I just finished reading Eric Klinenberg’s book, Going Solo, in which he details the remarkable increase of people living alone in the last few decades in the US (as well as in other first world countries). If you are a single person living alone, and particularly if you feel alone, you must (I say, must) read this book.
The statistics themselves are remarkable. But I say read the book if you feel alone particularly because most singletons (Klinenberg’s term) are clustered in urban areas. So, for those outside of urban areas, it’s easy to feel like you might be some kind of anomaly. Particularly for those who, like myself, live in the Midwest, and not in a major city. Here, coupling up and reproducing are still the norm, and the vast majority of people seem to be in some kind of race to see who can secure a mate, followed by a house, a dog, and a kid in short order.
So, one of the things the book does is debunk the myth that getting married is the key to happiness. It would seem obvious, since almost half of marriages end in divorce. So, clearly those people weren’t happy. Of those who stay married, I would guess that a variety of reasons account for that, not insignificant among them inertia, boredom, social status, and religion.
And yet, research abounds on the so-called benefits of being married, in terms of physical and emotional well being. But ask anyone who’s been through a divorce, just how much being married contributed to their health and well-being. And then ask them if they’re eager to get married again, or happier on their own.
Klinenberg’s book goes into detail about dealing with the unique issues posed by being single at a time of great change in our social structure. Right now in the US 27% of households have only one occupant, and the number is growing quickly.
It’s an exciting time, particularly for women. A few short decades ago, options were limited for women who didn’t marry. Now, the possibilities abound. And sometimes, the only limits are those that exist in our own minds, based upon how we see the situation, and indeed, how we see ourselves.