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.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Poll: What Parts of Singletude Do You Like Most and What Would You Like to See More Of?

At the end of the Grimm Brothers story "Clever Elsie," the titular heroine runs off into the night, never to be heard from again. I ran off into the night, too, but the writer in me couldn't end the story there. So, after an unexpected, almost two-month hiatus from Singletude, I'm back again. I don't want to raise false expectations, though--I may not be "back for good" yet.

In February, I was given an opportunity to invest some time in a big creative project that I'd been wanting to work on for a long while. One of the things I've learned since my health took a turn for the worse last September is that nothing important should be postponed till "someday" because someday might never arrive. So I've been hard at work on this creative project for over a month, and I expect to continue it throughout April and maybe into May. Chances are I won't be too active on Singletude during that time.

However, I wanted to give you a heads-up, dear readers, and while I'm here, I'm going to squeeze in a long-overdue post. Specifically, I'm getting tired of that poll staring me in the face every time I point my browser to Singletude, aren't you? I mean, it's so 2009! ;) So today I'm writing up the results:

Poll: "What parts of Singletude do you like most? (Choose all that apply.)"

Living Single: Tips and Tricks
61% (16)

Family and Social Life
50% (13)

38% (10)

Singles in the News
34% (9)

Advice Q & A
30% (8)

30% (8)

26% (7)

26% (7)

Responses to Articles
26% (7)

23% (6)

23% (6)

Reader Comments
23% (6)

19% (5)

19% (5)

Statistics and Research
19% (5)

15% (4)

15% (4)

Giveaway Contests
3% (1)

"What would you like to see more of on Singletude? (Choose all that apply.)"

Platonic Relationships--I'd like to see more about relationships with family, friends, co-workers, roommates, and others who aren't romantic or sexual partners.
42% (8)

Psychology--I'd like to see more about mental, emotional, and behavioral health for singles and psychological studies of interest to singles.
42% (8)

Tips and Tricks--I'd like to see more tips, tricks, how-to's, and practical suggestions for living life as a single.
42% (8)

Advice Q & A--I'd like to see more reader questions and responses.
31% (6)

Culture--I'd like to see more about the portrayal of singles in mainstream culture and cultural trends that affect singles.
31% (6)

Spirituality--I'd like to see more about spiritual health for singles and spiritual beliefs and practices as they influence and are influenced by singles.
31% (6)

News--I'd like to see more breaking news of interest to singles.
25% (5)

Sound-offs--I'd like to see more rants and raves about single life from readers.
25% (5)

Career--I'd like to see more about singles in the workplace.
21% (4)

Health--I'd like to see more about health care, healthy living, and other health issues that concern singles.
21% (4)

Interviews--I'd like to see more interviews with singles who do cool things and people who are making a difference in the lives of singles.
21% (4)

Philosophy--I'd like to see more posts that explore topical ideas and issues relevant to singles and singleness.
21% (4)

Finance--I'd like to see more about financial planning and economic issues pertaining to singles.
15% (3)

Politics--I'd like to see more about legislation and political issues that affect singles.
15% (3)

Reader Discussion--I'd like to see more reader comments and discussion.
15% (3)

Responses to Articles--I'd like to see more commentary on noteworthy articles published elsewhere on the Web.
15% (3)

Statistics and Research--I'd like to see more of the latest research and data on singles.
15% (3)

Dating Relationships--I'd like to see more about dating and romantic or sexual relationships.
5% (1)

Reviews--I'd like to see more reviews of books, movies, products, or resources of interest to singles.
5% (1)

Giveaway Contests--I'd like to see more free giveaways.
0% (0)

A big thank-you to everyone who took the time to respond to this poll! I wanted to get a sense of what regular readers like about Singletude and what you would like to see more of in the future so the blog can better meet your needs. This gives me food for thought, and I look forward to addressing more of the topics that proved popular in the poll.

To summarize, 26 readers answered the first poll question, and 19 readers answered the second. "Living Single: Tips and Tricks" was both the category that readers most liked and one of the top three categories that you wanted to see more of. The "Family and Social Life" and "Psychology" categories were voted second and third most popular and tied with "Living Single" for subjects that readers most want to explore in the future. To me, at least, this suggests that Singletude readers are most interested in how singleness affects them on a personal level. In other words, you're looking for information and practical advice that will help you cope with and maximize the day-to-day realities of living alone. In particular, you're concerned with how singleness affects your relationship with yourself and with others. In contrast, Singletude readers aren't as interested in abstract concepts like politics and research, which you may not believe have a direct bearing on your life.

Notably, although the Singletude audience as a whole is quite interested in reading about relationships, you're not so keen on dating and romance. Maybe that's because the Web is already saturated with information about these topics, or perhaps readers of this blog are just less interested in dating themselves. Whatever the case, I think it's further proof that "love" is NOT priority number one on every single's list and that, on the contrary, many singles enjoy richly fulfilling social lives without it.

On a final note, for those of you who indicated an interest in "Singletude Q&A" and "Singletude Sound-off," please remember that these are contributed columns that need reader questions and reader rants and raves. At the bottom of every post is an open call for submissions for both of these columns. If you like them, please consider submitting your own question or your own rant or rave about any aspect of single life.

Thanks again to everyone who reads this blog, whether you stop in regularly or just once in a blue moon. Each and every one of you is appreciated! Because of your feedback, Singletude can grow into a blog that increasingly reflects your own interests and concerns.

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.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Housebound and Single = Home Alone?, Part II

In "Housebound and Single = Home Alone?, Part I," we introduced "Marie," who has spent years trying to sustain a social life despite an existence that is largely confined to the boundaries of her home. She's looking for ideas to help her stay connected to those she cares about as well as to help her find new friends.

The housebound lifestyle is still something I'm figuring out for myself since I was diagnosed last October with a chronic illness that limits my mobility, and, unfortunately, information on the social aspect of housebound living isn't prevalent. However, I'll gladly share what has worked for me and others I've known in hopes that someone will benefit. If anyone out there is also housebound and single, please feel free to contribute your own suggestions to the discussion!

Maintaining Existing Friendships

1. Open up to your friends and family.

Just because someone cares about you doesn't mean they understand what it's like to be you or that they know what you want and need all the time. A lot of younger people have never known a peer who was housebound and may not be sure how to respond. They may assume that you're not well enough for visits or lengthy conversations. They may worry about saying the wrong thing or unintentionally making you feel bad by talking about their busy lives, which you can't participate in.

If they haven't been in touch as much since you've become housebound, make sure your friends and family know that you miss them and want to hear from them. For instance, you could say, "I know it might seem like I wouldn't be interested in ________ [whatever things you can't do anymore], but I'm relying on you to keep me informed. I love hearing about it, and I want to know everything! Hearing your stories is as good as being there."

Be upfront about your limitations, too; no one understands them like you do. Don't leave your friends guessing about what you can and can't do. If you can't handle visitors but can talk on the phone, let them know. If you get too tired to talk for two hours but can talk for one, let them know that, too.

2. Make technology work for you.

If you can't see friends and family in person, be creative. For all the flak that texters and tweeters get, we're incredibly blessed to have such convenient methods of communication at our fingertips. So when you don't have the energy for in-person visits, pick up your PDA and put technology to work for you. From Facebook updates to blog posts, you have a wealth of options for keeping current with the people you care about from the comfort of your own home.

Do you miss the immediacy of face-to-face conversation? Download Skype or similar free VOIP software, order a headset with microphone and a webcam, and your callers will be able to see every smile, nod, shrug, and wink on their monitors. (Yes, that means you have to change out of your favorite Buzz Lightyear pajamas before they call!) If your friends and fam don't have webcams, they make great birthday or holiday gifts.

3. Check your own attitude.

When you talk to your friends, does the conversation revolve around how much it sucks to be sick or hurt? Do you hit them over the head with a litany of complaints? Underneath it all, are you envious that your friends are healthy, and might that attitude be sneaking into your conversation? Chronic pain is a heavy burden to bear physically and emotionally, and you should be able to complain about it sometimes. But many people have a hard time dealing with a constant barrage of negativity, which makes them feel sad, helpless, and even guilty. So try not to contact your healthy friends when you're at your worst and save the gory details for your doctor, therapist, and support group (see 3. under "Building New Friendships" below).

Building New Friendships

1. Seek out other survivors.

Even though Marie has had a hard time finding new friends, her strongest friendship right now seems to be with another survivor of serious illness. As Marie notes, the beauty of the Internet is that it brings together virtually people who can't be together physically. Lots of communities have real-life support groups for people suffering from specific illnesses or injuries (ask your doctor for a referral), but if you aren't able to leave the house for even a limited time, an online support group is the next best thing. If you're suffering from a relatively rare disorder, the Internet might even be the best thing.

Some people who haven't ever been part of an online message board or mailing list may be dismissive of friendships formed this way, but those who've participated in groups like this know that they can provide tremendous reserves of inspiration, empathy, caring, and even humor. Friendships established through this medium, especially those that continue via email, IM, phone, and, eventually, in-person meetings, can be just as deep as friendships that form in the "real world," if not more so. Why? Because other people in a support group understand what you're going through since they have the same concerns. They're likely to be more interested in your progress, more tolerant of your limitations, and more open to developing friendships because they're in the same boat with you, experiencing the same hardships.

To find the right online support group for you, search Yahoo! Groups, Google Groups, Facebook Groups, Yuku, or any other site that has message boards, email lists, or chat. You might also run a search for web sites dedicated to the illness or injury you're suffering from. Online foundations may include forums. If you don't find what you're looking for, you can start your own group or maybe even your own blog or web site!

Prefer one-on-one interaction? Make friends with Craig--Craigslist, that is--and post an ad for a friend in similar circumstances in the Strictly Platonic section. In addition, lots of free dating sites such as PlentyofFish and OkCupid allow users to search for "pen pals," "friends," or "activity partners" and set their profiles accordingly. You can briefly explain your lifestyle in your profile and specify that you want to find others in the same situation. (If you choose to sign up at a dating site, though, don't be surprised if many of the members you encounter expect "friendship" to be an intermediate step to something more.)

2. Don't forget the 'Net for other interests, too.

Just because you're housebound doesn't mean you have to give up your interests and passions. The Web is a wonderful gathering place to discuss art, entertainment, sports, politics, or whatever else is on your mind. Although you may not find close friends among online communities built around special interests, not all conversation needs to be of the deep, soul-baring variety. In the "real world," most of our interaction is based on light small talk, and we need these kinds of loose relationships as much as we need strongly rooted friendships. The Internet allows housebound singles to continue participating in those broad social circles without setting foot out of the house. Furthermore, because communication isn't in real-time, those who struggle with pain, discomfort, or fatigue are free to respond at their leisure. And perhaps the best thing about the Internet is that it doesn't discriminate. Housebound singles can freely express themselves without worrying that others will perceive them through the filter of their physical problems.

You can find online forums for your hobbies and passions in some of the same places you found forums for the housebound. Also investigate large hub sites devoted to your interest, such as IMDb for movies or Care2 for environmental and social causes. Additionally, many companies, TV and radio stations, and print publications have web sites that encourage commentary and discussion.

3. Find good counsel.

As much as your friends and family want to help, it may be hard for them to understand or cope with the physical and emotional pain that are part of your daily life as a housebound single. A mental health counselor can offer you a sympathetic ear and a safe place to vent your frustration. She or he may also be able to suggest new ways to find social support, keep your current relationships strong, or meet routine challenges more effectively on your own. If you're depressed or anxious as a result of the changes in your lifestyle, a therapist can help you overcome that, too.

In Marie's case, a counselor helped her to accept that she was not at fault for the distance that had grown between her and her friends and introduced her to Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), which, according to the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science, is "a behavioral intervention to help people learn strategies to live life more in the present, more focused on important values and goals, and less focused on painful thoughts, feelings and experiences."

Ask your doctor for a referral to a psychotherapist who has experience with those who are housebound, or search online at sites like,, or

4. Enjoy your own company.

As Marie's story illustrates, we can't necessarily change the behavior or reactions of others, but we can always change our own way of thinking. Whether or not you're chronically ill, disabled, or housebound, you probably already know that because it's the key to being happy as a single. Singles with singletude can be content in a coupled world because we've changed our thinking--we no longer believe (if we ever did) that a romantic relationship is the only route to a fulfilling life. When illness or injury strikes, we can use this same attitude to inform how we confront our limitations.

While everyone needs some contact with other people, sometimes we confuse our social needs with the desire to be popular, the obligation to fit in, or the fear of being alone with our own thoughts. The next time you feel lonely, ask yourself if it's because you truly miss and want to interact with certain people or because you're afraid of feeling bored, excluded, abnormal, or "uncool" if you don't take up your place in the social pecking order on Saturday nights. Chances are that, at least some of the time, your "loneliness" will be revealed as insecurity about being alone.

With a newfound awareness of the difference between being a lone individual and a lonely individual, you can use your time by yourself to explore interests and ideas you never knew you had. Before long, you may discover that you like being alone and embracing the opportunities it affords to set your own schedule, choose your own projects, and work, think, plan, relax, or dream undisturbed. There's a lot you can accomplish at home on your own. For examples, see "Top Ten Hobbies for Singles." Many of the activities described can be pursued in your own living room. You might also try writing a list of all the things you can do in your time alone that your friends can't and hang it somewhere you can see it every day.

Socializing remains challenging for singles who are housebound. You can't complete a 12-step program to guarantee that your old friends will stay in touch or order new friends from Amazon. But there are measures you can take to encourage the survival of existing friendships and the growth of new ones. Beyond that, you can embrace the circumstance in which you find yourself as an opportunity instead of a limitation. Most people spend each day racing from place to place, often hassled by thoughtless, uncaring people wherever they go. However, the housebound single has a rare chance to experience a degree of autonomy and peace that others may never know. Remember, your home is your castle. Isn't it nice to live like royalty every day?

Are you housebound and single, or do you know someone who is? If so, what have you done (or what has your acquaintance done) to stay in touch with friends and family or make new friends? Have you (or has your acquaintance) found any new activities that can be enjoyed at home alone? What do you do (or what does your acquaintance do) when loneliness strikes? Has the housebound lifestyle required a mental shift of sorts and, if so, can you describe that process?

Fun Link of the Day

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.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Housebound and Single = Home Alone?, Part I

Awhile ago, "Marie" (name changed for privacy) of Footloose Femails, a Yahoo! group for single women, requested a post about the social consequences of a housebound lifestyle for singles. There are a number of reasons why one might be housebound, most of them involving physical or mental disabilities. Occasionally, people also find themselves spending a lot of time at home when living in a remote location or telecommuting, which can be similar to, though not quite the same as, being truly unable to set foot out the door. When you're single and live alone, the challenges of a housebound lifestyle are compounded. Previously, in "Single in Sickness and in Health: Prepare for Medical Emergencies," Singletude covered some of the steps single individuals can take to prepare physically for long-term health issues that limit mobility. But the emotional consequences of living single and housebound are harder to address, especially when many singles rely on activities outside the home to meet their social needs.

I don't think Marie realized it when she asked, but I've been largely housebound since I developed a long-term illness in September. I'm able to go out, but, for various reasons, going out is not that comfortable or convenient for me, so I don't do it a lot. New Year's Eve was my first night out in quite awhile, and by the time the evening wrapped up, I was starting to feel pretty uncomfortable. I'm already learning ways to cope with my isolated lifestyle, but since I've only lived this way a short time, I don't consider myself that knowledgeable on the subject. So, I knew some research was in order.

My first instinct was to search the Web, where I found a lot of information about navigating the health care system, applying for social security, workman's compensation, or other benefits, and securing one's legal rights via a living will, power of attorney, etc. Unfortunately, this wealth of information didn't extend to solutions for maintaining a healthy social life while housebound, particularly when single. So I put out a call for housebound individuals who live alone to take part in an interview.

I received several responses from housebound singles, who generously sent me emails, blog links, and excerpts from their writing. What emerged was a picture of single people living relatively disconnected lives. It was amazing how soon after the onset of serious illness or injury these individuals saw their friends and loved ones start to drift away! Unfortunately, none of them wished to be interviewed for the blog. That's when I realized that I had overlooked my best source of information, one that had been in front of me all along--Marie! I asked to interview her, and she kindly consented.

For 12 years, Marie, age 43, has suffered from the effects of lymphoma, encephalitis, and a benign brain tumor that have left her housebound with debilitating, chronic pain, fatigue, and memory loss. When she was diagnosed, she was a popular young woman, "very social" with "lots of friends" and a boyfriend she was planning to marry. But the onset of her illness forced her to quit her job, and within two years, the strain of it took a toll on her relationship, which disintegrated. She has since decided to remain single.

Unable to manage the illness entirely on her own, Marie moved back in with her mother, who lives in a separate wing of the house, an arrangement that suits them both. "Life is excruciatingly lonely if you're housebound and living alone--so I'm lucky to have the option of living with mum," she says. However, Marie rarely sees friends--once every two or three months, at best. For two years after she became ill, she could still manage afternoons out, but this diminished to a two-hour maximum after another three years, and now she only leaves the house for short daily walks, medical appointments, occasional visits to her brother, and once-in-a-blue-moon shopping trips. If her friends want to see her, they have to make the effort to come to her, and most have proven unable or unwilling to extend themselves over time.

Another difficulty has been that friends find it hard to relate to her life. Explaining how her social circle has dwindled, Marie says, "At the same time as I got sick my good friends got married, moved, and soon had children--so our lives began to take on a completely different route--that ultimately, drastically, affected the friendship...I have lost all but a handful of friends, and those friendships have lost their 'spark.'" This drifting apart due to dissimilar life circumstances is something that many never-married singles experience, but it is magnified for the housebound, who have little opportunity to interact with more like-minded people and seek out new friends.

Throughout her prolonged illness, Marie's social refuge has been the Internet and, to a lesser extent, sewing circles and writing workshops when she was still reasonably mobile. Yet she has only made one new friend in 12 years, another patient whom she met through an online medical support group. This is now the friend that Marie sees most often. Marie's frustration is palpable when she says, "This is despite making a LOT of effort to make new friends--to find local hobby groups to join and hopefully, in time, to make a friend or two....Being housebound for so long has ruined many of my friendships and I have a regular, if not daily, feeling of 'loneliness' that can be fleeting or last for a few hours." Like the other housebound singles I heard from, Marie has clearly defined the problem but is still searching for a workable solution.

As stated before, I'm still new to the "housebound" lifestyle, which I put in quotes because I'm not nearly as housebound as some, so I'm not sure I have any valuable insight into how to form and maintain friendships in these very special circumstances. But next time, I'll offer some suggestions based on what I've heard from Marie and the other housebound singles who responded to my request, as well as on my own ideas, some of which I've already started to implement. Whether you're a single who's technically housebound or just isolated from your friends and family for some other reason, perhaps these ideas will be useful.

Are you housebound and single, or do you know someone who is? If so, has loneliness been a problem? Have friends and family withdrawn since you or your acquaintance became housebound? Has it been hard to establish new friendships or relationships?

Fun Link of the Day

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.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Singles in the News: 1/24/10-1/30/10

With this week's installment, Singletude reluctantly announces that the weekly "Singles in the News" feature is coming to an end. Those of you who've been following along know that I've looked for ways to cut back while preserving the column's flavor, but even those measures haven't been sufficient. The fact remains that Singletude doesn't have adequate funding to support a time-consuming weekly publication like "Singles in the News" while still covering other singles issues. For awhile, I considered turning this into more of a singles news blog, but the feedback I've been getting suggests that readers would prefer more variety. (Anyone who thinks otherwise is welcome to speak up!)

Although I'm sad to say goodbye to "Singles in the News," working on the column for the past six months or so opened my eyes to a number of singles issues I was previously unaware of, especially in other countries. I hope it was similarly revealing for all of you. Although the regular news feature is ending, Singletude will continue to call individual noteworthy stories to your attention as they develop. Likewise, the Singles With Singletude Award and the Singleschmucker will still be handed out from time to time. And, of course, the Singles in the News reader on the homepage will keep reporting breaking headlines, so feel free to check in for the latest as often as you'd like.

In the future, should I find the means to do it, I hope to revive "Singles in the News" as a regular column. Anyone who has an interest in seeing that happen is invited to join me in contributing his or her time, talent, and passion for singles issues as a blogger for "Singles in the News." If I could find even one or two bloggers to divide news days with me, I'm sure the column could be up and running again in no time.

Till then, I leave you with the last "Singles in the News" post. Enjoy! Thanks for reading!


"Stop Looking for Mr. Right and Look for Mr. Right Now, Author Tells Women"
By Amy Willis
The Daily Telegraph
Summary: Sheeeeee's baaa-aaack. Not content with The Atlantic, Lori Gottlieb, who Singletude took to task in "'Marry Him' by Lori Gottlieb: A Singletude Response," has decided to target a wider audience with her matrimaniacal scare tactics by publishing a book. It's called Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough. The title should need no further explanation. This disappointing article is obviously on board with her views, even recruiting a psychologist to back them. Apparently, there's also a movie deal in the works, and Tobey Maguire is attached to it. (His spidey senses are really off on this one!) While the author and her supporters have a point about realism--anyone who wants to get married should be prepared for a lot of hard work and should by no means expect perfection from a partner--Gottlieb actually advocates marrying someone you don't love and seems to think women who prefer the single life are mythical creatures.


"Ladies Spread Love of Single Life This Valentine's Day"
Summary: Single ladies in Great Britain are sending snarky anti-Valentine's Day cards to each other.

"Single British Asian Mums Losing Their 'Honour Babies'"
By Ushma Mistry
Summary: This report sheds light on the plight of young, unwed mothers in South Asian immigrant communities, many of whom are forced to place their babies with adoptive families so as not to "shame" their parents.

"Trees for Cities Tree-planting to Help Singles Looking for Love in Manchester"
Summary: Singletude sees a lot of speed dating events every week, and most of them aren't newsworthy. But this one in Manchester, England offers a new twist on an old theme. Singles will be paired with partners to plant trees for the city in a community service project. We could sure use some speed dating events with a social conscience on this side of the Atlantic!


"Uncommon Law: Miss or Mrs.--What's the Court's Business?"
By Chinua Asuzu
Summary: In Nigeria, it's common practice for female attorneys to state their marital status in court, while men are subjected to no such requirement. To his credit, this male attorney asks why.

"Unlikely Alliances Work to Save Minnesota's Health-Care Program for the Poor"
By Casey Selix
Summary: Singletude has been following the fate of Minnesota's General Assistance Medical Care (GAMC), a program for low-income, child-free singles. Encouragingly, individuals, businesses, and organizations from all walks of life--even conservatives--are banding together to support the endangered program at a rally on February 4. This article takes an in-depth look at the unprecedented action to save GAMC in the midst of an uphill battle for funding. In the meantime, Minnesota has agreed to extend the program for a month longer than originally planned.

"We Must Never Stop Searching for Mr. Right"
By Becky Pugh
The Sydney Morning Herald
Summary: It wasn't long before rebuttals to Lori Gottlieb's book (see above) were zinging back across cyberspace. This one was particularly well stated. Pugh protests, "We don't accept mediocrity from our government; we don't accept mediocrity in our careers; and we don't accept it in our friendships. Why should we accept it in marriage?" She goes on to explain why 30 can no longer be touted as a benchmark age for single women hoping to marry and urges these same women not to trap themselves in loveless marriages just because "if you're lucky enough to have a big house, a good car, a husband and some children, the consensus is that you've hit the jackpot." Finally, she makes room for single women to fire back. As one says, "'...Maybe Mr. Right won't ever come along, and maybe some of us will live out our years as spinsters. For some people, it doesn't happen at all. Is that thought so awful?'" Not for this single woman!


Singles With Singletude Award
"Singles Subsidising [sic] Married"
By Mary Minihan
The Irish Times
Summary: Leo Varadkar, an Irish politician, is quite possibly the first legislator in the Western world to criticize a tax system that discriminates against singles. (The Irish system apparently operates very similarly to ours in this regard.) Says Varadkar, who is single, "'There would be people in this House for example who have the same income as me who have stay-at-home wives who don’t work, yet they pay less tax than I do....You have single people effectively subsidising the lifestyles of people who happen to be married.'" Varadkar states that he knows he'll get a lot of flak for voicing this injustice. That's probably true, and it's sad that, after all these years, any industrialized nation would still actively oppose equal treatment for all under the law. Singletude hopes that US lawmakers will follow Varadkar's example and stand up for what's right and that singles here will unite to support any candidate who does. (Part of the problem, folks, is that we singletons are just not vocal enough in the political sphere.) This is a short article, but it wins the Singles With Singletude Award for helping a pro-single politician speak out for marital status equality and for doing so without a hint of the irony or condescension that often inform such pieces.

"Slopes Trails"
By Sarah Lemon
Mail Tribune
Summary: In Oregon, a singles club called Slopes and Trails helps single adults make friends while staying physically fit. Members say it's "'more of an activities group than a dating group'" and that some have found "'lifelong friends.'"


Singleschmucker Award
"Married Men Can Earn a Third More Than Their Single Counterparts"
By Keri Sutherland
The Daily Mail
Summary: This article opens with the statement, "Married men earn nearly one third more than single males because they work harder, new research reveals." Laypeople cannot access the study in question, "Marriage and Earnings: Why Do Married Men Earn More Than Single Men?" by Matthias Pollmann-Schult of the University of Bielefeld in Germany. However, the abstract and this article make it clear that over 12,000 men were surveyed and that the study was controlled for the effects of age, education, and work experience, yet married men still earned a third more than single men did. This is not because wives were picking up the slack at home, allowing their husbands to get more done at work, the research reports, but because "'a lower level of pay satisfaction induces married men to put more effort into their work, which leads to higher wages.'" Without reading the source material, it's hard to know what the study really shows, but count me among the skeptics. I can believe that men become less satisfied with their paychecks after they get married; their wives usually expect them to be "providers" and bring home the bacon to buy a house, new furniture, and piano lessons for the kids. But in order to assess whether married men actually work harder, we would have to compare the number of hours they work per week to the number of hours that single men work. This study also attempts to prove that the income disparity between single and married men is due entirely to the latter's alleged penchant for working longer hours at the office. In order to isolate that as the "cause," researchers would need to find some way to demonstrate that employers don't favor married men for promotions, raises, and big projects that could lead to either. This is difficult because chances are few executives will admit to discriminating against single workers. Nevertheless, until we have conclusive evidence that employers have leveled the playing field for single and married men, we can't say that married men are better compensated because they somehow earned it.

"Single, But Not Alone"
By Nandita Sengupta
The Times of India
Summary: In India, single women are just beginning to emerge from centuries of objectification and brutalization. But plenty still find themselves violently victimized. Now, instead of looking to husbands to protect them, they look to the law and advocacy groups.

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 publish submissions in their original form but reserves the right to edit for length and clarity.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Singles in the News: 1/17/10-1/23/10

Perhaps due to the approach of Valentine's Day, dating, romance, and marriage were hot topics last week. Singletude is not covering as many dating stories as it once did, but I believe the following articles are newsworthy because they either report on relevant trends, contain useful information, or are woefully singlist.


"Singles Open to Interracial Relationships Because of President Obama: Poll"
PR Newswire
Summary: A joint survey from dating web sites,, and finds that 69% of single men and 75% of single women "are more open to having an interracial relationship because President Obama is African American." Also, 61.6% of single men and 80% of single women believe that prejudice against interracial couples is a thing of the past.


Singleschmucker Award
"Fix 'Marriage Penalty' in the Home Buyer Tax Credit"
By Joseph Brand
Summary: The author is right. There's a marriage penalty in the home buyer tax credit such that marrieds aren't eligible unless both qualify, whereas if two singles purchase a home together, the one who qualifies can claim the credit. But elsewhere in the legislation lies a singles penalty, and that never gets a mention. To be eligible for the credit, a married couple can earn up to $245,000 a year. But a single individual can only earn up to $145,000. This has the effect of cutting off singles once they've attained the status of upper middle class while continuing to help couples straight up into the ranks of the wealthy. That extra $100,000 that the married couple is allowed can buy a lot more house than the single person can afford. Perhaps this would be more fair if the credit was based on the number of individuals in the family unit rather than on the marital status of the home buyer. Families with children, whether headed by married or unmarried parents, are going to need more space than are singles who live alone. But it's a serious injustice to permit marital status itself to be the determining factor. Think of the travesty of a childless couple who can afford to purchase a house twice the size of that of a single mom with five kids!

"Minister Calls for Law to Force Italy's 'Big Babies' to Grow Up"
By Michael Day
The Independent
Summary: Italian singles are notorious for mooching off their doting parents well into adulthood, and now some government officials are calling for legislation that would force these singles out of the nest, although how it would work is not explained. My own thoughts on this are divided. On one hand, by our cultural standards, able-bodied adults are supposed to take care of their parents, not vice versa. On the other hand, Italian culture is not American culture, and how people choose to design their living arrangements doesn't seem like something that should be subject to governmental control in any country. Furthermore, the Italian legislators' crusade against dependent singles begs the question of whether they intend to also crack down on dependent marrieds. My guess is no. Yet how is it different for a working individual to support a spouse than it is for that person to support a grown child? If we okay one arrangement but not the other, that's discrimination. Besides, it's not true that all singles who live at home are supported by their parents. Some choose to live at home for company, convenience of location, or even to help their families. Ultimately, Singletude's position has to be that family structure is a private choice and should not be a public matter, nor should the accepted definition of family be restricted to only married couples and their minor children.

"New Economics of Marriage: The Rise of Wives"
By Richard Fry and D’Vera Cohn
Summary: Among other discoveries, the Pew Research Center finds that "married adults have made greater economic gains over the past four decades than unmarried adults." This is at least partly due to the fact that people who attain higher levels of education are both more likely to marry and more likely to earn higher incomes. Also, "for unmarried adults at each level of education, however, men's household incomes fared worse than those of women." That means that, between 1970 and 2007, single women saw their incomes grow more than did single men. However, single men still continue to earn much more on average than do single women. The median household income for a single man is still about $17,000 more per year than the median household income for a single woman. Now compare that to how single women fare against married women and watch the figure jump to an annual difference of almost $26,000! For single men and married men, the difference is less dramatic but still significant, with married men earning approximately $9,000 more per year.


"2010 Top 10 Cities for Single Women"
By Paula Santonocito
Summary: Boston, Washington, DC, and New York are the cream of the crop on this year's list. Results are based on job outlook, cost of living, transportation, social and entertainment venues, public health, ratio of singles to marrieds, ratio of single women to single men, and some intangibles such as "aesthetics, personal style, and community support."

"Nepal Court Blocks Cash Incentive for Marrying Widows"
By Gopal Sharma
Summary: Good news! Singletude is happy to announce that after months of protests, the Supreme Court of Nepal has ruled that the government may not provide dowries for single women, financially rewarding the men who marry them. Single women had feared that the new policy would encourage spousal abuse and abandonment and further undermine their efforts to be recognized as fully functioning members of society.

"When Divorced Parents Start Dating Again"
By Amy Wang
The Oregonian
Summary: This sensible article advises newly divorced parents to find other single friends rather than jump into dating relationships. And how should a divorced mom or dad introduce the kids to a new partner once she or he is ready to date again? Very S-L-O-W-L-Y. Single parents should talk about the new love interest for awhile before inviting him or her over, maintain a healthy balance between family time and time with the boyfriend or girlfriend, and skip sleepovers together when the kids are around.


"The Right Man Is Getting Harder to Find"
By Richard Whitmire
The Wall Street Journal
Summary: A discussion of the gender imbalance within the college-educated U.S. population sympathizes with single women who can't find male peers.

"Valentine's Day Traditions Around the World"
By Denise Ngo
Summary: In the U.S., V-Day is primarily a celebration of couples, and singles get ignored. However, in other countries around the world, it's an occasion for single people to celebrate with a number of highly ritualized customs. While most of these customs are overly focused on matchmaking, it's nice that they're inclusive of singles so that couples aren't the only ones having fun. Plus, they make for an interesting read.

"Why Would Anyone Get Married?"
By Edward Keenan
Eye Weekly
Summary: Studies may conclude that marriage is a raw deal for women, so why do so many single women want to get hitched? And if it's such a bonus for men, why do they avoid it like the plague? This (happily married) writer muses that it's because single men have more realistic expectations for marriage than single women do but reasons that they should get married all the same because "the world is.... better faced...with a friend and confidant and partner--a family member--at your side." Singletude can accept that it's a boon to have a loyal partner in life. But why are we so small-minded that we think it must be a sexual or romantic partner?


"A New Approach for Singles Looking for Love"
Summary: Though Singletude is not covering dating as much as previously, this new Internet dating site has a twist that's too interesting to ignore. is based on the philosophy that romance should grow out of attraction rather than vice versa. The site believes that the online prelude to a meeting puts the cart before the horse, so they send each member printed calling cards that link to the member's Internet profile, which he or she can then slip to would-be dates. If a lucky candidate returns the member's interest, he or she can look up the member and make contact.

Singles With Singletude Award
"Experts Express Doubts About BadgerCare Basic Health Insurance Proposal"
By Jake Miller
Wisconsin Rapids Tribune
Summary: In Wisconsin, a state-funded insurance program for low-income single, child-free adults is now charging premiums that some people worry are unrealistic for singles of limited means. This isn't the kind of article that would usually win a Singles With Singletude Award, but this week there really weren't any outstanding, pro-single articles. This story wins simply because it takes a critical stance toward a state government that is cutting health benefits for low-income singles, and such stories are fairly rare. Most journalists don't seem to have a problem with how single, child-free adults are excluded from the health benefits available to other groups and, in fact, tend to side with those who believe it's "unrealistic" to cover them. So this article is appreciated.

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.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Singles in the News: 1/10/10-1/16/10

In this week's "Singles in the News," China and the UK make headlines, as does US legislation that may help or harm singles.


"Sex-themed Paintings Encourage Women to Reconsider Marriage"
By Yang Yang
CRI English
Summary: Chinese artist and single female Yi Yang is making waves with an exhibit entitled "Sheng Nv--Don't Get Married and Enjoy Deceiving Men!" There are over 500,000 single women in China, and Yi thinks that "the essence of marriage for women is slavery." Her objective is to "alert single women to reconsider the meaning of marriage and contemplate what they really want from life," although she also "said she hoped all women could find their true loves in the end." Hmmm. Yi may be injecting some facetiousness into her title, but Singletude hopes she understands the difference between living single and living selfishly (i.e., remaining single with the sole purpose of stringing people along under false pretenses).

"Singles Have Multiple Concerns"
Summary: According to a three-year study of over two million participants, 41.2% of Chinese single women are concerned that they won't find suitable marriage partners. Only 8.1% of Chinese single men said the same. Perhaps the reason for the discrepancy is that 40% of the women said they had "high expectations for future husbands," yet 44% refused to "lower their standards in order to secure a groom." No word on whether the single men had equally great expectations for their potential wives. Approximately half of respondents had had less than two relationships, 40% said they didn't know what it meant to have a "successful date" and wouldn't make a "special effort" for one, and 30% said "they had no idea how to cope with the opposite sex."


"China Might Face Large Number of Single Men by 2020, Report Reveals"
Top News Singapore
By Senthil Kumar
Summary: China's Academy of Social Sciences predicts that by 2020 there will be 24 million more single men than women in China. This is, of course, posed as a problem, and for those who want to get married, it certainly is. But it seems presumptuous to assume that this will be a crisis. China is one of the most populous nations in the world and will no doubt continue to be even if 24 million of its single men don't reproduce. And this slanted coverage doesn't allow for the possibility that not all of those men will want to marry or have children. Some might even be glad not to have that responsibility.

"Healthy Holiday Camps Are the Ideal Place for Single Women to Make Friends and Lose Weight"
Summary: Here's something a little different. FitFarms, a UK weight loss camp, aims to help single women make friends and travel partners while motivating each other to get in shape.

"Women Are Especially Hard Hit by State Budget Cuts, Report Says"
By John M. Guilfoil
The Boston Globe
Summary: Women in Massachusetts, especially single moms, are suffering from "cuts in state funding to programs that provide adult education, employment training, and child care subsidies."


"Opinion: 'Sheng Nv'--Social Boon or Societal Ill?"
By Yang Yang
CRI English
Summary: In the wake of Yi Yang's controversial artwork, this Chinese news station critically examines discrimination confronting the sheng nv, translated literally (not to mention disparagingly) as "leftover woman." Yes, this is the Chinese version of "spinster," and their ranks are growing in China, just as in other industrialized nations. One wonders why, when there are all these unmarried women around, single men in China are said to be so desperate for wives. The article discusses gender stereotyping that villanizes single women while celebrating single men and takes the media to task for promoting unflattering, hurtful labels. In conclusion, the author reasons, "Suppose all women were to abandon their dreams of getting advanced academic degrees to get married, would they automatically live happy lives? So why shouldn't they live a lifestyle that they really want and wait until they meet the right person at the right time?" A runner-up for the Singles With Singletude Award.


"ET Equation Estimates Number of Potential Girlfriends"
By Michael Marshall
Short Sharp Science
Summary: Peter Backus of the University of Warwick in the UK estimates that one's statistical probability of finding a soul mate is 1:285,000 in his controversial work, "Why I Don't Have a Girlfriend: An Application of the Drake Equation to Love in the UK." This article analyzes his theory and suggests some modifications, which may increase prospects for singles who are looking for mates.

"NCL Woos Single Travelers with Epic Studios"
By Jane Archer
Summary: Singles, if you want to go on a cruise, book yours on the Norwegian Cruise Line ship Epic. They just installed over 100 new cabins for solo passengers. And guess what? No dreaded singles supplements! Let's hope this, uh, makes waves throughout the travel industry and gains momentum.

"Rise of the Swofties* (*That's Single Women Over Fifty, Who Like Clubbing, Tweeting, and Exotic Hols)"
By Liz Hull
The Daily Mail
Summary: At last we've moved on from the cougars! Meet the swofties. They're female, over 50, and single, and they like it that way. A British study of 1,000 such women reveals that 50% "are content to be alone," and only 17% are "actively dating." In keeping with their independent lifestyle, swofties also have a sense of adventure. Half of them are choosing to "learn a new skill after reaching 50, with computer courses, a foreign language, cooking and even salsa dancing among the most popular," a quarter of them are working out at the gym, one-fifth are on Facebook and Twitter, and almost one-fifth are traveling abroad. A quarter state that they are "at the happiest time of their adult lives." How nice it is to see an article about older single women that has nothing to do with how "desperate" they are for dates!


Singles With Singletude Award
"Mythbuster: Health Insurance Reform and Marriage Penalty"
American Chronicle
Summary: Last week, the Singleschmucker Award went to a report promoting the myth that the current health care bill includes a marriage penalty. As always, the pro-marriage crowd is upset when it doesn't get special privileges, and for weeks now, their supporters have been trying their hardest to convince everyone that Congress is discriminating against them. Well, finally, here is a logical, accurate counterargument that explains why a married couple would be expected to contribute more to health care than two singles individually: "Under all federal income-related assistance programs, total assistance provided to two single people is greater than the total assistance provided to a married couple for the simple fact that two people living together have lower expenses than two people living separately....[The] Republican myth also ignores all the benefits married couples get under health reform, such as allowing coverage under a spouse's plan, and more affordable rates per person under a family plan than individuals got when they were single." Thank you to the American Chronicle for refuting the pro-marriage agenda's lies and obfuscations at last!

"Programs Help Women Keep Homes"
10TV News
Summary: The Women's Fund of Central Ohio is giving financial aid to single female homeowners trying to avoid foreclosure.

Singleschmucker Award
"Same-sex Marriage Pays Off, S.F. Economist Says"
By Bob Egelko
San Francisco Chronicle
Summary: Singletude believes that all people should be treated equally in the eyes of the law. But is expanding an already discriminatory institution a step toward equality? San Francisco's chief economist, Edmund Egan, apparently doesn't care about equality. He's convinced that married people are healthier and wealthier than singles, so he thinks everyone should be married. "'Married individuals are healthier, on average, and behave in healthier ways than single individuals,'" he says. Supposedly among these "healthier ways" are "lower worker absenteeism, greater productivity, higher wages and more payroll taxes...Married people also are less likely to need health care and are more likely than single people or domestic partners to be covered by insurance...He also said lesbians and gays now use 'a disproportionately high level' of drug and alcohol treatment programs, 'and one reason is discrimination.'" The article continues, "Research showing that married people are more likely than singles to accumulate wealth suggests that allowing same-sex marriage would increase spending on consumer goods." It's true that married people do earn higher wages and, therefore, spend more and pay more taxes. But Egan fails to consider that this isn't because marriage magically makes people better workers but because employers are biased toward married employees. Egan doesn't cite any research, so I don't know how accurate his claims are regarding absenteeism and productivity, but it stands to reason that employees who hold positions with higher salaries and greater responsibility would have more motivation to show up and be more productive and more free cash to spend. Married couples also have greater access to health care because only adults in romantic relationships are permitted to give insurance benefits to each other. Whether they use their health benefits less frequently than singles is very debatable; I've never seen any research that came to that conclusion. As for the assertion that LGBTers are driven to drug and alcohol problems because of marital status discrimination, if this is true, then surely it would be a moral crime to continue rewarding married couples at the expense of singles of any sexual orientation. Yet, instead of redressing all these injustices, Egan wants to perpetuate them. Reporter Bob Egelko has the perfect platform to challenge Egan's argument but does not, making this article the winner of this week's Singleschmucker Award.

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.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Singles in the News: 1/3/10-1/9/10

Better late than never! Here is last week's "Singles in the News." This time, the spotlight was on singles in the Middle East.


"Economic Hardship Changes Marriage Trends in Jordan"
By Doron Peskin
Summary: The average age of marriage is increasing in Jordan, presumably due to rampant inflation coupled with unemployment, which makes it difficult for singles to take on the financial responsibilities of marriage.


"Austrians Say Time Together Most Important Part of Relationship"
By Lisa Chapman
Austrian Times
Summary: Austrians also say that health and financial security are more important to them than "'happiness in love'" according to a marketing poll. Although 90% of singles agree that they "want a new relationship in 2010," a mere 28% report that they "will actively seek one." "Only" 27% of Austrian singles say they are "satisfied with their lives" as opposed to 38% of coupled Austrians. However, it seems like Austrians aren't very satisfied in general; a 38% satisfaction rate doesn't do much to recommend relationships as the antidote to discontentment.

By Ariel Levy
The New Yorker
Summary: The New Yorker reviews Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage by Elizabeth Gilbert and wonders how indeed the book's author convinces herself to jump in for another round of matrimony after listing all the reasons why she believes marriage has become a meaningless institution and a losing gamble for women.


"Women with Partner, Baby Gain More Weight Than Single Women"
By Sharyn Alden
Health Behavior News Service
Summary: Yep, it's true. Getting married and giving birth are even more predictive of weight gain than a woman's level of physical activity--at least so says "Effects of Having a Baby on Weight Gain" by Dr. Wendy J. Brown, et al. But lest Singletude be guilty of the same fearmongering that matrimaniacs engage in, you should know that marriage is only associated with an increase of four pounds. However, if a woman adds a baby to her new family, the weight gain jumps by nine pounds. The researchers hypothesize that married mothers are heftier because they undergo metabolic changes during pregnancy, have less time for exercise and healthy meal prep, and may eat more to keep up their energy levels or for "'mindless ingestion of comfort food.'" It's not clear why these "happily married everafter" women would need "'comfort food.'" It's also suggested that single women may keep themselves thin just to be attractive to men, implying that married women let themselves go.


"Many Live Happily Single Today"
By David Yount
Scripps News
Summary: An excerpt from the author's book, Celebrating the Single Life: Keys to Successful Living on Your Own, sends an inspirational message to singles about self-reliance. It's research-based, too!

Singleschmucker Award
"Married Couples Pay More Than Unmarried Under Health Bill"
By Martin Vaughan
Dow Jones Newswires
Summary: This report claims that the new health care bill discriminates against married people, who will not be eligible for the same benefits as single individuals because their two incomes will be counted as one. As an example of this "injustice," Vaughan writes, "For an unmarried couple with income of $25,000 each, combined premiums would be capped at $3,076 per year, under the House bill. If the couple gets married, with a combined income of $50,000, their annual premium cap jumps to $5,160--a 'penalty' of $2,084....The disparity is slightly smaller in the Senate version..." What Vaughan doesn't seem to realize is that two single people can't combine their premiums. Unless these two singles are cohabiting and thus sharing their finances and living expenses, which most single people aren't, each person has only his or her own $25,000 income to live on. If two single people, each making $25,000 a year, get married, they are now a family unit making $50,000 a year. Their living expenses remain about the same since two can live almost as cheaply as one, and simultaneously they're taxed less, so they make out a lot better together than either of them did as a single. Now, if we compared this couple to an individual earning $50,000 a year and found that the couple's premium cap was higher, then there would be grounds to argue that married couples were getting the short end of the stick, although, to be honest, two people do use more medical services than one, so even this argument would be suspect. But it's completely misleading to compare the couple, which is a financial unit, to two singles, who are not. For once, Congress is setting a precedent that is somewhat more equitable to singles, and marrieds don't like it. They want to have their cake and eat it, too--to be considered as a financial unit when it suits them but as two separate taxpayers when it doesn't. And that attitude is deserving of a Singleschmucker.


"Bahrain's New Independence"
By Sandeep Singh Grewal
The Media Line
Summary: An increase in educational and career opportunities has bolstered a sense of independence and self-sufficiency among Bahrain's single women, who are choosing to remain unmarried in greater numbers. Nevertheless, they are still subject to social prejudice.

"Credit Card 'Default High Among Bahraini Women'"
Summary: Also in Bahrain, a study of 301 women by the Bahrain Centre for Studies and Research indicates that single women are more conservative with their credit card usage than married women are.

"One in Four Say They Will Leave a Legacy"
By Celina Ribeiro
Summary: A poll of British citizens finds, among other things, that one-third of single adults intend to donate part of their estates to charity. Only 20% of people who have ever been married plan to do the same.

"Single in the City: The Joy of Food and Chat Round My Table: Er...What Table?"
By Rym Ghazal
The National
Summary: In the United Arab Emirates, one single complains that apartments for one exclude dining rooms because it's assumed that singles don't prepare and eat meals at home.

Singles With Singletude Award
"Swamped with Singles"
By Yael Brygel
The Jerusalem Post
Summary: Like other industrialized societies, Israel's demographics are shifting as more people remain single for longer. Reasons for this are discussed. As in most other Westernized countries, the women's movement and soul mate ideals have had a significant impact. Laizy Shapira, the co-creator of Srugim, apparently a sort of Friends for the religious Israeli set, opens up about his inspiration for the show and singlism within the Jewish community, while the creators of a popular web site about the Jewish single life see prolonged singleness as a "problem" because most of the singles they meet say they'd rather be married. However, the singles interviewed here seem more concerned about how they are stigmatized than about finding marital partners. Says Shapira, "'...It shouldn't be treated as an illness. I know that there is a lot of goodwill, but a lot of the goodwill turns into questions like Why don't you compromise?....Why don't you go out with anyone that I offer you?...I think it needs to be accepted that it is part of the community and that it is not going to resolve itself.'"


"Govt Flouts SC Stay on Cash for Singless [sic]"
The Himalayan Times
Summary: Despite months of protests from single women, Nepal has announced that it has passed legislation to grant government-sponsored dowries to men who marry single females. The nation's single women have been up in arms over the controversial legislation, concerned that it will make them more vulnerable to reliance on and abuse by men. The organization Women for Human Rights will protest the law in the Supreme Court.

"More Travel Choice for Single Parent Families"
Summary: This looks interesting. Friendship Travel has launched, travel packages exclusively for single parents and their kids.

"S. Korean Bureaucrats Try Ministry of Matchmaking"
By Christine Kim and Jon Herskovitz
Summary: South Korea becomes the latest nation to meddle in its citizens' personal affairs. From the article: "The health ministry plans a matchmaking programme [sic] where it will bring single public servants together for social gatherings and community service work in the hopes of fostering love among available bureaucrats looking to wed." The government plans to expand the program to target other segments, as well.

"Top 5 Cities for Single Travel in 2010"
By Melanie Nayer
Summary: Not quite sure how they came up with this list, but the best travel destinations for single women are supposedly Key West, FL; Sedona, AZ; Paris; Galway, Ireland; and New York. Huh. Okay.


"Rebuilding Life After Fleeing Abuse"
By Cynthia Overweg
Ventura County Star
Summary: As if recovering from domestic abuse wasn't hard enough in itself, single women who leave abusive partners are finding themselves paddling as hard as they can to stay afloat in this economy. One single mom is profiled.

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.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Singles in the News: 12/27/09-1/2/10

As you know if you've been following along with Singletude, "Singles in the News" is in transition. As popular as the column has become and as important as I think it is to draw more attention to events concerning singles and the way they're portrayed in the media, there are simply too many stories for me to read and summarize them all as a free service. In one way, that's a great development because it means that singles are in the public eye more than ever before. But, sadly, it also means that I can't bring "Singles in the News" to you in the same way that I used to.

Specifically, the original goal of "Singles in the News" was to both highlight stories of interest to singles and to present a broad snapshot of how singles are characterized in the media. To accomplish the latter, I collected as many stories as I could. I will no longer be doing that. Instead, starting today, I'll be wielding a heavier editorial hand, selecting maybe 10 or so articles a week for coverage. As in the past, these reports will have to be from legitimate, unbiased news sources and not from blogs or from web sites with a stated political or religious agenda. However, I'll be tightening my criteria further to only include articles that either have some important new information to impart or that exemplify either encouragingly progressive or disturbingly regressive attitudes toward single adults. That means "Singles in the News" won't feature articles about dating unless they display a new or unusual perspective on the topic or demonstrate a markedly pro- or anti-single philosophy. You also won't see as many stories about very common problems such as homelessness or poverty among singles; these issues are simply too widespread to cover local stories unless they're standouts in some way. Speaking of "local," there will be less local news in general unless, again, the subject is distinctive or applicable in a larger way.

So, as "Singles in the News" changes in 2010, let's review some of what we learned in 2009, especially since we may no longer be able to keep up with all of these topics:

1. Homelessness and poverty are significant issues for single people. Single adults and single parents are particularly vulnerable to economic hardship even though the public tends to have more interest in and sympathy for families. Singles are more likely to struggle with inadequate food, housing, and necessities than are married couples. Fortunately, many homeless shelters and food banks are aware of this and are actively seeking to support singles. However, many of them are underfunded.

2. In some developing countries in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and South America, singles are still subjected to severe social and legal discrimination. Single women in particular are victimized by laws that deny them the basic rights available to single men and married women. Many single women in these nations cannot do things that we take for granted in the Western world such as owning property, receiving an inheritance, starting a business, or even accessing education, job training, and health care. In the most repressive countries, they are viewed as the chattel of men and refused free movement, speech, and choice in such defining decisions as whether or not they will marry. Thankfully, some of these single females are organizing coalitions in their own corners of the world and petitioning for reform. Slowly but surely, change is happening as third-world governments learn that these women won't be silenced.

3. In most industrialized nations, the outlook for singles is much the same as it is in the United States. Their numbers are increasing as marriage is delayed or shunned altogether, and retailers are scrambling to keep up with the trend. Singles web sites (mostly geared toward dating), singles tours and travel agents, single housing units, single servings in the supermarket, single-sized products...all are enjoying increased popularity worldwide.

4. Some journalists, politicians, researchers, religious officials, and civilian matrimaniacs have been left wringing their hands at the demographic changes sweeping the US and other nations. Singlism is alive and well, and many people are horrified that single adults are growing beyond minority status. Some of these same people make incredibly offensive remarks about singles and use fallacious research claims to back up their statements. Typically, their rhetoric is grounded in the firm belief that singleness is not normal; that marriage is preferable to singleness and confers a host of benefits such as health, happiness, sexual fulfillment, security, and personal growth; that married people should be entitled to legal, economic, and social privileges that singles do not deserve; and that married-couple households are far better for children than single-parent households.

5. Refreshingly, more and more journalists "get it." They understand that the single life has many advantages and that singleness is a legitimate, even desirable option for some. Their op-eds and how-tos validate singles and help them make the most of their single status instead of trying to convert them to happily marrieds. They also recognize that singles often get the short end of the stick and draw attention to it through honest, unbiased reporting. They sympathize with and publicize the injustices that singles face in employment, health care, housing, banking, taxation, travel, insurance, and other dimensions. Their writing increasingly advances the cause of singles who want to be treated fairly and equitably and affirms their value to the world.

Today, "Singles in the News" debuts in its new format. Feedback is welcome and appreciated. Hopefully, readers will be as enthusiastic about it now as they were about it before. If not, then perhaps I'll have to reevaluate whether to replace it with something else entirely.


"Dating and Divorce, Facebook-style"
By Eilene Zimmerman
Summary: A truly thoughtful piece about how social networks in general and Facebook specifically have transformed the contemporary dating scene. While it's become fashionable to condemn Facebook for all the world's ills, Zimmerman departs from the blame game to explore how the site has restored and expanded on the dating sensibilities of a community-based, low-tech era, citing commentary from the influential voices of 2009. Of course, the flip side is that the "neighborhood" environment both pulls us together and tears us apart by offering up temptations accessible with just the click of a mouse.

"How Women in Their 30s Put Having a Baby Before Love"
By Fay Schlesinger
The Daily Mail
Summary: A poll of 3,100 thirty- and forty-something British singles examined attitudes toward relationships in light of their desire to conceive. Fully 42% of single women and 30% of single men agreed that even if they met an "ideal partner," they would think twice about getting involved if they knew that individual had fertility issues. Over two-thirds were concerned about their ability to have children and worried that pregnancy would be problematic if they waited too long. In addition, three-quarters said it was possible that fertility problems could end their relationships. All this is very interesting, but notice how the journalist takes these facts and "rearranges" them. First of all, her headline implies that most women in their thirties are more interested in children than in romantic partners. But, in fact, only 42% stated that they would reject an "ideal partner" who might not be able to have children. That means the majority, 58%, would still prefer an "ideal partner" to the chance for a baby. Second, the headline and opening paragraphs frame this value system as uniquely female. However, the study shows that a significant number of single men (30%) also place a higher emphasis on children than marital partners. Finally and most importantly, the report approaches these findings from the stance that they are automatically troubling. Looking again at the headline, Schlesinger's use of the phrase "put having a baby before love" suggests that the parent-child bond isn't really love; only romantic feelings count as love. "In a growing trend dubbed the 'breeder relationship', [sic] women who wait until their 30s or 40s to start a family are then rushing into loveless partnerships for the sake of having an instant family," the article warns ominously even though modern notions of love have only recently been a requirement for doing just that. What this poll really reveals is that some single women and some single men prioritize having children more than having romantic relationships. Why are their values automatically worthy of denunciation?

"Iran Bars Single Women From Working in Gas Field"
Summary: Wow. From the article: "Iran has barred single women from working for a state firm that operates a huge gas field and petrochemical plants on the shores of the Gulf....More than 18 months ago, Iranian newspapers carried an instruction by the company requiring that 'single employees start creating a family.'" For some reason, the article has made this a women's issue, but actually this affects all singles, and single men are the ones more likely to be working in the Iranian petrochemical industry. The injunction continues, "'As being married is one of the criteria of employment, we are announcing for the last time that all female and male colleagues have until September 21 to go ahead with this important and moral religious duty.'" Can you imagine your boss telling you that you had 18 months to marry or lose your job? I'm not a big supporter of the Iraq War, but reports like this make me so thankful our troops are defending us against people with this mentality. We may moan and complain sometimes about how bad we have it as singles in the US, but this is a whole other level of bad.


"Marriage Insulates Men From Health, Financial Shocks"
By Vivian Luk
The Vancouver Sun
Summary: Results of the Canadian Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics, conducted between 1999 and 2002, show that when husbands are stricken with long-term illness, their wives help by picking up more slack around the house. Supposedly, this enables men to "focus solely on their jobs." Not surprisingly, the study also found that better health and more years together were correlated with greater marital stability. This, of course, turns into an opportunity for study author Giovanni Gallipoli of the University of British Columbia, to extol the virtues of marriage as good "insurance" for men. Notice that the study apparently couldn't make the same claim for women or else Gallipoli surely would've raved about it. Could it be that this is another case in which marriage is good for the gander but not so much for the goose? To put it more bluntly, is it possible that when working wives get sick, they don't tend to get the same support from their husbands? Furthermore, if I were a man, I don't think I'd be sold on marriage just because my future wife might help out a little more around the house if I were incapacitated. It would be more convincing if I could expect her to get a job so I could concentrate on getting well! In explanation, the article says, "According to the research, women tend to marry men who earn relatively more, so wives also find it unnecessary to work longer hours." So, the man can roll out of his deathbed and traipse off to work every day because he's the breadwinner while his healthy wife continues earning disposable income and maybe vacuums a few more times a week? I fail to see how that's much of a security blanket for the man. Furthermore, though it's nice that so many Canadian families can seemingly survive with one earner, I wonder how generalizable this study would be to dual-income populations. Would most wives already pushed to the max juggling full-time professional jobs and the "second shift" really be able to pick up the slack for their husbands? If not, is marriage really such good "insurance"? If anything, this study shows just how much spouses don't contribute when one is indisposed.


Singles With Singletude Award
"Nepal's Widows Reject Govt's Remarriage Proposal"
By Danielle Shapiro
We news
Summary: The Indian Supreme Court is now deciding whether to overrule legislation that would pay men to marry single women, further entrenching female dependence and raising the specter that single men may marry for the money, only to abuse or abandon their new wives. The in-depth article further details social customs that oppress single and even remarried women, the work of singles advocacy groups, and other passed or pending legislation regarding inheritances and social security for single women.

"Sayonara to the Rabbit Hutch: Living with Roommates in Japan"
By Mariko Sanchanta
The Wall Street Journal
Long-term singleness is a relatively new concept in Japan. So are roommates. But hard times have convinced some young single adults to give up their shoebox studios for more spacious digs with strangers.


Singleschmucker Award
"Need to Curb Crime in Jleeb"
By Khaled Aljenfawi
Arab Times
Summary: In many Arab countries, singles are demonized and segregated from the rest of the population. In this op-ed, the author argues that a city in Kuwait has a high crime rate because of its disproportionate population of single men. His solution would be to haul them off to their own version of a penal colony on the outskirts of the city. Says Aljenfawi, "Such a phenomenon where one finds groups of single men living among families is uncommon in other societies. In addition to its being socially inappropriate, it is out of place to allow single men to mingle with families....We have no other option, but to outlaw the clustering and gathering of huge number [sic] of single laborers in one particular geographical area." Perhaps, due to enforced segregation, it is uncommon for single men to live among families in Muslim nations. But in most of the rest of the world, it happens all the time, and many of the countries in which it occurs have very low crime rates. But, then, this argument wasn't based on logic in the first place, was it? I know this article was written within a different cultural context, but the fact that anyone, anywhere would condone what is essentially apartheid by marital status is horrifying.


"Japanese Singles Wish for Marriage in New Year, Government Wishes for More Babies"
By Jonathan Day and Ma Jie
China View
Summary: Although the article's title suggests that the majority of Japanese singles can't wait to get married, in reality, the growing throngs of the unmarried fall into two distinct groups--those who are single by choice and those who are single by circumstance. The article differentiates both groups while paying special attention to the factors behind the explosion in singles and the potential consequences for a nation with a falling birthrate.


"In My View: What Can We Do to Save Marriage?"
By Kirk and Anita Boyenga
The State Journal-Register
Summary: Building their case for marriage on the rigid gender roles of the past, these smug marrieds want to persuade us that 1) "tax codes should be structured to benefit married husbands and wives," 2) "public funds for those in severe need should be given priority to intact husband-wife households" because "we are destroying entire communities by financially rewarding single women who bear and try to raise children without a male presence," and 3) "educators at all levels need to teach the importance of the natural family in sustaining the culture, paying the bills and upholding communities." I wonder if the Boyengas are aware that the "natural" (aka, nuclear) family didn't even exist until the twentieth century and that its track record for community involvement and cultural innovation isn't exemplary. Then, without any real support for that model as the standard, they want to financially penalize everyone else who lives differently including the innocent children who are born to single mothers. I'm sure the kids won't mind, though, once they're informed that they are single-handedly "destroying entire communities." Yes, it's obvious how much this married couple supports their community.

"Single Women Seek Sub-quota Within Women's Quota"
The New Indian Express
Summary: Single women in India are petitioning for the establishment of legal quotas for their employment.

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.