues are important to you as a single. Change won't happen overnight, but if we speak up for ourselves louder and louder at every election, someone is bound to hear.

Do you think that singles are largely ignored by politicians? If so, do you have any examples of this? Which candidate do you think is more supportive of issues that singles value?

Fun Link of the Day

Do you have a question for Clever Elsie about some aspect of the single life? Have a rant or rave about singlehood? Write in, and you just might see your question in a Singletude Q&A or your rant or rave in a Singletude Sound-off!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Singletude Adds to Blogroll

Singletude would like to call your attention to the proliferation of blogs by or about singles that you may or may not have noticed on the new and improved blogroll. Lately, I have been scouring the web in an attempt to find some of the liveliest, funniest, most interesting bloggers who have something to say on the issue of singlehood! In the coming days and weeks, you will see even more new additions.

Please note that Singletude does not necessarily endorse the opinions expressed by any of the bloggers on the blogroll. I am trying to compile a list of diverse voices, and where you find diversity, you will also find disagreement. However, rest assured that I do not blogroll any blogs that I think have nothing interesting or worthwhile to say.

If you would like your blog to be on the Singletude blogroll, there's no time like the present to make a request! The criteria for inclusion are simple: You should either be a single whose writing is informed by your single status (i.e. if you are a single whose blog is about antique automobiles or Lhasa Apsos, good for you, but that won't appeal to the audience here) or anyone, single or not, who regularly writes about topics important to singles. I am happy to link to blogs that focus on dating and the pursuit of relationships, but I am particularly interested in blogs that cover other aspects of the single life, as well.

And, of course, if you are a single blogger who eventually becomes...not will still be on the blogroll, though you may be moved to another section. Away from the cool kids. Like the loser table at lunch. :) Just kidding. You'll probably be moved to "Blogs Formerly By or About Singles." ;)

To be considered, please send your link to my email, which can be found in the "About Me" section as well as at the end of every post, with "Link Request" in the subject line. Naturally, reciprocal links are always appreciated, too. :)

On Tuesday, Singletude gets political, so hurry back!

Do you have a question for Clever Elsie about some aspect of the single life? Have a rant or rave about singlehood? Write in, and you just might see your question in a Singletude Q&A or your rant or rave in a Singletude Sound-off!