Can You Be Single and Have it All? Guest Post by Bella DePaulo

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If you want to learn about all the ways our society discriminates against single people, read Bella DePaulo’s work. She’s a Harvard PhD who pulls no punches calling out even high-flying groups like the American Psychological Association for their subtle “singlism” in language and attitude. She serves as a beacon for helping us do the consciousness-raising we all have to do before we get to the point where, as Morgan Freeman says “no need to say you’re proud to be black” and Dr. Karen Gail says in the previous post “no need to be proud you’re single,” we don’t have to say anything or prove anything to anybody about our life position.

With that, have at it, Bella…


When Barbara Payne asked me if I had a favorite life-changing moment as a single person, I immediately knew the story I wanted to tell. In fact, I had already written about it in my book, Singled Out. It was  the opening to the chapter in which I make fun of the stereotype that people who are single don’t have a life. Here it is (from p. 185):

After I moved from the East Coast to the West, there was a time when I knew I wanted to stay out West, but was not yet sure whether I could make that happen. Would I be able to sell my home in Virginia? Would anyone hire me for only as many hours as it took to pay my bills, so I could devote the rest of my time, and all of my heart and soul, to the study of singles? What about all the rest of it – would it all work out? Then one day, I got a phone call, and I knew that it had happened. I hung up and sat in quiet stunned amazement for a moment. Then I thought to myself, “I can have it all.”

It took a second for me to realize just how bizarre that thought was – at least by the prevailing standards. Here I was, stepping into a life in which I had no husband, no children, no full-time job, and for the first time in more than a decade, no home that I owned. Yet to me, I was about to have it all.

I doubt that I would have thought of my life that way many years before. I loved my friends, my family, my job, and my home, but I would not have spontaneously appropriated a cultural catch-phrase, nor refashioned it so thoroughly.

Years have passed since I wrote those words. I still have no husband, no children, no full-time job, and no home that I own. I could hardly be happier. I’ve made new friends and kept the old. I work as many hours as it takes to pay the bills (plus the time it takes to find the next opportunity that pays), then I passionately pursue my thinking and research and writing about single life.

I used to save up my money every year to spend a week or so at the beach. Now I live at the beach. Yes, I’m renting, but I can walk out my front door and have my toes in the Pacific Ocean in ten minutes. Or I can walk the many and varied trails. Or I can drive a few miles and pick up fruits and vegetables at the farmers market; my favorites sit colorfully and boastfully next to a hand-written sign that says “picked this morning.” I’d still love to see more of the friends and family who remain out East, but it is not hard to persuade people to visit me in the tiny town that is so aptly named Summerland.

Bella DePaulo (Ph.D., Harvard) is the author of Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After and of Single with Attitude: Not Your Typical Take on Health and Happiness, Love and Money, Marriage and Friendship. She writes the “Living Single” blog for Psychology Today and also blogs at Bella DePaulo’s blog. Visit her website at www.BellaDePaulo.com.

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