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MEA CULPA: Onely Commits Couplism February 18, 2009

Posted by Onely in Bad Onely Activities, Everyday Happenings, Food for Thought.
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Hailes Castle Confessional, from SSPIA

Hailes Castle Confessional, from SSPIA

Bless me, Copious Readers, for I have sinned. I have committed egregious acts of couplism and heteronormativity, of the kind that we here at Onely love to decry and make fun of when they are committed against us.

A security officer at my work, whom I knew to be divorced, was telling me about how his daughters got a Nintendo Wii for Christmas and how they spent his day off playing with it. I made some comment about how his girls won’t want to go home now–because I was assuming that they were staying at his house on vacation and lived with their mom the rest of their time. He corrected me right quick, saying “No, actually I have custody.” Um.

Now I wonder why I assumed otherwise? It is because I have divorced male friends whose children live with their moms? Or it is because I’ve been conditioned somehow to think of the father as the first to fall out of the nuclear  unit when a separation occurs, either because of the stereotype of deadbeat dads, or because of exposure to court systems that tend to think, in their own sexist way, that moms are inherently better for kids?  My point is that awareness is learned, not instinctive, and we (ok, I) have to actively question not only other people’s prejudices, but our own.

And to continue the confessional:  I have several times refrained from telling some of my coupled friends about Onely because I think to myself, “Oh, they won’t care, they’re not single.” Well, what if one of my friends had a blog about being married, and didn’t tell me about it because I’m single? In that case, I would cry SINGLISM! So it’s only fair that I call myself out on my couplism here.

Granted, a marginalized group (singles) can usually understand the perspective of a mainstream group (coupleds) better than the mainstream can understand the marginalized–for instance, I can read a blog about being black, but I won’t really ever “get” it in the way a black person would. But singlism isn’t racism and I shouldn’t assume my coupled friends are uninterested in or unable to understand Onely just because of their relationship status.

Ok Copious Readers, now it’s your turn–what acts of Heteronormativity or Couplism have you committed?



1. Alan - February 18, 2009

I have sometimes feigned interest in getting coupled, when in fact I have no plans to do so.

Not honest, but when someone asks you about your romantic life it seems like the normal and expected response.

If I was more daring I might be more honest.

onely - February 20, 2009

Alan, interesting–and if we’re talking about the dating sphere here, I wonder if it’s different for men being on the receiving end of that question, than for women. For instance, if a male date of mine asked me about my plans for getting coupled, if I say I’m not really looking for that right now, would he be more likely to be relieved than a woman would be? That’s the stereotype anyway. –CC

2. Amy - February 18, 2009

Sorry I’m not really answering your q… but RE: coupled friends not being interested in your blog – I actually had sort of the opposite inclination when starting a new relationship after being single for a while. I felt like my friends and fam would be disappointed… because they seemed so interested and entertained by my single gal life/stories. Ugh I suppose it’s just best not to care what people think – easier said than done 😉

onely - February 20, 2009

Amy, that’s a really good point–which I had never thought of. . .
I think it plays into how much women are defined by their status (men too, but not as much).
Come to think of it, women are often defined by external factors that have nothing to do with them as a person–beauty standards are an example.
. . whoa, tangent attack. . . = ) CC.

3. me - February 18, 2009

I actually felt guilty this past Valentine’s Day. I started a new job and of course am the only single in the group. I like being single, but felt a little sad about it this past valentines. Bummer.

onely - February 20, 2009

ME: I used to attend management meetings at work and I would be the only single person in the whole room, of over a dozen people. (Boring meetings–I had to entertain myself somehow. I also observed whether people’s shoes were scuffed or polished.) It actually sometimes made me feel kind of wierd, like–do you need to be married to be in management? I guess they say that married people do get promoted more and earn more in general. I don’t have enough experience with that to comment. –CC

4. lori - February 18, 2009

CC- your experience reminds me of the old riddle about the young boy who is taken to the emergency room. The doctor on duty says “I can’t treat him, he’s my son,” but the doctor is not the father. Who is the doctor? Our brains are so conditioned to ancient traditionally held roles, that often we don’t automatically assume that the treating physician was the boy’s mother. It will take some time before we adjust to the relative parity achieved, on both sides.
Just as it will take a long time, if ever, for people to stop automatically assuming that a single person is a miserable social recluse, a commitment-phobe, or really deep-down are desperately longing to get married and have babies and get divorced like normal people.

onely - February 20, 2009

Lori: I had actually heard that riddle sometime in the past, and I remember I fell for it. I was like “OH WHAT COULD THE ANSWER BEEEE???” um, oops. = ) CC

5. Lauri - February 19, 2009

Well first of all, I don’t think your assumption was that bad, given that courts almost always rule that children live with their mothers in custody disputes, it’s just much more common (not that it’s “right”). Plus, given that you speaking specifically about “vacation week” in this instance it might make me assume the kids were staying someplace other than “home” as well.

onely - February 20, 2009

ok, thanks Lauri, I guess it wasn’t that bad. = ) CC

6. Rachel - February 20, 2009

Reminds me of my realization in my early thirties: Both of my grandmothers had been single mothers, too! Somehow I had completely missed the fact that they had been single mothers – I knew they were mothers but I blocked out – for decades! – that they were single (both of them had lost their husbands in WWII). It was as if being widowed didn’t quite count or something…

7. Pop Culture, Scourge of the Onelies (cross-listed as Guilty Pleasure no. 72x.5): Millionaire Matchmaker « Onely. - February 20, 2009

[…] match THIS!, millionaire matchmaker, nature/culture, nostalgia, we love being single trackback On Wednesday, Christina wrote a confessional post — and now it’s my turn: Ladies and Gentlemen, I […]

8. StillOnely - February 20, 2009

Ok, I joined a singles dating site but what I really want is someone to have coffee with & discuss NBA & get to know. What’s up with the single guys wanting to jump into a relationship without knowing anything about the other person? Did they miss the Dr. Phil show where the couple battled viciously daily? He gave the husband a Q&A & the guy knew nothing about his wife. Dr. Phil said something like, “Why didn’t you two get to know each other, develop a friendship first?” He’s right but no one gets it & that’s why I remain still onely.

onely - February 21, 2009

Hm, I would have liked to see that episode. Or see the look on the guy’s face. The poor wife. Though sometimes you can know really deep things about a person, but not necessarily know they like purple better than green. I’m going to be cynical and suggest that perhaps the guys on the dating site are not so much interested in jumping into a relationship as jumping into bed. I know, it’s so annoying when they can’t just have a conversation. I mean, don’t they realize how attractive *communicators* are? –CC

9. StillOnely - February 24, 2009

Yes, I guess it’s true. I just “broke-up” with 2 of the guys on the site where we were emailing, yesterday. I’d asked one if he’d read any good books lately & (seriously) he said “Playboy.” The other one was a wet blanket about my being into NBA season. I was being super nice trying not to hurt his feelings. Finally, I had to point out that our interests were not the best match. He wrote back telling me I sounded “angry” (hardly) & that he wasn’t into anger & that I wouldn’t hear from him again. I look at it this way, if I’m going to jump up & down to a basketball game I’d rather do it onely than next to a wet blanket.

onely - February 28, 2009

HA! StillOnely, sounds like the NBA guy was trying to salvage his pride by making it seem like his decision that you broke up with him. Chaaaaarming. Between your and Singlutionary’s online dating stories I am alternately amused and terrified. = ) Christina

10. Singlutionary - February 24, 2009

I am pretty sure that I am guilty of not wanting to be bffs with women anymore. I think this partly has to do with having so many of my female friends abandon me as soon as they got near a relationship but in general, I’m not interested in new close female friendships (I already have a lot of long standing female friends). I’m also a reverse singlist: I won’t make good friends with married people. But that might be due to the fact that almost all my friends are already married and I am really looking for singles to share my single time with.

I am just a big ole ball of prejudice!

Also, I don’t tell a lot of people about my blog because its so personal but out of all the singles I’ve told, most of them haven’t even looked at it ONCE! Or the hate it. Its the married folks I know who read it and love it. Strange strange world!

Onely, I would have made the same assumption about your coworker having custody. I’d be just as mad at myself about it too though.

onely - February 28, 2009

That’s so interesting that your married friends seem to gravitate to your blog more than your single friends. Actually, I do know that one of Lisa’s married friends was all gushing over Onely, more than any of our single friends have. . . hmmmmm!!!! CC

11. StillOnely - March 1, 2009

This site is such a great support!

At the supermarket I ran into a former partner. He & I are now platonic friends & he’d eventually married another. He said his divorce was almost final. Later that day my “dating site” sent me his profile! As a friend he treats me with more kindness & patience than he did as a partner.

I’m not sure what I do want but I do know what I don’t. I’d rather be a little lonely than a lot miserable, so platonic friends we will remain…

onely - March 1, 2009

StillOnely, I also had a dating site once send me an ex’s profile–it’s so wierd! It makes you feel like the universe is trying to send you some cosmic message or something. And I think you’re right, I think that cosmic message is, “I’d rather be a little lonely than a lot miserable”. Amen to that. –CC = ) = )

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