Most especially in Europe, China and Japan, a fair percentage of young people exercise their choice to be single. In this interview with the award winning Dr. Bella DePaulo we talk about the different aspects of singledom.
Dr. DePaulo, allow me to thank you for this interview and begin by asking you what according to you is the difference between just being single and single at heart?
For people who are single at heart, single life is their best life – their most authentic, meaningful, and fulfilling life. It is their first choice of how to live; they are not just settling for being single because they can’t find anyone to be their spouse or romantic partner.
That’s different from other single people who don’t want to be single, or who are choosing to be single, but for negative reasons, such as not wanting to play the dating game anymore.
What are the pluses those who are single at heart enjoy compared with those who must live with a partner?
People who are single at heart love their solitude. They rarely feel lonely. Because they don’t put a romantic partner at the centre of their lives, they are free to value the people they really care about, whether they are friends or relatives or colleagues or anyone else.
They have the freedom to craft a life that reflects who they really are, rather than trying to be the person a romantic partner wants them to be.
Going It Alone
Please tell us about your book Badass Psychology of People who Like Being Alone?
People who spend a lot of time alone are often stereotyped as social misfits or as having psychological problems.
That can be true of people who are alone, but wish they weren’t. It is totally different for people who enjoy being alone. They get a lot out of their solitude.
They have a psychologically healthy profile. For example, they are open-minded and they are very unlikely to be neurotic.
Alone: The Badass Psychology of People Who Like Being Alone is a myth-busting book that draws from research to show how some people do quite well on their own.
What do you talk about in your book The Best of Single Life?
In “The Best of Single Life,” I explain why many people find single life so rewarding. The stereotypes of single people insist that single people are missing out.
In my book, I turn that around and show ways in which people who are married or coupled are missing out.
I also describe the kinds of experiences that many single people value, such as solitude, independence, meaningful work, spending time with people they care about, and pursuing their passions.
Judged By Society
Does society still judge single people?
Yes, for sure. There are many stereotypes of single people – for example, that they are selfish, immature, and what they want more than anything else is to be coupled. Research shows that these stereotypes are exaggerated or totally untrue.
For example, there are many ways in which single people are less selfish than married people. They are more generous with their time, they are more generous with their money, and they are more generous in their caring. (Martina, details are here; feel free to quote from it: )
Do people tend to judge single women more than single men?
In many ways, yes. Marriage has traditionally been seen as more important to women than to men, so women who don’t marry are judged as having failed at an important life goal.
But people are wrong to judge single women.
When there are differences between men and women in living single, it is the women who do so more happily and more successfully.
And when there are differences between men and women in how they do when they are married, it is the men who seem to get more out of it.
Live Your Best Life
What is your observation? Do you think there are many who live as a couple only because of convention?
Yes, I think so. The pressures to live as a couple are very strong, and living single is still stigmatized to some degree, especially after a certain age.
That’s unfortunate, because if one person is only in a romantic relationship or a marriage because they think they should be, and not because they really want to be, that’s not good for their partner and it is not good for them, either.
It would be better if people felt free to live the life that is most fulfilling and most meaningful for them.
Our readers are mostly the youth in different parts of the world. A word of advice for them?
Live your best life, whatever that is, and live it fully, joyfully, and unapologetically.
Speaking your mind, whether single or coupled, is always easier in your mother tongue. We had a look at the day celebrating just that.
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