When Love Is Not All We Want: Queers, Singles and the Therapeutic Cult of Relationality

  • Mari Ruti
  • Adrian Cocking


Psychoanalysts and psychotherapists understand that relationships – particularly intimate ones – can be difficult to navigate: they know that their patients are likely to complain about their relationship troubles; they expect to hear about the failures of love, about loss, betrayal, suffering and disappointment; and they seek to use transference in subtle ways to guide their patients to more successful modes of relating. But what they may be less attuned to is the extent to which their assumptions about what constitutes ‘success’ in the context of relationships are determined by normative social narratives of what the so-called ‘good life’ is supposed to look like. Do they define ‘healthy’ relationships as monogamous, permanent and stable? Do they expect their patients to be willing to work through their relationship dilemmas with a degree of patience and diligence? If so, psychoanalysis and psychotherapy find themselves at odds with many of the central arguments of contemporary queer theory. And they also find themselves out of joint with the growing body of work on how singles – hether queer or straight – are discriminated against in our society. Indeed, what the queer and the single have in common is that both refuse to adhere to our society’s heteronormative expectations regarding the proper organisation of sexuality. This has prompted the queer critic Michael Cobb (2012) to state that he has started to attach the letter ‘S’ to the LGBTQ acronym in order to affiliate those who are single ‘with the ever-elongating list of non majority sexualities that deserve more sustained attention, political interventions, and cultural investigations’ (p. 5).


Good Life Married People Boot Camp Queer Theory Cultural Investigation 
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© Mari Ruti and Adrian Cocking 2015

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  • Mari Ruti
  • Adrian Cocking

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