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Singlism? Feminism? What gives? (Part One) December 12, 2009

Posted by Onely in Academic Alert!, Food for Thought, Heteronormativity, quirkyalone, Your Responses Requested!.
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15 comments

A few days ago, Christina examined the surprisingly singlist and sexist publicity blurbs for two seemingly pro-single books. She notes that the blurbs “[remind] us of how tightly anti-feminism is woven into anti-singlehood rhetoric.” And it’s true: Onely is grounded, at its heart, in feminist values and beliefs specifically because of this connection.

As we explain on our “About Onely” page, we see the fight against singlism as a feminist project in the sense that we question the oppressive perspective that normalizes a particular (sexual-social) practice — coupling — at the expense of those who remain single. We believe that the same sexist (and heteronormative) perspective that fails to value multiple gender and sexual identities also fails to recognize those of us who prefer living alone to coupling.

But another thing strikes me as equally interesting about this linkage: I wonder if it’s a mere coincidence that Rosie the Riveter’s message above could apply as much to women as it could to singles. (more…)

Dear Quirkyalone: The Laws of Chemistry December 7, 2009

Posted by Onely in Guest Posts, quirkyalone.
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“Dear Quirkyalone: Advice for QuirkyLiving” is a guest column by Lisa and Christina (crossposted at Quirkyalone). When you’re making up your own road map for (quirky)living, you need thoughtful advice. We’re here for you. Quirkyalone and Onely welcome your questions; send them on to onely AT onely.org.

I have gone out on 4 dates with a guy.  We have a great time together, but I’m not feeling any chemistry.  Is chemistry always an instant feeling or can it come along later? –Aimee

Hi Aimee,

Thanks for your classic question. A key tenet of Quirkyalones (or Quirkytogethers!) is that we enjoy spending time on our own, and so we won’t commit to any romantic relationship unless our partner really makes us go, “Wow!”  Not as in, “Wow, I can’t believe how long his nose hair grows,” but rather, “Wow, how did I get so lucky to meet and connect with this person who makes me all tingly and goofy?”  For Quirkyalones, chemistry is a must–but what is it, and how do we recognize it?

Like all classic questions, this one is difficult and has no clear answer, except for maybe “It  all depends,” which I won’t say because that’s the world’s most annoying response (albeit always the truest). So let me break “It all depends” down into some arbitrary specifics for you. I believe that there are approximately three kinds of “chemistry”:

Type 1 Chemistry: Slam-click at first sight.

Type 2 Chemistry: Slam-click after a series of interactions, where you recognize attractive aspects of the person that were not apparent at first sight, and respond to them emotionally or physically.

Type 3 Chemistry: Intermittent giddy feeling that stems from recollections of and references to a long history together and which could not be provided by a recent love interest (think of a couple celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary walking on the beach hand in hand).  We will not discuss Type 3 in this post.

In your situation, it’s not a bad thing that you didn’t immediately feel the SLAM-CLICK of Type 1 Chemistry. However, I think that four dates is probably enough time to start SLAM-CLICKing in the style of Type 2, where you discover that your date has a great laugh and a fascinating knowledge of 18th century Czech watercolors, and you can barely keep your hands off him whenever he tells a Tuvia Beeri anecdote. If this doesn’t happen, then you might have made a new friend, but not a Chemical friend. If you really want to click with your date, but you don’t feel the Chemistry, try giving him chances to generate that connection. For example, if you admire artistic men but the last time he touched an easel was with fingerpaints, don’t just assume he can’t match your interest. Ask him to a paint-your-own-pottery studio and see how he engages with the project. He may surprise you!

I would be more concerned if you said you had instant chemistry from the very second you first bumped into each other at the gallery. This Type 1 Chemistry is fun, but you should take it with a grain of salt. Here’s why: it’s hard to tell the difference between a real connection and a connection manufactured by your brain’s subconscious reaction to the other person’s smell, look, voice, and mannerisms. For example, you exchange hellos with Steve and immediately like him. A lot. What are you basing your opinion on? Your subconscious brain carries a plethora of data it uses to make sense of the world, which it then feeds to your reasoning mind. To give a simplistic example: Steve’s nose might resemble the nose of a beloved aunt who died when you were four years old. Your subconscious remembers your aunt’s face and tells your thinking mind, “A nose like this once belonged to a nice person who gave me cookies,” but the message garbles in translation to your conscious, which hears, “Steve has a nice nose–I can’t wait to eat his cookies.” SLAM-CLICK. It’s a powerful illusion. Enjoy it, but don’t expect it to inevitably carry over into Type 2 Chemistry, which is what you want if you’re aiming for a long term relationship.

If any readers out there *are* feeling Type 1 Chemistry, don’t panic. It might be for real! Test it: Try to articulate why you are drawn to this person. List certain attributes that appeal to you, rather than “She makes me feel all giddy, full stop.” For example,  “She makes me feel giddy because she can untangle a Gordian knot,” bodes well. “She makes me feel giddy because of something about her,” might also bode well, but it could just as easily bode badly. It all depends.

–Christina

Dear Quirkyalone: Where are all the Quirkyalone men? September 14, 2009

Posted by Onely in quirkyalone.
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6 comments

“Dear Quirkyalone: Advice for QuirkyLiving” is a weekly guest column by Lisa and Christina (crossposted at Quirkyalone). It appears every Monday. When you’re making up your own road map for (quirky)living, you need thoughtful advice. We’re here for you. Quirkyalone and Onely welcome your questions; send them on to onely AT onely.org.

Dear Quirkyalone,

Why are there so many more Quirkyalone women than Quirkyalone men? –Cynthia

Dear Cynthia,

Let me start by saying that the Quirkyalone movement–and the singles’ advocacy movement in general–needs and wants more men. More men! More single men’s blogs! More single men commenting on blogs! More single men writing about, talking about, thinking about, and waving a banner for Quirkyaloneness. The concept of being happily single and not settling is not unique to women.

While not unique to women, the experience of being able to hold out for one’s dream man or woman (and being ok if that person never comes) is a relatively new experience for them. For most of this history of the human race, females were usually forced to settle. What choice did they have? They were not fully allowed into the workforce or given control over their own finances, inheritances, birth control, etc. Sometimes they even did more than settle: they connived, competed, and prostrated in order to snag a man, any man, who: wanted them; could feed and clothe them; could care for the children the woman would inevitably conceive. If the woman had luck, she married someone who refrained from abusing her out of his own moral sense, so she didn’t have to rely on the vagaries of a patriarchal law system to protect her. (more…)

Dear Quirkyalone: Why am I less remarkable to sober people? September 7, 2009

Posted by Onely in quirkyalone.
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“Dear Quirkyalone: Advice for QuirkyLiving” is a weekly guest column by Lisa and Christina (crossposted at Quirkyalone). It appears every Monday. When you’re making up your own road map for (quirky)living, you need thoughtful advice. We’re here for you. Quirkyalone and Onely welcome your questions; send them on to onely AT onely.org.

Dear Quirkyalone: I’m a Quirkyalone from SF, kinda floating between school and not school right now, and I was wondering: I often feel like the rest of my generation of college aged folks is only interested in interacting with one another while drunk. In recent exchanges at parties, I find that I am remarkable to my drunk acquaintances, yet less so on days after when they become sober. Why do you suppose that is? — Gian

Dear Gian,

In order to answer your question, I’m going to make two assumptions:

1) that your new acquaintances were not simply too drunk to remember you afterward; and

2) that when you say “in days after” you’re not talking about “the morning after.”

I think you already know that you can’t use a person’s drunk personality as a barometer for how they’ll treat you in the sober times. Now with that caveat out of the way, let’s look a little deeper:

Drunk people are likely to be more interested in anyone and everything. That’s why people drink–to see the world in new ways. Or maybe that’s LSD. But in any case, when your drunk interlocutor told you, “Gee, your worm farm sounds just fascinating,” he (we’ll assume he’s a he) may very well have meant it. Alcohol suppresses activity in the prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain responsible for planning and decision making. So at the time of your conversation, his impaired prefrontal cortex caused him to “forget” or overlook how much worms remind him of some unfortunate experiments on the playground in middle school, or the fact that dirt in his fingernails gives him the willies. But when his brain sobered up, the realization that he’s not really that into mulch and compost came blasting back into his consciousness, along with the headache. Hence his decision, “I guess I won’t call that nice worm girl after all.” (more…)

Dear Quirkyalone: Am I Too Picky? August 31, 2009

Posted by Onely in quirkyalone.
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“Dear Quirkyalone: Advice for QuirkyLiving” is a weekly guest column by Lisa and Christina (crossposted at Quirkyalone). It appears every Monday. When you’re making up your own road map for (quirky)living, you need thoughtful advice. We’re here for you. Quirkyalone and Onely welcome your questions; send them on to onely AT onely.org.

Dear Quirkyalone: Are single people over a certain age too picky? Is that so wrong? — Special K
Dear Special K,

Here’s my short answer: No, and No.

But to be more specific:

First, I’d like to consider the phrase “too picky.” The way I see it, being “picky” is not in and of itself a “bad” thing, though our culture often seems to say so. Let’s say we’re talking about food: If you order the specialty burger at your favorite restaurant that comes loaded with toppings – in this case bacon, blue cheese, arugula, avocado, and mushrooms – but the taste and texture of mushrooms make you want to puke, it’s pretty reasonable to ask for the burger without the mushrooms. If you are too shy, uncertain, or simply unaware to articulate this taste, you’ll likely leave the restaurant dissatisfied and/or hungry. (more…)

Dear QuirkyAlone: How do I make new friends? August 24, 2009

Posted by Onely in quirkyalone.
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“Dear Quirkyalone: Advice for QuirkyLiving” is a weekly guest column by Christina and Lisa. It appears every Monday (crossposted here from Quirkyalone). When you’re making up your own road map for (quirky)living, you need thoughtful advice. We’re here for you. Quirkyalone and Onely welcome your questions; send them on to onely AT onely.org.

Dear Quirkyalone,

Many of my friends are having children, and this is putting pressure on our friendships. Not only do they have next-to-no time to catch up, but all our conversation centres on their children. So it’s time to find new friends –but this is proving really really difficult. Can you talk about the phenomenon of having very few friends and where and how to make new friends (either single or childfree friends)? Thanks.

–Singal (in Australia)

Dear Singal,

I think many readers will identify with your problem. But before I answer your question, let me offer some annoying unsolicited advice: don’t give up on your friends right away. Friendship is about weathering life changes together. It’s normal for people–especially Quirkyalones or Quirkytogethers–to develop different goals and interests through life (would you want to be friends with them if they didn’t?). Consider yourself lucky that your friends are not taking up B.A.S.E. jumping (or something more terrifying, like scrapbooking). Some relationships can survive such shifts in interests, and others can’t. In any friendship, one person will sometimes tax the other’s patience–think of vacation slideshows. But when a friend really hurts or neglects you, try to decide what would be least stressful: abandoning the friendship, or taking action to fix it–whether through a frank talk with your friend, a simple apology, a monetary stimulus, interpretive dance, whatever. (more…)

Why Do People Stay in Bad Relationships? August 17, 2009

Posted by Onely in quirkyalone.
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15 comments

“Dear Quirkyalone: Advice for QuirkyLiving” is a weekly guest column by Lisa and Christina that appears on Quirkyalone (and is crossposted here) every Monday. When you’re making up your own road map for (quirky)living, you need thoughtful advice. We’re here for you. We welcome your questions; send them on to onely AT onely.org.

Dear Quirkyalone,

When a woman is in a relationship with a guy who everyone else can see is treating her badly, what goes on in the woman’s mind that prevents her from seeing these very same things? How does she qualify staying with this guy and why? What’s behind the excuses she makes for him?– Bobby

Hi Bobby,

This is an excellent question indeed. While I can’t claim to be able to speak for the woman in question, I can offer a few theories (which, as a side note, could be applied to either men or women, as well as lesbians and gay men): (more…)

Dear Quirkyalone… Single Role Models August 10, 2009

Posted by Onely in quirkyalone.
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16 comments

“Dear Quirkyalone: Advice for QuirkyLiving” is a weekly guest column by Lisa and Christina that debuts today on Quirkyalone and will appear every Monday (cross-posted on both sites). When you’re making up your own road map for (quirky)living, you need thoughtful advice. We’re here for you. We welcome your questions; send them on to onely AT onely.org.

Dear Quirkyalone,

Besides Oprah, who is a good model of single living in our culture? —Special K

Dear Special K,

Good question. I think it’s much easier to come up with examples of poor single role models than admirable ones. Momentarily blocked for ideas of my own, I googled “single role models.” Here’s a sampling from the first page of results:

Using Role Models to Succeed With Single Women

Lack of Male Role Models For Young Children From Single-Parent Families

They Were Single Too: 8 Biblical Role Models, by David M. Hoffeditz

“Oh dear,” I thought, “Surely there must have been a few notable singles since John the Baptist?” With Google apparently hijacked by heteronormatives, I was forced to actually search of my own brain for ideas. Here’s a sampling from those results:

Notable Singles Nowadays (more…)

“Dear Quirkyalone”: Send Us Your Questions, Confusions, Complaints! July 13, 2009

Posted by Onely in quirkyalone, single and happy, Singles Resource, Your Responses Requested!.
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4 comments

As we mentioned last week, Christina and I are going to be writing a weekly advice column for Quirkyalone, called “Dear Quirkyalone: All you ever wanted to know about quirkyliving, but were(n’t) afraid to ask.” Our first post will be published next Monday (cross-posted here and at QA), but we need your questions! If you’ve got questions about what it means to live Onely/Quirkyalone — or if you want advice about how to handle a tricky situation, please email us: onely [at] onely [dot] org.

And as an extra incentive, Sasha Cagen over at QA is giving away one free SIGNED copy of her book, Quirkyalone, to one lucky reader (drawn at random) who submits a question to us and leaves a comment here by/before Thursday, July 16th!

— L & CC

Quirkyalone News: Your Responses Requested! July 2, 2009

Posted by Onely in quirkyalone, single and happy, Singles Resource, Your Responses Requested!.
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3 comments

We wanted to let all of our readers know that one of our favorite (and probably the first) “happy and single” blogs, Quirkyalone, has emerged after a short hiatus with a new, improved design and format (check it out!).

In fact, author/founder of the book, movement, and blog, Sasha Cagen, has decided to hand over some of the regular posting duties to a variety of contributors, including us! That’s right — we’ve agreed to write a weekly advice column, in which we’ll respond to quirkyalone (and even quirkytogether) questions and concerns.

We are terribly flattered that Sasha wants us to be part of the new Quirkyalone team (actually, we’re still trying to get over the shock of someone thinking we might actually have advice to give), but as we gear up for our debut, we need to get some content!

So, Copious Readers, Christina and I are hoping that you will pepper us with your questions and concerns about what it means to live quirkyalone (which, we find, is a pretty good synonym for Onely). If you think you can help get us started, please email us with your questions at: onely @ onely.org.

And, in case any of our readers are worried that we might be fleeing the coop, PLEASE rest assured: Onely will always remain our primary focus, and whatever posting we do at QA will also appear here.

Thanks in advance — we’ll notify you of our debut as soon as it happens!

— L & CC

PS — if you’re not on feedback overload, you might also be inspired to contribute to Bella DePaulo’s recent request for reader feedback (thanks, footloosefemails, for the heads-up)

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