All the single ladies — Part 3; a new ism.

As I wrote about in my previous blog entries, I read a very interesting article by Kate Bolick, who cites Bella DePaulo. DePaulo, a social psychologist, created the term “singlism”, which is the “stigmatizing of adults who are single [and] includes negative stereotyping of singles and discrimination against singles”. In her book, Singled Out, she argues that “the complexities of modern life and the fragility of the institution of marriage have inspired an unprecedented glorification of coupling”. I don’t agree with this conceptually. I think the primary complaint of my single friends and patients is not that they feel stereotyped, but rather that they feel lonely.

De Paulo feels that singlism is an ism like any other, like racism or sexism, or ageism. In that light, I can see DePaulo’s point that any form of discrimination adds other shades to an already possible painful situation. From my perspective as a therapist, the aspect of the single experience that interests me most is the opportunity to develop a deeper connection to oneself, and thus to others, whether those connections are romantic or not. In my practice, I have women who have been married all their lives and never had a variety of partners. I also have women who have had many partners and desire a long-term, monogamous relationship. Either way, one’s connection to oneself is the point from which all intimate relationships spring, so I think that must be nurtured first. Being single is a great way to start and nurture that relationship with the self.

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