Why is Being Unmarried Such a Big Deal?


Do people discriminate against you for being single? If you were raised to believe that women shouldn’t be alone after a certain age, it could be difficult to overcome this childhood programming. But, being single and happy is possible. Just look at Oprah.

I’ve started answering people’s questions on Quora, a popular Q and A site for practically anything you could possibly want to know. Recently, I came across a question on Quora where someone wanted to know why Oprah Winfrey has never married. Interestingly, people made a lot of guesses, ranging from she didn’t want to alienate her audience by coming out as gay, to she has a lot of money. People estimate that Oprah’s net worth exceeds two billion dollars. After the question had been up and active for some time, people mentioned that she is in a long term relationship with Stedman Graham and didn’t want to marry because “he’s a traditional man and this is a very untraditional relationship.”

Unmarried people are frequently misunderstood. Oprah may not want to tell the public all her reasons for not marrying. She may not even understand some of the deep psychological reasons she hasn’t wanted to marry. We don’t have any way to know. Meanwhile, people generally don’t understand the complicated reasons why someone might stay unmarried, so they come up with simple causes that are typically not accurate or even realistic.

The fact that her marital status is such a big issue and their speculations so strange raises an interesting question. Could it indicate some form of bias against people who don’t marry? Of course, people love celebrity gossip, and everything about Oprah and Oprah’s net worth and her relationship with Stedman Graham is interesting. But is there more to the story, like some form of discrimination? After all, unmarried people aren’t as common as people who are hitched, Being a single after a certain age puts you squarely in the minority, even now.

The Pew Research Center says that in 2012 one-in-five people over age 25 had never married. Any single woman who’s read the book or seen the movie, Bridget Jones’ Diary, can relate to her struggle with “smug marrieds” telling her to hurry up and find a man. Unfortunately, people think that being single and happy is impossible. If you haven’t seen or read Bridget Jones’ Diary, you’ve probably been asked the same dreaded question she dealt with, “Why are you still single?”

Bella DePaulo, Ph.D., thinks bias against single people is a real thing. She is a social psychologist and author of Singled Out: How Singles are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After. She challenges the stereotypes people have about singles and breaks down so many of the myths society has about single people and single women in particular. For example, one myth DePaulo debunks is single parents’ kids are doomed, and that all single people think about is being coupled.

Although these myths can be harmful to individuals, they can also hurt the children of singles, too. If you’re a single woman, you must be careful that you don’t allow this bias to undermine your confidence. After all, we have enough problems with all the pressure today to look fantastic and have spectacularly impressive careers. Add on weight and age discrimination, and it can really hurt your confidence. While society’s attitude toward singles is irritating and hurtful, don’t listen to the haters.

It’s crucial not to let people pressure you into being something you’re not. You have to figure out what’s right for you regardless of someone else’s approval. If they have an issue with singleness, it’s usually their problem, not yours. When you start to care less about what other people think, it will improve your confidence and your ability to be happy. Maybe you’re just a late bloomer or your time just hasn’t arrived yet. Things could look very different in a year.

Don’t forget that our culture is changing. Marriage may not be for everyone. Pew Research Center also reports that in 1960, only one-in-ten adults aged 25 and over had never married. Today the percentage of never-married adults is at a historic high. In the future, they might no longer be in the minority. So don’t let it get you down just because you’re single.

Of course, if you genuinely want to change your single status, there is a lot you can do to improve your love life. Get my FREE quiz today and see what changes you can make to reach your relationship goals faster.

Have you ever felt embarrassed or ashamed because you were single? Leave us a comment below.

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