Alone, not lonely: The growth of solo households
Longer lives, more divorces and even personal technology contribute to change.
© Sam Edwards/OJO Images/Getty Images
CORRECTION, April 29, 2013: Carl Toll is a Denver homeowner. His name was spelled incorrectly in a previous version of this article.
The popularization of the solo life — in 1970, one-person households comprised just 17% of all households — is a historic change in human society, says sociologist Eric Klinenberg, the author of "Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone."
Solo households, for reasons simple and complex, are a growing share of the population in industrialized societies, says Klinenberg in an essay for The Guardian.
Sweden has the largest proportion of solos (47%). The trend is big in other countries, too, including the United Kingdom (34%), Japan (30%) and Norway (40%).
Personal wealth in developed countries allows singles to sustain relatively expensive one-person homes. Also, we're marrying later, divorcing more frequently and living longer.
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Not everyone lives alone by choice, of course. But many who do celebrate its appeal.
Carl Toll, 36, a network technician in Denver, is one. "When I come home I like the peace and quiet. I don't have to think about making dinner if I don't want to. I can pick something up on the way home.
"It sounds pretty selfish but it's also very convenient. I don't have to care about the simple things. I can park in the middle of the driveway to wash the car the next day because I don’t have to think about someone else pulling out in the morning."
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Transitions in and out of solo life are common. After spending his adulthood living solo, Tull is contemplating moving in with his girlfriend.
According to Klinenberg:
- Most solo households contain adults ages 35 to 64.
- Young adults ages 18 to 34 are the fastest-growing solo segment. They number 5 million, quite a change from 500,000 in 1950.
- Most solo dwellers — about 18 million — are women, compared with around 14 million men.
- About 11 million Americans living alone are elderly.
- The majority of solo Americans live in cities and metro areas.
Alone, not lonely
Solos often are perceived as lonely. But living alone doesn't mean your life isn't full, says Chris Moyer, 60, a computer programmer who works from home in Phoenixville, Pa.
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"The living-alone part for me, I guess I don’t even notice it, to be really honest. I'm really active on Twitter," she says. "I have a smartphone. I'm like one of those teenagers who's got it in her hand all the time. But I'm not obsessed. I'm not always out there on it. I use it to learn."
Moyer arrived in Phoenixville a few years ago. She turned right away to Meetup to get acquainted. She launched a book-and-brunch group and a boomer singles gathering that have become the centers of her social life. Most of her new friends live alone, too.
She uses personal technology so fluently that even alone in her mobile home she revels in the company of friends and strangers. While watching "Downton Abbey," for example, she simultaneously follows WHYY-TV film critic Patrick Stoner's Twitter. When (spoiler alert) one of the series' main characters died recently, "Twitter just went crazy," Moyer says. "My point is, I don't ever feel alone."
first of all, don't get me wrong. I love my queen, together now for 6 years (when she invited me to sit in her lap one day when I could not find a seat at snook's family table) and I knew her for a couple of years before that. her grandchildren and children are mine and my kids and grand-dogs are hers.
the mornings and evenings with a cup of coffee each and maybe some pastries as we talk about the grandkids' latest antics are a joy to be experienced. cooking meals together in a too-cramped kitchen is an experience. a little pinch of this, a little pinch of that and a little pinch of **** now and again is good for the soul. and I can fart whenever I want to and so can she.
I was single (divorced for 13 years) when we took each other on as a mutual project. I was enjoying the single life, living alone but rarely lonely. (I did swear off women as each successive relationship went south....about 12 months at the longest until the next swishing skirt got my attention.)
I did my own laundry, cooked what meals I had at home, paid my bills occasionally when I had the time, several thousand dollars in the bank and creditors had sent polite reminders. when I moved in with somebody, it was a 'light move'... a few articles of clothing and some kitchen utensils that usually stayed when I didn't. the few that spent the night at my house did so knowing that they took what they brought in with them when they left each time.
spooky, the dog, and marley, the cat, didn't care if I had lipstick on the collar or smelled of perfume when I came in. I could honk my horn to let my nearest neighbor hear that I has made it home successfully and it gave him an opportunity to snuggle a little closer to his wife.
if I spent the night with miss valley, miss reinke or miss Lindsay to see if they were working properly, it didn't matter. sometimes, miss (insert name) was along for the ride and company, sometimes a red-neck, candle-lit tailgate dinner and a night on the old mattress from one of the kid's bedrooms thrown on the top of the pond dam.
I liked having $500-1500.00 tucked away in a suit-case (which was always packed and ready to go on a road trip) or in one of several 'banks of the locked drawers' raring to get out and circulate. when asked what brought me to a spot selected for a road-trip destination at the last moment, I usually replied a red (or later black) explorer.
I could follow my favorite oldies band without being fussed at for coming home at two in the morning, if I made it home at all. as a friend of mine used to say, he could go home when he had nowhere else to go....and there were times he couldn't go home. I adopted his life-style.
I often told ladies, at the end of an evening as one apologized for my not getting laid on that occasion, that it was okay. I had driven further, spent more money and had less fun on previous trips.
after 13 years and over half that many varied length relationships, I was ready for a change. the back porch and kitchen rendezvous on a regular basis seemed the thing to do and the right person showed up at the right time in the right place. I found that relationships that began in bars were not that great after a few months. after all, if they were that good-looking in there looking, there was a problem somewhere.
would I do it again, if the single-life opportunity presented itself? damn right, I would!
"Solos often are perceived as lonely. But living alone doesn't mean your life isn't full, says Chris Moyer, 60, a computer programmer who works from home in Phoenixville, Pa."
.....There's plenty of internet porn and games to keep their lives rich !
I was married twice, once for 2 years with my high school sweet heart that I dated for 3 years and then for 21 years to another lady with a child of 2. After my second marriage and at the age of 50 at the time I found most women wanted someone to help take care of them and I found myself getting more and more selfish with both my self and my money.
For the past 7 years and at the age of 58 I still work 50 to 60 hours a week making really more money than I need. But I eagerly look forward to my off hours and weekends alone. Most of the places I go to eat at know I tip very well so services I receive is very good. I still date from time to time not because I'm lonely but because sometimes I want to share the moment with someone else.
Would I ever consider living with someone again - No. If I had had children of my own that might be another question.
I "love" how this article deliberately left out one, MAJOR, reason why many men remain single. That is the "pure poison" of having women shout/scream, in our faces "You're NOT a man! You dont deserve a woman", at the top of her lungs. This is a major reason why men stay single.
Another reason would be womens petty jealousy. For example: During my lifetime, I have had several attending physicians, who were female. What did I care? All I asked for was a qualified doctor. For my condition, women seemed most qualified.
That is, until I got a girlfriend, who insisted that I switch over to male doctors. When I mentioned that females were more qualified, my friend said "Sure. and I know what in". I dumped this woman since I wanted to have qualified doctors, not guilt.
The first statement, though, in this post, remains the primary reason why so many men remain single. Like it, or not, ladies, some of the blame DOES rest on YOUR shoulders.
hopelfully someday, single households will be taxed at the same rate as married households. There is no longical reason, for equitable income, that single people have to pay more. As it is we carry more than our fair share in Real Estate taxes considering much of the use of hte money, if for people who get better tax rates (aka, parents)
ouch...just saying, not against helping carry the burden, just shouldn't be more of the burden.
Yeah, 15 years of trying to make someone else happy sort of blows. Cleaning up after their crap, eating what they want to eat, watching the shows they want to see, emotional baggage, blah, blah, blah...
Oh god... finally I can park wherever the hell I want...
My turn to enjoy a slice of life has come ------ and I am loving it!!!