Singled Out

It's time to lay aside our assumptions about singleness.


Singlism: the stigmatization of uncoupled adults, whether divorced, widowed, or ever single.[1]

I picked up the vibe right away. We were standing in a hallway waiting for one or two people from a different department to join us for a casual lunch. As we circled up to make introductions, I noticed that one person quickly shifted his shoulders and denied eye contact.

The man in question was probably in his late twenties. Moderately attractive. No wedding ring. I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt, assuming that he was just reserved. After observing his lively dialogue with other members of our group, I was forced to alter my assessment. Not reserved. What is his deal?

Halfway through lunch, he had still not so much as looked in my direction when the words “my fiancée” drawled slowly from his mouth.

I struggled to hold back a bemused chuckle. Of course! He was engaged! Acknowledging my existence was totally out of the question. As you know, if he had looked me in the eyes or started a conversation with me, I could not have helped myself from falling instantly in love with him.

As humorous as I found my colleague’s ignoring the unmarried intern from the tenth floor, I couldn’t ignore the feeling that a total stranger had wrongly categorized me based on no other data than my bare ring finger.

That was my first taste of singlism.

~~~

Culturally, we are growing in our ability to recognize and condemn prejudice, which usually stems from making assumptions about a person or group of people based on external factors. We are making progress in eliminating body shaming, de-stigmatizing disability, and defeating racial prejudice in its varied forms.

While we could turn on any news station and see that we ...

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