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Singled Out: How Singles are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After Hardcover – November 14, 2006

4.0 out of 5 stars 75 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

DePaulo fastidiously defines the various categories of singlehood-divorced, widowed or just plain never been married-and gives their struggle a voice in this intriguing cultural study. According to DePaulo, "singlism" is the pervasive discrimination single people face in politics and everyday life, though DePaulo makes it clear he isn't equating it with racism or sexism. Rather, DePaulo uncovers society's immediate associations-conscious and otherwise-with the word "single," including the implication of loneliness, homosexuality and/or a personal defect that prevents a single person from achieving the dubiously enshrined goal of marriage. In addition, this exhaustive study reveals how marriage has come to represent the foundation of both American society and politics, and how the resulting system of discrimination pervades even in this modern age of financial freedom-including increased tax burdens, decreased social security benefits, and real-world wage disparity. In identifying the stigmas of being single and debunking myths like "marrieds know best," DePaulo has given this complicated subject the attention and respect it deserves, opening a dialogue without offering any pat solutions.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"With elegant analysis, wonderfully detailed examples, and clear and witty prose, DePaulo lays out the many, often subtle denigrations and discriminations faced by single adults in the U.S.  She addresses, too, the resilience of single women and men in the face of such singlism.  A must-read for all single adults, their friends and families, as well as social scientists and policy advocates."
---E. Kay Trimberger, author of The New Single Woman
"It's time for America to become acquainted with its new 'unmarried majority.' Singled Out debunks myths and stereotypes about single people and lays the groundwork for social, political, and economic change - change that is long overdue in government policies and business practices."
-- Thomas F. Coleman, Executive Director, Unmarried America

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1ST edition (November 14, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312340818
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312340810
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,174,047 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Singled Out" has some very good information and makes solid points about the subtlty of the constraining aspects of culture that define segments of the culture considered out of the norm, like single people. Where it falls down is in creating its own dogma about coupledom that is strident and seems to want to negate any consideration of merit for partnering.

I wrote my original review when only about halfway through this book. I wanted to update the review with my final impressions, which ended up farther toward the positive end of the scale.

In general, I think DePaulo is onto something very important here, insofar as trying to de-pathologize singlehood and encourage the inclusion of many more definitions of relationship and family than is currently allowed. Not only is society already changed beyond going back, it was never the mythological construct we imagined existed in everyone's house but ours.

I enjoyed the book most where DePaulo shines: in sticking to statistics or an academic presentation of facts that help to demythologize both marriage and the single life. This included findings from scholarly studies and a revealing look at how society interprets in different ways behavior that is similar between singles and couples.

The author is least appealing when repeatedly seeming to sneer at or dismiss intimate bonds between couples entirely. One case made for the immaturity of people who marry was facile, denigrating, and two-dimensional. It's not that she didn't present some valid points to consider but it was hard for me as a reader to get beyond what seemed like a fair amount of anger towards the very idea of coupledom.

DePaulo rightly deplores singles being portrayed as cardboard figures with only one thing on their mind: marriage.
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Format: Hardcover
Almost any single person has been affected by myth and stigma. Supposedly we're misfits with empty lives, doomed to die alone, frustrated at never achieving the perfection of coupledom. Finally, someone lets the cat out of the bag. We're normal and happy.

I had heard of the author when I was an academic and even cited some of her articles in my own research. Then out of the blue, she asked permission to use a quote from me in this book. I was delighted with the request and the topic.

Having read DePaulo's academic articles, I anticipated a superb book and I was not disappointed. In fact, Singled Out vastly exceeded my expectations. I've given away 2 copies. One recipient said she bought 4 more to give away. And we don't usually buy books, let alone give them as gifts.

Unlike many popular psychology authors, DePaulo uses her research training to make significant points. The book is worth reading just to go through Chapter 2, an eye-opening look at the way research results can be distorted to meet an agenda. And any single person will laugh out loud at DePaulo's opening satire: What if we subjected married people to the indignities, frustrations and hassles that single people take for granted.

DePaulo asks, "What does research tell us about the specific benefits of paired relationships?" In fact, it's only in the last hundred years or so that the "pack of two" became privileged in our culture.

After reading Singled Out, I found myself seeing the world differently. I keep picking up hidden messages everywhere, especially movies and television. A singles column in my local paper really should be called relationship seeking. Singles groups? More of the same.

However, I do see signs of hope.
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Format: Paperback

"I do wish married people would understand that a lot of singles actually WANT to be single. Why does that bother you?...It is like the story my (happily married) friend...likes to tell about meeting the late Ann Landers, who said, `You tell that Richard Roeper to figure out what's keeping him from getting married and to fix it!'""

The above is found in this meticulously well-researched book by social psychologist Dr. Bella DePaulo (who is unmarried herself). (Specifically, the above quotation comes from an essay written by movie critic (of TV's "At the Movies with Ebert & Roeper") and columnist Richard Roeper's reaction to two married friends who wanted Roeper to get married.)

I think it's important for people to know what social psychology is: it is that branch of psychology that concentrates on any and all aspects of human behaviour that involve persons and their relationships to other persons, groups, social institutions, and to society as a whole. Social psychology exchanges freely ideas, models, and methods with other social sciences, particularly sociology.

This is why I chose this book. It's based on an objective social science (or, at least, it tries to be) and not on subjective opinions. This book is not a "diatribe" or a rant.

The best chapter in this book, in my opinion, has the title, "Science and the Single Person." Here, DePaulo looks at data and their numbers with regard to different kinds of people (single, married, divorced, etc.). She then interprets the data. The final conclusions are eye-opening and completely unexpected.

Then we proceed to examine the myths of being single that form the core of this book.
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