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Unselfish 02: Singlehood

Episode description

Within the span of a human lifetime the percentage of single-person households have doubled, tripled or even quadrupled in many affluent western countries. Today, a quarter to a third of all households in most developed countries are single-person. What could possibly be driving this trend towards singlehood?

In this episode, we explore the rise of singlehood, and how the assumptions and metaphors we bring to our dating adventures might keep us living alone for longer periods of our lives. We also explore our cultural assumptions about individualism and the American Dream and how our unmet expectations within our closest relationships lead increasingly to divorce and dissolution.

Does this have to be the way we face this unequal world? Can our personal goals be about building relationships, rather than building relationships as a means of achieving our personal goals?

Visit for full show notes and transcript download.


[01:17] “Common sense is constructed out of long-standing practices of cultural socialization often rooted deep in regional or national traditions. It is not the same as the ‘good sense’ that can be constructed out of critical engagement with the issues of the day.” (page 39).
Harvey, D. (2005). A Brief History of Neoliberalism. New York, New York: Oxford University Press.

[03:06] “In a society in which the market operates only in limited spheres of life, and other expectations, standards, and rules operate in other spheres, these other standards provide the concrete alternatives to the market that make moral discourse worthwhile… Each time the scope of the market extends itself, it becomes increasingly difficult for people to envision an alternative to the logic of egoism… they become “laws of nature” by default.” (page 334).
Schwartz, B. (1993). Why Altruism Is Impossible… and Ubiquitous. Social Service Review Vol. 67, No. 3 (September), 314-343.

[11:35 – 11:58] Examples of the kinds of abusive comments posted to Instagram accounts Bye Felipe and Tinder Nightmares: “Your [sic] fat though… You should be desperate” and “You know you’re not attractive enough to not respond right?” and “You are not a person to me, just an object.”
Thompson, L. (2018). “I can be your Tinder nightmare”: Harassment and Misogyny in the Online Sexual Marketplace. Feminism and Psychology, 28(1), 69-89

[12:15] eHarmony reported claims: “On average, 542 people get married every day in the United States because of eHarmony; that accounts for nearly 5% of new U.S. marriages.” and “eHarmony matches singles based on a deeper level of compatibility…” (Table 3, page 24).
Finkel, E. J., Eastwick, P. W., Karney, B. R., Reis, H. T., & Sprecher, S. (2012). Online Dating: a Critical Analysis From the Perspective of Psychological Science. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 13(1), 3-66.

[13:11] “…people with the financial resources and social-psychological skills to join a dating site (especially eHarmony) and to pass the background screening implemented by some sites (especially eHarmony) may be better candidates for successful relationships than other people.” (page 26).
Finkel, E. J., Eastwick, P. W., Karney, B. R., Reis, H. T., & Sprecher, S. (2012). Online Dating: a Critical Analysis From the Perspective of Psychological Science. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 13(1), 3-66.

[14:33] “…market metaphors generally focus attention on the traits of the partner (‘he’s overpriced’), whereas romantic metaphors tend to focus on properties of the relationship between partners (‘there wasn’t much chemistry between us’).” (page 14).
Ahuvia, A. C., & Adelman, M. B. (1993). Working Paper #719: Market Metaphors for Meeting Mates. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan. School of Business Administration. Division of Research.

[21:15] “People do seem to be seeing their relationships as more revocable. Rises in the rate of divorce give only a partial indication of the increase in break-ups, because of the large number of unmarried couples in our society.” (page 76).
Taylor, C. (1992). The Ethics of Authenticity. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

[22:40] “…60 percent of women without a high school degree will eventually divorce, whereas 36 percent of women with a college degree will divorce.” and “…lower class Americans are less likely to marry in the first place.” (page 155).
Finkel, E. J. (2017). The All-or-Nothing Marriage: How the Best Marriages Work. New York: Dutton.

[24:25 – 26:17] Inequality data presented by economists Emanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman.
Saez, E., & Zucman, G. (2014). Wealth Inequality in the United States Since 1913 Evidence from Capitalized Income Tax Data. Cambridge: National Bureau of Economic Research.
Saez, E. (2017). Income and Wealth Inequality: Evidence and Policy Implications. Contemporary Economic Policy, 35(1), 7-25.

For all other statistics and additional references used in this episode, please refer to “Book One: An Unselfish Perspective”

Disclaimer, copyright, and image and music credits:

While this document, and the recorded audio podcast episode it describes, includes published peer-reviewed psychological research and therapy papers, it is not therapy and no therapeutic benefits are offered or implied. If you have concerns about your physical or psychological health, please seek medical advice. If you have concerns about the health of your most important relationships, please seek professional relationship counselling services.

This document, and the recorded audio podcast episode it describes are © 2018, James David Thomas.

The image for this episode was modified by the author in Adobe Illustrator CC using Adobe Stock # 108766945 © ojogabonitoo under a standard license. Visit

Music used in this episode was mixed by the author in Adobe Audition CC 2018 from a public domain recording of the English Suite no. 2 by Johann Sebastian Bach, performed by Syuzanna Kaszo. The recording was sourced from

The post Unselfish 02: Singlehood appeared first on Lead Team Culture Development.

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