The harmful effects of social judgment against singles

  • Jessica Klein
  • BBC Worklife

young woman with pink hair and denim jacket alone

Credit, Getty Images

The number of singles is growing, but people still insist on telling them that they will find a partner soon. Why so much concern?

Asking why someone is “still” single and reassuring them that they “will meet someone soon” may seem like a thoughtful and even sensitive way of asking how your single friends are doing. But these simple phrases are part of the “embarrassment of being single” and probably do more harm than good.

The embarrassment of being single is the result of prejudice against unmarried people: that they must be sad and lonely for not having partners; who are actively looking for someone but haven’t found a match yet; and that there must be something wrong with them that is causing them to live alone.

All these stereotypes are caused by the pressures to conform to defined social standards: meet your partner, get married, have two or three kids and a dog—and presto, you’ve gathered all the ingredients you need for a happy life.

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