Debriefing Socrates: Singlism, Marriage, Partnership, or…? What’s the Right Choice for You?

| November 14, 2011

What are our options in long-term relationships today?  How free are we to choose what suits us best – and how free should we be? Are our choices constrained by stereotyping and discrimination?

Among the questions addressed in this session were:

1.   What choices for your long-term relationships have you made, or are you considering?

2.   What are the positive and negative consequences of your chosen style?

3.   Do these consequences affect your attitude towards choosing for yourself?

4.   How do you feel about the issue of having children?

5.    Do people who choose to be single or become single, suffer discriminatory treatment (social and economic)?

The participants benefitted from reading the recent article in the NY Times summarizing opinion and findings in the field: “In a Married World, Singles Struggle for Attention” by Tara Parker-Pope.

Among the important books on display or discussed were: Singlism: What It Is, Why It Matters, and How to Stop It, Even God is Single (So Stop Giving Me A Hard Time), Singular Existence, Quirky You, and the just-published Is Marriage for White People?, exploring the reality and the consequences of the African American marriage decline.

At one point during the conversation, a 65-year old woman participant talked about how she is currently living thousands of miles from her husband, who visits every few weeks.  Then she exclaimed:  “Am I married?  Or not?  I DON’T KNOW!”

This declaration exemplified how this conversation challenged the conventional categories in this area of our common experience.  These challenges emerged through vivid personal narratives, reports of research results and findings, and interaction among the participants.

Among the most notable issues discussed were:

  • Cross-cultural comparisons from India, China, S. Africa, Japan, Brazil, and Holland.
  • Life-span narratives about transitioning from conventional marriage-as-the-ideal, to an appreciation of a diversity of possible lifestyles.
  • The African-American experience and situation, affected by stereotype threat and other depredations.
  • Personal convictions about the positive and negative correlates of matrimony.
  • Testimony to the prejudice against single persons.
  • Using analysis of the changing tenor of books on these issues, decade by decade, as a way of discerning changes in culture and society

Referencing our Socratic conversation: Singlism…, Thursday, 11/3/11