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.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Singles in the News: 11/1/09-11/7/09

Every week, incidental themes seem to emerge in "Singles in the News." This week, a number of stories clustered around the social groups that singles have formed, either for dating, friendship, or just fun in a group setting. A subtopic of that theme is the heightened role of technology in fostering connections and communication between singles. Finally, quite a few studies involving singles cropped up this week. As usual, Singletude analyzes not only the data itself but how it's presented.


"In Tuscon, No Room at the Inn for Homeless Single Dads"
By Robert Franklin, Esq.
Summary: If you think the deck is stacked against single dads, try being a homeless single dad. Especially in the Tuscon, AZ area, where only one shelter accepts single dads, although plenty will take single moms. This article sheds light on an injustice that has at least one single father and his baby daughter out on the street.

"Lots of Frogs"
By Miranda Daniloff
The Boston Globe
Summary: A fluffy article pretends it has some weight, but really it's about nothing more than the old adage that you have to kiss a lot of frogs to catch a prince. Ho-hum. Next.


"Cellphones, Texts and Lovers"
By David Brooks
The New York Times
Summary: The op-ed columnist discusses how singles dating in the age of wireless communication "are free agents in a competitive arena marked by ambiguous relationships. Social life comes to resemble economics, with people enmeshed in blizzards of supply and demand signals amidst a universe of potential partners. The opportunity to contact many people at once seems to encourage compartmentalization, as people try to establish different kinds of romantic attachments with different people at the same time." A provocative analysis of contemporary dating.

"Sailing Solo: Singles Face Challenges Keeping Finances Afloat"
By Emma D. Sapong
The Buffalo News
Summary: In our two-income economy, it's hard to make it as a single earner. Throw in the extra taxes that singles pay so couples with kids can get deductions, and a single adult may wonder where all his or her savings went. This article presents a wise financial planning strategy for singles that includes acquiring disability and long-term care insurance, Roth IRAs, and hopefully homes.

"Single Women Twice as Likely to Buy Property Than Men--The New Big M--Mortgage!"
By Caitlin Kelly
Summary: A divorcee who "played ostrich and let the husband handle every single bit" of homebuying must now learn the ropes as she applies for a second mortgage. She concludes with some stats from the National Association of Realtors that show single women outpacing single men in the real estate market.


"Debt More Likely to Gobble-up Career-oriented Women More Than Men"
PR Web
Summary: First off, no, Singletude is not responsible for the grammatical slaughter of that headline. That's a direct quote, God help whoever wrote it. Second, the translation: According to a debt counseling firm that studied 60,000 individuals, single women ages 25-34 are more likely to seek help with credit card debt than are single men in the same age group. The firm proposes that this might be because professional women are expected to spend more on wardrobe and personal maintenance at a time when they can least afford it. It's also possible that young single women are simply more likely than young single men to admit they need financial help, but the press release did not identify this factor.

"Men & Women Equally Likely to Include Charity in Estate Plans"
The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University
Summary: A study out of Indiana University finds that single men and single women are about equally likely to donate legacy gifts to charity. There were also no significant gender differences in the amounts donated. But here's my favorite sentence: "Both men and women who had never married were more likely than married or widowed donors to have charitable bequests." Gee, where would the nonprofits be without all these "selfish" singles?

"Some Seniors Just Want to Have Fun"
By Ted Amsen
The Observer
Summary: A 70-year-old single woman in Ontario, Canada has resolved that young people shouldn't have all the fun. She's started a singles group for seniors, which she emphasizes is not a matchmaking or dating group but a means for those who are feeling lonely to connect with others who enjoy the same activities.


"Experts Say Single People More Likely to Develop Alzheimer's"
By Kyle Burke
Summary: This brief report has just one reference to singles, but what a doozy it is! This is it: "A recent study found that single people are twice as likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer's disease as married or cohabitating people." Unfortunately, the journalist doesn't give us any information about the title of this study, who conducted it, or where it was published, so we have no way of fact-checking his allegation. Despite that Burke's source is not cited and that this is overwhelmingly an article about dementia screening, not the effect of marital status on cognitive deterioration, the headline proclaims loud and clear everything ABC News thinks we really need to know--how much it sucks to be single. A very close contender for the Singleschmucker.

Singleschmucker Award
"Married With Children Paves Way to Happiness"
By Randy Dotinga
Summary: A hefty amount of happiness research is stacked against parents, but a new study claims that the more children you have, the happier you'll least if you're married. That's right, a new study by Dr. Luis Angeles of Scotland's University of Glasgow concludes that married couples get happier and happier every time they produce another bundle of joy, but unmarried couples and singles miss the bliss and, in fact, "report negative experiences." To his credit, Angeles does not try to persuade us that marriage itself causes parents to be happier. Rather he says that perhaps "'children make people better off under the "right conditions"--a time in life when people feel that they are ready, or at least willing, to enter parenthood'" and that adults who are entering that stage of life may be more likely to marry. That's a totally plausible and fair-minded explanation, but look at how the media, which has covered this story extensively, insists on misrepresenting the study as evidence that getting married makes people happier. I don't have a problem with the study itself, but the coverage of it wins a Singleschmucker!

"'Single Greatest Night' Set for Nov. 20"
The Leader
Summary: Now here's something different! The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Jacksonville, FL is planning an evening that "honors exceptional single men and women who have exemplified leadership qualities, are active in volunteer roles and have excelled in the Jacksonville business community." This is a first! I don't think I've ever come across an awards event specifically in recognition of singles (unless you count the crowning of Miss Cougar America, which I don't). Way to go, Jacksonville!

"Singles in the Capital Have Plenty of Chances to Meet"
By Amanda Nalley
The Tallahassee Democrat
Summary: A look at the singles scene in Florida's capital city turns up quite a vibrant mix of matchmakers, Meet-ups, and belief-based singles groups. Apparently, Florida is morphing into the place to be for singles! Who woulda thunk?


Singles With Singletude Award
"All the Single Ladies"
By Ursula Lindsey
The National
Summary: From the article: "Young Egyptian women...are taking to blogs and publishing books to give voice to their frustration with the indignities of single life, the pressure to marry and the stigma of divorce." Like the rest of the world, as Egypt has industrialized, single adults have been delaying marriage in ever increasing numbers. Representing those who aren't happy with this turn of events is a single blogger-cum-novelist, Ghada Abdel Aal, whose private pain is doubled by Egyptian etiquette, which proscribes public discussion of personal matters. But that doesn't stop people from judging silently, and Abdel Aal protests the judgments made against single women, who are assumed to have some fatal flaw. The journalist chronicles Abdel Aal's mark on Egyptian culture as well as the other blogs by single (and unhappily married) women that have sprung up in response. Also covered are legal and social barriers to divorce. Although Lindsey doesn't inflate the degree to which these single women are actively breaking down cultural institutions, she is right in her assessment that open communication is the first step toward change, and that makes her article this week's winner of the Singles With Singletude Award.

"Craig Greene: More Single Women Buying Homes"
By Craig Greene
Summary: This short article about the surge in single female homebuyers proposes reasons for the increase, describes characteristics of single female homeowners, and reports on properties most likely to attract this market.


"Dating Website Misled Singles: ACCC"
By Andrea Hayward
Summary: Australia's RedHotPie becomes the latest online dating web site to get slapped with a lawsuit for fraud and misrepresentation. Similar lawsuits in the States have previously been dismissed.

"Meet the Man Behind"
By Zosia Bielski
The Globe and Mail
Summary: The founder of the online dating site who bet the farm that he could prosper off of cheaters by making cheaters prosper has a new book out, appropriately titled Cheaters Prosper: How Infidelity Will Save the Modern Marriage. In this interview, Noel Biderman attacks monogamous marriage as an unrealistic historical aberration yet defends his web site as a godsend for sexless but otherwise good marriages. (In case you're wondering, yes, he's married, and, no, he vows he's never cheated. Nevertheless, he says he'd be "devastated" if his wife was unfaithful to him.) Whether you view him as a hypocritical rationalizer or a man ahead of his time, you can't deny that this controversial figure has something intriguing to say about the evolving role of marriage in our society.


"Interview with Shari Aresta, Organizer of Over 40, I Don't Want to Grow Up"
By Paul Roberts
Sacramento Press
Summary: Singletude is all for enterprising individuals who start singles social groups and clubs, but why, oh why did this one have to call hers Over 40, I Don't Want to Grow Up? Is she trying to reinforce the myth that single equals immature? Sheesh! Aside from that misstep, however, her singles Meetup group, which is more about finding friends and companions than dates, sounds like the antidote to those stereotypes of lonely singles. From the interview: "'It’s like an extended family. You can never have too many friends. And also if someone needs help, we are here for them, we keep everyone’s profession public to the group so we can use each other for assistance on specialized projects and this keeps up from hiring a stranger.'"

Do you have thoughts on any of the stories above? (When commenting, please reference the title of the article.)

Want to stay current on changes in the world that impact singles? Read the latest news about singles every day! Check out the Singletude newsreader under Singles in the News on the homepage!

Do you have a question for Clever Elsie about some aspect of the single life? Have an unpublished 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"! Singletude makes every effort to republish submissions in their original form but reserves the right to edit your submission for length and clarity.


Wag the Dog said...

"Married With Children Paves Way to Happiness"

I had posted on this in a childfree forum. The original research itself is available for anyone to read:

Table 7 is most interesting for the childfree but singles may be interested as well.

But notice how the conclusion is often editted by the media. The rest of the paragraph actually says:
"We do not mean this as a moralistic defense of marriage. Instead, by right conditions we have in mind the time in life when people feel that they are ready, or at least willing, to enter parenthood. This time can come at very different moments for different persons, but a likely signal of its approach may well be the act of marriage."

In other words, the state of marriage is no guarantee that having children would make one happier. Marriage is an indicator that the couple is experienced with family planning, hence any kids they do decide to have tend to be well planned for. There is a higher chance that kids born to non-married cohabiting couples were not planned for due to inexperience with contraception.

This is an example of a latent variable effect. The study author alluded to this in other news reports:

Dr Angeles, director of the university's Centre for Development Studies, speculated that the reason for the difference in happiness levels lay in whether children were planned or not.

He said: "People who have decided to get married probably have in mind that they want to have children.

"But in the case of unmarried parents, children might not be expected."

But still the coefficient in the study that relates the effect of children on the satisfaction levels of the married, is still rather low especially when compared with widows. (Wonder why we don't see headlines: "Key to happiness: kids and a dead husband") Thus one can expect that
there will be very satisfied unmarried parents, unhappy married parents, as well as happy singles. This is certainly not a guaranteed way to find happiness.

It is a bit like finding that the people most likely to enjoy eating pheasant also tend own a sports car. However that doesn't mean if anyone wants to enjoy dining on game birds should first go buy an expensive car. Nor does that imply that the only way to enjoy your meals is to buy a Porche then dine on pheasant. Funny how studies on marriage and children always end up implying more than what they actually conclude.

Clever Elsie said...

Wag the Dog: Hi, and welcome to Singletude if you haven't been here before. I'm pretty sure I've seen your name around some of the other singles blogs, but I just can't remember if it was mine or not!

Thanks so much for taking the time to contribute your own analysis. I love that there are lots of people out there picking up on this stuff! I liked your analogy about the pheasants and luxury cars, too. :) Hope you'll stop by again.