Grace loves to write commentaries on psycho-cultural and sociocultural dynamics in their myriad forms.
YOU'RE SINGLE, Why DON'T YOU SETTLE DOWN?
Single People Are Less Respected In This Promarriage Society
Even though being single is more accepted in this society than ever before, single people are still thought of as somewhat lesser people than married people. There is an underlying message in this society which conveys that single people are frivolous, irresponsible, immature, and hedonistic. Furthermore, single people are viewed as incomplete people who are destined to be lonely.
Society inundate people to get married. Marriage is often considered to be the cure all to everything. Many so-called studies maintain that married people are happier and live longer than single people. People are further inundated that marriage provides a sense of longing and security. Furthermore, others claim that marriage provides the happiness that is often absent in the single life.
In the media, single people are stereotyped and presented as always being frantic and searched for the ever elusive Mr./Ms. Right. Seldom do you see a show about single people who are just happily single. If single people are not stereotyped as being in relationship and/or emotional limbo, they are seen as been immature and not fully grown up.
In the past, being single, except for those in religious vocations, was viewed negatively. The idea relationship paradigm was to be married. Many aspects of society, especially family, social groups, and religious institutions touted the importance of being married. Being married was viewed as the bulwark of stability and respectability. If a person was single, except for the reason of being in a religious vocation, he/she was to be pitied and/or at worst, ostracized.
A single person was viewed as a pariah in a society where marriage was strictly the norm. He/she was thought of as being peculiar or worse. Oftentimes, it was assumed that this person would be lonely and penurious in their old ages with no family and/or companion to look after them.
There were also many negative connotations to being single. A man was viewed as a playboy while women were viewed as old maids and spinsters. Even though many single people in the early modern era had interesting and fulfilling independent lives, they were not considered valuable persons because they were not married.
However, from the 1920s to the 1950s, there was less of a stigma attached to single people, especially among more highly educated and affluent people. During this era, there was more freedom regarding relationship lifestyles. This was due to the availability of contraceptive methods in addition to further education and the move from rural to urban areas.
In the 1950s, the paradigm became increasingly conservative. In this era, marriages were strongly emphasized and encouraged as the only viable life choice. Again, those who were single were thought of as less mature, more selfish, and/or worse. Young people in the 1950s were inundated that if they wanted the good life with love and security, marriage was the only option.
Beginning in the 1960s, there was a revolution regarding lifestyle options. There were more advanced contraceptive methods such as the pills which made the prospect of pregnancy next to impossible. With the advent of the pill, women were free to indulge in sex without marriage. Past sexual prohibitions were discarded as they were viewed as outmoded. People, especially women, contended that they did not have to be married to enjoy relationships. Being single was one of the relationship lifestyle which was becoming increasingly acceptable in the 1960s. In the 1970s and beyond, more people elected being single because of increased education, more varied and viable career options, and contraceptive technologies becoming more advanced.
Despite all these factors, there is still an underlying prejudice against single people. Single people are taxed more than married people. It is the assumption of the tax people that single people do not need as much money to live than their married counterparts. It is an unwritten rule in many businesses, that single people, especially single men, are not viewed as promotion worthy as married men who the corporation deem as being more responsible.
Oftentimes, society views the prospect of singlehood as being temporary and transitional. People maintain that this person is single until the "right" person comes along. They do not believe that he/she would desire to be permanently single. It is often mistakenly believed that a person must be married in order to belong and not be lonely. Society has a habit of often equating being single to being lonely.
Many a single person hears such a message from so-called well meaning friends, peers, associates, and family members who are married. These people maintained that if they are married , why aren't their single counterparts doing the same. To these people's assumptions, their single counterparts are unhappy, lonely, and will end up miserable in their old ages.
It is with such ideas that many single people are exhorted to get married. If they reply that they are not interested in marriage relationship and have a fulfilling life of career and friends, they are told that these things will not make them ultimately happy. It is that the only viable and respected paradigm is to be married. There are many single people, of course, who buy into the paradigm that to be ultimately happy is to either be married. These singles often frantically search for a permanent marital relationship, good or bad, because they have been inoculated that being alone is wrong and abhorrent. Being alone is equated to living a lonely and pitiful existence. The underlying societal message is that everyone needs somebody!
There is another underlying message in this society which equates marriage with maturity. Married people are viewed as more conscientious, mature, and adult than their single counterparts especially by their families. Many family members often view their single relatives, no matter how successful and happy, as being more infantile and needing to "woman and man up".
Some single people report being treated as less than adults by their parents and other relatives. The latter reason that if their children/relatives are so mature, they should be married-that will prove that they are responsible! In many subcultures of this society, being married is equated with being fully grown up! Singlehood is viewed as a nebulous situation in this society while marriages are viewed more in a positive life. Forget that half of marriages end in divorce and recriminations.
Marriage does not necessarily provide financial, psychological, and emotional security. Many of these relationships are not loving, intense relationships but are relationships of convenience! Many single people see this, know that their lives are vastly happier in comparison and intend to retain their single status.
In summation, there is greater societal acceptance of being single than ever before. However, single people are viewed as lesser and more incomplete people than their counterparts who are married. There is the underlying presumption that in order to be happy and fulfilled, everyone should be married. They are further viewed as less responsible and mature than those who are not single. There are still pejorative and negative to being single which is totally antiquated and untrue. Being single is just as a viable, valid, and optional lifestyle choice as being married.
© 2011 Grace Marguerite Williams
SweetiePie from Southern California, USA on March 22, 2015:
I am not saying I will never get married, but I stopped looking years ago because it is too much stress. I still see good marriages out there, but I feel for my friends who put themselves through the dating scene. One friend seems to never find a lasting relationship with a man because many are intimidated because she makes more than them. She even tried dating more successful guys, and then never hears back. Dating just seems like a chore, but I know she really wants to get married. My thinking is if you are going to meet the right person, it will happen when you are not looking. I actually like being single, and I only ever felt bad about it when people around me told me I should. Over time I think people just realized I will live my life, and they stopped making comments like that to me. Of course I think society has changed a bit in the last years, but even back in the 1940s my aunt was a single woman who went to college and had a career in the business world. She never got married, and it never seemed to bother her. She was more focused on living her own life though, an I do not think others opinion impacted her much.
Grace Marguerite Williams (author) from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York on March 21, 2015:
Yes, marriage is becoming less than an issue these days due to the liberalization of gender roles(especially for women), greater sexual freedom, and a higher divorce rate. In general, the increasing liberalization of society decreases the need for getting married. Thank you for your eloquent response, it is greatly appreciated in kind.
SweetiePie from Southern California, USA on March 21, 2015:
In my early thirties I felt good being single, but I used to still feel a bit of scrutiny about my situation. As I have reached my mid-thirties this has become a non-issue. Many people my age and older have never been married, and not all of us are looking either. I think in today's world marital status is just that, and really does not matter anymore. Well of course a person's marriage matters greatly to them, but I think most people who are well rounded and focused on their own lives do not care who is and who is not single.
Amanda Roddy on November 21, 2014:
I just now found this hub and want to write something similar.I am happily married myself and often recall feeling pity for single people in the past. It never used to cross my mind these people could be happy.I often tell my husband this but I don't think he gets it yet.We are told from day one of our existence we need partners. We spend what should be the best years trying to get the opposite gender's attention, get asked to proms etc. This marriage expectation leads to early marriages and also divorces. I seldom know any young adult without an SO It is crazy. I recall getting a book in church entitled "From Pigtails to Wedding Bells". It just assumes every woman wants to and should marry.There is never a mention of living single as an option. Society really needs to change these outdated views.
Glenn Scott Davis from Burbank, California on September 08, 2013:
Superb observations! My Wife and I concur.
TheTruth on September 04, 2013:
that is so very much true, especially the people that are married wouldn't give a damn about us. they were very Blessed by God that they have met the right person for them to share their life with like many of us very less fortunate ones that would have certainly wanted the same thing too. i will admit that i hate so much being alone and having no one now. there are just too many very nasty women to meet anyway, especially the ones that think that they are all that which they are so very pathetic to begin with. with so much more Gay Women now out there which certainly makes it worse as well. very sad.
Arlyn on April 30, 2012:
Please people, marriage is only a freedom killer if you are married to a rock. Marry someone who wants you to be happy.
sony on April 26, 2012:
I have a boyfriend and we don't plan to get married although we plan to stay together. We don't live together and it suits us.
Grace Marguerite Williams (author) from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York on November 17, 2011:
To mljdgulley354: Thank you for your response. I totally agree with your son. Why ruin a good single life! I completely love being single- I view marriage as the kiss of death and a freedom killer! I have so many interests and I can come and go when I want without having to answer to anybody!
mljdgulley354 on November 17, 2011:
I voted this hub up and interesting. You have brought up a subject that I had never really paid attention to. The single people I know seem to be happy with their lives. My son is coming up on 30 and when ask if he is ever going to get married his response is "Why would I ruin a good life."
Nan Mynatt on November 16, 2011:
Great analysis, and I marked you up on this one! People think that if you are single, no one wants you. You can't find a mate. It never occurs to them that you do not want a mate!
Valentine Logar from Dallas, Texas on November 16, 2011:
Having been married my entire adult life, including most of my teenage years I can honestly tell you this is a great summation of the message. It is of course the wrong message but the message nonetheless. For women especially, we seek our completion in our partners and fail to understand we are fully realized without one. I didn't fully understand this until a short time ago, literally months ago.