Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Go Science Go

I may late to this one, but just had to share this awesome takedown, complete with (surprise!) facts, of that awful backlash porn last month in The Atlantic called "Marry Him!", via Bella DePaulo recently at HuffPo. Writes Bella:
Gottlieb buys into just about all of the myths about singles that I debunk in my book, Singled Out. She believes, for example, that singles are interested in just one thing - getting married. She warns that even if they have great jobs, their jobs won't love them back. She thinks that if single women wait too long, the available men will all be "damaged goods." Most of all, she seems to believe that single people are miserable and lonely, and that the cure for what ails them is to get married.

Science demurs. A study in which thousands of people have been followed for 18 years (and counting) shows that people who get married enjoy, at best, a brief and tiny bubble of happiness around the time of the wedding (a honeymoon effect); then they go back to being as happy or as unhappy as they were when they were single. Moreover, only those who marry and stay married experience the early blip in happiness; those who marry and then divorce are already becoming less happy, not more so, as the day of the wedding draws near. (See Chapter 2 of Singled Out.)

The words "lonely" or "alone" occur a dozen times in "Marry Him." Gottlieb seems to be channeling Bridget Jones's fear of ending up "dying alone and found three weeks later half-eaten by an Alsatian," only without the humor. I've studied the scientific research on loneliness in later life (Chapter 11 of Singled Out). It shows that no group is LESS likely to be lonely in their senior years than women who have always been single. Gottlieb also believes that mothers who settle, regret that they did, and then divorce, will still be better off financially than if they had never married. The science does not support that, either.
So there.

(Thanks as ever CCF for the heads up.)