Single People Are Often Thought Less Of In Our Society Than Married People
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
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