• Cover: November 26, 2014
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Single Occupancy

Afraid of living alone for good? Why it may not be so scary after all

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  • Which is why I was so surprised that living alone has become such a hot-button topic. New York University sociology professor Eric Klinenberg's fascinating and provocative new book, Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone, tells us that "Americans are now within mere percentage points of being a majority single nation: Only 51 percent of adults today are married.... Until recently, no culture in human history had sustained large numbers of people in places of their own." He continues, "Conventional wisdom is that singletons tend to be lonely and isolated, perhaps even social failures.... But conventional wisdom has it wrong.… Compared with married people, they're more likely to eat out in cafés and restaurants, exercise in a gym, take art classes, attend public events, and volunteer." I'm a statistic! And Klinenberg's commentary makes sense: More of us are living alone than ever before, and the "eccentric loner" stigma has lessened, if not vanished completely.

    What do we like best about living alone? I can do what I want, when I want. I don't have to answer to anyone. I can leave dishes in the sink, the bed unmade, and clothes on the floor for as long as I like (or as long as I can stand it). I can drink from the carton and I don't have to keep sugar in my kitchen. I can sleep crosswise in my bed, hogging all the sheets, or paint my bathroom walls the color of my favorite nail polish.

Single Occupancy
Afraid of living alone for good? Why it may not be so scary after all
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