Defying Single Shaming: Why It Needs To Be Stopped


Defying Single Shaming

As a woman, have you ever been a victim of single shaming, when people have acted horrified about the fact that you are not married yet?

In a culture that places disproportionate value on one’s relationship status, it is no wonder so many singles struggle with self-worth. The myth of happily ever after, along with the dictum that every woman should be married by a certain age, has been embedded within our collective narrative for ages. That you are a “plus one” if coupled, but a “minus one” if not, does not quite add up.

Psychological Effects of Single-Shaming

As a therapist, one of the things I find most perplexing is how so many smart, successful, and confident women have cemented within them the belief that if they have not found “the one,” then there must be something wrong with them.

This is a distorted belief that reflects an equally distorted yet persistent cultural norm. Believing that one’s life is somehow incomplete without a partner is as absurd as it is dangerous. Shame, in all its forms, invades our psyches, undermines our accomplishments, and erodes our self-worth. And where one’s self-worth is compromised, the potential seeds of depression are planted.

Single women are members of one of the most stigmatized groups we refuse to acknowledge. Single men face stigma as well, but not nearly to the same extent. Just consider the connotative contrast between “spinster” and “bachelor” or “playboy.” The cultural lie tells us that a woman has not reached the true pinnacle of success or become a fully realized person until she walks down the aisle or has a ring on her finger.

But what if she doesn’t want to “say yes to the dress”? And if she wants to put a ring on it, why can’t she buy the ring herself? What if she wants to go to Jared!?

Want to know more about why women should not be pressured to get married? Read Studies Reveal That Men Gain More From Marriage Than Women

All the Single Ladies

More and more millennials are delaying marriage and instead choosing to focus on shaping careers, nurturing friendships, and honing creative talents. According to the 2017 Census, more than 45 percent of Americans age 18 or over (about 110 million people) are single. This includes those who are divorced, widowed, and never married. Thirty percent of women in the U.S. have never been married.

In her empowering 2016 book, All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation, Rebecca Traister explores the origins of negative stereotypes and stigma against single women:

“When people call single women selfish for the act of tending to themselves, it’s important to remember that the very acknowledgment that women have selves that exist independently of others, and especially independent of husbands and children, is revolutionary. A true age of female selfishness, in which women recognized and prioritized their own drives to the same degree to which they have always been trained to tend to the needs of all others, might, in fact, be an enlightened corrective to centuries of self-sacrifice.”

Looking to know more about why you should not let single-shaming get to you? Read 7 Reasons Why You Should Stay Single In Your Twenties


Bella DePaulo, author of Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After, has been researching and writing about single stigma for decades. She even coined a term for it: singlism.

She writes about the obvious and not so obvious ways in which single people are stereotyped and discriminated against, including the various economic and social disadvantages that they face.

On her Psychology Today blog, DePaulo offers up some delicious zingers, as well as serious answers, to the ridiculous questions singles are asked. For example, in response to “Why aren’t you married?” you can respond with the equally ridiculous, “Why aren’t you a Christmas tree?”

Unmarried does not equal unworthy

Being in a romantic relationship should not be an obligation, regardless of what society—or your mother—tells you. There are many paths toward happily ever after; marriage is but one. DePaulo writes:

“If you are not already a happy person, don’t count on marriage to transform you into one. If you are already happy, don’t expect marriage to make you even happier … finally, if you are single and happy, do not fret that you will descend into despair if you dare to stay single. That’s not likely either.”

Want to know more about why single-shaming is unnecessary and wrong? Read Women Who Remain Single For A Long Time End Up Being The Happiest

A New Narrative

We need a new cultural narrative in which one’s worth is de-coupled from one’s relationship status. When biased policies that alienate singles become obsolete, when marriage is no longer fetishized and touted as the be-all and end-all, and when women can stop equating their worth with their marital status, we will have truly progressed.

What if, rather than obsessing on the single goal of partnering, we set a new goal: cultivating self-compassion and self-acceptance? What if we made a commitment to ourselves, to live our best lives, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, and most importantly, with a partner or without?

DePaulo, B. (2006). Singled out: How singles are stereotyped, stigmatized, and ignored, and still live happily ever after. St Martin’s Press.

Traister, R. (2016). All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation, Simon Schuster.

Written By Allison Abrams
Originally Appeared In Psychology Today

If you have ever been on the other side of single-shaming, then don’t let that get to you. People who think that marriage is the ultimate goal and your life is incomplete without it, you don’t need to dignify them with a response. Keep working on yourself and love yourself every single day. Whether you want to get married or not is ultimately up to you, and never let anyone tell you otherwise.

If you want to know more about single-shaming, then check this video out below:

Defying Single Shaming Pin

— Share —

— About the Author —

Leave a Reply

Up Next

30 Things To Do Alone — Learn To Have Fun By Yourself

Fun Things To Do Alone To Make You Happy

In a world that’s constantly buzzing, people fail to pay attention to the art of being alone. That’s why I’ve come up with fun things to do alone at home, on a Friday night, or the weekend.

Sometimes, you need to find things to do alone to make you happy because it is responsible for numerous self-discoveries and peace from within.

It’s not just about luxury but few minutes with yourself will help rejuvenate your soul. All those moments by yourself range from quite reflections to nerve-wracking escapades.

30 Fun Things To Do Alone To Make You Happy

Before you say, “I’m bored”, take pride in your own company and start off on a journey of <

Up Next

7 Warning Signs Of Losing Yourself In A Relationship And How to Rediscover Your Sense of Self

Signs Of Losing Yourself In A Relationship

Are you starting to feel like you have lost yourself in a relationship? Do you have this persistent feeling that you don’t know who you are anymore? You know, that feeling when you are so caught up in someone else’s world, that you forget who you are? Well, these are just some signs of losing yourself in a relationship.

Believe it or not, this is actually quite a common feeling, and lots of people experience this. If you have ever felt like you have lost yourself in a relationship, then this article can be a godsend for you.

Let’s delve into the all those signs of losing yourself in a relationship, so that you can stop yourself from doing so (at least to some extent!). And not just this, we will also talk about what to do when you lose yourself in a relationship. So, are you ready to explore this? Let’s go then!

Up Next

The Power Of Alone Time: 9 Surprising Benefits Of Solitude

Surprising Mental Health Benefits Of Solitude

Ever sat with yourself in the quiet darkness of the night when the world goes to sleep and stars smile at you? When you are alone with your thoughts, away from the hustle and bustle of daily life, that’s exactly when you start experiencing the benefits of solitude. 

In a world that thrives on constant connectivity and noise, it’s easy to overlook the need for silence and solitude. But what if I told you that embracing and cherishing these moments of solitude could have a significant positive impact on your mental well-being? 

Let’s  explore the importance of solitude and delve into the remarkable mental health benefits of solitude in our lives.

The Need for Solitude

Up Next

7 Habits To Foster A Positive Relationship With Social Media: From FOMO To JOMO

Habits To Foster A Positive Relationship With Social Media

We all know that it’s hard to resist the allure of scrolling through feeds, liking posts, and staying connected in this digital age. But let’s face it, sometimes our relationship with social media can get a bit complicated. It’s like a rollercoaster ride with its ups and downs, and can leave you feeling both exhilarated and emotionally drained.

If you’ve ever found yourself questioning whether you’re spending too much time doom scrolling or feeling overwhelmed by the constant barrage of information, then you’ve come to the right place.

In this article, we’re going to explore seven habits that will help you build a healthy relationship with social media, and why healthy social media use can be really good for you in the long run.

Up Next

8 Powerful Self Compassion Exercises To Rescue Your Mind And Soul

Self Compassion Exercises to Transform Your Life

Are you your own harshest critic? Do you constantly strive for perfection and feel like you’re never good enough? Is it making you feel exhausted? Then you need to learn and practice self compassion exercises so that you can treat yourself with kindness, understanding, and acceptance. 

Let’s explore some transformative self compassion practices that will help you break free from self-judgment and embrace your authentic self. So, grab a cup of your favorite beverage, settle in, and let’s figure out how to truly accept yourself.

Understanding Self-Compassion: Being Kind Toward Ourselves

Before we delve into self compassion exercises, let’s take a moment to understand what self-compassion truly means

Up Next

Self Care Ideas For Mental Health: 10 Mental Health Boosters For Those Bad Days

Easy Self Care Ideas For Mental Health And Those Bad Days

Feeling like your brain is doing backflips in a rollercoaster? You know those days when your mental health takes a nosedive and it feels like you are caught up in a relentless storm? But fear not, because I’ve got your back with these self care ideas for mental health that can help you ride out the bumpy patches.

Whether you’re battling anxiety, stress, tension or just a case of the blues, these easy self care ideas will give you the boost you need to conquer the day. So grab a cup of tea, cozy up, and get ready to discover some self-care ideas for bad days that will leave you feeling like a superhero in no time.

Related: Self Care: 12 Tips to Take Better

Up Next

How Can You Respect Yourself? 8 Ways To Cultivate Self-Respect and Dignity

How Can You Respect Yourself? Steps to Value Yourself

Have you ever wondered how to give yourself the love and appreciation you truly deserve? You show respect to everyone around you, but what about you? Do you extend the same courtesy to yourself? And if you feel like you don’t, then how can you respect yourself?

It’s time to dive into the world of self-respect and what does it mean to respect yourself. The kindness and admiration you show others, you deserve the same too. In a world that often emphasizes the importance of validation from others, it’s easy to overlook the fact that real confidence and true self-worth comes from within.

So, are you ready to embark on a journey of self-discovery and self-care, and become your biggest cheerleader? Let’s find out how can you respect yourself, and give yourself the importance you deserve.