SingleFile or The Worst Advice Column Ever

by Sarah on June 24, 2013

scan0080I was reading a local newspaper the other day, when I came across this awful advice column for singles.

In case you can’t read the highlighted bits (and don’t want to click on it for a larger image), the woman who is asking for advice ends her question with, “I’m not sure what to do about [this friendship], because single people do come across as rude and selfish. I fear I will never meet anyone.”

And the writer responds with, “Unmarried people are just people, with the same foibles and assets. When you denigrate them, you debase yourself.”

While I appreciate the writer shutting down the first woman’s arguments that singles are “rude and selfish,” I still feel like any time someone has to use the phrase “[group of people] are just people,” there’s an underlying problem.

Rather than cite statistics about how single people actually tend to do more acts that would generally qualify as “selfless,” I really want to know is why single people are so vilified, even by one another? What is at risk here?

Riddle me that, Batman.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Rob June 25, 2013 at 12:13 pm

This is the first time I’ve ever seen a single person denigrate other single people. Though there could be a kernel of truth to the writer’s complaint. One might imagine that the “best” people might get snapped up into marriage or long term relationships. As people progress through their 20s and 30s, it’s many people’s experience that the pool of potential partners does seem to become less attractive overtime Im not saying this Is right or fair, but it does seem logical. On the other hand, if the main type of relationship in society was non-monagamous, we probably wouldn’t see this issue.

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Sarah June 25, 2013 at 2:12 pm

Hey Rob,

I know you’re all about challenging assumptions, so I’m going to challenge some of yours here because I have a lot of problems with this ‘logic.’

If, like in gym class, we lined up everyone on the planet and said, “Here are all the eligible people,” and started a selection process, then I could imagine that *maybe* the pickings at the end wouldn’t be “as good” as at the beginning when the whole wold of single people were in line. But not everyone is just standing around waiting for a partner. For example, I have a lot of friends who recently completed advanced degrees, becoming PhDs or MDs or JDs. Their time for dating was severely limited during their years of advanced study. Now, they’re suddenly “on the market” and, as far as I can tell, are perfectly good “catches” despite being in their late 20s or early 30s.

Let’s add to that, the fact that people’s tastes vary. There’s no list of criteria that make a person marriageable, and one person’s ideals may be another’s nightmare. Finding good potential partners is far more a factor of self-awareness, I would think. Broad searches don’t hurt either. The people I’ve heard complain about the dating market usually frequent the same bar over and over again and then whine about how they’re not meeting new people. I’m sympathetic to the challenges of meeting people, but not to those who aren’t putting in any effort.

Finally, the writer calls singles “selfish” and “rude.” If, again, we could believe that being selfless and polite are the top values that make one marriage material, *maybe* this would make any kind of sense at all. But I’m sorry to say, I know plenty of selfish or rude married people. Maybe this made sense back in the 18th century when being ‘marriageable’ had a lot more to do with etiquette and money than anything else, but it doesn’t still apply in our modern world. And I don’t think anyone in my life ever would think that I’m rude, despite being adamant about remaining single.. The ‘selfish’ bit is better addressed by the article I linked to, though I’m happy to discuss further if you have questions.

Oh, and of course, there are the people like me who are just not interested in swimming into a net….. Maybe I’m ‘selfish’ for withholding myself from some deserving potential-husband somewhere, but I’m willing to take the label to avoid making that husband absolutely miserable with a wife who’s not interested in marriage…

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