Living Alone and Loving It

Living Alone and Loving It


New report shows a rise in single person households and the media responds by reflecting our culture’s bias against singles, especially those who live alone.


Photo credit: Limon Zest / 123RF Photo

In August, the Census Bureau came out with a report that has spurred a series of articles in news outlets across America. The report carried the shocking news that despite a lingering recession, more people than ever are choosing to live alone. Although the report covered many aspects of “America’s Families and Living Arrangements” (as the report was called), it was one particular element that snagged the most attention: “The proportion of one-person households increased by 10 percentage points between 1970 and 2012, from 17 percent to 27 percent.”

In response to the report I got a call from a reporter at the Los Angeles Times, who wanted to know my opinion for a story she was writing on this surprising new trend of more Americans living alone. One thing I told her is that it’s not such a new trend. Eric Klinenberg documented it is his book, Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone, published more than a year ago.

Just as Klinenberg, a married New York University sociology professor, was at first surprised to find that people actually embrace and covet solo living, so the reporter from the L.A. Times seemed surprised that a growing number of people actually want to live by themselves. And she pressed me on the question: “You really prefer to live alone?”

Another article came out that same week, inspired by the news that one quarter of all home purchases in 2012 were bought by single people. The facts were laid out in a straightforward manner and included the positive conclusion that many people enjoy living alone, relishing the freedom it brings. But check out the image that ran with the story. It’s a photo that could easily have illustrated an article about depression!

People Who Live Alone DEPRESSION
Photo from “More People Choose to Live Alone” an article published by that could have delivered a positive message about the growing number of single people living alone, but ran with this depressing image.

And therein lays the anti-single bias. There is an assumption that those who live alone are lonely. I don’t think people even realize, for the most part, that they’ve taken two very separate concepts (living alone and being lonely) and packaged them into one false conclusion (people who live alone are lonely). It’s all part of our society’s underlying, pervasive belief that married is good, single is bad, coupled people have dynamic social connections while single people wither away in desperate loneliness.

When you were a child, wasn’t having your own room a desirable thing? It was a special place that was yours, all yours. A place where you could dream, assert your independence, rest and find peaceful solitude from the rest of the household hubbub. So why, when we grow up, is it be so unusual to want to move beyond just having a room of our own to having a home of our own? Children with their own room are not disconnected from their families and living an isolated life — yet there’s an assumption that an adult living alone must surely be lonely.

Another interesting aspect of the census report is that this rise in solo living is happening despite a lingering recession. People are making sacrifices in order to have their own living space. We know it costs more when you’re not splitting rent and utilities — especially when you’re single in Los Angeles. Yet people are forgoing the new car, the trip to Europe, a new wardrobe, maybe even spending all that they make in order to be the only person who carries a key to their front door.

For them the greatest luxury is coming home from work or a night out with friends or a weekend with their romantic partner to find everything just as they left it and just as they like it to be. They have the best of both worlds. They can step into the peaceful solitude of their domiciles whenever they please. Time spent with friends, family and lovers is purposeful, quality time — not obligatory because those people live there too.

If you had an income that would allow you to live well on your own, would you really be so eager to move in with your boyfriend? Or would you choose to have your own precious space to do, dream and be?

I know my answer. Living alone doesn’t sound lonely to me, it sounds like a little piece of paradise.

Copyright © Kim Calvert/2013 Singular Communications, LLC.

Kim CalvertKim Calvert is the editor of Singular magazine and the founder of the SingularCity social networking community. An outspoken champion of people who are living their lives as a “me” instead of a “we,” Kim oversees the creative direction and editorial content of the magazine and online social networking community. She secures contributors and is responsible for maintaining the fun, upbeat, inspirational and often-humorous tone of Singular, a lifestyle guide for successful single living.

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3 thoughts on “Living Alone and Loving It

  1. Hi Folks
    I had to comment on this for i live alone and it is my paradise . There is a time and place for everything , and until a person is clear , within themselves and not moving in with someone because they are lonely,or for another emotional reason it is healthier to be come the full person you are First., become fully realized in your love joy and abundance and leave behind your lack limitation and fear. When you choose to move in with some one it is because you don’t need to, or want to, but because within both of you have held space to connect, then you are not doing it because you lack in any way but you feel complete, so the decision is not made through need but through truth ……Do all things through peace and you will always have peace , do things through drama and you will have drama.
    I choose peace how about you ?
    Leaving you in your sweet sexy singleness until further notice

  2. Existe un imaginario, que determina en nosotros roles y costumbres, y asì vamos asumiendo sin querer, determinados comportamientos, porque son los”socialmente” màs aceptados, o nombrados cànones de la excelencia.-
    El tema de la soledad, no escapa a eso…..somos solos, nacemos solos, y vamos desarrollando la capacidad de compartir y ser con otros…pero no es malo como cree, saber estar con uno mismo, por el contrario, es la conditio sine qua non, para saber compartir y disfrutar de verdad, de los buenos vìnculos….la soledad no es sinònimo de tristeza, si uno esta poblado de contenidos internos fuertes y ricos….es un tema de actituc ante la vida.-

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