Single shaming: why society always condemns single people

Single shaming (this term can be translated as embarrassingly single) results from negative prejudices about people who do not have a partner. From the point of view of those assigned, they must be sad and lonely. They are actively looking, but have not yet found the right one or the right one. And there must be something wrong with them, so they’re lonely after all.

All of these stereotypes create pressure for individuals to adapt to established societal norms. That is, to buy a partner, a common house, children and a dog. These should be the ingredients we need for a happy life, writes Jessica Klein for the BBC.

The role of the pandemic

While people have been rethinking these social norms for decades, recent research suggests that single shame is still strong. According to a survey by the Match dating service, 52% of the UK’s 1,000 single adults said they had “experienced single shaming since the start of the pandemic”. A pandemic certainly played a role, during which you have to have someone to rely on. Although more than half of single respondents say they are satisfied with their condition, they remain the target of intrusive questions.

Celibacy is no longer seen as a period of transition between relationships, but as a period in its own right.

According to journalist Jessica Klein, the persistence of these prejudices against single people is not only demeaning, but also obsolete in many countries. Celibacy is no longer seen as a period of transition between relationships, but as a period in its own right. It is said that Americans today spend more years of their adult lives single than married. In 1970, according to the US census, 40% of households were married couples and their children, while 17% of Americans lived alone. In 2012, single people made up 27% of American households and only 20% were parents and children.

there are more and more

But despite these changing statistics, it’s clear that people who don’t have a relationship still struggle with friends and family. And it’s not fun for them either. While it seems singles have been making it easier from that perspective lately, the pressure to date and find a counterpart just doesn’t go away. What plays the simple cards are the numbers. They are more and more numerous, which is an argument against their stigmatization.

According to New York psychotherapist Allison Abrams, single shaming means “negatively condemning someone for not being in a relationship and therefore not meeting society’s expectations of being married at a certain age”. As a result, the “convicts” treat people who are unaffected differently.

In the aforementioned Match study, researchers asked for common annoying phrases that single people hear. 35% said they were told “you’ll find someone soon”, 29% heard “you must be so lonely…” and 38% of singles overall expressed regret about their condition.

They do not meet the standards

Myths about single people say they have sad lives and being single means being selfish. Stereotypes about single people can also have harmful consequences. Internalized shame about social attitudes toward single people can negatively affect a person’s self-perception. Even if a single person’s friends and family are not ashamed of their condition, missing out on important life milestones such as marriage and children can have adverse consequences, especially for a single person. who is actively looking for a partner. Because that’s what society usually expects of them. According to psychologists, not falling into cultural norms can also lead to depression. Not because I don’t have anyone, but because people around me say.

Single shame comes from many sources, not just nosy relatives and friends. Governments have a role to play by providing a variety of benefits to married people who cannot live in marriage. Some people think it sends the message of “the right way in life”, and it’s very hard for single people to come to terms with the idea that they are doing something wrong.

Here too, gender plays a role

Like any cultural stigma, unique shame is not evenly distributed. Respect the words that describe single women as opposed to men. While men are called “spinsters”, women are called “spinners”. In the Middle Ages it was a term for women who spun wool professionally, and most of them were unmarried. It was easier for them to obtain lower-skilled employment, as the most desirable jobs were generally reserved for married women who, through their husbands, could afford the knowledge necessary for a higher position.

“Singles,” on the other hand, are often depicted as fun-loving men who live free and carefree lives. For women, the later term “spinster” took on even more negative connotations, used to denigrate single (and young) women in pop culture. Remember Bridget Jones’ diary. The main character is just over 30 and has a solid job in London. However, her status is “single”, something like “old virgin”.

According to conventional “wisdom,” which is neither wise nor precise, women care more about marriage than men. Single women are more often exposed to unpleasant questions such as: “Are you dating anyone?” Single men can also be seen in a dismissive and dismissive way. Some see them as children, unable to take care of themselves or obsessed with sex.

Perceptions of singles are changing, and some experts believe changes in attitudes and demographics could help normalize the situation for singles and potentially reduce the condemnation of singles. In recent years, more and more well-known celebrities have proudly applied for single status. For example, actress Emma Watson has publicly described herself as an “independent partner”. This encourages others to view not having a partner as a positive, not a negative phenomenon.

photo: Shutterstock, source: BBC

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