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Those Family Stickers on Cars August 20, 2013

Posted by Onely in Everyday Happenings, Food for Thought, STFU.
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8143655393_58d23e3ce0_oThey are really disturbing, and if you live in North America, you know them. You see them all over.  You may even have some yourself! Those stick-figure-esque stickers showing the white outlines of people in the simplest breakdown possible: Man, woman, boy, girl. People put them on the back windows of their cars to show who is in their family. Oh, you also get dogs and cats and the occasional little baby. Some of the people carry things that represent their fun hobbies: Lacrosse stick! Guitar! Staple Gun! (Well, maybe not that last one.)  You may be thinking, SO WHAT’S THE PROBLEM, GRUMPY ONELY?

The man is always bigger than the woman who is bigger than the children. That last part makes sense. But the first part has the potential for trouble. And trouble there is! 99.9 percent of the sticker families are ordered left to right–as is our written language in this part of the world–and so people (I hope without thinking) in an attempt at aesthetics smack on those stickers on biggest to smallest. So the father is always, always on the left, and hence, first.  And the woman second.

Ignoring for the moment that these sticker collections are almost always nuclear-focused, let’s look at that father on the left. First. Taller. ALWAYS. I don’t think I have ever seen them ordered Mother, Father, Children. Ever. And I have seen a looooot of them. These stickers give me the chills because of their father-as-head-of-household mentality. Maybe not on purpose, and maybe that wasn’t the intention of the company who makes them, but customers are still slave to the big-to-small aesthetic and hence stick father-then-mother, perpetuating a dynamic that I thought was supposed to be dying out in the 1960s!

But don’t worry! A few lone independent thinkers are fighting back!

Somewhere in Colorado between Denver and Boulder, I saw a black car in front of me with the family stickers. They were on the bumper instead of the window. And they had been, shall we say, rearranged. As this is a family blog (Hey, singles blogs can be family blogs too! Right?), I won’t go in to details, just to say that one scene had a girl (you could tell by the feathered hair and triangle skirt) throwing a baby’s head to her brother (you could tell by the boxy shorts).

If familystickers.com isn’t careful, more people might start manipulating their product into even more controversial displays, such as. . . Two Men and a girl with the girl on the left! (I’ve never seen this one; I’ve never even seen two men), or One Woman and Seven Cats (this would be mine) (hey, I’m counting my feral colony, ok!?).

Copious Readers, do any of you have FamilyStickers on your car? In what configuration?


Photo Credit: Theo Junior

Talking Back to Dr. Phil, Part 4–The Dr. David Bedrick Interview August 2, 2013

Posted by Onely in Celebrities, Everyday Happenings, Guest Posts, Interviews.
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Bedrick, David. Talking Back to Dr. Phil: Alternatives to Mainstream Psychology. (Belly Song Press, 2013).

Copious Readers, welcome to our ongoing series of interviews with Dr. David Bedrick, who proposes a “love-based psychology” that goes beyond the normative (restrictive) ideals that our society (as evidenced by Dr. Phil) puts upon people.

Bedrick’s approach parallels Onely’s efforts to dismantle normative prejudices against unmarried people. We disagree with the idea that couples (whether socially coupled or married) are “better” than single people, or more deserving of government protection.

Today’s Topic:  What makes you think I want to be more like you?

Onely: You say we need to protect marginalized people and forms of expression being seen as “problems” (xxv) and that such allopathic thinking, prevents us from seeing chances for individual growth–and thereby social growth (5).

How do you think society might benefit by attempting to eliminate marital status discrimination? Would such an effort stabilize or destabilize us?

Bedrick: Great question! This is an interesting debate in the GLBT community where many are fighting of the right to be legally married while a smaller minority does not see this as the best direction because it presupposes that being more like “them” is a better way to be.

I think it was James Baldwin, a black gay man, who said something like “what makes you think that I want to be more like you?” There is a powerful assumption that people want the right to be like those who enjoy the most social privilege, however individuals and society suffer from marginalizing our diversity when actually what they want is the fair distribution of privilege- from affirmation and fair witness to legal rights.

Certainly if this discrimination were lessened, people would be more free to not hold partnering/marrying as central to their esteem and life goals freeing them to express their gifts in ways more suitable to their authentic selves. In addition, as I suggested above, even people who are partnered would enjoy greater inner support for their independent dreams.

Lastly, let me express my appreciation for your work. Your questions, vision, and focus have required me to reflect more on the issues you raise, making me more conscious, a better ally, and a better counselor.

Onely: Thanks so much for taking time to talk with us. Feel free to contact us in the future with any other thoughts or ideas about applying the principles of love-based psychology to Oneliness!


Copious Readers, please find the previous parts of this interview right below this one!


Singles Strike Back: #UnmarriedEquality April 16, 2013

Posted by Onely in As If!, Everyday Happenings.
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As described in our previous post, the Communications League for Unmarried Equality (CLUE) is creating Media Saturation Mania around the topical issue of Marital Status Discrimination. Single people, have you encountered laws or practices that discriminate you based on your marital status? Then join us in writing your own stories on your own blogs, or wherever you write!  (Married people are welcome to share their own stories of discrimination too!)

All these bloggers hit the cyberstreets protesting Marital Status Discrimination in their own words. Join us and them! #UnmarriedEquality and #SinglesBlogfest. The following bloggers did:


Do You Have a Best Friend at Work? March 11, 2013

Posted by Onely in Everyday Happenings, Food for Thought.
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Matt_George_and_Best_Friend_Rob_HepplerEveryone in my office had to fill out some HR office morale assessment questionnaire. I know, I feel your fear of the letters “HR”. But in this case our HR department was working to (ostensibly)  improve morale and alleviate any antagonism. Now, I *love* surveys–I love people asking me what I think!–but one particular question stumped me:

Do you have a best friend at work?

Huh. (more…)

You Choose: Best New Relationship Signifier of the 21st Century! December 17, 2012

Posted by Onely in Dating, Everyday Happenings, Food for Thought.
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DSC01397.edit-thumbMany single people date. They date in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 100s. In a previous post we declared that the words boyfriend and girlfriend sound stupid when applied to people over the age of oh, say, ten. For example, stick a little gender neutrality in there and look what we’ve got:

Thanks so much for inviting me to your cocktail party, Jane, but I’ll have to pass because I’ll be in Aruba with my childfriend.

Cheers to reader Terry T for pointing out that icky yet accurate rhetorical twist. Onely’s boyfriend/girlfriend post also got other great responses (thanks to Lola for companion, my favorite because it works for people *and* cats) from people who felt passionate about this troubling gap in the English language–and, in fact, in languages around the world (thanks to Beth ODonnell for beau and paramour). So now we here at Onely are asking our Copious Readers to choose The Best New Relationship Signifier of the 21st Century!

What term should we use to describe that person (or persons) with whom we have a unique, committed combined emotional, sexual, and (perhaps) financial relationship outside of marriage? Because of the complicated, multi-adjectival nature of these relationships, you might be tempted to use an acronym (mine above turns out to be UCCESPFROOM). But instead please consider words that are easily translated. This will allow for maximum scalability around the globe (hey, we here at Onely like to aim high!)

And please remember, we are looking for relationship signifiers versus terms of endearment. = )

Thanks everyone!


Photo credit: Rude Cactus (here or here)

Singles Shopping Day November 18, 2012

Posted by Onely in Everyday Happenings, single and happy, We like. . ..
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Lisa and I are so behind on our Onely research and writing that we missed Singles Shopping Day on 11 November! So sorry we were unable to flag it for for you, our Copious Readers, because I know you all (and by you all, I mean me) love any holiday that combines shopping with the chance to get all up on our soapboxes about the awesomeness of singlehood.

On 11/11, Singles Shopping Day, according to this AP news article,

Singles Day was begun by Chinese college students in the 1990s as a version of Valentine’s Day for people without romantic partners. . . Unattached young people would treat each other to dinner or give gifts to woo that special someone and end their single status.


Do Couples Tell Stupider Stories? May 9, 2012

Posted by Onely in Everyday Happenings.
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Copious Readers, Lisa and I have been away for a long time. We’ve missed you and are slowly getting back into the blogging groove. Our absence is due in part to a big project we were working on that, for a while, was sucking our will to live (or at least to write). But we’ve recovered and are now ready to start flinging our opinions around again here on Onely. And so, without further ado:

I know that in the past when I’ve been “in a relationship“, I did ridiculous stuff that I probably wouldn’t or couldn’t have done had I been single (like ditching Emmy Lou Harris tickets to attend a hockey game). But did I tell stories that were stupid, pointless, and boring? Or more accurately, did I tell stories that were even more stupid, pointless, and boring than my usual ones?

I’ve been noticing that a lot of couples do tell stupid, pointless, and boring stories, at least more often than single people I’ve known. Now, the particular couples of whom I am about to speak are all my friends. I love and respect them. Individually, they’ve told me some hilarious tales of navigating the untamed wilderness of Northern Virginia. But sit them down together at the table or on the couch or in the car, and let the inane blatherings begin.

We know that people in love are giddy and blind about their significant other (at least in certain stages of love). I will deconstruct this phenomenon one step further: When we’re in love we are giddy and blind about any story in which our partner plays a part, regardless of how banal the scene, how devoid of narrative arc or character development. Result? Really boring stories.

Lest you think, “Surely she exaggerates!” I present to you the First Example:

Setting: A sushi restaurant.

Characters: Stan, Jan, and your intrepid Onely correspondent.  Jan stares at the menu, undecided.

Stan: Maybe you should just get the grilled cheese sandwich.

Jan looks up and Stan and they both crack up.

Onely: . . .

Stan (still chuckling, looking at Onely): I made her a grilled cheese sandwich this afternoon.

Jan (laughing and shaking her head): Because I was hungry.

Stan: Yes, she was hungry. I asked her if she was hungry and she said yes.

Jan (eyes wide): Because I hadn’t eaten since breakfast!

Stan: And it was already three in the afternoon!

Onely (searching for a response that would show polite enthusiasm for this bland story without seeming so enthusiastic as to mock it):  Really . . . since breakfast?

Jan: Oh yes. So he made me a grilled cheese sandwich. It was good.

Stan: Yeah, it was.

At this point, I was beginning to think “making a grilled cheese sandwich” must be a kind of metaphor for. . . well for something more interesting than that story, anyway. Either that, or my friends were insane.

Second example:

Setting: An office.

Characters: Recently-married Joe and your intrepid Onely correspondent. Joe perches on your intrepid correspondent’s not-so-intrepid cubicle desk.

Joe: Yes, I’m tired this morning too. Sara and I stayed up watching back-to-back episodes of Thirty-Rock on Netflix.

Onely: I love that show!

Joe: We were sitting there and I was like, “We should go to bed,” and Sara was like, “Honey, I know,” but then we just kept sitting there and Rooter [the dog] was lying across our laps asleep. So I said, “Well, babe, we can’t just wake him up,” and so we watched another three episodes. That happens a lot. Rooter likes to lie across both our laps. It’s ok because we like to stay up watching shows and laughing. Sara likes Parks and Recreation more than Thirty Rock so lately we’ve been flipping coins to see what we watch. Then we go to bed but she usually goes upstairs first because she needs longer in the bathroom so I stay with Rooter and flip through more programs.


Now, I recognize that a large part of friendship is listening to, learning from, and coming to appreciate the day-to-day detritus of our friends’ lives (and they to our own). However, try this exercise: Imagine Stan from Example One telling the same story about how he made a grilled cheese sandwich for his coworker Duane. Or Joe from Example Two discussing how he and his elderly neighbor hung out watching Thirty Rock. Wouldn’t happen. At least not with the excruciating detail and pacing I’ve described above. Because the listeners would never tolerate that, as storytellers are well aware. (And you know that sh&t would never fly if it were me getting all dramatic about the day I made my cat a grilled cheese sandwich.)

So when coupled people tell boring stories, why do we–and by “we”, I mean “I”–put up with them?  I don’t know. Politeness. Desire not to hurt a friend. A fear that maybe the story is really very exciting and that I just don’t “get” it because I’m not insightful enough–or coupled enough.


Photo Credit: frikipix

(Photo Fun Fact:  Search for “couple” on Google Images Advanced Search Labelled for Reuse and this is the *second* photo in the results list.)

Dreaming an Impossible Dream: Marriage January 16, 2012

Posted by Onely in Everyday Happenings, Food for Thought, Heteronormativity, Your Responses Requested!.
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Some people dream about getting married. Over here at Onely, we pride ourselves on rejecting that dream – or at least knocking it off its idyllic “dream” platform.

But what’s going on when a Oneler literally has a dream about getting married?

I’m not sure, but I can say this: It’s unsettling… Just over a week ago, I woke up at 4am remembering that I’d almost gotten married; as I put the strange pieces together and recalled the emotions I felt during the dream, I worried: did my psyche just make me a traitor to my Oneliness? (more…)

Every Oneler Needs an Elf October 16, 2011

Posted by Onely in Everyday Happenings, Food for Thought, single and happy, Your Responses Requested!.
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Shortly before I moved overseas, I visited my dear, intelligent and highly articulate co-blogger Christina in Washington, D.C. I stayed with her for about a week, and for some of that week, she had to be at work. I, too, had work to do, but I worked from (her) home.

So, being the conscientious and grateful guest that I am, I tried to clean up after myself while I was at home and while Christina was at work. Sometimes I cleaned a few things for her, too.

The first time I did this, Christina came home and exclaimed, “Oh my goodness! Little elves have visited!!” But the next morning before she left for work, Christina made me promise that I wouldn’t let the elves visit again. “No problem,” I promised.

But they visited again. As a guest in Christina’s home, I couldn’t help myself; what’s more, Christina appreciated it (not to mention that it gave her less work to do and more time to spend with me!). After she came home to the after-effects of elf-doings the second day, we determined that everyone needs a magical elf who takes care of the little details of life while we’re working on the big issues (saving the world and all that jazz).

And indeed, now that I’ve landed here in Beirut and have had no choice but to head full throttle into my new job and my new life, I’m wishing that I had a little elf (or three) to help me manage the little things while I teach my classes and attend meetings and begin my research. I need them to unpack all the boxes that arrived a week and a half ago (the boxes I sent to myself from Louisville so long ago) while I take day trips around the country (hello Byblos!). I’d like my elves to pester the phone company about getting internet access while I have lunch with new friends. And I’d really appreciate it if they could help me figure out the best and most efficient way for me to get internet at home while I take Kitty the dog for a run along Mediterranean coastline.

I’m strong, independent, and I am definitely single and (very) happy. But I’ve decided that every Oneler, after declaring oneself as such, deserves an elf in the sidelines – someone who can read my mind and anticipate my needs. But … isn’t that what a spouse is supposed to do? Fellow Onelers, what are your thoughts? What would you accomplish if “only” you had a little elf to do your bidding?

— Lisa

Popping The Question: So, Why Are You Still Single? September 5, 2011

Posted by Onely in As If!, Everyday Happenings, Your Responses Requested!.
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This post originally appeared in the book Singlism, by Bella DePaulo. It reprises earlier posts–here and here and here–where Onely and our Copious Readers discussed awkward questions about relationship status and how to respond to them. Readers’ responses originally appeared in the comments sections of the above links. We look forward to hearing more ideas about how you all would “pop” unsavory or singlist questions.

Long before Lisa and I created Onely.org, I was on the phone with a friendly, interesting guy I’d met at a party (let’s call him Ralph). Some minutes into the conversation, Ralph hit me with the question, “So, why are you still single?” I paused, unsure how to reply. I felt as if he had judged my life and found an inadequacy I’d never noticed–the way I might feel when someone says, “You’re wearing that?” So I hemmed and hawed and cancelled our coffee date and never called him again. Extreme? Maybe. Defensive? Perhaps a little. Probably other things about him bothered me, too. But all I remember is that one question, and the feeling of a switch clicking over in my heart. I couldn’t figure out why Ralph’s words bothered me, not until much later.

Our friends, family, colleagues (and even strangers!) usually intend to be helpful and friendly when they ask:

You’re so [complimentary adjective here]; so, why are you still single?

However, when they pose this question, they imply that being single is a sickness no one would possibly tolerate if they could help it – as if singlehood were a gross, drippy nose that could and should be cured by a swallow of Sudafed.

In a series of posts on Onely, Lisa and I identified two major problems with the question:

First, posing this question suggests that because an individual has [insert complimented-upon superb qualities here], that individual must be 1) seeking a relationship, and 2) happy when in a relationship because of impressive personal attributes. It’s a case of faulty logic, really, to assume that a person’s personal qualities have anything to do with whether they should be in a relationship, will be successful or happy in one, and/or even want to be in a relationship.

Second, the question evaluates the single person on account of his or her single status – it seems to ask, “You are in this less-than-ideal state, but you have the ability to extract yourself from this state, so why haven’t you done so?” In other words, this question ignores the fact that a single person may not agree with the questioner’s assumption that an individual’s single status is less than ideal.

So, we asked ourselves and readers of Onely, what’s a happily single person to do when confronted by this question – or one of its many variants? The retorts ranged from snarky to goofy to politely educational. We’ve collected some of our favorites below: (more…)

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