More and more people are opting not to travel the traditional route of marriage and parenthood, or as Amy Gahran would deem it, the relationship escalator. Thanks to social media, we can access article upon article giving various takes on this trend. And, of course, social media brings out people’s true (and oftentimes dark) natures on this subject. In reading through comments on such pieces, I’ve devised the following categories of commenters:
Matrimaniacs (who are mostly Boomers)
People are generally uncomfortable with change. Many people who were raised with the attitude that they needed to get married and raise 2.4 children are naturally going to want everyone else to do it (“We had to do it, so you should”). I saw a meme that read “Tradition is just peer pressure from dead people.”
While tongue-in-cheek, like most jokes, this meme has some truth to it. The folks that are alive and lamenting the declining of marriage are typically Baby Boomers, who don’t know any relationship style outside the “escalator.” If they’re not, they usually come from conservative areas and have been raised inside the “monogamy box.” They’ll make comments like “I’ve been married for 43 years, and it’s been worth every minute” or “people just don’t want to work for love anymore.”
On the plus side, the former category will die soon. And the more we continue to accept alternatives to marriage, the more newer generations will embrace those alternatives, and the latter category will eventually fade away (or at least decrease in number).
Because many pro-singlehood articles address women who are opting for singlehood (and virtually none too for men), much of the backlash comes from angry singles (usually men), who fit the stereotypes matrimaniacs purport and give the rest of us a bad name. Many men feel that the fall of marriage was the result of women being allowed to have credit cards and work outside the home, and they reflect a 1950s patriarchal attitude (men work, women cook).
They’re an angry group. Angry that they just can’t get a phone number or a date because women are now more liberated and don’t have to settle for the first dude that comes along, unlike the matrimaniacs we read about above. They need to learn how to be comfortable in their own skin as singles before they try dating.
Like singles, those who support singles are not a monolithic group, so I’ve divided them into categories:
The Bitterly Coupled or Divorced
These are people in unhappy relationships or those traumatized by a bad breakup or divorce. They’ll make comments like “never get married; it was the biggest mistake I made. 25 years of hell.” After a bad experience in couplehood, they’ve learned (or are learning) to enjoy singlehood.
I really appreciate these folks; it takes a lot of intelligence and open-mindedness to be able to see outside your own experience (something I’m still learning to do). These people tend to have happy, healthy relationships because they’re comfortable in their own skin and have identities distinct from their partnerships. For them, their partnerships are like icing or sprinkles on the cake.
The Happy Single
I don’t need to say much about you. You’re truly the shining stars and will be a great example for future generations.
My name is Craig. I'm an educator, writer, and unapologetic singleton. When not reading, writing, or teaching, I enjoy hiking, running, watching movies, going to concerts, spending time with friends, and playing with my cat/son, Chester.