Women’s experience of being single

van der Watt, Alberta S.J. (2015-12)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2015

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT : Women‟s experience of being single has generally been neglected by psychological research and literature. However, the study of singlehood could provide valuable information about interpersonal relationships and the personal realm. Forming a romantic relationship is deemed an important developmental and social task within Western society which holds that all human beings have an inherent need for intimacy and belonging. The lack of such a relationship often leads to social stigmatization and marginalization. Whilst various studies of romantic relationships have been conducted, very few studies have focussed on singlehood. The few studies on singlehood often pose methodological problems. Situated in a feminist informed phenomenological framework; this study investigated women‟s experience of being single. Seven tertiary-educated, single women between the ages of 30 and 40 years were interviewed individually regarding their experience of being single. The interviews were then analysed by means of Giorgi‟s descriptive pre-transcendental phenomenological method. The participants‟ rich and nuanced descriptions of how they experienced being single were grouped into eight units of significance: being single means not being in a relationship; holding on to the “you can” freedom; a partner implies obliged companionship and support; (un)wanted attention from the right man; we are educated and independent women!; (not) wanting children, either way, time‟s running out; missing out on sex; and reasons for being single. The results highlighted the hegemony of romantic relationships, the prevalence of a dominant gender discourse, and also the tension between freedom and connectedness which women often experience. Lastly, the limitations and future recommendations of the study are presented.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING : Vroue se ervaring van enkellopendheid word meestal in sielkundige navorsing en -literatuur verwaarloos. Tog kan die bestudering van enkellopendheid waardevolle inligting ten opsigte van interpersoonlike verhoudinge en die verstaan van die persoon-sfeer bied. In ʼn Westerse konteks word die aangaan van romantiese verhoudings as ʼn belangrike ontwikkelings- en sosiale taak beskou. Dit impliseer dat alle mense ʼn inherente behoefte aan romantiese intimiteit en verbondenheid het. Die gebrek aan sodanige verhoudinge lei dikwels tot sosiale stigmatisasie en marginalisering. In teenstelling met studies oor romantiese verhoudinge, het weinig op enkellopendheid gefokus. Die enkele studies wat wel oor enkellopendheid onderneem is, word dikwels deur metodologiese probleme gekenmerk. Gesitueer in ʼn feministies-fenomenologiese perspektief, ondersoek hierdie studie vroue se belewing van enkellopendheid en het ten doel om die metodologiese problematiek wat vorige studies ondervind het, aan te spreek. Daar is met sewe 30 tot 40 jarige enkellopend vroue, met tersiêre opleiding, individuele onderhoude oor hulle belewing van enkellopendheid gevoer. Die onderhoude is deur middel van Giorgi se beskrywende pre-transendentale fenomenologiese metode geanaliseer. Die deelnemers se ryke en genuanseerde beskrywings van hulle belewing van enkellopendheid is saam groepeer in agt betekenis-eenhede: enkellopendheid beteken om nie in ʼn verhouding te wees nie; ʼn vashou aan die “jy kan” vryheid; ʼn lewensmaat beteken verpligte saamwees en ondersteuning, (on)gewenste belangstelling van die regte man; ons is opgevoede en onafhanklike vroue!; (nie) behoefte aan kinders (nie), wat ook al, die tyd loop uit; ontbering van seks; en redes vir enkellopendheid. Hierdie bevindinge is vanuit ʼn feministiese, fenomenologiese perspektief geïnterpreteer wat die volgende uitgelig het: die hegenomie van romantiese verhoudings in die hierargie van verhoudings, die voorkoms van ʼn dominante geslag diskoers, asook die spanning tussen vryheid en verbondenheid wat vrouens dikwels ervaar. Ten slotte word die beperkinge van hierdie studie, maar ook aanbevelings vir toekomstige studies, bespreek.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/97784
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