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 17, 2009

Singles in the News: 11/8/09-11/14/09

Sorry this is soooo late, folks, but this was not a good week for me physically. Hey, it's a free service, so no complaints, 'kay? ;)

This week, China stepped into the spotlight for its annual Singles Day. No, you did not misread that. The nation that invented foot binding for wives now observes a special day for singles. We need to step it up, people.


"Dateless and $2500 Poorer"
The Sydney Morning Herald
Summary: You know you're in for trouble when a story starts out with this question: "What's worse than being single, and aged 31 in Sydney?" The answer, as offered by an anonymous single guest columnist, is: "Being single, 31 and ripped off by a dating agency." While Singletude can't agree with this pessimistic view of either singleness or the fourth decade of life, losing money under any circumstance is definitely a bummer. The writer, a highly educated, professional single female, complains that an elite matchmaking service was "just not that into" her after she wasn't into the first three dates they set her up on. She claims that she's publishing her experience as a cautionary tale for other singles, but since she seems too embarrassed by her single status to identify either herself or the matchmaker, her warning may not do would-be customers much good.


"All the Single Ladies"
By Jen Calder
The Times-Delphic
Summary: Occasionally, a student newspaper will produce a smart, open-minded opinion piece about singles and earn a link in "Singles in the News." It's inspiring to see the next generation reevaluating stereotypes about singleness because as we get older, we're going to be in their hands. So it's equally unnerving when an up-and-coming college voice chooses to reinforce those stereotypes. Take this article out of Iowa's Drake University, for example. The author is barely into the first paragraph before she launches into a diatribe against singles: "Being single is not all it is cracked up to be, people...And when you look at the big picture, no one really wants to be single. I say that because if your soulmate were available, you would be with him or her. Don’t lie..." She then urges single college kids to pair up because of woes like the double standard and impending loneliness. Although she admits that "older and wiser people are always informing me that I should be single for at least a couple years," she maintains that "you should date or be involved with someone, if not for anything else but to help you evolve." I'm not giving Calder a Singleschmucker because--she said it herself--she's young, and she hasn't yet experienced how diverse people are. But I can assure her, not everyone would jump at the chance to couple up with a soulmate, not least because many people don't believe in soulmates. She would do well to heed the advice of her elders because they've been in her shoes and know a thing or two. Undoubtedly, among their accumulated wisdom is the knowledge that dating can be a big distraction from one's studies, that settling down too soon can set a couple up for a lifetime of conflict, that learning about oneself is the best way to prepare to pick a partner, and that it's marriage which is, in fact, not all it's cracked up to be. To Calder's credit, she understands that enmeshed, insular relationships aren't the way to go, but she overestimates the transformative power of coupling while underestimating the risk of intense emotional involvement to young adults still forming their identities and attaining their educational goals. That doesn't mean the alternative she describes, constant casual hook-ups, is any prettier, but there's another short- or long-term option she ignores--being truly single, without any romantic or sexual attachments.

"Mover and Shaker August Black Gives Men Their Much Needed 'Space'"
PR Web
Summary: An interior design firm caters to single men. It's not the first of its kind, but it's one of the few, and it now provides a moving service, as well.

Singleschmucker Award
"Top 10 Myths About Marriage"
The Times of India
Summary: The title promises to correct popular misconceptions promoted by the matrimaniac crowd. Disappointingly, this is more like a backlash to the backlash. Outdated studies and grossly distorted pop psychology reports (none of them actually cited) are trotted out to reinforce what a difference marriage makes. Cohabiting couples are a primary target here, with quite a few "mythbusters" reminding unmarried partners that they are less committed to each other, less sexually satisfied, less likely to have successful marriages later on, and more prone to violent interactions. A lot of other lies surface in the article, not the least of which is the blanket statement that "both men and women live longer, happier, healthier and wealthier lives when they are married." No, no, no, no! This is just not true, and what makes it worse is that The Times of India misrepresents this as an attempt to set the record straight. Take that, Times of India--a Singleschmucker!


"Married People Have More Pride in Work Than Singles"
By Patrick F. Fagan, PhD and Althea Nagai, PhD
Opposing Views
Summary: According to the General Social Survey conducted by the University of Chicago's National Opinion Research Center, 84.4% of marrieds say they are proud of their work as opposed to 74% of the divorced and 65.8% of the never married. The authors compare these results favorably to other studies that show a correlation between happy marriages and job satisfaction. They don't expressly state their theory that happy marriages result in increased job satisfaction, but that seems to be what they're driving at. So let's consider some other possibilities for this correlation: 1. Married people tend to be older than singles, and older people tend to have better jobs. 2. Many people wait until they feel good about their careers to marry, so married people may already have achieved job success. 3. Maybe the kind of people who value work and take pride in a job well done are the kind of people who are more likely to be interested in marriage. 4. Married people with two incomes may have more leeway to pursue jobs they care about. In contrast, singles may have to take what they can get, and divorced individuals may find themselves unexpectedly working jobs they don't like to provide child support or alimony or to replace income from a former spouse. 5. Happier people are a little more likely to marry, and people who are generally happier in life may also feel happier on the job. (Note that this does not mean that people become happier when they marry.) Now there is one way in which marriage might conceivably impact pride in one's work, but that has nothing to do with the supposed joys of marriage. It's that when people get married, they're more likely to be promoted at the office due to favoritism toward married employees. This one is very close to a Singleschmucker.

"Public Invited Thursday to Learn About Women's Shelter Plans"
Summary: The Women's Shelter Community Team of York in Ontario, Canada seeks to establish the first shelter for single women in the area.

"Single in the Suburbs"
By Ashley Dieterle and Benn Farrell
Highlands Ranch Herald
Summary: A Colorado community in which singles are definitely not the new majority struggles to provide its single residents with ways to socialize including church fellowship groups, coed sports teams, fitness classes, and entertainment centers. Local college professor John Ratliff also analyzes the nation's upswing in singles, explaining, "'There is a decline of civil society, meaning people don’t know the people in their communities....Now it is more difficult to meet people and gain viable information on new people.' Ratliff said there is also a decline in courtship rituals, which have basically collapsed over the last 100 years. He said there are no longer any clear rules about how people get together and engage in courtship."

"Surprise Gender Spending: IBISWorld Report"
Summary: This short article traces Australian consumer trends for men versus women with a special focus on singles. The bottom line: The women are still the champion shoppers, although men are spending more on personal care items than ever before.

"Young People 'Popular Target for Credit Card Fraudsters'"
By Nate Sawyer
Which 4U
Summary: If you're a single person who earns a middle-class income and rents in the UK, watch out. You're among those most targeted by identity thieves.


"Fuss Over Single's Day"
By Qi Moxi
Summary: Proving once again that it can beat us at our own game, China has instituted its own Singles Day--one it actually celebrates with parties and promotional events. But this journalist wonders how much of Singles Day is dedicated to celebrating singles and how much is really just an opportunity for bars, clubs, and matchmaking services to capitalize on the holiday.

"The GAMC Gap: Fate Uncertain for Health Care Program Serving Poorest Minnesotans"
By Scott Carlson
St. Paul Legal Ledger
Summary: Those "poorest Minnesotans," by the way, also happen to be single adults. Up until recently, Minnesota was one of the only states to offer publicly funded medical care (GAMC) to the unmarried and childless. But this summer, Governor Tim Pawlenty announced that the program would lose funding in 2010. Following an outcry, Pawlenty made provisions for 28,000 of the 36,000 single people who would be left without insurance to be covered under a different program, MinnesotaCare, but the fate of the remaining 8,000 is unknown. Furthermore, there is concern that the transition of 28,000 singles from GAMC to MinnesotaCare will not be a smooth one. MinnesotaCare is more costly for participants and covers less than GAMC.

"Homeless Vets Need Our Help"
By Gabe Pressman
NBC New York
Summary: "One-third of New York’s population of 9,000 homeless single adults are veterans." NBC News looks at this special group of singles who are now fighting a different kind of battle on the homefront.

"Right Hand Ring Tells the World We're Independent Women"
By Susie Anderson
Summary: Right-hand diamond rings are discussed in what amounts to little more than a promotional piece. The message, however, is timeless: "We think even engaged and married women could stand to wear a right hand ring. Because, you know, even though you're committed and in a loving relationship, you're still an independent woman..."

Singles With Singletude Award
"What an Expert Eye, and a Game Plan, Can Do for the Single Shopper"
By Joe Yonan
The Washington Post
Summary: Judith Jones, author of The Pleasures of Cooking for One, and a group of single Washington Post readers take a tour of DC grocers as Jones advises her devotees on shopping and cooking for one. Her smorgasbord of tips includes the following: 1. Frequent farmers markets, where you can buy loose or individual items. 2. Buy ingredients with a week's worth of meals in mind. That means selecting components that are both versatile and that can be easily stored. 3. Roast leftover vegetables and use them throughout the week in salads, pasta dishes, soups, and wraps. 4. Grow herbs in pots at home instead of buying in supermarket packs that will spoil. 5. Smoked salmon, prosciutto, and parmesan preserve well and are perfect for adding flair to various dishes. 6. Share with friends. 7. Don't be afraid to adjust recipes to your own taste. You're the only one you have to please, after all! Jones discloses the secrets to specific dishes that can undergo seemingly endless transformations into other dishes, so be sure to read the article yourself for some excellent ideas. It's not that unusual to see articles that validate the single lifestyle from a philosophical point of view, but there aren't as many that give concrete advice and suggestions with singles in mind. So this feature wins this week's Singles With Singletude Award.


"Building Awareness of Homeless, Hunger in Minot"
Minot Daily News
By Andrea Johnson
Summary: In North Dakota, Minot State University's Student Social Work Organization works to raise awareness of homelessness, which they say disproportionately affects single mothers.

"'Marriage Hunting' Becomes a Fad Among 'Gold Collar' Professionals"
Summary: A glimpse into China's professional matchmaking industry reveals that it's gained mainstream acceptance with 70% of singles polled expressing their approval of it. However, it remains affordable mainly just to the elite, and some people still have strong reservations. "'I disapprove of "marriage hunting," and propose to marry for love. Those who hunt marriage with money can only get material comforts in marriage because they get married without developing attachments and learning each other's personalities...A spouse is not a product that can be purchased with money,'" said one single man interviewed. Sadly, single people themselves don't seem to have made as much headway as matchmaking services. In a two-page article, they're referred to three times as "single people left on the shelf."


"The 'Mate Market' Is Tough for Jewish Women Over 50"
By Arlene Fine
Cleveland Jewish News
Summary: It's possible that when this paper asked for personal accounts of the local dating scene from older single women, these were the only answers they got. It's possible. But is it probable? For some reason, they chose to publish the stories of three women who were uniformly negative about being single. "If I even think that I’ll end up flying solo for the rest of my life, I’ll go crazy," says one woman. Somehow I think she'll stay out of Bedlam.

"Women Who Want a Baby Later Are Freezing Their Eggs Now"
By Kate Snow, Susan Kriskey, and Kate McCarthy
Good Morning America
Summary: Approximately 50 clinics across the country help single women preserve their eggs at a cost of $10,000-15,000. Women who freeze their eggs have a 50-50 chance of getting pregnant by that method.


"Nitty Gritty"
By Barolong Saboni
Mmegi Online
Summary: In Botswana, a journalist takes humorous notes on a meeting of Nitty Gritty, a new association of single men that has pledged to work toward the breakdown of marital status discrimination and masculine gender role stereotyping. Their manifesto proudly proclaims, "We intend to resort to our rights as men to remain single if we so wish. Single men have a right to be respected. We will marry only when we want to."

"The Single Population"
Summary: In honor of Singles Day, an English-language Chinese radio broadcast complete with transcript reports on the growing population of singles in China. From the broadcast: "Living the single life has become a new trend in China. Many people choose to stay alone because they enjoy a free and unrestrained life that relieves them from the bondage of marriage." The changing population landscape is discussed in light of falling marriage rates, and this is contrasted with China's long history of arranged marriage. Despite the country's conservative reputation, the same dynamics that created a new single majority in the West are at work here, aided by an explosion of career opportunities for women and the rise of Internet dating services. The commentary contains some singlism, but it's balanced with positive remarks, and that alone is impressive for a nation with such a strong tradition of reverence for marriage.

"Single Survival During the Holidays"
By Richard Asa
Chicago Tribune
Summary: "Whether newly divorced, widowed or--gasp--single by choice, people in ones around the holidays can often elicit sympathy, meddlesome questions and misplaced advice." If you're single and tense about upcoming familial encounters, this article advises you to practice visualization and other relaxation techniques, avoid singlist family members and hang out with more supportive relations if possible, defend your right not to rehash questions about your single status, permit yourself to be sad if you've recently lost a partner, and bring along a sense of humor.

"Unwed Mothers Need Aid"
JoongAng Daily
Summary: Most Korean babies adopted out to other countries are born to single mothers, who face widespread discrimination. This article calls for social programs that would help single moms in Korea support their infants.

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.


Dating advice for women said...

Wow, that's a pretty crummy thing to happen to that girl who lost $2500 in sydney

Wag the Dog said...

"Married People Have More Pride in Work Than Singles" by a couple of researchers at Family Research Council (Defending Faith, Family and Freedom)

I find it curious that they actually cite Rogers and May (2003) as corroborating "the direction of these findings", yet the FRC's use of the General Social Surveys (GSS) illustrates a correlation and not causality. Any direction they see is merely their own confirmation bias.

Rogers and May (2003) itself makes for interesting reading since they acknowledge in the literature survey that there is evidence for causality in both directions between marital and job satisfaction, however they do not actually do any comparisons between single, divorced and married. Their study is a longitudinal one conducted over 1980-1992, focusing only on those who were continuously married and were employed at two points in time. (They also checked for selection bias such as depressed workers seeking divorce, and unhappy spouses seeking employment.) They found good evidence for marital health influencing job satisfaction, but this has a flipside. A bad marriage can cause job disatisfaction. They don't draw any conclusions regarding the single or divorced. However I did find this quote in the discussion section rather intriguing: "Rogers (1999) found that increases in marital discord contribute to increases in married women's income and increases in the likelihood that nonemployed women will enter the labor force". This supports your contention that "divorced individuals may find themselves unexpectedly working jobs they don't like to provide child support or alimony or to replace income from a former spouse."

So on the face of it, what are we to make of these two rather separate pieces of statistical analysis? The longer you've been employed, the more satisfied you'll likely be with your work. Married people tend to be employed longer than singles. The remarried tend to be employed longer than the recently divorced. Don't marry the wrong person otherwise you risk reducing your satifaction with a job you love. And if you really don't like your job wouldn't it be better to try to change your job instead of your marital status?

Alan said...

Reading the mentioned study, I wonder if findings like this really studies that claim to find that being single is inferior to being married.

I operate under the assumption that being single is something that's only going to work for a minority of the population. The majority probably can't handle it.

Thus, it makes sense that there are singles who report being unhappy, unhealthy, etc...they're the majority for whom it's the wrong choice. And they bias the studies. If they only looked at those who were meant to be single, they'd get a more positive picture.

Clever Elsie said...

Dating Advice: Yeah, it sounds like the matchmaking agency thought the writer was "too picky" and didn't want to bother with her if she didn't go for one of the first men they introduced her to.

Wag the Dog: Thanks for the further background information and for your terrific analysis of it! These are all great points.

Alan: Your comment contains a lot of food for thought! It never really occurred to me that most people might be constitutionally incapable of being happy as singles. I do think that some people are more likely to be happy as singles than others. I suspect they would include people who are somewhat more introverted and don't require constant companionship, have enough interests to occupy their time alone, and have rather unconventional beliefs about relationships, marriage, and family. I'm not saying that all people who are happy single would fit this description but that I suspect those traits might show up in greater frequency among that subset than in the population as a whole. It would be interesting to see some research on common traits of people who are happy single as opposed to those who aren't! Anyway, I'm rambling...

I'm not sure that I think most people are innately incapable of being happy single. I think there might be some people who would find it particularly hard for various reasons. But I think the majority of people are capable of enjoying singleness once they can overcome matrimaniacal indoctrination. In short, I think a big part of whether we're content in our life circumstances has to do with outlook, and that outlook can be heavily influenced by cultural prescriptions. Which is why studies like this worry me--they add to the overwhelming pressure of those cultural prescriptions and further the indoctrination.