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Getting It All Wrong: Reconsidering “The Benefits of Being Single” August 11, 2012

Posted by Onely in Food for Thought, Heteronormativity, STFU.
Tags: , , , ,

Thanks to one of our Copious Readers from South Africa, Amelia, for bringing to our attention a ridiculously offensive article published recently in iAfrica, entitled “The Benefits of Being Single.”

Amelia told us,

I was very much looking forward to finding out what the financial benefits of being single are, as it’s always seemed to me more expensive not to have anyone to share the rent and other expenses with. But boy, was I in for a surprise!

Like Amelia, we had high hopes for the article. After all, the intro sounded promising:

There is a growing trend in South Africa (and it’s probably already a worldwide trend) for people to choose to remain single…. We no longer have to be married in order to be counted as serious or dependable (unless we are running for president).

Unfortunately, the article takes a nose-dive shortly thereafter, when we learn that:

the beauty of being single from a financial standpoint is that you are cheaper to maintain!

(Yes, the exclamation point was in the original…!)


You … don’t have to take other people’s needs into account, such as which area to buy a home in and how large that home should be.


when going on holidays a single person can afford to travel more as there is only one airplane ticket to buy, one holiday package to purchase. If you don’t like holidaying on your own there are many travel clubs with groups to join and new friends to make.

And – my god – did you know that:

you can start that business that you always wanted with less personal risk. If the business does not pan out you have no family home that needs to be sold or repossessed by the bank, no children that need to be moved from their school after a forced evacuation. There is only yourself that will go through hardships because of mistakes you made and lessons you learned. Also, you can work the long hours it takes to build a business without paying too little attention to anyone.

So, let’s outline the problematic assumptions at work here

  1. Being single somehow means your expenses are lower, in spite of the fact that having two (or more) incomes and splitting the bills, sharing a house, paying for insurance, and even taking a vacation is significantly cheaper per person for couples and families than being single.
  2. Being single means that you have no significant relationships or obligations to maintain.
  3. Being single means that you have plenty of time on your hands.
  4. Being single means personal risk doesn’t matter, and it probably also means that you’re male, extroverted, wealthy, and/or white.

*Sigh.* Three cheers for the heteronormative mainstream media!

— Lisa and Christina

photo credit: http://www.fam.tuwien.ac.at


1. y0land - August 11, 2012

I wonder just how many other people think like that? May there ARE other people that think like that ….. I shudder to think!!!

2. s1ngal - August 11, 2012

I beg to differ & so I pretty much agree with the article!!! Unless I’m less enlightened??

Onely - August 19, 2012

Nah I think that to some extent if you play your cards right, you can have a lot of the benefits mentioned in the article and enjoy them and make them a reason for being single–the thing is, those benefits are not a given just because you are single. I live alone but that is a privilege, not a natural extension of being single. I can travel any time I want, but that is because my job is flexible about vacation, not because I am single. . . that kind of thing = )

3. ankanator - August 13, 2012

I have a neighbor who more than once in my presence, in referring to a former colleague of his who is single and has been laid off from his job multiple times (he is some very specific type of architect; not that that matters) – has said, oh, he doesn’t need to work; he’s single!

Maybe there are reasons he doesn’t need to work (btw he is 55 and lives in his parents’ beach house … ) — but it is not because of being single per se.

Onely - August 19, 2012

Exactly ankanator. There could easily be a married couple living in one of the spouses’ parents’ beach house and they would be regarded completely differently. . .

4. guatli - August 15, 2012

Interestingly, I’ve always found that the types of comments in this article about how easy and responsibility-free single life is usually come from people who have never been truly single. They think that because they grew up unmarried that they know what single is. I always tell people you don’t know what it is to be single until you’ve lived for a few years without a “tribe” – family, roommates, college buddies, etc. Most don’t understand the subtle and not-so-subtle ways this society is set up to make single life more difficult than coupled life until they’ve done that.

Onely - August 19, 2012

Yes and I find it’s hard to build up a tribe, at least where I live where every lives far apart from each other. Moreover, our culture is set up so that it’s harder to feel comfortable asking people in your tribe for help, whereas if you have a spouse it is culturally expected that you can lean hard on them and ask all sorts of favors.

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