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Made in India Magazine | June 24, 2021

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Himanshu Yadav

Bella DePaulo has a pet project. She’s on a mission to disprove the common belief that marriage offers a path to individual happiness and well-being. According to her research, such sentiments are misplaced and often misleading. She has often argued that were it not for the pressure society places on people to get married, a lot more of them would be single, and probably happier as a result.

Gaining a deeper appreciation about marriage
De Paulo who’s been described as “America’s foremost thinker and writer on the single experience” has made it her goal to understand better single adults, whom she thinks are under-studied as a group. By doing so, she hopes to gain a deeper appreciation of the differences between people’s expectations of marriage, and what it is.

She admits that in her younger years, like everyone else, she too believed she would wind up happily married. “I thought science had already shown what the fairy tales promised — get married, and you will live happily ever after, not like those single people.”

The Professor feels that there aren’t enough positive, affirming stories being told about single life in the context of modern society. “Increasing numbers of people are single because they want to be,” she says, “living single allows them to live their best, most authentic, and most meaningful life.”

Single people connect better with others
She believes that single people have a better connection with their relatives, friends, neighbours, and workmates than married people, and says that “when people marry, they become more insular.” In fact, she argues, it’s finally dawning on scholars that positive attachment relationships go beyond the scope of romantic relationships or the bond between parents and young children.

The 63-year-old Professor who describes herself as “single, always have been, always will be” wants people to understand that the fear of being single can lead one to overlook some of the profound benefits of being single. She maintains that there’s a danger that people can “end up about where they were when they were single” and cautions against “putting too much relationship capital into The One.”

Single people are victims of stereotypes
DePaulo believes that single people, and single life, are not accurately portrayed and that they end up becoming targets of stereotyping and stigmatisation. Married people, by contrast, are bolstered by a relentless celebration of matrimony she refers to as “matrimania”. She adds that she would like to see more recognition of what she calls “the real strengths and resilience of people who are single, and what makes their lives so meaningful.”

However, this doesn’t mean that marriage is bad or that there aren’t people for whom marriage works; De Paulo only wants the conversation to be better informed by scientific research. A great place to start is by watching her video or reading some of her books like “Singlism: What It Is, Why It Matters, and How to Stop It”.

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