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Book Review: Singled Out, by Bella DePaulo July 21, 2008

Posted by Onely in book review, Reviews, Singled Out, We like. . ..
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DePaulo, Bella. Singled Out, How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2006.

From Singled Out

“Some components of singlism are built right into American laws and institutions, which means that neither coupled nor single people have any say about sustaining them. Take Social Security, for example. If you are a married person covered by Social Security and you die, your spouse can recieve your benefits. But if you are a single person who worked side by side with the married person at the same job for the same number of years and you die, no other adult can receive your benefits. Your money goes back into the system.”

How could I have never asked myself: Why? DePaulo explores why few people question our culture’s ingrained bias toward coupledom, and why we should start. 

Lisa and I will likely be talking about Singled Out for a while, in several posts. It’s crammed with startling and illuminating examples of social and institutional prejudice against singles. But don’t worry! DePaulo is not strident or vituperative (even though one could argue that she–and all singles–have reason to be). She takes the high road, describing incidents of blatant and unnerving discrimination against non-coupled people as “interesting, and here’s why. . .” (whereas I, confronted with the same situations, would label them as “F*&$ing poppycock” and then degenerate into a fit of sputtering and possible tears).  

De Paulo presents studies that claim to “prove” how much happier and healthier marrieds are than singles; she then shows us how, when the data are analyzed according to good scientific standards, no real significant differences surface between the two groups. Data analysis? Sound dry? It could have been, but DePaulo has done all the hard work for us readers already, crunched the numbers into a smooth paste of prose.

This book debunks, chapter by chapter, ten myths about single people.  We’ll list the ten myths here and then address them individually in later posts as seems fit. If you have thoughts on a myth, we’d love to hear your comments. 



1. MYTH: Marrieds Know Best 

2. MYTH: Singles Are Interested in Just One Thing–Getting Coupled

3.  MYTH: You Are Miserable and Lonely and Your Life Is Tragic

4. MYTH: Like a Child, You Are Self-Centered and Immature and Your Time Isn’t Worth Anything Since You Have Nothing to Do but Play

5. MYTH: Attention, Single Women: Your Work Won’t Love You Back and Your Eggs Will Dry Up. Also, You Don’t Get Any and You’re Promiscuous. 

6. MYTH: Attention, Single Men: You Are Horny, Slovenly, and Irresponsible, and You Are the Scary Criminals. Or, You are Sexy, Fastidious, Frivolous, and Gay.

7. MYTH: Attention, Single Parents: Your Kids Are Doomed

8. MYTH: You Don’t Have Anyone and You Don’t Have a Life

9. MYTH: You Will Grow Old Alone and You Will Die in a Room by Yourself Where No One Will Find You For Weeks

10. MYTH: Let’s Give All the Perks, Gifts, and Cash to Couples and Call It Family Values


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