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 Post subject: An article that questions the stigma of singledom...
PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 1:55 pm 
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WELFARIST!
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I came across this in my UofT mag this morning and found it interesting and thought I'd share.

http://www.magazine.utoronto.ca/leading ... hael-cobb/

Quote:
The Single Life
Is ‘one’ really the loneliest number?
By Brent Ledger

“How many movies have you gone to recently where a single person has been featured, happily, strongly, without any kind of lurking sadness or loss?” asks Michael Cobb. “How many times did your parents when you were growing up encourage you to be by yourself forever?”

More than four times as many Canadians live alone today as in 1941 – even though people have many more options now when it comes to relationships, including common-law and gay marriage. But singles are still stigmatized, says Cobb, a professor of English at U of T. Despite a vast change in our approach to relationships, society’s zeal for conformity and control pushes people to couple off, Cobb argues, and this pressure distorts the lives of both singles and couples.

In his latest book, Single: Arguments for the Uncoupled (NYU Press, 2012), Cobb draws on literary characters such as Herman Melville’s Bartleby and Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man to suggest how singles might resist coupledom. But by and large, he says, not many positive representations of single people exist in our culture. Even popular touchstones that purport to celebrate singleness, such as Sex and the City, are actually about the desperate need to couple.

The problem, says Cobb, is that our culture’s emphasis on coupledom – the belief that it completes us and represents the most important emotional relationship we can have – has blinded us to other possibilities. In his book, Cobb suggests that couples displace their own anxieties – particularly a morbid fear of loneliness – onto singles with the result that singles are never seen clearly for who they are.

Singles aren’t necessarily lonely, of course, but they’re widely thought to be, “and loneliness, as we’re frequently reminded, has terrible consequences.” Part of the book, says Cobb, stems from his own experience of being happily single, with an interesting career and great friends. “No one in my world thought I was happy and it was because I wasn’t partnered off.” At the same time, he concedes single life is not all fun and games: “It’s often quite hard, quite painful, especially in a world that doesn’t want you to exist.” But he maintains it offers something valuable.

Where coupledom shrinks your horizons, forcing you to concentrate on one relationship at the expense of the world at large, singleness allows you grander vistas, bolder visions. Singles might be adventurers rather than lovers, figures like the painters Georgia O’Keeffe and Agnes Martin who toiled in desert-solitude and came to a new view of the world. “The single . . . can teach us to open ourselves up to the world of isolation and distance, which might give us, not eternity, but something not so outside of time and impossible to achieve,” Cobb writes. “The single can teach us how to be alone – ‘all one,’ as the word alone etymologically suggests.”

In the long run, this could benefit couples as much as singles, he says. If we stop idealizing couples and start endorsing singles, it could take the pressure off everybody, allowing even people within relationships to have a little more room to be themselves. “It’s all about trying to get past a certain institutionalization of the importance of coupledom and marriage and allow us to have more breathing room. I’m not against people who have relationships,” says Cobb. But the personal, historical, cultural and economic priority we put on capital-R relationships – “I think that needs to be changed.”

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 Post subject: Re: An article that questions the stigma of singledom...
PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 2:49 pm 
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That's really interesting - thanks for sharing!

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 Post subject: Re: An article that questions the stigma of singledom...
PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 3:04 pm 
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Amen. Although i must confess I'm more than tired of being single :(


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 Post subject: Re: An article that questions the stigma of singledom...
PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 3:09 pm 
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i find that in general i complain about my life a lot less than people i know who are in relationships. people seem to think coupledom is some sort of miraculous panacea, but i've never seen it work that way for anyone who didn't already know how to be happy alone.

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 Post subject: Re: An article that questions the stigma of singledom...
PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 5:07 pm 
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The worst part of being single is that I've actually dated in the past. I then get sad and lonely. But part of that lonely comes from recovering from the attempt at coupledom, and the fact that when coupled, especially with introverted shy people, I neglect to form good friendships and get used to being scared to call people up, etc.

I'd be glad to be the happy spinster so long as I had some people to live with/nearby like a commune. And maybe an occasional friends with benefits.

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 Post subject: Re: An article that questions the stigma of singledom...
PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 5:15 pm 
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I'm pretty sure all of the stigma of being single comes from grandparents at family get-togethers. socially (at least in circles I dwell), being single doesn't matter at all.

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 Post subject: Re: An article that questions the stigma of singledom...
PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 5:27 pm 
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I like it! A great reminder that you can't look outside yourself for happiness.

A friend of mine is single and she just decided that bc things were slow she'd go to NYC for a week to go hang out in museums, eat great food and see friends. I loved being single bc it lets you do stuff like that. And being coupled can be fun if you like your partner. As long as you keep feeding your self, being single or coupled is awesome. If you're unhappy, both can suck and single feels lonely but so can coupledom with someone who doesn't understand you.

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 Post subject: Re: An article that questions the stigma of singledom...
PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 5:37 pm 
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The stigma isn't just emotional--a big source of the pressure to be coupled is to be able to arrange for care, and care of children, and safety net supports--some of which would be provided in a more just society just by being a citizen. I hate when I hear getting partner's health insurance as the argument for same-sex marriage. Shouldn't we just have that?
Being in love is great and all, but getting a partner shouldn't be the only way to get the goodies. You should be able to have whoever the fork you want at your side in the hospital, or arrange whatever family dynamics you want. If two women make a baby with a good friend, he shouldn't have to terminate parental rights before the non bio mom in the couple can adopt. What's wrong with three parents? Or whatever constellation people want to make be their family.
The whole model of nuclear couple unit as the be-all and end-all is bullshiitake. I like having a partner, and I liked being single. But having a partner is easier, and that's forked up.


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 Post subject: Re: An article that questions the stigma of singledom...
PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 6:03 pm 
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Sing it. Deprivilegize all coupled relationships!

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 Post subject: Re: An article that questions the stigma of singledom...
PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 6:14 pm 
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pandacookie wrote:
Sing it. Deprivilegize all coupled relationships!



Holla atcha!

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 Post subject: Re: An article that questions the stigma of singledom...
PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 7:31 pm 
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Having a partner is definitely easier in many aspects. I really liked when I was single and I wouldn't say one is better than the other but they are just different.

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 Post subject: Re: An article that questions the stigma of singledom...
PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 7:43 pm 
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I decided a few years ago that I was going to stay single until I found someone awesome and stop getting into relationships for the sake of not being alone, and also work out internalized queerphobia. I have a friend who won't break up with boyfriends until she cheats on them and has another relationship on the go, because she just can't stand being single very long, and when I was younger I never really noticed that but it does make me a bit proud that I could go years without anybody

New boyfriend is awesome, but it's distance so I still get to do whatever I want whenever and I handle being alone pretty well for the most part. I've even thought of being a Buddhist nun before and it would probably still be on my mind if boyfriend wasn't so amazing XD

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 Post subject: Re: An article that questions the stigma of singledom...
PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 7:52 pm 
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I agree with the overall crux of the article, but this irked me:

Quote:
Where coupledom shrinks your horizons, forcing you to concentrate on one relationship at the expense of the world at large, singleness allows you grander vistas, bolder visions.


I don't feel like being coupled means I have a more narrow vision of the world. My partner is constantly challenging in ways I probably would have trouble doing myself if I was single. Now this article seems to be idealizing singledom, when I thought the point was both can be awesome!

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 Post subject: Re: An article that questions the stigma of singledom...
PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 8:23 pm 
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I love being single. But, I also love smooches, independent of societal expectations. I wish I could just smooch my friends without it being weird.


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 Post subject: Re: An article that questions the stigma of singledom...
PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 8:47 pm 
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Nebraskalaska wrote:
I agree with the overall crux of the article, but this irked me:

Quote:
Where coupledom shrinks your horizons, forcing you to concentrate on one relationship at the expense of the world at large, singleness allows you grander vistas, bolder visions.


I don't feel like being coupled means I have a more narrow vision of the world. My partner is constantly challenging in ways I probably would have trouble doing myself if I was single. Now this article seems to be idealizing singledom, when I thought the point was both can be awesome!


i agree that the right person can and will make your life bigger and better, but i think the author of the article is thinking of how easy it sometimes is to dismiss opportunities that might require separation from a partner, even though you might kill for that same opportunity if you weren't attached to another person. i don't think it's always a sacrifice, even; true love vs. a year abroad or a week upstate or a night at the theater could easily be a no-contest situation. but i do think that for some people it gets harder to see (or maybe just admit) what you really want when you see yourself as half of a we. i go out of my mind when friends say, "gosh, i wish i could do that, but my boyfriend/girlfriend blah blah blah . . ." you can do things! you have arms and legs and a brain!

i get all worked up about this subject. when i was in college a boy told me that no one would ever love me because i'm "too independent." i wasn't even sure what he meant at the time, but i guess he was thinking of stuff like this. i got very uppity about it then, but i'm glad we didn't place bets on it, because at this point i would owe him about 70 bijillion dollars.

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 Post subject: Re: An article that questions the stigma of singledom...
PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 10:12 pm 
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acr wrote:
Nebraskalaska wrote:
I agree with the overall crux of the article, but this irked me:

Quote:
Where coupledom shrinks your horizons, forcing you to concentrate on one relationship at the expense of the world at large, singleness allows you grander vistas, bolder visions.


I don't feel like being coupled means I have a more narrow vision of the world. My partner is constantly challenging in ways I probably would have trouble doing myself if I was single. Now this article seems to be idealizing singledom, when I thought the point was both can be awesome!


i agree that the right person can and will make your life bigger and better, but i think the author of the article is thinking of how easy it sometimes is to dismiss opportunities that might require separation from a partner, even though you might kill for that same opportunity if you weren't attached to another person. i don't think it's always a sacrifice, even; true love vs. a year abroad or a week upstate or a night at the theater could easily be a no-contest situation. but i do think that for some people it gets harder to see (or maybe just admit) what you really want when you see yourself as half of a we. i go out of my mind when friends say, "gosh, i wish i could do that, but my boyfriend/girlfriend blah blah blah . . ." you can do things! you have arms and legs and a brain!

i get all worked up about this subject. when i was in college a boy told me that no one would ever love me because i'm "too independent." i wasn't even sure what he meant at the time, but i guess he was thinking of stuff like this. i got very uppity about it then, but i'm glad we didn't place bets on it, because at this point i would owe him about 70 bijillion dollars.


I definitely agree that people let their relationships hold them back, but people allow all sorts of commitments to hold them back, it's definitely not just a single vs. couple issue. For me it's always work that keeps me from doing what I want. For other people it can be family or finances.

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 Post subject: Re: An article that questions the stigma of singledom...
PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2012 9:39 am 
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Ive been single for years and I love it...although Im now only sort of single...but it never really bothered me

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 Post subject: Re: An article that questions the stigma of singledom...
PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2012 1:55 pm 
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Yeah, I guess this article struck me because I was talking to someone the other day at home and they were talking along the lines of: "if you aren't part of a long-term coupling, you won't have _______ in your life," and I said that by the same token, someone who stays single might have their own experiences that are just as fulfilling in their own ways. Next time, I'm just going to instruct them to read Robert Frost's poem The Road Not Taken which should be my response to anyone who claims that one way or t'other is the be-all-and-end-all experience in life. There's no competition to me, we can all be just different and have others be okay with it.

Also, people talking about Mindy Kaling's show in the Living Room and a poster commented that one of the shows themes is that Mindy is a single woman and so her life is nothing without a man and that's just a commonly regurgitated theme in any H'wood script but that made me think of the PPK!

That said, now that I'm past a certain age, there's no real (perceived by me) pressure for being and/or staying single anymore. It's well established and everyone in my life accepts it. I think the surprise would be in if I ever coupled up at this point. Though in my twenties, possibly due to my work environment and the people and friends around me, this was quite different and there was that expectation "when are you getting engaged?" of me at that age, as if it were the next necessary step in my life and I just had to get on it sort of 'tude.

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 Post subject: Re: An article that questions the stigma of singledom...
PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2012 2:35 pm 
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I feel like some people always have*something* to find fault with. Its either your partner (or lack thereof), your lack/insufficient number of children, your job or housing situation.

When I wasn't partnered and didn't have kids, my Dad made me feel bad about not being married and having kids because "a life without children is not worth living." Now I have a kid, people ask when/if we're having a second and my Dad asks when I'm going to go back to work.

I feel like you are doing great if you can live in the present and enjoy what you have. If you look too hard at what you might be missing, you miss the awesome stuff you have now and you don't enjoy it as much. There is so much stuff in the world and none of us are going to get all of it, so enjoy your piece of it.

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 Post subject: Re: An article that questions the stigma of singledom...
PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2012 4:40 pm 
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seitanicverses wrote:
Cobb suggests that couples displace their own anxieties – particularly a morbid fear of loneliness – onto singles with the result that singles are never seen clearly for who they are.
[/quote]

So true! Some gave me the impression to be slightly jealous (and ironically I happen to envy them, too)... and that, at the same time, the very idea of loneliness was making them so insecure that they wanted me to have a partner. Like: ANYONE! ("don't stay on your own, and join us is the bitter couples network!")

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 Post subject: Re: An article that questions the stigma of singledom...
PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2012 5:11 pm 
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I have to admit that I have the biggest fear of "being alone forever/loneliness" (staying single?). But I think it has much more to do with the idea of other people pitying me (stigma) or something like that than actually being single. The other thing is that I'm naturally quite introverted maybe even to the point of social phobia and when I don't have a boyfriend I usually just stay home all the time and that makes me quite depressed. But I do miss the free time I had when I was single...I used to read and study much more and now I'm also obliged to go to some events that I wouldn't prefer to go to when I was single.


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 Post subject: Re: An article that questions the stigma of singledom...
PostPosted: Fri Oct 12, 2012 10:49 pm 
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Bit late to this thread, since I haven't been around in ages. The stigma thing is interesting, because these days the main time I ever remember there is any stigma is reading articles about ending the stigma. I think I'm just very lucky with who my family and friends are. This article was another eye-opener: http://www.dailylife.com.au/life-and-love/love,-sex-and-relationships/how-to-survive-a-wedding-when-youre-single-20121003-26z12.html I read it and could hardly believe the writer finds it that difficult. Maybe it's easy because I've been single for so many years? Or just different temperaments?


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 Post subject: Re: An article that questions the stigma of singledom...
PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2012 3:52 pm 
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I value my alone time far too much to be in a relationship right now. Maybe that will change, and maybe it won't. I'm 25 and assume I will change my mind about a lot of things in my lifetime. But, I do often think it would just be easier to have a partner in social situations. Or money situations. Those both seem like shitty reasons to get into a relationship, though.


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